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Get The Facts
Board Meeting Highlights

April 21, 2009


Regional Skills

Jean Stephenson provided trustees with a brief video clip of the 6th annual Regional Skills Competition that was held in Owen Sound on March 27th.  Jean introduced Barb Wright, OYAP Co-ordinator, Paul Messerschmidt, Manufacturing,teacher JDSS, and 2 of his students, Cody Andrews and Ryan Medland as well as Darlene Boisvenue representing the Ministry of Training.  Barb provided an overview of the skills challenge and informed trustees that every High School participated in at least one competition.  Winners of the competition will move on to the Provincial Challenge and if successful there to the Nationals.  Paul Messerschmidt thanked Barb for her dedication and hard work that she does to make sure that it is a successful competition for the students.  Each of the students stated that it was a rewarding experience and how excited they were to participate in it and that they would be back next year.  Darlene Boisvenue as a representative of the Ministry of Training also thanked Barb Wright for her dedication to this event and thanked both Bluewater District School Board and the Bruce Grey Catholic District School Board teachers and students for their support in making this such a successful event.

Transition to the New Building

Brenda Booth introduced the Transition Team to trustees.  This team of people was brought together a year ago to develop a plan to facilitate the move from the Markdale Office and the Chesley Office into the new Education Centre in Chesley.  Members of the ICT Department who were also instrumental in the move were introduced and Al Gibb Manager, Manager of Plant Services Administration introduced Plant and Maintenance personnel who were key to the smooth transition.


Dan Wong requested to be entered on the agenda as a delegation without prior notice.  Trustees were provided with a presentation where he voiced his concerns in regards to the current challenges that Bluewater District School Board is facing.  In framing the current situation he stated that he did not doubt that some of the complaints voiced may be valid but there are many good staff, teachers and administration within Bluewater and that it is a good school board.  He appealed to both the School Board and school community to resolve these issues in a professional manner.  The second portion of his presentation provided trustees with recommendations to assist in resolving the current situation by exhibiting transparency and good governance through the use of impartial third party members of the community.

Karen Cameron also requested to be added to the agenda as a delegation without prior notice and provided trustees with a brief statement from the Bluewater Citizens for Education informing the board that they are a group of concerned citizens who wish to be advocates.  She states that incidents are not isolated and that the review process should not only be about public concerns but include public input on those concerns.


A SEAC representative, Dave Mason spoke on a recommendation that was being brought forward in the SEAC report to  the Board requesting that the Board adopt "Word Perfect" as it would provide potential cost savings for the Board that could allow for the hiring of staff to provide direct support to Student Services.  The program is available through OSAPAC at no cost and other Boards have made this change.

Dave Mason, representing the Bruce-Grey Chapter for the Association for Bright Children of Ontario defined the focus of Ontario Regulation 612/00, stating that it is their understanding that Boards and Principals are required to request input from School Councils prior to making decisions on certain matters and that it is also their understanding that Boards and Principals are required to let those groups know how their recommendations have been taken into account.  It is the Association's understanding that consultation did not take place in the case of the 2007 and 2008 cutbacks to the TRAIL Program.  Lillian Waterworth, SCC member for Huron Heights School in Kincardine described how the cutbacks to the TRAIL Program have affected students, particulary those in grades 7 to 8.  The cutbacks occurred without consultation and they would like the previous services restored.

Joe Grieco, as a concerned parent provided a brief video clip "How Maple Leaf Foods is handling the Listeria Outbreak" where the CEO Michael McCain apologized for the mistakes made by Maple Leaf Foods. This candour was considered by the news media to help Maple Leaf Foods regain the confidence of its consumers.  This approach was compared to the Sunrise Propane company for its handling of the explosion in Downsview where they were criticized for not providing the public with information.  Mr. Grieco hoped that the information provided the Board with an example of how they should proceed in an open and transparent manner.  Mr. Grieco stated that the parents are the shareholders and the Board and Director as their only employees and are responsible to them.  It is his belief that it is not just a communication issue as suggested by Minister Kathleen Wynne that it goes much further.  The McCain video should be used as an example of what should be done and he is willing as are others to help the Board achieve that.


Trustees received the April 7, 2009 report from the Business Committee where members received a report on the final projects for inclusion under Phase 4 of the Good Places to Learn grant.  A presentation on the Grants for Students Needs (GSN) was received and members approved holding a public budget meeting on May 5, 2009.  The committee reviewed a letter sent by Caroll Mitchell, MPP to Premier Dalton McGuinty supporting the Walkerton ARC's recommendation for a JK - 12 schools. A letter of support has been sent by staff on behalf of the Board supporting both the Walkerton ARC recommendation and the Owen Sound ARC recommendation for the replacement of Alexandra School


The Educational Issues Committee Report from the March 24, 2009 meeting was received by the Board.   At this meeting members celebrated the Character Development focus by highlighting the "Me to We" movement.  Members viewed a power point presentation from Kincardine District Secondary School about the "Free the Children" group who heightened community awareness and raised $8500.00 last year to build a school in Sierra Leone and that they have raised $4,000.00 this year.  Trustee Jan Johnstone, provided a moving power point presentation about her daughter Emma Jordan Johnstone (1989-2002) that portrayed Emmas's love of school and her dream of building a school in a third world country.  With the help of Jordana Weiss' donations, Emma's school became a reality and Jordana as a part of the Free the Children International Volunteer Trip to Guamote, Ecuador travelled to where the school was built.  Todd Wainwright spoke about the Character Education initiative in Bluewater, stressing that the best programs are the ones that students take ownership of.  A power point presentation was also received on Interdisciplinary Planning, Me to We and UNESCO and that BPDS has incorporated the 4 pillars, World Concerns, Human Rights, Intercultural Learning and Environmental Concerns into the classroom.  Paul Bolton a teacher at Arran Tara Elementary School also talked about his class and their fundraising activities for "Free the Children".


The Policy Committee Report from the April 7, 2009 meeting was received by the Board.   The committee reviewed through the cyclical review process policy BP 6302-D "Aboriginal Self Identification"; policy BP 2313-D "Web Publishing" and policy BP 2120-D "Records Management" and referred all three to Councils and Committees for review prior to them being returned to the Policy Committee


The SEAC report from the March 30, 2009 meeting was received.  The committee received updates on the Web-based teaching tool resource, the Meaford Military Project, and that the Ministry has provided additional funding to hire supports for Applied Behaviour Analysis specialists for each Board. Members were provided with a summary on the special education budget for the past four years.  SEAC also recommended to the board that they adopt "Word Perfect" as a word processor for the entire school board, with the exemption of business, payroll and purchasing departments.  This recommendation was presented based on the assumption of cost savings to the school board that could be returned to Special Education.  A motion pertaining to SEAC's recommendation came forward to the Board and it was the decision of the Board to table the motion definitely until the next board meeting at which time a report prepared by staff will come forward.

Special Education Advisory Committee Appointment

In accordance with Regulation 464/97 SEAC recommended to the Board and the board approved the following appointment:

        Linda Marak                Community Living, Kincardine & District


Field Trips and Exchanges

Alana Murray informed the Board that there were three trips being presented to the Board for approval.  These trips are the third and final of three historical trips that students have been involved in.  The first two were Vimy and Oratona.  This current trip pertains to the 65 Years of Freedom: The Liberation of Holland.  Student Trustees/Senators representing Chesley District and OSCVI spoke to the trustees about how educational these trips are to the students.

Trustees approved the following trips:

i)   Chesley District High School 65 Years of Freedom: The Liberation of Holland Trip from April 29, 2010 to May 9, 2010

ii)   OSCVI 65 Years of Freedom: The Liberation of Holland Trip from May 1, 2010 toMay 10, 2010

iii)  West Hill Secondary School 65 Years of Freedom: The Liberation of Holland Trip from May 2, 2010 to May 13, 2010

Concours 2009

Mary Anne Alton provided trustees with a report that included the results of the Concours French public speaking contest and stated that it is a celebration that a small board can have such a vibrant French program and that the key ingredients are passionate, committed teachers and parents who support and work with this board who also provides support. Two such individuals, present at today’s meeting are, Michelle Eccles, CPF member and Sue Lawrence, French teacher in Bluewater and both have been recently recognized provincially.  Michelle Eccles is this year's recipient of the CPF Mlacak award that is presented each year to a volunteer and Sue Lawrence is the recipient of the W.R. McGillivary award for her outstanding research and her Concours work and support of FSL students.  Michelle stated that she was honoured to be a recipient of the CPF award and thanked the Board for providing the support needed to make our program strong.  Sue Lawrence informed the Board that Bluewater is a leader in creating partnerships and our students benefit from that and she too was honoured and excited to be the recipient of the McGillivary award.  Trustee John Chapman stated that much of the success of Bluewater's French programs is directly related to the strong dedication of our Director who has worked diligently to ensure strong programs and that these programs are close to her heart.

Specialist High Skills Major - Articulation Agreement

Jean Stephenson provided a definition of what an "Articulation Agreement" was.  This agreement relates to the Specialist High Skills Major program in Agriculture at Chesley District and the University of Guelph and it means that students who graduate from the Chesley Program will be exempt from introductory agriculture courses at the University and its affiliates’.  This agreement is the first of its kind in the Province of Ontario.

Student Senate/Trustee Report

Peter McCombie, Student Trustee informed trustees that the Ontario Student Trustee 9th annual general meeting was coming up and that all student senators were eligible to attend.  He also reported that Cam Revington, student senator from JDSS who is currently in France on a student exchange has maintained contact with his student council and that they were requesting Bluewater District School Board become involved in an fundraising initiative to build a school at Attawapiskat.  Trustees provided an overview of the involvement in advocating for a school to be built in Attawapiskat and that it had started with a motion they presented to OPSBA supporting the building of a schools not only in Attawapiskat but all schools that were needed.  This motion was passed by 72 School Boards unanimously.  Funding of First Nations Schools is provided federally and to this point Attawapiskat has not received that funding.  However, the Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nations in Cape Croker did receive funding this year for a school.


Participation in Community Public Speaking Contests

Marnie Coke provided a report on school participation in community public speaking contests.  The nature of participation in these traditional competitions has evolved in recent years.  In the current spectrum of choices, some schools choose to participate in the traditional competitions where others choose a more voluntary participation.  Public speaking is valued way for students to demonstrate oral communication but as Pat Cavan stated at BPSD the staff decided to not participate in the formal competitions and chose to have students participate in literacy circles, "debates, interviews as well as a wide Varity of other oral activities.  Speeches were seen as only one part and that the preparation, memorizing and delivery of a speech took up a great deal of curriculum time.  To make oral communication more relevant to students they provide students with the opportunity to be MC's at student assemblies and they provide PA announcements daily.  Trustee John Chapman questioned if this change in process had been reviewed with the SCC, as regulation 612 states a clear expectation that all partners be consulted and that should be taken under advisement and as a Board they were unaware of this change in process until they were advised at the last Board meeting by Arthur Hailey of the Legion.  He was very disappointed and stated that stakeholders and partners deserve better, that today’s report shows the absence of communication and consultation and that he trusted that his colleagues agreed that staff at all levels should take this under serious advisement that they need to communicate and consult.  Chair, Jennifer Yenssen stated that it would be wonderful if every principal could provide their SCC with the changes occurring in the curriculum as well as the changing instructional practices, giving parents the needed background to provide input into the consultation process. Pat Cavan stated that she would bring the change in process and the background information to the SCC meeting scheduled for that evening.

Review Process

Chair Jennifer Yenssen provided all present with an outline of the four pronged approach that will be used in the review process that the Board will be implementing.  The process will begin with a public outreach process, designed to ensure public feedback and this feedback will be converted into noticeable and measurable improvements related to the following: parental involvement; responsiveness to complaints; effectiveness of dispute resolution practices, general state of "customer satisfaction" with Board operations and the delivery of educational programs and services; and internal and external communication.  A preliminary report along with recommendations for improvement will be completed in June, 2009 and the final Review Report will be sent to the Minister of Education as formally requested for consideration and response



Trustees were provided with a letter from Big Brothers of Owen Sound thanking the Board team who was the highest pledged team participating in the event.

A second letter was received from the Terry Fox Foundation congratulating "Beaver Valley Community School" for ranking 29th in all of Ontario with a total of $19,864.24 raised in 2008.

A third letter was received from the Ministry of Training congratulating Barb Wright on the success of the Skills Challenge and thanking her for her dedication to this event.


Director of Education

Jennifer Yenssen
Jan Johnstone
Mary Anne Alton


Next Board Meeting – May 19, 2009

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