As a brand new school year begins, I would like to extend warmest welcome wishes to our many new and returning Bluewater District School Board students and families. From our youngest learners entering kindergarten for the first time to our senior students beginning their final year prior to graduation, there is no doubt that 2019 – 2020 will be another fantastic year of growth and opportunities for success.
I would also like to welcome all of our new hires to Bluewater. Regardless of the role you are assuming, our organization is strengthened by the skills, expertise, and commitment to student achievement and well-being that you bring with you.
Sincerest thanks are in order for the large component of board staff who worked diligently throughout the summer to keep the multiple facets of our large organization flowing smoothly and effectively. The functions performed by these hard working, dedicated, and highly skilled individuals span many departments, and are imperative to a positive September start for the students and families of Bruce and Grey Counties.
For those staff returning to their varied roles across the system, and our trustees who are resuming the regular schedule of board and committee work, I hope you were able to get some well-deserved rest and relaxation over the summer months.
Without question, 2019 – 2020 will prove to be a pivotal year in K-12 education in Ontario. We will have a clearer view of the long term direction of the Ontario government, specifically in regard to their expectations of the education sector. Stephen Lecce, the new Minister of Education, recently met with directors of education from throughout the province. It is evident that the government is focused on three main priorities in K-12 education:
- To complete the collective bargaining process for all education workers as soon as possible;
- To focus on skills development – trades training and STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) education for students; and
- To improve math achievement and increase students’ financial literacy before graduating
The provincial government’s overall priority of fiscal responsibility and addressing the accumulated debt has not changed. We will continue to work closely in the spirit of collaboration with our provincial partners to assist in meeting their broader fiscal goals, while ensuring that the number one priority always remains the best interests of every student in Bluewater. This is especially important as we begin the process of local and provincial collective bargaining for our teaching staff in Bluewater. As I have indicated in the past, our Board of Trustees and senior staff are committed to a respectful, fair, and solution finding process with our union and provincial partners, that places the needs of our students and rural schools at the forefront.
There are many wonderful things to celebrate as we enter 2019 – 2020, including the official opening of the new John Diefenbaker Senior School in Hanover, which has been a long time coming. Congratulations to the students, families, and staff on the beautiful modernized facility they are inheriting to continue the school’s strong legacy. In the coming months, we also look forward to hearing more on the progress of our new school builds in Meaford and Markdale.
One of this year’s highlights will be the introduction of our new Multi-Year Strategic Plan to help us identify and plan around our system wide priorities over the next several years. Despite any of the current challenges in public education, I am eternally optimistic that this roadmap to the future coupled with our strong financial position in Bluewater, will put us on a good footing for resilience and continued success.
I very much look forward to working with our staff, trustees, students, parents/guardians, partners, volunteers, and other stakeholders over the next 10 months. Thank you for all that you continue to do to support excellence in Bluewater District School Board, and best wishes for a wonderful and deeply rewarding 2019 – 2020 school year!
Director of Education