Ward 3 Trustee Pamela Gough’s Update April 26

Following is from Trustee Pamela Gough’s Office:

Sent on behalf of Trustee Pamela Gough:

Ward 3 Trustee Pamela Gough’s Update April 26, 2013

Happy Earth Week! I did my traditional community clean-up on Monday, Earth Day. My husband, who is truly talented at building and fixing things, built a raised vegetable garden in our backyard so we can join the urban food movement. I’m looking forward to sharing some delicious home-grown veggies with friends and neighbours in the fall.

I’m delighted to report that EVERY SCHOOL IN WARD 3 participated in Earth Week events in one way or another. From Lake Ontario to Bloor Street, Etobicoke Creek to the Humber River, Ward 3 public school students were out in their community, cleaning up their schoolyards and parks, walking or cycling to school to ease pollution and increase fitness, and doing Trashless Tuesdays and Litterless Lunches. Have a look at the attached list of activities taken on by our schools to see the many ways they are practicing responsible stewardship of the environment in their local areas.

If your school is hosting an event or has news that you would like publicized in this newsletter, email me at Pamela.gough@tdsb.on.ca or send me a tweet at @pamelagough. Feel free to give me feedback on anything concerning education that matters to you- I am always ready to listen and help.

In this issue:
· Award of Excellence won by Principal John Currie of James S. Bell
· Budget cuts to target Itinerant music instructors
· School staffing for upcoming academic year
· May 16: Ward Forum on TDSB budget
· Global Youth Service Day April 27
· Parent academy May 4
· PRO grant applications due May 21
· Upcoming parent workshops
· Ministry funding changes for secondary school completion

1. Award of Excellence won by Principal John Currie of James S. Bell
James S. Bell JMS in Long Branch was designated a Sports and Wellness Academy last year and given the mandate to transform itself. Who knew back then that the school year would be disrupted by the Bill 115 dispute between the province and the teachers? Despite strong headwinds, James S. Bell Sports and Wellness Academy undertook a focus on student health, academic success, and wellness to such an extent that I had parents write to me saying, “the principal and vice principal make it their business to know and understand each child…I wish all schools could be run like JSB. I was lucky to have found it…please pass on this note of sheer joy.” Not only do the students at JSB participate in many sports and other activities, they all get a nutritious lunch program thanks to parent volunteers, and even the tiny kindergarteners practice calming mindfulness in their yoga sessions.

Principal John Currie has won a TDSB Excellence Award in recognition of his commitment to excellence and innovation and his significant, positive impact on students, staff and the TDSB community. Congratulations to Mr. Currie and the entire staff and many parent volunteers who make JSB a uniquely special place to learn in and grow.

2. Budget cuts to target itinerant music instructors
In a move to save $2M during a very difficult budget year, the Director has recommended that changes be made to the itinerant music programs delivered in the TDSB.

TDSB itinerant music instruction consists of
· Strings, Band and Steel Pan and
· staff development programs (Recorder/Orff/Vocal music or ROV) taught by part-time instructors.

The Band, Strings, and Steel Pan programs are performance-based instrumental music programs offered by specialized music instructors to students in middle school. This model of instrumental instruction is a cherished and long-standing hallmark of the arts-focused former Etobicoke Board of Education and has been kept intact after amalgamation up to now.

The staff development program (ROV) is a centrally coordinated program that is available to schools upon application. Over the course of two years, a specialized music instructor works with a maximum of three classroom teachers and their students for half a day per week, with the goal of preparing classroom teachers to teach Recorder, Orff, or Kodaly (vocal) techniques independently after the end of two years.

The Director is recommending reductions of 24% of current hours for Band, 29% for Strings, 19% for Steel Pan, and the complete discontinuation of the ROV programs. This recommendation, particularly as it applies to Band and Strings, will disproportionately affect Etobicoke middle school students since they have traditionally had more instrumental music hours offered by itinerant teachers than other areas of the city, which offer other models of music instruction. More information is available on my website here.

The recommendations are not final and decisions will be made at the June 16 Board meeting. If you have concerns, please feel free to contact me, Chair Chris Bolton, the other trustees, your MPP, and the Minister of Education. I value these important music programs and am not inclined to see them reduced or discontinued. The Ministry of Education is the ultimate holder of the purse strings for the school boards and the Ministry of Education’s Special Advisory Team’s presence at the TDSB is a reminder of that important point, so the province needs to hear your concerns too.

3. School staffing for upcoming academic year
In an effort to balance the budget in the upcoming year, the overall allocation of vice-principals has been reduced for next year. Class sizes remain the same. Principals are in the midst of developing staffing plans for classes next fall, and all school councils will be consulted by their principals on the school staffing plan before it is finalized.

4. May 16: Ward Forum on TDSB budget
Save the date of Thursday, May 16th for a Ward Forum on the TDSB budget for the upcoming academic year. Overall, the TDSB will need to reduce its budget by $45-55M due to a number of factors such as gaps in provincial funding of Full Day Kindergarten, which will be offered at 75% of elementary schools next fall. Learn more about the TDSB budget here. Your opinion on budget matters is important and I look forward to hearing from you. The budget consultation will be preceded by a meeting of school council chairs and co-chairs at 6 pm.

Where: Sir Adam Beck Jr. School, 544 Horner Ave. (Horner and Brown’s Line), Staff Room
When: 7- 8:45 pm.
Child-minding and snacks will be provided. Please rsvp to Debbie Wagdin Debbie.wagdin@tdsb.on.ca

5. Global Youth Service Day April 27
The City Youth Council of Toronto (CYCTO) is hosting a volunteer fair on April 27th, 2013 as part of Global Youth Service Day (www.gysd.org). This event, taking place at Toronto City Hall, will be the first GYSD event in Canada, and will celebrate youth volunteer efforts across the city. Various organizations, including Habitat for Humanity Toronto, Jane’s Walk, and the Toronto International Film Festival, will
be on hand to talk to potential youth volunteers. This is a great way to find out about how to fill the 40 hours of community service that students need to graduate. Please feel free to put the poster attached to this newsletter up in your school.

Where: Members Lounge, Toronto City Hall
When: April 27th, 2013, 1pm to 5pm

For more Information: Mary Zhu: mary.zhu@cycto.ca or Solomon Christiansen Solomon.christiansen@cycto.ca ; City of Toronto Youth Council (CYCTO) – http://www.cycto.ca

6. Parent Academy May 4
On Saturday, May 4, parents in three locations (noted below) across the city will share their learning with other parents at a Parent Academy Conference.
Conference Locations
Cedarbrae Collegiate Institute, 550 Markham Road, Scarborough, Ontario M1H 2A2
John Polanyi Collegiate Institute, 640 Lawrence West, North York M6A 1B1
Queen Alexandra Middle School, 181 Broadview Avenue, Toronto, Ontario M4M 2G3
The link below has full details of the conference. Bussing will be provided from a number of schools across the system, and participants can indicate if they wish transportation when they register.
More details and registration information can be found here.

7. PRO grant applications due May 21
School councils can apply for up to $1000 with the Parents Reaching Out (PRO) Grant from the Ontario Ministry of Education. The main goal of the grant is to increase parent and family involvement in support of student achievement and well-being. The deadline is Tuesday May 21. I encourage all school councils to apply for this grant and explore the many ways they can foster parent engagement and student achievement. Family literacy workshops by groups such as Engage Literacy are just one example, as we learned at the Ward Forum in March. For more information, see the Ministry of Education webpage here or contact Michelle Munroe at the TDSB Parent Involvement Advisory Office at michelle.munroe@tdsb.on.ca.

8. Upcoming parent workshops
The TDSB Parent and Community Engagement Office is offering some excellent free spring workshops for parents. To register and get more information, click here. Here’s a sample:

Anti-Bullying Strategies for Parents – April 28, 6:30 pm, David and Mary Thomson C.I.
Understanding Safe and Inclusive Schools – May 16, 6:30 pm, Northern Secondary School
Understanding Middle and Secondary School Program and Options – May 21, 6:30 pm, Richview Collegiate
Promoting Positive Mental Health – May 23, 6:30 pm, Lester B. Pearson Collegiate
Nurturing Emotional and Mental Wellness in your Child – May 29, Earl Haig Secondary School
School Council Planning 2013-2013 – June 6, 6:30 pm, Education Centre 5050 Yonge St

9. Ministry funding changes for secondary school completion
The Ministry of Education has changed its policy on the way school boards are funded for secondary school. Effective September 2013, school boards will receive funding at a lower rate than they are currently for students enrolled in courses that will earn them more than 34 secondary school credits. Thirty credits are the minimum needed to graduate in the current four year system.

The intent of the 34 credit threshold policy is to encourage students and schools to plan courses so that they will graduate at the end of 4 or 4.5 years of secondary school. At no point will students be charged for courses above the 34 credit threshold- however, school boards who allow students to take more than 34 credits will receive lower funding per student from the Ministry. Students with an Individual Education Plan (IEP) or those taking credits in English-as-a-Second Language (and French Equivalent) will be exempt from the policy. For more information, please click here.

Subscribe by contacting Debbie.wagdin@tdsb.on.ca. For more information, check out my TDSB website at http://www.tdsb.on.ca/gough. Email me at Pamela.gough@tdsb.on.ca. For the absolute latest information, follow me on Twitter at @pamelagough! Please forward this email to friends.

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