on September 4, 2014 by test_editor in Archive_2014, Print Articles, September, Comments Off on September 4, 2014: School Trustee Report; New beginnings.

September 4, 2014: School Trustee Report; New beginnings.

September 4, 2014: School Trustee Report;
New beginnings.
By Jennifer McKenzie, OCDSB Trustee for Kitchissippi and Somerset Wards.

Welcome back to school everyone! Didn’t the summer just fly by! I hope you are well rested and relaxed, and ready to jump back into a regular school and work schedule.

Please take extra care when operating vehicles on the roads this fall. Children are being encouraged to walk, bike and roll to school with our new, green, walk to school initiatives. Children and their families are out on the sidewalks and yes in the roads. They can dart in front of you with little notice. Slow down whenever you see our young pedestrians and pay close attention while you drive. Never pass a bus with flashing lights!

Trustee Elections and My Plans.
As many of you know, trustees are elected on the same ballot as our City Council representatives. After eight years of serving as your trustee, I have decided not to run again this time.

It has been a tremendous pleasure looking after the public schools in Kitchissippi and Somerset Wards and I often have felt as though I have 70,000 kids to watch over. Thank you for allowing me the honour of serving as your representative on the school board!

School Buses.
Buses fall under the purview of the Ottawa School Transportation Authority. Please visit http://ottawaschoolbus.ca for the latest information on bus routes, stops and schedules. In some cases, your child may not qualify for a seat on the bus right away and you may have to apply for an ‘empty seat’. Please visit your school’s front office to find out more about this process.

Please note too that school start times are being reviewed by OSTA for September 2015 in order to optimize busing efficiency. The process for this is described on the ottawaschoolbus.ca website if you are interested in participating in the consultations.

Capital Pride Parade.
I am very proud that the Ottawa Carleton District School Board has had a contingent in the Capital Pride Parade every summer since 2011. This year students, families, neighbours and friends marched alongside school staff on Sunday August 24 to demonstrate that we are a safe, caring and inclusive organization. We are usually one of the biggest groups in the parade!

We started this practice when Donna Blackburn, our first openly gay trustee, asked if we could participate in Capital Pride. Consistent with our stated policy of inclusion, it was an easy answer. Since then, the ripple effect on the organization has been profound. It is now part of our culture to be open and inclusive of all students and all families and indeed all community members. It affects the attitudes and the dialogues both inside and outside of the classroom and in the community.

Broadview PS Rebuild.
Trustees voted to allocate the funds required for the rebuilding of Broadview Public School in June. Only $5.3 Million of the required $15 Million was provided by the Ministry with the rest to be made up by the Board. These funds will come from a reserve containing proceeds of disposition (sale of school board properties).

Traditionally, this fund is used extensively for schools across the region to make up for unavoidable cost overruns and general underfunding for capital projects from the Ministry. We are fortunate that trustees agreed to use it towards Broadview.

Architectural drawings are being prepared and a public meeting will be scheduled during the Fall. You should know that underfunding of a school rebuild in this way is unprecedented at the OCDSB. Of the over fifteen new schools built since amalgamation, all have been fully (or close to fully) funded by the Ministry. The Board’s seventh priority in Orleans was fully funded this Spring – without a review of adjacent school space as was required by the school board and as Broadview was required to do. Orleans is an area of the city where enrolment is declining in several adjacent schools.

Broadview was second on our priority list. As your trustee, I have fought since the beginning to have a fair share of provincial capital funds directed to projects inside the greenbelt. I believe that the way the Ministry chose to fund this project sends precisely the wrong message to the community about the value it places on inner city schools.

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