Report from English Language School Board Meeting, September 24, 2013

I attended the regular meeting English Language School Board meeting held September 24, 2013 on behalf of the PEI Home and School Federation, accompanied by Executive Director Shirley Jay. The meeting was held at the Stratford office of the board (monthly meetings alternate between Stratford and Summerside).

The meeting was poorly attended: other than Shirley and I and representatives from Recreation PEI who were presenting to the meeting, no other members of the public attended.

While members of the public are invited to meetings of the School Board, the chair made it clear that this is only to observe the meeting; no questions, comments or other interactions from the public are entertained, and all requests to present to the Board must be made in advance through the Superindent's office.

Members of the public receive a copy of the agenda for the meeting, but not a copy of the minutes of the previous meeting nor any of the materials the trustees are to consider at the meeting.

Trustees met "in camera", out of public view, before the public portion of the meeting, and, perhaps as a result, most of the proceedings of the public meeting were "housekeeping" and there was little substantive discussion. Other that the regular business of the Board (approval of agenda, previous meeting minutes, etc.) the meeting was concerned with:

  1. A presentation from Recreation PEI on the go!Play project that will see after-school recreation programs run in 18 rural elementary schools (slides for the presentation are available).
  2. A report from Superindendent Cynthia Fleet on the start of the 2013-2014 school year, wherein she made the following points:
    • 19 principals were hired for this school year, 11 of which were new principals; this caused a "domino effect" that led to 14 newly-assigned vice-principals, 8 of which were new to the position.
    • There are just under 1,500 teacher employed this year, 375 education assistants and youth service workers, 264 bus drivers, 213 custodians (15 new hires).
    • There are currently 5 educational psychologists filling 4.6 positions; the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development funds 8.4 positions, so there are positions unfilled, despite active recruiting. Private psychologist services will make up some of the difference.
    • There are 2,600 permanent employees of the Board, 3,600 employees in total.
    • Official enrollment figures will be released shortly; this is the figure on which funding is provided for the next school year. Early analysis suggests a decrease in 175 students compared to 2012.
    • The Superintendent compared vital statistics births figures for 5 years ago with kindergarten enrollement this year and found that the figures match within 10 students (the figure for this year was 1450 incoming kindergarten students). If trends continue she anticipates this decreasing to 1200 incoming students in 5 years time.
  3. The budget for the 2013-2014 was approved.
  4. Note was made that at a future meeting governance policies will be brought forward for approval.
  5. There was discussion of the possibility of the Board sending representatives to a conference being held in Dartmouth, NS on October 17 and 18 by the Nova Scotia School Boards Association; the topic of the conference will be community engagement. This was approved and representatives will be sought.

The next meeting of the English Language School Board will be held Tuesday, October 22, 2013 at 7:30 p.m. at the Summerside office of the Board.