Student achievement and well-being will continue to be the top priorities for the Renfrew County Catholic District School Board in the 2019–2020 school year, Chair Dave Howard told fellow trustees at Monday night’s regular meeting.
“Our goal is to increase student achievement while passing on the good news of Jesus Christ in a supportive, respectful environment,” Howard said as he presented the Board’s Budget for 2019-2020. “I assure you that despite some reductions in Ministry funding and our concerns regarding those, we are presenting a balanced budget overall. This budget allocates our funds to ensure that we can meet the needs of our school communities and provide the best-quality education possible for all of our students, while at the same time adhering to Ministry guidelines.”
Highlights of the budget include $257,000 for a math fundamentals strategy, said Howard. This will provide for a Mathematics resource in every Grade 1 to 8 class to assist in curriculum planning, as well as assessment and meeting of individual learning needs. Resources will also be updated in the Board’s Literacy program to help students improve their writing skills.
The Board also is increasing assessment efforts and intervention strategies for students with diverse learning needs, Howard said, including those with learning disabilities, English Language Learners and Indigenous students. A full-time position for an expert in Applied Behaviour Analysis will be added to support students with Autism Spectrum Disorder. As well, new resources will provide for First Nations, Métis and Inuit perspectives in the Social Studies program, in order to address the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action.
Implementation of the Diplôme d’études en langue française (DELF) assessment for Grade 12 French students will also continue as part of a pilot project with the Ministry of Education. As well, our extended French as a Second Language program will be expanded to Holy Name Catholic School in September.
Other important areas of focus in 2019-2020 are outdoor education and experiential learning, Howard said. “These are learning areas that allow us to support the development of the whole child.” He added that funding for the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program increased to $106,383. “We will continue to commit to a vibrant music and dance program as well.”
“Student success is a continuing focus for us,” he said, “to ensure that all of our secondary students have a viable pathway towards graduation and, indeed, beyond graduation.”
He added that “the Board will continue to have dedicated Student Success teachers in our two secondary schools and we are excited to retain an Experiential Learning Coordinator, who will provide innovative and experiential learning opportunities for our Grade 7 to 12 students.”
He noted that, in keeping with Ministry funding changes, the number of students in each secondary school classroom will eventually increase to 28 from 22 students, while teaching positions will be decreased through attrition and voluntary leaves. “This will lead to a loss of 34 classes in our two high schools’ timetables for the 2019-2020 school year,” Howard added.
Howard highlighted that we will continue to work with community partners and our board team to enhance access to mental health services for our students and focus on day to day classroom strategies and interventions to improve student wellness and resilience for all.
Capital projects for the Board in 2019-2020 include $2.7 million in funding to upgrade school facilities with energy-efficient systems. In partnership with the Renfrew County Child Care Services and the Killaloe Community Resource Centre, the Board has also provided surplus space at St. John Bosco Catholic School to create a daycare facility in the Barry’s Bay area.
The Board’s Budget of over $72 million has a shortfall of $164,784 with respect to the amortization of previously approved capital projects. This amount, says Howard, will be covered by Board reserves, and is not considered a deficit according to Ministry guidelines and so the Board is pleased to file a balanced 2019-2020 budget.
June 24, 2019
For further information, please contact:
Jaimie Perry, Director of Education
Renfrew County Catholic District School Board
499 Pembroke Street West
Pembroke, ON K8A 5P1
Phone: 613-735-1031 or 1-800-267-0191