CDSBEO Board Meeting

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by Amber LaBerge

Interim Financial Reporting:
Manager of Finance, Ashley Hutchinson, presented the interim financial reporting data to the Board of Trustees. The interim report summarizes revenue and expenses during September December, compared to the same period last year. Total projected revenue for the 2020 2021 school year is $202.3M. This projection reflects the Revised Financial Estimates that were presented to the board in December. Expenditures to the end of December 2020 overall are estimated to be below budget, suggesting some possible savings.

“Our total expenditures are tracking approximately 4.4 per cent less than what was spent this time last year due to several factors including a reduction in supply coverage costs, decreased travel and lower professional development costs, as well snow removal costs are currently tracking under budget. Since our last reporting of the revised financials to the Board in December, the Board has received additional COVID 19 funding. To date, the CDSBEO has received more than $9M in COVID related funding and we expect to spend approximately $9.6M.”

Approximately 40 FTE staff have been added through COVID 19 funding, including staff for the addition of the Virtual Learning Elementary School, mental health supports and custodial staff.

Additional COVID 19 expenditures include enhanced cleaning of school transportation vehicles, early dismissal costs for grades 7 to 12, improved air quality and ventilation systems upgrades, personal protective equipment and a significant investment in technology including laptops, iPads and MIFI devices.

Building One Reading Brain at a Time:
Speech Language Pathologists in the CDSBEO Department of Special Education shared their system wide work on how they are revolutionizing the way CDSBEO educators teach reading. Professional development has been delivered board wide to train teachers about the science of reading and how the brain learns to read. Speech Language Pathologists Julie McDermid, April Hackett Helmkay and Tiffany Kalsi presented information to the Board of Trustees on this initiative, including teaching teachers how the human brain learns to read and providing them with tools to align their practices with this science.

“Over the last year, our team has embarked on a journey in supporting the educators within the CDSBEO in aligning their classroom practices with the one way that the brain learns to read,” began Julie McDermid. “Teachers leave teacher’s college not knowing how to teach kids to read, and all of the research on the science of reading and how to teach reading has been buried deep in academic journals. Our mission is to share this information with all educators in our board. Because as the Right to Read project says, every teacher deserves to know the science of reading, and every child deserves a teacher who knows it.”
She noted that the reason is because there are a lot of myths about how children learn to read, however children need purposeful and planned instruction to learn how to read. The team began by making changes to the assessment protocol so that it aligned with the way students learn to read. Assessment is still done with oral language; however, a more in depth literacy portion was added which allowed them to see who is most at risk for reading difficulties. “This allowed us to identify who would need a little support, and who would need a lot of support to develop their reading brain,” explained Julie McDermid.

The assessment provides the information that parents, and educators need to guide instruction and intervention. Teachers can immediately put the recommendations into practice and see measurable growth in their students reading.

“The response has been overwhelming, as suddenly our most vulnerable students are starting to read. Many students were struggling to read, and word level reading was not being taught explicitly in our classrooms, and so began our journey of changing how word level reading is taught across our classrooms.”

April Hackett Helmkay noted that 40% of students would benefit from a structured approach to literacy in order to learn to read, while the other 60 percent require it as an essential component.

“It is essential to have structured literacy, and therefore teachers need to implement a structured approach. Our goal was to empower teachers to think critically about their teaching practices in order to align them with the one way that the brain learns to read.”

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