Committee of the Whole Board Meeting

Monday, April 19, 2021 – Meeting Agenda Package

Public Board Meeting

Monday, April 26, 2021 — Meeting Agenda Package


Well-being Update – Safe Schools

At the Waterloo Catholic District School Board, we believe that every student has a right to learn in a safe, caring, and supportive environment. Our learning environments – whether face to face or virtual – foster positive Christ centered relationships that are at the heart of all our efforts to promote student achievement and well-being. The WCDSB vision for safe and accepting schools clearly aligns with the publication of Achieving Excellence: A Renewed Vision for Ontario Education (2014), wherein the Ministry of Education made a commitment to every student in the province of Ontario: Regardless of ‘ancestry, culture, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, language, physical and intellectual ability, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, or other factors’, all students should be able to access the curriculum, feel safe at school, and have a sense of belonging.

Over the 2020-21 school year, the WCDSB has been intentional about supporting student wellbeing during these unprecedented pandemic times. However, because of the impact of the provincial lockdowns on schools and businesses and the restrictions posed by pandemic operational guidelines, some of our safe school initiatives have been paused and/or cancelled.

Regrettably, the Alternative to Suspension Program in partnership with the Cambridge YMCA did not receive renewed provincial funding and has been discontinued. Our partnership and training with Community Justice Initiatives (CJI) has been essentially paused due to gathering restrictions. However, consultation has been available as required.

We are continuing to notice fewer students who are being suspended when we look at the trends over the last three years.

Controlling for similar time ranges (e.g., September to February of each school year) when looking at students who are suspended and enrollment, we are noticing that total number of students who are suspended each year (e.g., recidivism) has decreased in both panels over the past three years in the following magnitudes:

  • In the Elementary panel, there is a decrease when we compare the proportion of students that were issued a suspension in the 2020-2021 school year when compared to four years ago (135 fewer students)
  • In the Secondary panel, there is also a decrease when we compare the total number of students that had a suspension issued in the 2020-2021 school year when compared to four years ago (168 fewer students)

To date, there have been no issued expulsions, up to and including the last day of February in 2019-20, and during the current 2020-21 school year. There were four recorded expulsions in 2018-19.

The report also provides updates in the following key topic areas and activities:

  • Anti-Bullying Week
  • The Umbrella Project
  • Human Trafficking and Exploitation
  • School Resource Officer Program Review
  • Safe School Ambassador Program
  • Professional Development for Educators
  • Digital Citizenship and Student Aware

The report is available beginning on page 17 via this link: Meeting Agenda Package

Multi-Year Information Technology Plan and 21st Century / Global Learning Update

The 2020-21 school year has continued to be one in which an innovative lens has not only been essential but paramount to the responsive needs that the COVID-19 pandemic has asked of WCDSB students, staff, and families. The foundational work of the Innovation Strategic Plan, which focused on the creation of a vision, mission, and strategic direction, enabled a responsive, targeted, and thoughtful system response to virtual learning needs as well as pedagogical support in order that all learners might achieve optimal student outcomes.

The learning opportunities that have been created during these unique times have catapulted teacher efficacy and systems thinking to new levels. We have been challenged to consider our obstacles as opportunities. With a progressive stance, the WCDSB continues to make decisions through an equity lens and our innovative endeavors continue to focus on strengthening educator capacity, building strong community partnerships, planning for opportunities for the traditionally underrepresented, and strengthening accessibility for all.

On April 26, 2021, the Board of Trustees received a detailed report describing the challenges faced and accomplishments made throughout the year. The report is divided into the following key areas:

  • Digital Citizenship Programming
  • Experiential Learning Programming
  • Global Competency Programming
  • Equity and Technology Governance
  • Classroom Technology and Innovation
  • Connecting Technology to Disciplinary Programming
  • Leadership for Innovation Learning Series

The report also includes the WCDSB’s Multi-Year Information Technology Strategic Plan for the years 2021 to 2026.

The document details the status of 2020-21 projects and outlines upcoming initiatives in several key areas, including:

  • IT Governance
  • Key Performance Indicators
  • Staff Training, Support and Development
  • Infrastructure
  • Process Improvement

The report is available beginning on page 34 via this link: Meeting Agenda Package

2021 Capital Priorities Submission

The current capital priorities program provides boards with an opportunity to apply by May 21, 2021 for funding to address up to 10 of their most urgent pupil accommodation needs including:

  • accommodation pressures;
  • replacing schools in poor condition;
  • supporting past consolidation decisions;
  • providing facilities for French-language rights holders in under-served areas; and
  • creating new licensed childcare spaces in schools.

Projects are expected to be completed and open no later than the 2024/25 school year.  This year’s program will prioritize projects where accommodation pressure is addressing utilization equal or greater than 100% in the 5th year after a project opens, and where there is a 2.5% or greater operational cost savings resulting from the project.

As identified in the 2020 Long Term Accommodation Plan (LTAP), the following list of projects were identified as priorities for the next round of capital priorities funding.  As such, the Board will apply for the following capital priorities:

  • New Rosenberg Catholic Elementary School – 400 pupil places
  • Boniface Catholic Elementary School addition – 92 pupil places
  • Gregory Catholic Elementary School addition – 92 pupil places

In addition, a new 400 pupil place elementary school project on the vacant St. Patrick CES site in East Kitchener would address the short- and long-term elementary accommodation needs in that community beyond the planned East Kitchener 7-12 school.

The report is available beginning on page 62 via this link: Meeting Agenda Package

Equity/Census Update

As a Catholic learning community, we are inspired and guided by the Gospel in our pursuit of equity and justice as a value rooted in our faith. In our Catholic/Christian tradition, we have a moral imperative to act intentionally to ensure those we serve – staff, students, and communities – are treated with respect and dignity as brothers and sisters in Christ.

A critical step to ensuring equity is to gain a clearer understanding of who our students are and of their school experiences. The purpose of enhancing data collection and performance measurement is to improve the achievement and well-being of all students and more precisely identify and address systemic barriers and disparities.

A consistent approach to collecting and analyzing voluntarily provided identity-based data will help WCDSB identify where systemic barriers exist and will help determine how to eliminate discriminatory biases to support equity, and student achievement and well-being through evidence-informed decision making.

Called to Belong

Our “Called to Belong” Workforce Census was launched on Spiritual Development Day in November 2019, but due to labour action and then the lengthy school closure period our completion rate was less than anticipated and the social/emotional context had changed so significantly that the data could not be used reliably.  We intend to re-launch our workforce census in May 2021. Consultations with staff from various equity-seeking groups took place during the week of April 19-23.

With the completion of our Workforce Census, we will have come to better understand the diversity of staff and identified barriers to workplace equity.  We will also have built capacity and understanding of the purpose of equity surveys with our entire employee population.  This will serve us well in completing our first Student Survey.

As we did with our Workforce Census, we have developed a draft Student Census survey to share with staff, students, parents, and community partners/organizations. Consultation with students, parents and community partners/organizations will take place which will involve a rationale for the census and a draft of the actual survey to share for feedback

Administration of the Student Survey will take place in October 2021, followed by analysis of data and development of a report that will be shared with trustees, the district community, parents, and community partners.

Once we have voluntary student data, will be able to compare staff to students to inform attraction to the teaching profession, leadership, and hiring and promotions so that eventually our workforce more closely resembles the students and families we serve.

The report is available beginning on page 65 via this link: Meeting Agenda Package

Update on WCDSB COVID Education Delivery Plan

At the current time, the schools of Waterloo Catholic continue to learn in our evolving pandemic reality, which currently has us under a provincial “stay-at-home” order.  Our staff, students and parents are yet again being asked to adapt, more so in our in-person learning environment than in the virtual environment of St Isidore.  That said – it is a challenging landscape across our province as we try to combat the third wave.  COVID-19 has changed the landscape of a traditional school experience and the staff of our board have planned, prepared, and now implemented in this new and continually evolving reality.  As we continue the journey further into spring, we are also looking to next year and what the school year will look like.

As was the case in January, when the full system pivoted to virtual, we are once again providing in person instruction and support to our special education vulnerable population.  Realizing that this was a possibility we might confront at some additional point in the school year, we began advocating earlier for the vaccination for all our staff – but with the staff who serve our vulnerable population as a priority. On April 21st, the government agreed to accept pre-registration for all Group 1 frontline essential workers – which takes in all our school-based staff. Meanwhile, targeted COVID-19 testing has continued in the Region over the course of this month.

WCDSB has also been the recipient of infrastructure funds released by the federal and provincial governments.  We have received approximately $8.1 million which will greatly assist in addressing some critical infrastructure needs connected to HVAC and windows. This investment will aid in improving the safety of our buildings – a much valued boost at this time when we are dealing with the impacts of the pandemic.  The specific investments are as follows:

  • HVAC projects – approximately 22 projects
    • Including replacement of roof top units, unit ventilators, heat pumps, exhaust systems, boilers, BAS upgrades and control systems
  • Window replacement projects – approximately 12 projects
  • Various other smaller projects including – automatic door openers, hand washing stations
  • Funding has also assisted with refurbishing 19 portables, some roofing projects and flooring projects as well.

These updates will primarily take place during quieter times in the schools, and as such much of the work will occur during the summer.

Finally, in March we conducted a preliminary survey to assess the level of interest in virtual learning for September 2021. The survey revealed that we have just under 600 elementary school students interested in virtual learning and fewer than 200 students in secondary schools. This will mean that we will offer St. Isidore as an option at the elementary school level in 2021-22, but we will have to consider our delivery model in secondary schools, given that the 200 students are spread over 5 schools, 4 grades and a variety of courses. Families will be asked to confirm their final choice of learning mode in June.

The report is available beginning on page 69 via this link: Meeting Agenda Package

Board Chair’s Update

Each month, the Chair of the Board reports on the activities of the Board of Trustees. Chair Melanie Van Alphen’s report for April 2021 is available on page 76 via this link: Meeting Agenda Package

Student Trustees Update

Student Trustees Abby Barbosa and Kate Morrison presented their monthly update – covering activities in WCDSB’s secondary schools. It is available beginning on page 73 via this link: Meeting Agenda Package

Upcoming Board Meetings

Committee of the Whole Board Meeting

Monday, May 10, 2021

Regular Public Board Meeting

Monday, May 31, 2021

The Waterloo Catholic District School Board, representing more than 96,000 Catholic school supporters, operates 48 schools and four adult education facilities, serving more than 40,000 elementary, secondary, and continuing education students in Waterloo Region – continuing a 185-year tradition of quality, inclusive, faith-based education. Follow us on Twitter: @WCDSBNewswire – #WCDSBAwesome.