Trustee Update – from Jennifer Story

Please see below for an update from our Trustee, Jennifer Story

(Here is Councillor Paula Fletcher’s Fall 2019 Community Newsletter.)

Welcome back!

We’re already a week into the new school year. I hope everyone had a fantastic summer and are starting the year off full of energy and excitement for what lies ahead.
Though the year ahead will be not without challenge for our Board, and for public education across Ontario, I am committed to ensuring we continue to offer our students what they need to succeed and to make improvements across our board in the areas of achievement, well-being and equity.
The provincial government is proposing and/or implementing many measures that will challenge our system. I will endeavour throughout the year to provide you with analysis and opportunities to make your voice heard via future issues of this newsletter. 

I always appreciate the feedback that families and community members provide on how we’re doing and how we can do better, and I look forward to working with many of you in the months ahead.
Budget Update

At the Board meeting last Wednesday staff presented a report that provides both an update on the implementation of budget reductions and a preliminary assessment of the implications to the Multi-Year Strategic Plan (MYSP). Read about 2019-2020 Budget Reduction Implications here. The MYSP continues to be implemented with the support of staff across the organization – some implementation dates, however, have been delayed.
Update on Bus Driver Shortage
The Toronto Student Transportation Group (TSTG) has received an update from Stock Transportation that despite their best efforts, there continues to be a driver shortage now impacting 24 routes in Stock Transportation’s East, West and North Divisions. These routes affect 47 students who go to school in Toronto-Danforth, on 4 routes. We appreciate your patience. For questions, contact Toronto Student Transportation Group (TSTG) at 416-394-4BUS (416-394-4287) or e-mail Parents are also encouraged to check the delay portal for the latest information
Problems connecting with Student Transportation? TSTG has a temporary new phone line for the month of September to contact the call centre. You shouldn’t get a busy signal using the new number at 647-790-3829.
TDSB Class Sizes
I’ve been getting a lot of questions already about class sizes and configurations, and how what we are seeing in our schools relates to the Provincial Government’s funding cuts. While the cuts certainly have an impact, there are always issues that need to be rectified in September. Determining class sizes and configurations is a complex web. Here are the rules and considerations that impact class sizes:
School boards are funded by the province of Ontario based on student enrolment. Each September, TDSB staff looks at enrolment projections and adjust the level of school-based staffing needed to support students. In some of your schools you will already know that some classes are larger than anticipated whereas in others, some may be smaller. Board decisions about school-based staff allocations must take into account legislative requirements including the Ministry of Education’s class size regulations that put limits on class sizes or averages and Collective Agreements with teacher federations.
Staff allocation decisions are approved by the Board in March based on projected school enrolments in order to be ready to open schools in September and implement the staffing processes as defined by Collective Agreements. Staffing timelines for the employee groups are prepared in consultation with the appropriate bargaining unit representatives. Each elementary school has a staffing committee where the board-wide allocation is distributed according to local school decisions.
Full-Day Kindergarten (FDK): A system average of no more than 26.0 students per class. A cap or maximum of 29 students in any class. The Board is permitted to exceed the cap in 10% of Kindergarten classes if there is no purpose-built kindergarten space available or for program purposes. All Kindergarten classes except those with 15 or fewer students are required to have a teacher and a Designated Early Childhood Educator (ECE). Classes of 15 or fewer students are required to have a teacher only.

Grade 1-3: A cap or maximum of 20 students in any class. The Board is permitted to exceed the cap in 10% of Grade 1-3 classes up to a maximum of 23 students.

Grade 3/4 Combined Grade Classes: A cap or maximum of 23 students in any class.

Grade 4-8:  Classes are required to have a system average class size of 23.24 students based on collective agreements with ETFO but are actually being funded by the Ministry of Education at a system average class average of 24.5 students. ($9.5M cost to the Board)

Grade 9-12 – On March 15, 2019 the Ministry of Education advised that secondary system-wide class size average will transition to 28.0 but for this year, the regulation is for a system average of no more than 22.0 students per class plus attrition. Under the Ministry of Education guidelines for attrition funding, the TDSB projected system average will be 23.6 for the 2019-2020 school year. Additionally, the existing collective agreement with OSSTF places class size caps on classes based on level. For example, classes at the Academic level has a cap of 30, classes at the Applied level has a cap of 23, classes at the Locally Developed level has a cap of 14. Each secondary school is permitted to exceed the cap by 10% in 10% of classes. (Note that the TDSB has had reductions to the number of teachers that are not covered by the Ministry attrition funding. For example, those positions funded by Local Priorities funding from the Ministry have been reduced due to this funding being discontinued, a number of teachers in central positions e.g., coaches, etc.) As a result of the attrition funding not covering those types of positions, there have, in fact, been layoffs of secondary teachers.

Local Priorities Funding – As noted above, the Ministry of Education advised Boards that Local Priorities funding ended August 31, 2019. Additional teachers derived from the contract extension agreement with ETFO and OSSTF are not included for 2019-20. This is a further reduction of funded teachers across the system.

It’s important to remember that a ‘System Average’ measures all of the classes in that category across the Board. A ‘Cap’ is a measurement pertaining to each class in that category. It is important to note that in Grade 4-8 this is a TDSB system-wide average, meaning that in some schools, some classes may be as low as 20 and as high as 30. There have been a few isolated cases where some classes in the first week reached as high as 40. Please know that this will change within the next two weeks to meet the expectations noted above once schools reorganize.

In secondary schools, there is impact that will be felt including course cancellations, larger class sizes and combined grade and level courses. Each TDSB secondary school will be offering all compulsory courses; however, when a section of a compulsory course has been cancelled, all remaining sections of that compulsory course will be larger. The staffing reduction has not only impacted class size and course selection, but will also result in fewer supports for students who need them.
Remember, the number of teachers allocated to the system is directly dependent on the number of students. And the number of teachers allocated to a school is directly dependent on the number of students enrolled in the school. As a system, we do our best to plan for the new school year, but there are always factors, such as new or departing students, that might affect how classrooms are organized. Every September, the TDSB reviews actual student enrolment in our schools (compared to the spring’s projections). This is the month where adjustments to teacher allocations are required in order for the board to be compliant with class size regulations and collective agreements.
For elementary, the Ministry requires the Board to identify a “count date” in the month of September where the class sizes must be adjusted to become regulation compliant based on the enrolment of that date. For 2019-20, that date is September 13. Adjustment or re-organization in some cases means the movement of students among classes but may also include the creation of an additional class via the allocation of an additional teacher or the cancelling of class via the removal of a teacher allocation. Adjustment activity takes place in the week following the count date. The Board is required to report the elementary class sizes to the Ministry on the last day of October.
For secondary, the system average is not established until the spring of the school year since Full-Year, First Semester and Second Semester class enrolment must be measured. However, adjustment to teacher allocation also occurs in September. Typically secondary students do not all arrive on the first day of school, enrolment at secondary schools grows between the start of school and the third week of September. It is for this reason that secondary teacher adjustments occur after this point. In the first week of high school classes, there have been a few isolated cases where some classes have reached as high as 40 or more students. Please know that this will change in the next few weeks to meet the expectations outlined above. Please also note that secondary teacher adjustment also occurs in February/March to address second-semester class sizes. In the secondary panel, additional teacher allocation may mean the re-organization of some classes and timetable changes for some students.

We know that reorganization is challenging for staff; and for students and parents, changing classes may be difficult. Students will be supported as they transition through these classroom changes to ensure a successful and rewarding school year. Thank you in advance for your patience and cooperation. You will hear directly from your school’s Principal if reorganization is required. If you have any questions or concerns, please speak with your Principal.

Cell Phone Code of Conduct
The Ministry of Education released their new Cell Phone Code of Conduct on August 29, with restrictions taking effect on November 4, 2019. At the TDSB, we allow the use of technology in the classroom for educational purposes. It may make sense to use a cellphone in one class, but not make sense in another. That’s why we’ve left it up to individual classrooms to determine if the use of a cellphone is appropriate for that specific class or lesson. While we must still review supplementary documents to determine if any changes need to be made, at first glance of the announcement, it would appear that this is very similar to what we already have in place at the TDSB. In every student agenda.
Technology is used often in classrooms to engage, enhance, and support student learning. The TDSB is focused on enabling more technology-based learning tools by adding Wi-Fi zones to further modernize our schools and help to improve student learning in the digital age. We also understand that students bring their own devices, such as smartphones and laptops, to school.
This can be an important way for parents and guardians to stay connected and engaged with the learning of their children, as well as a way to reach each other, when necessary. It is important to make sure that they are used responsibly, do not interfere with learning and respect the rights of others at all times. To learn more, visit your school office or speak to your Principal.
Students need to be discerning digital citizens and opportunities should be provided within the curriculum to allow students to safely explore various uses and risks of technology in an intentionally guided and supportive environment.
Ending “Period Poverty”
Very proud that Trustees voted unanimously last week to provide free menstrual products in all elementary and secondary schools for the 2019-2020 school year with the rollout beginning this fall. Products will first be provided to students in Grades 7 through 12, followed by other grades. The TDSB has been able to secure access to menstrual products and educational materials at no cost to the Board. Nearly one in seven Canadian girls have either left school early or missed school entirely because they did not have access to the feminine care products they needed to manage their periods. Lack of access due to economic factors can be especially damaging during puberty, when school interactions are crucial to a girl’s development. Thank you to Thames Valley Student Trustee Sarah Chun who led this initiative, and to my colleagues Stephanie Donaldson and Harpreet Gill for bringing the motion forward at the TDSB.
School Year Calendar 2019-2020
The 2019-2020 school year at the TDSB begins on Tuesday, September 3, 2019 following the Labour Day long weekend. For more information about important dates and holidays for the upcoming school year, please refer to the 2019-20 School Year Calendar.

The official school year calendar for the Toronto District School Board runs from September 1, 2019 to June 30, 2020, inclusive.
The last day of class for elementary students is June 25, 2020

The last day of class for secondary (full year) students is June 23, 2020

The last day of class for secondary (semestered) students is June 23, 2020

PA Days & Statutory Holidays

Board-wide PA Day  October 11, 2019

Thanksgiving October 14, 2019

Board-wide PA Day  November 15, 2019

Board-wide PA Day  December 6, 2019

Winter Break  December 23, 2019 to January 3, 2020 (inclusive)

Last day of school is December 20, 2019

School resumes January 6, 2020

Elementary PA Day  January 17, 2020

Secondary PA Day (Semestered Schools only) January 30, 2020

Board-wide PA Day February 14, 2020

Family Day  February 17, 2020

March Break  March 16 to 20, 2020

Good Friday  April 10, 2020

Easter Monday  April 13, 2020

Victoria Day  May 18, 2020

Elementary School PA Day  June 5, 2020

Secondary School PA Day (Full Year Schools only) June 24, 2020

Secondary School PA Day  June 25, 2020

Board-wide PA Day June 26, 2020

Also please note 

Rosh Hashanah begins sunset of  Sunday, September 29, 2019  and ends nightfall of  Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Yom Kippur begins sunset of  Tuesday, October 8, 2019 and ends nightfall of Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Hanukkah begins sunset of Sunday, December 22, 2019 and ends nightfall of Monday, December 30, 2019

Passover begins sunset of  Wednesday, April 8, 2020 and ends nightfall of Thursday, April 16, 2020

Ramadan 2020 will begin in the evening of Thursday, April 23, 2020 and ends in the evening of Saturday, May 23, 2020 (dates may vary)

Eid al-Fitr 2020 will begin in the evening of Saturday, May 23, 2020

Gr. 9 Math: 1st Semester: January 13-24, 2020
Gr. 9 Math:  2nd Semester: June 2-15, 2020
OSSLT:  March 31, 2020
Primary/Junior EQAO:  May 19-June 1, 2020

Also please note Days of Significance Calendar for the 2019-2020 school year.

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