Staff Present: Emma Watts, Kevin Mills, Jeff Reaburn, Jodie Baker, Janet Baird-Jackson
Trustees Present: Alyson Kent, Julie Moore, Doug Pratley
Principal Kevin Mills called the group to order, made introductions and outlined the agenda, noting the new logo ‘Better Together’ – a theme that will be more apparent throughout the evening presentation.
- Recap June Meeting
- Phase 1 and 2
- Future communication
- Thought Exchange
Recapping the situation, AMDSB has received Ministry funding to address the structural issues at SCSS, specifically to demolish the 1958 wing and rebuild, right sizing per Ministry expectations, which would reduce SCSS’ capacity (~100%) by ~ 300 spaces (this number varies slightly as it depends on class size, for example) and utilize the excess capacity at SNSS (~75% utilization). The also provides the opportunity to address accessibility Stratford Central for all students using Board reserves
The current 7-12 populations at the schools are SCSS 1087, and SNSS 1015; we have not seen a big shift and in relation to St. Michael’s, we have lost a few students, but not the numbers rumoured. Some left and have already returned.
Recognizing SCSS was built in 1875, it has served us well. Now we are here as a group and working hard internally to come up with the best solution to support the greatest number of students. Our goal, within our fiscal limits, is to improve the facilities and enrich the programming for all students.
Phase 1 – now called VISION
Senior Administration has analyzed and come up with 6 possible options, which require further analysis to determine feasibility. This is a very complex task, as we need to take into consideration the needs of all kids in all pathways, profiles of students (international, refugee, LGBQT, students with learning disabilities, etc.) extracurricular activities, teams, what our buildings can offer, etc.
The 6 options:
Option 1 – Both SCSS and SNSS continue as 7 – 12 schools with a) boundary changes and b) more concurrent registrations for program reasons.
Option 2 – SCSS and SNSS remain as 7 – 12 schools with boundary changes, program shifts, and concurrent registrations.
Option 3 – Timetable both schools as one site but maintain individual school identities.
Option 4 – In this option SNSS continues as a Grades 7 – 12 school and SCSS becomes a Grades 9-12 school.
Option 5 – SNSS continues as a Grades 7 – 12 school and SCSS becomes a 9 – 12 school with one database for both schools. (One school, two campuses.)
Option 5B – SCSS and SNSS continue as 7-12 schools but are timetabled as one school (i.e. One school, two campuses.)
Again, there are pros and cons to all, and all require more detailed analysis.
Part of the process that we will work through with the vision is to take the 6 options and work to narrow the possibilities down to 2 or 3 viable options to determine which is most doable and provides the best options for students. We want the best solution for the greatest number of students and families. We want the want the process to be meaningful, efficient and the best use of resources.
We continue working hard to engage kids and improve our schools. To help with program planning, a form will be created and posted on the web to identify additional programs we should consider, with ‘we’ meaning both schools, when we reopen (STRATFORD CENTRAL) again in 2020. The form lists courses unique at SCSS that don’t run at SNSS and those that don’t run at SCSS but do at SNSS. Some students go back and forth now and take courses in both schools. We are asking what other programs people would like to see -courses that would benefit and engage a large number of students to participate e.g. more language classes, arts, a hockey course– that would be of interest. We are expecting parents to have a discussion with each other and with the students. We will continue to dialogue with students and they will be encouraged to share ideas, as well.
Phase 2 – now TRANSITION
We require a transition year during construction when all students will need to be out of SCSS and the 9-12s and/or the 7-12s in SNSS. We are having discussions over where the 7/8s will be located, and if not at SNSS due to space restrictions, what school would look like for them. While our key focus is on the health and safety of staff and students, we want to minimize the disruption in learning and provide the best possible facility while in transition.
We heard the anxiety over the split shift timetable and are investigating a five period day, but nothing has been determined. We must establish whether we can timetable this large group using 5x 75 minute classes in the spaces available to us. The 75-minute lunch would be in one of the middle periods, and the overall day extended by 25 minutes. If all are at SNSS, grades 7 and 8s will be on a separate schedule. This is a complex exercise because of timetabling, access to specialty programs/rooms, etc.; we need another 2 to 3 weeks’ time to fully investigate. A benefit is that both schools combined could potentially give more options to students.
The Steering Committee will make a final recommendation to Senior Administration on the framework for the year.
GIVENS and CONSIDERATIONS
This is an incredibly complex situation, which looks at a dense amount of data. We know there are both ‘givens’ and considerations that we must work with and include in decision-making:
- SCSS building will be smaller, students do have to move
- We need to consider the history, legacy and the character of the buildings
- When 250 kids are added to SNSS, what is the space going to be? Are there enough lockers, classes, room in the cafeteria?
- If the students attend both schools, what school will be their home school? Will they have lockers at both schools? How will attendance work?
- Timetabling – when a school population decreases, it is hard to offer breadth of program choices
- There is no way we can find a solution with which everyone will be happy. If there were any easy solution, we would be presenting it now.
We recognize the decision on the final Vision is extremely significant in which everyone will want to have a voice, and that it affects staff, students and the entire community.
Another concern for Senior Administration is having a method to get balanced, equitable and informed feedback. We do not wish to create situations where some persons are very vocal, leading other persons to not speak up, as we risk losing important voices/input.
This is why we are considering ThoughtExchange, an online program that works to ensure confidential and meaningful, broad input with equitable access.
- an online program where you log in with an email address, identify by ‘role’, students, staff or parent at high school or elementary, feeder school or SNSS or SCSS
- The program is completely confidential (no names) and is not used to try to identify users, but to break down the data and receive more meaningful input
- An open-ended question is posted – give a thought, read thoughts, react to it, one star if it is a bad idea, 5 is great idea
- Questions would be open 2 weeks at a time, 24-7
- When a participant logs in, the number of responses are shown, enabling people to see what thoughts have become priorities (highest ratings). The real advantage of this is, in the end, is you can take a thought and look at the numbers who favoured it, then look at the groups and see what they disagree and what they agree on. It allows decision makers to gage the real thoughts, and exchange them to know what others think.
- The plan would be for an invitation to be sent through School Messenger to everyone (students and parents in all Stratford area schools, elementary and secondary). Anyone is able to login and share a thought. There is a moderation feature to ensure no inappropriate comments get posted; we are advised that the platform does not encourage persons who might wish to ‘skew’ the results.
Participants will see what the priorities are as they go along. Participants can see which thoughts are high rating and which are not. The program generates a report at the end that everyone will be able to see. The board members and senior administration will have access to the report.
This platform will be funded from an operating budget, not from the Ministry capital funding for SCSS. Consideration will be given to ensuring we are being inclusive in getting feedback. As well, options will be provided for families who do not have access to internet.