Looking forward to a new term with the OCDSB

From the desk of Ottawa-Carleton District School Board Zone 6 Trustee Lyra Evans

By Manor Park Chronicle

Lyra Evans OCDSB School Trustee Zone 6: Rideau-Vanier and Rideau-Rockcliffe
Lyra Evans OCDSB School Trustee Zone 6: Rideau-Vanier and Rideau-Rockcliffe

I am honoured that the people of Rideau-Vanier/Rideau-Rockcliffe have chosen me to represent their interests at the Ottawa Carleton District School Board (OCDSB). I’d like to thank all those who supported my campaign, and to congratulate Rideau-Rockcliffe Coun. Rawlson King and Rideau-Vanier Coun. Stéphanie Plante for their elections to city council.

Below are three main points that I have advocated for, as well as the upcoming decisions of the board.

Equity

It is the goal of public education to be the great equalizer, that everyone no matter their background, their home situation, or their identity, has a fair chance to succeed. At the school district level, equity work means ensuring that students from low-income areas, students with special education needs, and new Canadians, amongst other groups, have the supports they need.

No child should struggle to learn because they are hungry, no child with dyslexia should be allowed to fall behind for needing additional supports to learn to read, or because their first language at home isn’t English or French.

Last term the OCDSB collected identity inclusive data, which allowed the district to note the successes and weaknesses of current policy. It was noteworthy that some groups of students, such as students from low-income families, students with disabilities, LGBTQ (particularly trans), and racialized students were statistically significantly less likely to graduate, and have lower wellbeing outcomes than the student average.

For this reason, I have considered equity needs to be paramount in the business of the district, and I will make vocal the needs to address these inequities in the coming term.

Mental health

Student and staff mental health has been negatively impacted over the course of the pandemic. Particular care must be taken by the board in the upcoming term to ensure that appropriate mental health care is provided, that students feel supported, and are able to achieve their best potential.

Discussion for the upcoming 2023-2024 budget (created March-June) will include the hiring of professional staff, such as psychologists, psychiatrists, and other supports for students and staff who have had mental health struggles over the pandemic. In addition, there will be conversations about what can be done to ensure that students are able to “catch-up” to ensure that any missing key skills are understood.

Environment

Given the importance of climate action by all levels of government, the board will be evaluating the success of the Green Climate Fund, as well as directing the district to look into alternative energy sources, such as ground or air heat pumps, and thermal and photovoltaic solar panels. I also intend to put to a vote the requirement that each building at the district has both a recycling program and a composting program.

Upcoming decisions of the board

Revaluating the EFI & Core French Program

In the coming months, the district will begin to undertake a review of the English (with core French) program. Currently being discussed is if the district should extend the 50 percent English / 50 percent French program delivery offered in kindergarten all the way to grade three, and have families make the decision to enter full French immersion for Grade 4. This process will likely take one to three years, with a formal consultation process happening later in the process.

Policy review changes

The board is undertaking a process to revaluate how we review and renew policies. Major policies up for debate shortly include the naming of schools policy, the integrity commissioner changes, and the Indigenous, human rights, and equity roadmap.

2023-2027 Strategic plan

The new board will discuss and create the 2023-2027 strategic plan. This is the guiding document which directs the district for the next four years. Last term, the strategic plan sought to create a culture of innovation, caring, and social responsibility.

As always, if you have concerns, questions, or thoughts, I am happy to hear from you.
Lyra.Evans@ocdsb.ca
@LyraEvansOtt
613-913-1695