Since becoming a Trustee I've taken on many roles. I will highlight some of the most important work I've been involved with here.
I served on the Special Education Advisory Committee (SEAC) for eight years. I have been a vocal advocate for making it easier for parents to navigate through the various special education processes. Significant improvements have been made, and I am pleased with the progress.
School boards receive a specified amount of money from the Ministry of Education to spend on special education. Unfortunately, most school boards must spend more than they receive in order to meet the needs of their students. I continue to advocate for increased provincial funding for special education.
Board Policies, Governance Procedures and the Governance By-Law fall within the purview of Trustees. We are responsible for ensuring they are reviewed in a timely fashion, and are in keeping with current legislation.
I have been a leader with respect to our board's governance ever since I was elected 12 years ago. Reviewing existing documents (and creating new documents) is a huge undertaking, but it's something I am passionate about.
A couple of years ago I brought forward a recommendation to create a Governance Standing Committee to streamline the work so that it could be prioritized, scheduled, and working groups could be created to complete the work in a timely manner. This has worked extremely well and made our workflow much more efficient.
Professional Development opportunities for Trustees have always been important to me. Trustees do their best work when they have a broad range of tools and an up-to-date understanding of the Education Act. I have advocated for professional development for all Trustees since I was first elected.
When I was Chair of the Board I brought forward a recommendation for all Trustees to participate in a full day of facilitated learning to gain a better understanding of their role as Trustees. A fulsome agenda was planned for the day, which included opportunities for Trustees to work together on how to apply the learning to the HDSB.
I saw the need for more focussed professional development opportunities for Trustees, so I brought forward a recommendation to create a Trustees' Professional Development Standing Committee. This committee plans two or three workshops each year. Topics have ranged from Anti-Black Racism to Governance, and from Residential Schools to How to Hire a Director of Education. Each workshop has allowed us to grow more deeply into our roles as Trustees, and to better serve our communities.
I was the HDSB representative at the Ontario Public School Boards' Association (OPSBA) for five years. OPSBA is comprised of Public School Board Trustees from across the province.
Representing Halton afforded me the opportunity to learn how school boards throughout Ontario function, and bring some of those ideas back to the HDSB. I was also able to gain insight into the Ministry of Education's initiatives. I met several Ministers of Education through my association with OPSBA, and other MPPs as we advocated for publicly funded education at Queens's Park.
OPSBA also organizes professional development opportunities for Trustees. I have encouraged all Trustees to participate in these symposiums.