December 17, 2019 News From the Boardroom

Photo (left to right): Alex Belloni, Principal; Hannah Fillipps, student; Amin Fadel, student; Shelley Lawrence, Trustee; Mark D. Mullan, Chairperson; Debbie Frendo, Superintendent; Matthew Dzuba, student; and Deborah Vuylsteke, Teacher.

St. Pius X High School commemorates the 75th anniversary of the end of WWII

Debbie Frendo, Superintendent of Student Success, Intermediate/Secondary

Grade 10 St. Pius X High School History students teamed up with Grade 12 Photography students to design Pius Remembers, a collaborative postcard project commemorating the 75th anniversary of the end of WWII.

The street signs in their neighbourhood pay homage to the Battles of World War II. The students researched the battles and created commemorative postcards they delivered to their neighbours. This project marks the first of many activities the students will take part in this school year to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of World War II.

Principal Alex Belloni said the concept of Deep Learning is to provide students will relevant, hands-on activities that make a connection to the work they are studying. A key benefit of deep learning is it deepens the enthusiasm to connect with others to do good. Community outreach will continue February through April, and a Victory Ball is scheduled for May 8, 2020. Follow the students’ efforts on Twitter @StPiusXOCSB.

Capital priorities

Miro Vala, Superintendent of Planning & Facilities

Trustees previously approved a Capital Priority Funding request to build a new JK to Grade 6 elementary school on the site of the former McGregor Easson Public School,  located at 991 Dynes Road. This new school will result in the consolidation of the St. Rita and St. Augustine student populations into a single school building should government funding be approved.

The creation of a joint St. Rita and St. Augustine attendance boundary in September 2020 is a next step in the consolidation process and could help reduce existing accommodation pressures at St. Rita, and better balance enrollment between the two schools in advance of the opening of a new school.

Student population pressures

St Rita has experienced significant increases in its student population. The enrolment increased by over 50 students from last year to this year, and for 2020 is projected to continue to grow.

In the short-term

To improve the learning environment at St. Rita and also provide the school with additional space flexibility for next year, we will be reviewing the potential for creating other washrooms inside the building, and also expanding the existing porta-pak of classrooms. If we allow St. Rita students to attend St. Augustine, that could help reduce pressures over the next few years in advance of the opening of a new consolidated school building.

Working with families

Facilities staff will work with the Principals of both schools to ensure parents and families are made aware of the change to the attendance boundaries for September 2020. We will also communicate the proposed long-term accommodation plans for the schools, and provide an update on the accommodation pressures being experienced at St Rita, and the ability to now choose to attend St. Augustine.

School renewal work plan 2019-2020 school year

Miro Vala, Superintendent of Planning and Facilities

The School Renewal Allocation grant for 2019-2020 is just under $7.3M, while the School Condition Improvement allocation is approximately $14.6M. In keeping with the Board’s Strategic Plan, we strive to create welcoming learning environments where both students and staff can Be Community, and Be Well.

We support Deep Learning throughout our system with the provision of up-to-date school facilities, differentiated instructional spaces, and places for teachers and learners to Be Innovative. Our goal concerning the creation of a school renewal work plan is to provide a balance of appropriate expenditure levels to meet a broad range of system needs.

Projects in the plan include the renewal and replacement of major capital works, including regulatory, health and safety, roofs, doors, windows, boilers and other eating/ventilation/air- conditioning work, lighting replacement, millwork, re-paving, and flooring.

Some of the work serves multiple goals, such as improved lighting levels coincident with lower energy costs and a brighter look to schools, and improved ventilation and air quality along with more efficient air handling units. Annual programs such as painting, sports field top-dressing and rejuvenation, grounds-keeping, carpet and tile replacement, and paving repairs are also part of the plan. In conjunction with the Learning Technologies Department, a system-wide phased projector and whiteboard replacement program will also be undertaken.

Capital and renewal work 2019-2020

Our recommendations are attached to the report as Appendix 1 for School Renewal Allocation projects for $7,267,000, and as Appendix 2 for School Condition Improvement projects totalling $14,553,940.

This is a dynamic planning document. Planning and Facilities staff will be working over the winter with consultants to more fully scope-out recommended projects and refine budgets. In some spots, placeholder amounts are provided for work we know will be required, but for which we don’t have specific sites identified at this time.

Capital funding projects

In August 2019, we resubmitted requests to the Province for child care additions to the following schools: St. Elizabeth Ann Seton; Chapel Hill; St. Dominic; and St. Benedict. As a result of recent reductions in funding and salary support, and a lack of ongoing committed operational funding, the Ottawa Catholic Child Care Corporation has chosen to focus its resources on new programs connected with our 2019 capital priority projects. We will direct the Ministry of Education to withdraw those four previously submitted pre-school addition requests.

CEC building is on-going

The renovated main reception area is mostly complete. A replacement of the roof and HVAC work to Building B is scheduled to commence during the summer of 2020. Internal renovations continue to be done to address staff workspace requirements and to create a new and larger meeting room on the second floor of Building B. Work will continue on capital renewal projects approved by the Board last year. A majority of this work will be undertaken on a carry-forward basis during the 2019-2020 school year.

Be Innovative Numeracy Goal Update

Mary Donaghy, Superintendent, Student Success Elementary

OCSB administrators and teachers are continuing to develop and refine our Be Innovative Numeracy strategic commitments for the 2019-2020 school year. Math is everywhere and in everything. Our teachers are finding innovative ways to engage students in their classrooms, gymnasiums and field trips.

Superintendents have weekly focused conversations with their principals regarding how to make mathematics more relevant to their students and its working. Teachers, students and their families are supporting new learning concepts, including MathUP Classrooms.

MathUP is a comprehensive, online, K–8 instructional solution that helps build teachers’ knowledge and understanding of mathematics so they can better help their students.

MathUP Classroom is designed to support teachers to:

  • build confidence in teaching math
  • teach through essential understandings
  • teach and assess with intention and purpose
  • focus on effective ways to consolidate learning
  • efficiently address all Ontario curriculum expectations
  • increase student engagement through critical and creative thinking
  • reach and extend all learners

Over 80 educators recently gave up their Saturday to study MathUp teaching techniques. Teachers are describing the resource as revolutionary. The new mathematics resource has been available in our schools since September 2019. Many say they are teaching math differently, and their students are becoming more confident (right before their eyes) in their abilities to tackle math problems.

Check out this Twitter moment to see how engaged OCSB math students are!

News from the Boardroom Summary

This December 17, 2019 blog post covers the following topics:


  • St. Pius X High School commemorates the 75th anniversary of the end of WWII
  • Capital priorities
  • School renewal work plan 2019-2020 school year
  • Be Innovative numeracy goal update
  • Family Welcome Centre update
  • School bus preparedness training

Family Welcome Centre update

Ben Vallati, Superintendent, Continuing and Community Education

Trustees were provided with an update on the number of students and their families who have used the Family Welcome Centre (FWC). Since it opened in February 2006, over 8,000 students have registered through the FWC. July and August are always the busiest months, followed by September and January.

As immigration targets in Canada continue to rise, we should expect to see a continued increase in the number of newcomers to our schools. Some areas of potential growth include Syrians currently in Turkey and Latin Americans.

Over the last four years, Nigerians have represented the largest group of newcomers. The number of refugee claimants has seen significant growth in recent years. The number of international students for this school year is projected to nearly double last year’s figures. Newcomers are settling into many different areas of the city, some of which have not been historically diverse. This is good news for our school communities and our students. Numerous studies have proven having a diverse classroom and having quality conversations about diversity can support mindfulness and tolerance in just about any student.

School bus preparedness training

Lisa Schimmens, Superintendent, Finance and Administration

In partnership with OSTA and school bus companies in the Ottawa area, the OCSB is offering this School Bus Preparedness Training to individuals who are interested in exploring and preparing to become school bus drivers.

The course is a combination of in-class and hands-on training to better prepare certificate-holders for the successful achievement of their Class B license training with local operators.

Vicky Kyriaco, OSTA General Manager/CAO, says, “We are thrilled to be working with our partners, the Ottawa Catholic School Board, and participating Operators, Voyago, ML Bradley and Roxborough, on this significant initiative. The driver shortage is increasing in our region, and this program develops interest and capacity for more potential driver candidates to be successful in the student transportation industry.”

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