January 28, 2020 News From the Boardroom

OCSB among top two most generous school boards in Canada

The Ottawa Catholic School Board (OCSB) has been recognized as one of the top two most generous school boards in all of Canada for raising over one hundred thousand dollars for Haitian families affected by the 2010 earthquake. Development and Peace and the Bishops of Canada launched an emergency appeal and Catholic students and educators raised over 1.23 million dollars for Development and Peace’s Haiti relief effort.

The funds received from OCSB and other Catholic communities were used to:

  • deliver emergency aid to 1.2 million people
  • provide health services and counselling to 100,000 Haitians
  • rebuild five schools serving 2,100 students
  • retrain almost 87,000 workers to resume jobs in agriculture, entrepreneurship and the environment

Photo (from left to right): Ben Vallati, Superintendent; Brid McDonald, Principal; Glen Armstrong, Trustee; Andrea Guzzo Lehman, parent volunteer; and Mark Mullan, Chairperson.

St. Paul “Let’s Skate” program powered by OSEG

Ben Vallati, Superintendent, Continuing and Community Education


The Let’s Skate program at St.Paul Catholic High School program exemplifies the OCSB’s strategic commitments of Be Community, Be Well, Be Innovative. The program is a shared partnership between the school, Lee Valley Tools, the City of Ottawa, and the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group (OSEG). The goal of the program is to encourage students to skate. One-hundred and eighty-nine students will now have access to 80 pairs of skates and 30 hockey helmets!

St Paul Physical Education Teacher, Kendra Hollingsworth, along with Principal Brid McDonald and parent volunteer Andrea Guzzo Lehman saw an inequity and decided to do something about it. Seventy-nine percent of St. Paul High School students do not own skates and or have never skated.

Some would say that it is not a big deal — but not parent Andrea Guzzo Lehman. She believes in the power of sport and understands participation can build confidence, enhance communication skills and breed a can-do attitude.

She spent countless hours approaching community foundations, visiting second-hand stores and appealing to the community to donate used skates. Her husband even sharpens the skates in their basement.

Their dedication paid off. OSEG donated $6,000 to the campaign. OSEG’s mission is to leverage the power of sport to improve the lives of children and youth. The foundation gave the funds based on three objectives: increasing youth participation in sports programs; expanding capacity, and; strengthening infrastructure and sports development. OSEG Foundation promotes sustainable youth sports programming.

“This project was a huge success because the Superintendent supported the Principal, who backed the Teacher, who encouraged the parent volunteer, who reached out to the community.”


While the Learn to Skate program will start small in physical education classes in City of Ottawa public rinks, the ultimate goal is to create a skate lending program whereby students can borrow skates for the weekend. There is even a hoped-for mentoring program that will include feeder elementary schools led by St. Paul High School student leaders. The organizers believe the possibilities are endless.

Specialized programs offered by External Achievement Centres

Debbie Frendo, Superintendent, Intermediate/Secondary Student Success

OCSB offers high school programming for students with very specialized needs at three External Achievement Centres: Algonquin Achievement Centre; Immaculata High School Achievement Centre at St. Mary’s Home;  and John Bosco Operation Come Home.

Principal Jennifer Oake and Vice-Principal Maria Stafrace-Dupont outlined the educational and social supports offered to students at each of these sites. Three-hundred and seventy-four students have graduated from these three individualized programs.

Algonquin Achievement Centre (AAC) meets the needs of students who are just eight or fewer credits away from obtaining their high school diploma. One of the unique aspects of the ACC program is it allows students the opportunity to try college life on for size. The program is onsite at the College and students can take part in a Duel-Credit Program, which is a College-level course taught by a college professor.

Immaculata Achievement Centre at St. Mary’s Home supports pregnant and parenting youth who are facing additional challenges that include substantial gaps in their education. In 2019-2020 students were working toward earning high school credits. Several students are on track to graduate with a certificate, and one student hopes to receive her Ontario Secondary School Diploma. The Immaculata High School Achievement Centre provides an environment with a welcoming classroom setting that combines state-of-the-art technology. The students can earn credits in a variety of subjects under the guidance of a full-time teacher.

The John Bosco Achievement Centre (JBAC) engages street-involved youth in academic studies outside of the traditional classroom setting. The JBAC provides full-time course instruction in collaboration with Lester B. Pearson High School. The teacher offers individualized 1:1 programming for each student. Students have access to a social support worker, a literacy support worker, housing, legal, addiction and mental health counselling. The Achievement Centre benefits youth who are not successful in a traditional high school setting and provides the opportunity to graduate and go on to College, University, or to choose a career path.

Humane use of technology

Geoff Edwards, Superintendent of Learning Technologies

Technology is always changing and with those changes come a variety of opinions. As a Board, it is our responsibility to help develop digital citizenship skills and to promote an understanding of digital integrity. The Humane Use of Technology advocates for the positive use of technology and to encourage innovation and creativity. OCSB does this while at the same time supporting our students to self regulate their use of technology and develop an understanding that good citizenship extends to their presence in the digital world.

News from the Boardroom Summary

This January 28, 2020 blog post covers the following topics:


  • OCSB among top two most generous school boards in Canada
  • St. Paul “Let’s Skate” program powered by OSEG
  • Specialized programs offered by External Achievement Centres
  • Humane use of technology
  • Hydro Ottawa easement at St. Philip School
  • Recent legislative amendments regarding EDC
  • Consideration of resolutions for 2020 OCSTA AGM

Hydro Ottawa easement at St. Philip School

Miro Vala, Superintendent of Planning and Facilities

The Board approved the request by Ottawa Hydro for an easement at St. Phillip’s School in Richmond. Establishing the infrastructure on the school site will not impact the property. Hydro Ottawa will compensate the Board for the easement. The work will not result in the need for a power update on the school’s power grid. The proposed easement would consist of a guy wire support for a pole to be located at the northwestern corner of the St. Philip School site.

Recent legislative amendments regarding EDC

Miro Vala, Superintendent of Planning and Facilities

The Province recently announced legislative amendments that impact the collection of Education Development Charges (EDCs). EDCs are a growth-related funding mechanism linked to the construction of new schools. The Board levies EDCs against residential and non-residential development. The City of Ottawa collects those funds on our behalf.

Last year the Board adopted a new EDC By-law. At the time, OCSB was legislated to keep our fees status quo. As a result of further legislative changes, we were able to implement a phase-in of the initial charges. The phasing-in was required because the provincial amendments included a restricted yearly rate increase, and our non-residential fee did not comply. The Province has made changes to the EDC framework since we passed our new By-law. Find more information here.


Consideration of resolutions for 2020 OCSTA AGM

Denise Andre, Director of Education

All 29 Ontario Catholic Schools Boards can submit resolutions to be considered at the 2020 OCSTA Annual General Meeting. This an opportunity for member boards to advocate for issues they believe should receive provincial attention. The resolutions focus on being wise stewards of environment climate change and student mental health.

OCSB will submit the following ideas for resolutions:

  • single-use plastics
  • funding for PsychoEd assessments and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder assessments
  • Price on Pollution funding

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