February 11, 2020 News From the Boardroom

Opening doors to new possibilities with the International Language Program

by Ben Vallati, Superintendent, Continuing and Community Education

International Languages Programs prepare students of the Ottawa Catholic School Board (OCSB) for post-secondary studies and other pathways. Through the International Languages Program, students develop oral communication, reading and writing skills in languages other than English or French. For some, it’s a passport to global citizenship. Global learning celebrates multiculturalism and promotes equity and cross-cultural awareness.

Nineteen languages are offered to over 2,600 students, including high school credit courses to over 400 students. The languages studied range from Amharic to Yoruba. Recently Gaelic was added to the language library.

The world students are growing up in is changing, and changing fast. International Language Learning helps them develop skills and competencies they can use today and in the future. When a child can connect with people with diverse world views and perspectives, they will develop enhanced communication skills. Studying foreign languages allows students to communicate and connect with others. It opens doors to new possibilities in Canada and throughout the world.

The Continuing and Community Education Department offers a variety of services beyond International Language Programs, including Literacy and Basic Skills, the Family Welcome Centre, March Break and Summer Camps and the Saturday Learning Club, to name a few. There are over 150 elementary instructors, 20 credit teachers and close to 80 parents in the Parent Advisory Committee.

The programming is available to students in Kindergarten to Grade 12

International Languages – Elementary Program

International Languages – Secondary Program

OCSB Addiction Counsellors helping students and families

Manon Séguin, Superintendent, Special Education and Student Services

OCSB Addiction Counsellors are making a difference in the lives of high school students through a three-tiered approach.

  • Tier 1 involves a whole class/whole school approach. It includes relevant classroom presentations focusing on everything from vaping to gaming, to healthy coping strategies to stages of addiction. It includes collaborating with students, parents, staff and community organizations.
  • Tier 2 is geared to those students more at risk and comprises of group interventions, parent engagement, and collaborating with special education and student services.
  • Tier 3 provides one to one counselling where addiction is the primary problem. What is common in all approaches is the collaborative and evidence-based nature in which the student’s addiction is addressed.

Overview of Service Delivery Model

Two-hundred and fifty-nine students have been referred to school-based Addiction Counsellors with substance use the primary reason for referral. Students are also reporting difficulties with internet use, shopping, food and gaming. Supports ave available in all OCSB intermediate and secondary schools. Over 2,000 students participated in Tier 1 presentations. 97% of students who worked with OCSB Addictions Counsellors described their interactions as high quality!

Community Planning and Facility Partnerships 2019-2020 Annual Review

Miro Vala, Superintendent of Planning & Facilities

The annual Community Planning and Facility Partnerships review requires school boards to:

  • review existing school space;
  • consider partnerships when developing capital plans and while undertaking new school construction; and
  • hold a public meeting.

The process is designed to improve shared communication between public organizations. It is a process of two-way communication. The agencies reciprocate by informing school boards of their own needs.

Current space in existing schools

The Board is required to identify schools that, for two years or more, have an enrolment at less than 60%. Or have more than 200 surplus instructional pupil places for five years or more. St. Anthony was on the list in previous years but has been removed. St Gabriel meets the criteria but will be removed from the list as future development is impending.


The Board acknowledges the construction of a new elementary school in the Findlay Creek Community would significantly impact the utilization of St Thomas More School. As part of the Board’s efforts to secure funding for a new school in Findlay Creek community, we will include the future vacant space at St. Thomas More School as an area that has the potential for a facility partnership.

Public meeting

The 2020 Anual Public Meeting will be held sometime in the Spring. Public notices will be issued when a date and location is chosen.

Holy Redeemer school addition

The 4.6 million, ten classroom addition to Holy Redeemer School was finished on time and budget. Superintendent of Planning and Facilities, Miro Vala advised trustees that staff did a stellar job from start to finish on this project.

News from the Boardroom Summary

This February 11, 2020 blog post covers the following topics:


  • Opening doors to new possibilities with the International Language Program
  • OCSB Addiction Counsellors helping students and families
  • Community Planning and Facility Partnerships 2019-2020 Annual Review
  • Financial reporting
  • Drawdown of unappropriated accumulated surplus
  • Change in Employee Assistance Program (EAP)

Financial reporting

Lisa Schimmens, Superintendent of Finance and Administration

Trustees received the Board, Financial Statements for the three months ended November 30, 2019. The financial statements consist of the following:

Drawdown of unappropriated accumulated surplus

Lisa Schimmens, Superintendent Finance and Administration

The Board has accumulated $16.3 million in unappropriated accumulated surplus reserve funds. This surplus was achieved through prudent fiscal management, including the implementation of expenditure reductions and efficiencies in the last several years.

The Board approved the drawdown of $3.0 million from the accumulated surplus to be allocated this school year for the following one-time spending allocations:

1. Musical Instruments for Grades 7-12 – $350,000

2. Classroom Chromebooks (K-12) – $700,000

3. Curriculum Resources – Equity, Indigenous, Religion, Reading Recovery – $840,000

4. Innovative – School-Based Learning Environments – $ 500,000

5. Wellness – School-Based Resources, H&S/Mental Health Training, Support Services, Catastrophic Insurance – $610,000

TOTAL: $3,000,000

Change in Employee Assistance Program (EAP)

Steve McCabe, Superintendent, Human Resources

Trustees recommended Morneau Shepell as the new EAP provider for OCSB staff. The company was chosen from among four persuasive proposals. EAP is a workplace wellness program that offers confidential and short-term support to employees to assist with a variety of issues.

OCSB employees and their families will be able to access EAP 24/7/365 for crisis calls and to book counselling services. Also, they will be able to seek assistance for

  • Family Support
  • Nutrition
  • Legal
  • Financial
  • Health Coaching
  • Career Coaching
  • Resiliency Coaching, and;
  • Retirement

Access to specialized, confidential counselling will be available through many mediums, including video chat, text, email, phone and in person. More information will be available in the coming weeks.

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