The Ontario Public School Boards’ Association (OPSBA) Board of Directors held a meeting at Blue Mountain on June 8, 2023. Education policy and program matters that were discussed in public session at the meeting are summarized below:

2022-2023 OPSBA Annual Report 

The full 2022-2023 OPSBA Annual Report was presented to trustees and is now available online. To view the report, visit 22/23 Annual Report.

Labour Relations

Updates were provided in private session on recent developments related to labour relations and collective bargaining. 

Legislative Update and Government Relations, Public Affairs, and Communications

As of June 8, 2023, the Ontario Legislature is on summer recess and will return in late September.

Bill 98, The Better Schools and Student Outcomes Act 

This legislation was introduced on April 17, 2023, by Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education. The bill proposes changes to the Early Childhood Educators Act, 2007, the Education Act, and the Ontario College of Teachers Act, 1996. It also suggests minor wording changes to the French version of the preamble for the Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2001. The Ministry of Education issued several communications about this legislation, including a news release and backgrounder, as well as two memos from the Minister and Deputy Minister; one is a high-level overview of the legislation and the second is a list of the proposed changes. The bill was also posted for commentary on the Ontario’s Regulatory Registry with a feedback deadline of May 16, 2023. The bill passed on June 8.

OPSBA’s initial statement (April 17): OPSBA statement on The Better Schools and Student Outcomes Act

OPSBA undertook an extensive consultation and advocacy plan that involved senior staff, the Policy Development and Education Program Work Groups, Executive Council, as well as key stakeholders. It also referred to any relevant past commentary made by the Association. This led to the public release of the OPSBA response on Bill 98. The Association will be following up regarding upcoming consultations on Joint Use of Schools and apprenticeship pathways, as well as other areas of concern related to the bill, including the role and responsibility of Integrity Commissioners in school boards. 

Take Your MPP to School Day 

The objective of this week-long initiative, which took place May 23 to 26, was to raise the awareness among MPPs of the role of trustees and build upon the relationships with MPPs following OPSBA’s Advocacy Day in November 2022. It’s also an opportunity to showcase the amazing students, staff, and programs happening in local schools, as well as the local realities of education in school communities. Nearly 50 MPPs participated in the event, with some visiting multiple OPSBA member board schools. There are still some visits to come in June. Photos from the visits are availble on the OPSBA Facebook page 

OPSBA Brand Refresh

OPSBA is in the early stages of working with a Toronto-based design firm to undergo a brand refresh of all design, information and website properties. This is a long-term project with a goal of completion within the next year. 

To see the Association’s appearances in the media, visit OPSBA in the Media. Full Provincial Updates, including information on other Bills, are available on the OPSBA Connects blog. All OPSBA submissions to the government are available on the OPSBA website’s Advocacy and Action page. 

Education Finance

School boards are moving forward finalizing their budgets to meet the Ministry’s end of June deadline. Most boards are experiencing funding pressures from underfunded benchmarks, and one-third of school boards have preliminarily indicated they are in a deficit situation. 

The Board of Directors passed the following motion:

That the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association advocate to the Ministry of Education to address the deficits in funding that support the delivery of programs affecting student success and well-being. 

A summary of important B and SB memos that have been released since the last Board of Directors meeting in February was provided. B and SB memoranda for 2022-23 and prior years can be accessed on the Ministry of Finance website 

Program Policy 

Education Partner Discussion Table

The Education Partner Discussion table, convened by OPSBA in 2021, collaboratively created a discussion paper entitled, Beyond knowledge: Preparing students for an uncertain future, which was released in May 2023 in both English and French. The key recommendation is to engage the provincial government in the next phase of these discussions. This document presents the big ideas that need further discussion to determine how to best implement these priorities in an evidence-informed manner. The communication plan allows for all education partners to share this evidence-informed discussion paper and use it in advocacy efforts with the government. A letter has been sent to the Minister to request a meeting to share the report and to discuss next steps in the engagement of the government. 

French as a Second Language (FSL)

OPSBA has led the research and promotion of workable solutions to the issue of attracting and retaining sufficient numbers of FSL teachers. All deliverables have been completed and released. OPSBA has createda dedicated a FSL microsite to house all the reports, resources and materials to support school board efforts.  

Indigenous Education / Indigenous Trustees’ Council (ITC) 

Updates were provided on the following items, which included an overview of the recent May 15 ITC meeting: 

Changes to Indigenous Education Funding/GSN

The Ministry of Education has outlined changes in how Indigenous Education will be funded in the 2023-2024 school year. There is concern regarding potential negative impacts to Indigenous programming, which has been raised by some school boards and communicated through Indigenous trustees. To build understanding of the changes, the Ministry of Education met with ITC representatives on May 1, 2023, but Council concerns with the changes to Indigenous Education Funding were not alleviated. The ITCsent a letter to Minister Lecce outlining continued concerns on June 9. 

Consultation on Indigenous Education Priorities

ITC representatives were invited to participate in a ministry consultation session on May 19, which was meant to identify targeted Indigenous Education Priorities for the 2023-24 school year.

Black Trustees Caucus (BTC)

The BTC brings together trustees who are Black/identify as Black to collaborate, influence change, and act as a resource where needed. The establishment of a BTC was authorized by the OPSBA membership at the 2022 Annual General Meeting and its Terms of Reference were approved at the June 8, 2023, Board of Directors meeting. The BTC now has a focused mandate that is aligned with OPSBA’s Multi-Year Strategic Plan, ensuring that appropriate connections are being made to systemic racism and anti-Black racism. The BTC will also identify opportunities to employ the use of data to measure progress, particularly as it relates to outcomes and equity for Black/Black-identifying youth within Ontario’s public education system. In the course of their work within OPSBA, the BTC will develop and share policy papers and other tools and resources to support school boards to better address Afrocentric education and support Black/Black identifying students and families when warranted.

Elections for 2023-2024 Chair and Vice Chair will be held at the AGM.

Work with the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) 

The OHRC recently held round table discussions with students and duty-holders in the education sector regarding tackling anti-Black racism in education. As they review the feedback gathered from these consultations, they have plans of developing a public-facing document for the near future. They will meet with the BTC and others to discuss the next phase of this initiative.

2023 OPSBA Awards 

The 2023 OPSBA Awards Judging Committee met on May 2 to consider this year’s awards nominations. OPSBA thanks those who served on this year Awards Judging Committee: 

  • Karen McGregor, Trustee, Limestone DSB, Chair of the Committee 
  • Beth Mai, Trustee, Thames Valley DSB 
  • John McAllister, Trustee, Upper Canada DSB 
  • Scott Piatkowski, Trustee, Waterloo Region DSB
  • Danica Leblanc, Trustee, Lakehead DSB 
  • Chantal Phillips, Trustee, Near North DSB 
  • Nadeem Mahmood, Trustee, York Region DSB 
  • Jaine Klassen Jeninga, Trustee, Kawartha Pine Ridge DSB 

This year’s award recipients are: 

Jack A. MacDonald Award of Merit (student)

Braydon Anthony Bandurka, Cobourg Collegiate Institute, Kawartha Pine Ridge DSB 

Certificate of Recognition  

  • Calvin Bell, Beaver Valley Community School, Bluewater DSB 
  • Gavin Hickey, Sir Wilfred Laurier S.S., Ottawa Carleton DSB

OPSBA Achievement Award (volunteer and non-teaching staff)  

  • Susan Neal, Forest Valley Elementary School, Ottawa-Carleton DSB 
  • Phillip Rennison, Lisgar C.I., Ottawa-Carleton DSB 
  • Sandra Pedersen, Bells Corners P.S., Ottawa-Carleton DSB 
  • Andrew Jarabek, Bells Corners P.S., Ottawa-Carleton DSB
  • Natasha Klages, Chesley District Community School, Bluewater DSB 
  • Marianne Stewart & the School and Family Health Team, Lakehead DSB 
  • Nolan Steen, Touring Service, Hastings and Prince Edward DSB 
  • Frank Lew, Greenbank Public School, Durham DSB 
  • Phouvieng Sackda, Zion Heights Middle School, Toronto DSB
  • Laurie Vonk, Victoria Terrace P.S., Upper Grand DSB 
  • Gary Adduono, Terrace Bay Public Elementary School, Superior Greenstone DSB 
  • Romana Siddiqui, Parent Involvement Committee, Peel DSB

President’s Award in recognition of 25 years of trustee service in public education  

  • Judy Hunda, Trustee, Rainbow DSB 
  • Dena Morrison, Trustee, Rainbow DSB

Dr. Harry Paikin Memorial Award (trustee)  

Doreen Dewar, Trustee, Rainbow DSB 

Fred L. Bartlett Memorial Award (teacher) 

Jon Swain, Teacher, Limestone DSB 

OPSBA Multi-Year Strategic Plan

To fulfill OPSBA Board of Directors’ accountability for engaging in strategic planning, a comprehensive strategic planning process began in the fall of 2022. This process included a jurisdictional and environmental scan and numerous opportunities to collect input from educational partners. Based on feedback, the following refreshed multi-year strategic priorities emerged and have now been approved by the Board of Directors for the 2023-2027 time frame. 

Student Success, Equity, and Well-Being 

OPSBA promotes and advances high-quality, equitable, and inclusive learning environments to support student success and well-being. 

Local School Board Governance 

OPSBA supports the role and leadership of local, democratically elected school boards in Ontario’s English public education system. 

Truth and Reconciliation 

OPSBA develops and strengthens relationships to facilitate access to programs, resources and supports for Indigenous and non-Indigenous students that reflect the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action. 

Effective Relationships and Sustainable Resourcing 

OPSBA works with members, partners, the government and Federations/Unions to ensure that fiscal and human resources match school board needs and priorities. 

Canadian School Boards Association (CSBA)

CSBA Congress and the National Trustees Gathering on Indigenous Education is being held from July 3 to 5, 2023, in Banff, Alberta. Registration is now open.