Public School Board releases Multi Year Plan - The world changed while the plan was being written

News 100 yellowBy Pepper Parr

February 24th, 2021



The Halton District School Board released its Multi Year Plan for the period 2020-2024 earlier this week. One quarter of the time frame has already passed making the document, in our view, a little less relevant.

The Gazette asked HDSB trustee chair Andrea Grebenc why the delay. She explained that “traditionally the plan has been announced just as we begin the school year in which it was intended to start – so summer 2020 would have been the appropriate time.

Grebenc frown

Andrea Grebenc, Chair of the HDSB learned that listening was the biggest part of creating a Multi year Plan

“We ended up soft-launching by approving it in the fall. The MYP creation process is a 6-month plus process and was interrupted by the pandemic. The process involves dedicated time from senior level staff and trustees and when the pandemic hit mid-March, both trustees and staff were pulled into dealing with the crisis at hand.

“We run a very lean administrative compliment (meaning we spend less than our provincial allocation on senior staff and redirect into the schools) so the pandemic stretched us and briefly pushed the MYP development down the priority list.”

The pandemic did much more than stretch the public school system – they had to create a new, effective way of delivering an education to students with nothing in the way of a play book to follow.

It will be some time before classes return to anything even near normal. There are some solid lessons to come out of the pandemic – those will have to be thought through.

Next September the Board should have a new Director of Education in place; he or she (it could and should be a she this time) will have to rebuild much of the way Boards of Education prepare students for a much different future.

The purpose of the MYP, approved by Trustees in November 2020, sets direction and prioritizes the collective actions of all stakeholders to ensure efforts of the HDSB are aligned to support the Board’s more than 65,000 students, 9,000 staff and the broader community.

The MYP 2020-2024 consists of five key areas:

• Equity & Inclusion
• Mental Health and Well-Being
• Learning and Achievement
• Environmental Leadership
• Indigenous Perspectives and Awareness

MYP HDSB graphicsThe Board identifies its commitment within each area and outlines goals that define the key strategic work the Board will undertake during the next four years. While there are five distinct areas to the plan, no one area stands alone or above another as each is connected.

Adaptability, Relationships, Innovation, Communication, Accountability and Engagement are foundational elements of the MYP plan that describe the values of the HDSB and how staff and stakeholders will work together to achieve the goals outlined in the plan.

The Indigenous Perspectives and Awareness area of the MYP demonstrates the HDSB’s commitment to expanding knowledge and understanding of Indigenous perspectives and realities. To further the Board’s commitment to this area, Stephen Paquette has been hired into a permanent position as the Board’s Indigenous Knowledge Guide & Engagement Advisor, to provide expertise to staff, schools and departments.

As part of the Equity & Inclusion area of the Plan, the HDSB created the Discriminatory and Harmful Language Protocol to provide clear expectations for how staff respond when harm is caused. This protocol will be followed by students and staff to promote a school environment free from discriminatory language.

In September 2019, the Board initiated a process to develop a new MYP. A steering committee was created to help guide the development of the MYP. An external consultant, Maximum City, was hired to initiate an extensive stakeholder consultation process to review the contents of the previous MYP and seek input about what the HDSB community values and would like to see represented in the next MYP.

Input on the MYP was received from more than 4,000 HDSB respondents including parents/guardians, students, staff and community members on a broad range of issues.

Chair Andréa Grebenc said “The resulting plan clearly outlines the focus of the next few years and recognizes the key priority areas we heard from students, our staff and the broader Halton community.”

The pandemic will have bumped some of those priorities down the list – there is a whole new world ahead of the education system – the challenge will be to identify the positive opportunities and at the same time take a pass on some of the past practices.

Link to the MYP

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