John English SAC – Meeting Minutes Thursday, January 28, 2021 7:00 – 8:30 pm

This virtual meeting was held online via Google meet.

Welcome 7:03 – 7:05

  • Brief introduction of our SAC by Jen Z., no individual intros due to the virtual nature of the meeting
  • Noted that school classes continue in a virtual setting, as do our SAC meetings
    • Typical years would have us lay out the full year meeting schedule
    • Because this year is not typical, we have been setting the meeting schedule as we go, and it is noted that the next meeting will be scheduled at the end of this one 
  • Additional agenda items
    • Liz as Treasurer has one item to add after the Teacher Report 
  • Jen Z. introduced our new principal M. Gélinas and welcomed him to our school and to his first SAC meeting with us

Principal/Vice Principal’s Report 7:05 – 7:53

  • Very happy to be at JEJMS and be part of the community
  • Is in constant communication with Mr Howe for additional advice and connection
  • Playground Revitalization Project
  • There is a steering committee that met first time last week
    • If there is interest in participating please reach out to M. Gélinas
    • The first site visit to come when the ground is visible
    • Survey will come to the community to ensure that it is accessible to all students
    • Once the survey is complete, the design phase will begin to select features
    • Current budget that has been allocated is $50 000 for the project 
      • project will likely run well beyond that depending on features that are selected
    • Question asked if we can keep any existing items, or is it entirely replaced? 
      • Seems like it will all be replaced
      • Possible that is likely not up to code, but the question about the viability of keeping the spider web to be discussed by steering committee
    • Wood chips have been ordered by caretaking to provide more padding for falls
    • Fencing behind Bunkie is to be removed
  • Gym 3 Resurfacing 
  • M. Gélinas and Ms Gorman met with a team that is responsible for resurfacing the floor—it is a foam surface that will cover the whole gym
    • Should work with existing tables and not be damaged
    • Opportunity to determine the best design for floor lines/markings
      • Admin team decided to take that decision back to the teachers who use it the most, once that is done they will share the request it with facilities 
  • Update on Electronic Sign
  • Week of Jan 18 TDSB facilities came to discuss putting in an electronic sign in front of the school (note: would be placed in the current garden area at the main doors)
    • Bylaw was supposed to respond to permit process by Dec 15, but have not yet
    • Engineers came to discuss how electrical will run to it
    • Wiring will need to run to the office to allow controls, but we aren’t at that phase of the project yet
    • Note: current sign placement does not meet city code as it is placed too close to the sidewalk which is why the new location was identified
  • Students who want to opt in/out of In-Person School
    • M Gélinas waiting to hear from the Board to see what has been decided for the next opt in/out date
    • At the board meeting last Wednesday the Superintendents presented three options to trustees, but the final decision is still in limbo
    • Parents were surveyed in December, our school results were 4 people wanted to leave to virtual/approximately 24 wanted to come back
    • The problem for us is the physical space in the school, because we had to reorganize classes in October and that created essentially full classrooms
    • The Junior/Intermediate classrooms are capped at 27 and it is pretty tight in terms of physical space in classrooms but also at or near caps in many classes
    • Question: with an influx of what is essentially a full class wanting to come back, would that result in a teacher being recalled? 
      • The kids who want to return are varied throughout the grade levels, so how they would be dispersed becomes more complex, especially in classes that are already full
      • Waiting on direction from the board
      • There aren’t many teachers left in the community, as the board has hired so many this year as it is. It is a balance that they have to take into consideration.
    • Question: if there is an opportunity for families to influence this decision, please let us know how we can do that in order to lessen the impact on students who have already had to accommodate so much this year. 
    • Question: when will there be more information? 
      • Exact date is unknown at this point. Waiting for communication from the board. Typically it is within a few days of a meeting.
      • This information typically comes to administration slightly ahead of a communication of a wider communication to the school families.
      • But the final decision is not at the school level.
      • Note the benefit to children being in a community of their school peers in wanting to be able to accommodate all change requests, but ultimately the decision lies with the Board.
  • Questions from text chat:
    • Why are we adding an electric sign?
      • That was grandfathered in from previous admin. 
      • The existing sign is difficult and dangerous to use 
      • There is note that in the previous meeting where it was discussed the SAC was not of interest. 
      • Can it be replaced with a non-electric model?
    • Why does the sign have to go somewhere where we lose a tree?
      • Would require a new permitting process to go ahead.
      • Would delay the process.
      • Could we look into transplanting the tree to not lose it? 
      • Important to note that families that have worked hard to maintain, weed and water the garden during the summer season as well and would be worth communicating this change with them
    • What is the status of HEPA filters in the classroom
      • Historically had been told that it was not something that the SAC could spend money on
      • M Gélinas has not heard anything specific about JEJMS, but at Runnymede the SAC was in the same situation and was unable to acquire them for this school year
      • The consumer retail models are not set up for a large space like a school, as they are designed for smaller spaces like homes 
      • M Gélinas can speak with facilities to see what their opinion is and if this decision has evolved during the pandemic.
  • School Committees
  • Committees are rolling out (some existing/some new)
    • Playground committee with a few parents already, but welcoming more participation
    • Nutrition committee (healthy bites/kindergarten snack)
    • Staffing (this process has begun, and we will need parents to be part of that process as well, who act more as observers)
      • Staffing is based on the number of students that are in the building, which determines the number of teachers
      • Will the staffing timeline be impacted by virtual/distance learning
        • Yes, because it is directly impacted by the bodies in the building
  • Additional Items:
  • Public Health Nurse assigned to us had said that he could present to our community, but unfortunately TPH is has assigned these nurses to additional tasks so this is not possible at this time
  • If there is an IT problem with access a google classroom, who do we contact?
  • If virtual is going to last longer, what do we do for attendance?
    • The automated system is not optimized for the nuances of absences
    • What happens if you are late, but not absent? M Gélinas will include the process in an upcoming Weekly Update 
  • The online scheduler at SchoolInterviews.ca for parent/teacher interviews will be opening early next week
  • The week of Feb 8, report cards, IEPs and ELL Reports will be emailed to everyone electronically 
  • Question: Is there is a board direction yet about teachers will not or cannot be vaccinated, will they still teach, or will they be forced to virtual?
    • M Gélinas hasn’t been informed
    • Mme Smith has not heard anything
  • Has there been any talk about virtual school remaining a permanent fixture?
    • Nothing official has been announced by the Board. 

Teacher’s Report (Mme Smith) 7:53 – 8:00

  • A thank you to the families, teachers feel so supported and encouraged by their students and families
  • Feedback from families is helpful and important when the classroom looks so different. 
  • Kids are learning so many skills and independence in the virtual environment
  • Mme Smith notes many of her classes have been focused on mental health 
    • This has led to so many great discussions and some book recommendations: 
      • Under Pressure by Tanya Llyod Kyi and illustrated by Mary-Eve Tremblay
    • Outsmarting Worry by Dawn Huebner and illustrated by Kara McHale
    • Playing with Anxiety by Reid Wilson and Lynn Lyons
  • International Holocaust Remembrance Day was really wonderful for learning and discussion
    • Tattooed Torah was a video that TDSB opened for classes to access and watch together
  • Student Parliament continues with a focus on building community and spirit 
    • Upcoming Friday full-school – All classes can participate in group Kahoot! games
  • Mme D’Sa has come up with a really neat idea for classes called the ‘John English Window Gallery’
    • Several classes have been creating mandalas and putting them in their windows for people to see while walking in the area
  • Classes that helped with the Women’s Habitat drive did just over $1100 in gift cards for families accessing their supports. 
  • January is always a month full of transitions but this year more than usual—but more than ever students are doing such a great job!

Vice-Principal’s Reports 8:00 – 8:12

  • Ms Gorman: 
    • The JEJMS Staff Social Committee has been discussing ways to recognize Mr Howe, and are discussing developing an album which would have photos, pictures, letters, to Mr Howe that the SAC/families could participate in
      • Staff would like to recognize him in the summer time in hopes that they could actually gather in person
        • Potential that we could work with staff on the album
        • Note that the SAC was very concerned that he be recognized. We would love to participate/organized/make specific pages and would be interested to share cost
  • Ms Kenny
    • Technology
    •  a number of devices from JEJMS were distributed in the spring 
    • In the fall many replacements were purchased by the school and then the board replaced approximately 80 Chromebooks 
    • With the second switch to remote, the board direction was to give devices directly to our school community
    • So far this round we have had 140 devices go out, this time with the proviso that the devices be returned
  • Student Parliament
  • In terms of Student Parliament there were 2 food drives for the community in December, and lots was collected, thank you to the community
  • The door decoration was a lot of fun, and helped with spirit, which has been a main focus of their work this year
  • Live Kahoot! for the school 
    • Will be a live Youtube in real-time 
    • All classes will be able to participate
  • Student Parliament meets every week to plan these spirit days
  • Library
  • The virtual book fair in the fall raised just under $500 for the school and we are taking the opportunity to weed the library and replace the collection to ensure that it is representative of the student body and our community
  • Just before the winter break Forest of Reading started
    • There are author readings still
    • French component this year as well
    • Still figuring out how the rest will run
    • It piloted with just 4 classes, and at this point is not able to expand beyond that
  • Question: Is anyone going to take over the twitter account?
    • M Gélinas has access to it right now
    • As he settles more into his new role at our school, he will expand to use it (also once we are in person and there is more that is possible to document!)

Board Business                                                                                

Treasurer’s Report 8:12 – 8:31

  • A TDSB finance support officer contacted Liz last week to discuss what our plan is with our money, and to request that we submit a report that will document our plans (note that this is a standard TDSB report that is to be completed annually)
  • Board communication is that we should be using the money up every year, all during the same year that it is fundraised, so we need to document our plans:
    • Note that one teacher has requested $ support to a virtual field trip with students, and Liz feels important to offer this to all classes as a fully funded option from the SAC
    • SAC will discuss with M Gélinas to determine a total spend to ensure that we can reach as many classes as possible, noting our teachers are always very prudent with their asks.
    • Ensure that all classes have access to the same funding to support this kind of ‘trip’
    • Staff will be presented with the idea at their staff meeting and M. Gélinas will report back if interest exists
  • As we discuss spending SAC funds, M Gélinas noted that the final cost of the playground would likely be 2-3 times the amount that is currently allocated and suggests holding some of our current reserves to support that project
  • Jen Z. noted that we intend to spend some of our carryover, but also wanted to do some targeted fundraising for the playground. 
  • Liz noted that virtual trips tend to be ~$100-150 and we can afford it.
  • Moving forward with this report, Liz will complete the report based on current year budget. If you want to contribute, please reach out at sacinfo@johnenglish.ca 
  • Once completed Liz will send to our Co-Chairs and the JEJMS Admin before submitting back to the board 

Other Business                 8:31 – 8:37

Next meeting: Continue to be held virtually – scheduled for March 4th and will adjust it if needed 

Meeting Ends 8:37

Ward 3 School Trustee: Patrick Nunziata can be reached at Patrick.Nunziata@tdsb.on.ca or 416 996 5572, sign up for e-newsletter at www.tdsb.on.ca/ward3/Ward3.aspx or follow him on Twitter @NunziataPatrick