OCDSB Top 10 Priorities

Ottawa Friends,

I am putting forward an agenda for discussion over the coming months, prior to the 2018 Municipal Elections in Ottawa. I hope the plan below will also serve as reference material for the new team of OCDSB Trustees, starting later this year.

It is an agenda of change, renewal and hope for a better School District. It combines progressive elements (equity and quality education for ALL) with a call for a more effective and efficient system.

OCDSB, as the largest school board in Ottawa, must rebuild trust with students, parents and communities. It must also demonstrate, in a proactive manner, that it seeks to engage and consult with the people it is mandated to serve.

Over the next four years, let’s create the schools and programs our children deserve. Here’s my Top 10 priorities for 2018-2022:

[1] Equity and quality education for ALL: a system where student needs take precedence over inflexible rules;

[2] Ongoing and meaningful consultations with students, parents and communities; an open, transparent, and user-friendly system;

[3] More authority for the Board to make decisions at the local level – as opposed to key decisions largely made by the provincial Ministry of Education;

[4] Long-term and effective planning for schools and programs across the District; no more rushed and half-baked actions;

[5] More accountability and better performance for school programs: if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it!

[6] More resources into the classroom (including Educational Assistants) and for extracurricular activities;

[7] Better communication of learning plans, so everyone (students, teachers, parents) can monitor progress and help improve student performance;

[8] Better, more extensive professional development for teachers, with a focus on special education;

[9] Access to technology for teachers and students; a “licence to innovate” in the classroom;

[10] A focus on student well-being, including extensive resources and services for positive mental health, provided at or through the school.

Dragos Popa

DragosPopa2018@gmail.com

4 thoughts on “OCDSB Top 10 Priorities

  1. Hi Dragos.
    As a zone 4 resident I have seen many shifts in school zones. Schools that once offered both French immersion and English have become divided; essentially segregating English students ( often new Canadians ) from the French students. Woodroffe and DRoy is just one example. What is you stance on this approach? It seems to be a resource (money) saving option, however it creates an imbalance for the children.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Angela, thank you for your question. Undoubtedly, this is a complex issue. Personally I am for schools that offer both French immersion and English programs. Part of the problem in Bay Ward is the small utilization rate (that is, children enrolled divided by number of spots available) in most schools. Unlike other parts of the city, Bay Ward has much fewer students that it can accommodate in its schools. This left the Board in a situation in which it attempted to find efficiencies and provide somewhat sustainable solutions for the upcoming years. Having said that, I would argue that the various schools and communities impacted were NOT consulted properly during the Western Area Review a couple of years ago. Parents expressed – rightly – cynicism about the process, and concern about the future of their children and their communities. They were also frustrated that their elected officials did not fight sufficiently for them, pushing back against the proposed school closures and changes to programs. If elected school trustee, I will engage closely, frequently and in a meaningful manner with Bay Ward residents and with OCDSB staff to improve the current situation (which includes appropriate improvements to programming to meet students’ and parents’ needs) but also to make sure that ANY changes are widely supported by the residents and no longer forced on them by the Board. I would be the strong voice at the Board that a zone as amazing as Bay Ward deserves! (Please feel free to email me directly at dragospopa2018@gmail.com with any comments or suggestions. Thank you!)

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  2. Dragos,
    Could you clarify, or perhaps offer more specific examples of what you mean by Priority #5 for me?
    Thank you
    [5] More accountability and better performance for school programs: if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it!

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    • I believe that all publicly-funded organizations can benefit from establishing a meaningful strategic plan, outlining a clear set of expected results, and monitoring their performance against their stated goals. Most organizations, including school boards, are far from having established a mature performance and accountability culture.

      Ottawa students, parents and communities need to see the impact of each OCDSB program; have to be confident that taxpayer dollars are spent as effectively and efficiently as possible and that students’ needs are the core decision-making driver; and they should be directly involved – working closely with the Trustees – in keeping Board staff accountable for program results.

      To qualify this statement: my interest is not necessarily in identifying “financial efficiencies” (which is usually code for cuts to programs and services) but rather in making sure that the Board meets its obligations, which includes providing appropriate programs and services for all students and communities, and supporting children’s development as effective learners and good citizens. Performance metrics should be much more widely used, and results reported publicly on a regular basis. This process should be based on the principles of full transparency and openness.

      As a concrete proposal, OCDSB should consider proven practices that get things done in other public sector organizations. One of these approaches, pioneered in the United Kingdom, called “deliverology,” has had significant impact in a number of countries around the globe, including Canada. The starting point for this model is a set of clear measurable goals which are prioritized. It goes without saying that planning for the delivery of such goals is essential.

      The approach requires a small but strong “delivery unit” (to keep the system on track even when distractions arise) as well as a focus on results monitoring and performance data. Coherent governance – including a strong and involved Board of Trustees – and regular reporting to senior management and stakeholders (i.e., students, parents, and communities) should also be key components of this proposal.

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