Achieving Success Together is more than just a motto. It’s
more than something that appears on letterhead and email signatures.
It’s a calling.
It’s our vision of how we fulfill our promise to
Niagara’s children – so that they can fulfill their full potential.
That promise is to ensure the DSBN continues to deliver
the very best in public education. That students are afforded more opportunity
than ever before. That students have more support than ever before, to ensure
every child has an equal opportunity to become successful. That we will
continue to support the DSBN’s world class staff so they can continue giving
their best to students.
But there’s only one way we can achieve these lofty goals
– by working together in a positive manner completely focused on doing what’s
best for students. The good people of Niagara made their decision last October.
They returned a Board with a tremendous diversity of viewpoints, skills and
abilities. I see this as an incredible strength.
We will bring all our knowledge, passion and skills to do
exactly what the voters sent us here to do: ensure their children get the best
start in life. By working together we can accomplish more than any one of us
Previous Boards understood this, and made great strides
as a result. We’ll look to those examples, and will also forge our own path.
In the area of special education – Trustees’ lobbying
efforts resulted in an additional 1.2 million dollars in funding last year.
We’ll continue that work and ensure that those crucial resources are available
to all who need them.
Although difficult, previous Boards worked to eliminate
empty space so public dollars could be channeled where they are most effective:
into programming for students. That process also resulted in new school builds
in Niagara-on-the-Lake, St. Catharines, Welland, Vineland and Fort Erie. That
is an incredible amount of renewal for a system with some of the oldest school
buildings in all of Ontario.
As enrolment continues to decline, we know Trustees will
be asked to consider further Accommodation Reviews. We’ll do so with
sensitivity and with an eye to creating the best possible outcome for students.
We will build closer ties with our municipal partners, so
we can continue to enhance our schools as learning institutions and vital
community hubs. If you want an example of this, look at Welland, where the DSBN
was able to partner with the Public Library Board for an expanded learning
commons, with access for community members.
It’s well known that these are challenging fiscal times.
As the province works to eliminate its deficit, we know that there will be
fewer resources made available to public institutions. Working together, this
Board will identify those opportunities we feel will have the most positive
impact on students and will passionately make the case for the DSBN’s fair
share of available funding.
As a Board – we will ensure the wise use of the public
money we are entrusted with. And we’ll also look beyond the provincial
government to identify new streams of revenue and new partnerships that can
further improve our financial position. And again – we’ll do this to ensure
students continue to benefit from the very best public education the DSBN has
Previous Boards have had a very successful track record
of supporting educational programs and initiatives to benefit students. That
includes everything from new technologies to Specialist High Skills Majors and
the introduction of the DSBN Academy. This Board will continue to look at new
and expanded programming options to make sure students have the skills and
abilities to not only compete for the jobs of tomorrow – but to innovate and
create the jobs of tomorrow.
But we can only accomplish all those things if we work
together as one; one voice speaking out and supporting students in Niagara.
We all come to the Board table with our own viewpoints
and individual frames of reference. This informs healthy discussion. But truly
working together means being able to see beyond our own beliefs and act in the
best interests of students. As I look around this Board table this evening – I
truly believe we have a group that is ready, willing and able to do just that.
Nelson Mandela once said that “education is the most
powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” As Trustees, we are in
a privileged position to be able to shape the face of the education system. Serving
the needs of students is one of the highest callings one can aspire to. As a
Board we’ll learn and work together to ensure all students have their
opportunity to change their lives, communities and even the world.
Thank you very much.