Good morning! You will note that this came to you early Monday morning rather than on the weekend when the month of December started. This is part of an email/texting protocol that I would like to begin implementing given the strong support received by both the Teacher Board Advisory Committee (TBAC) and the Learning Leadership Team. I’ve asked that a “soft” policy be established to limit the time that work related emails and texts are sent by division staff. My direction to senior leadership is to not send any emails or texts to staff (barring emergencies) from 6:00 PM on Friday evening until 6:00 AM on Monday morning and from 6:00 PM to 6:00 AM on weekdays. I’ve requested school leaders to have conversations with their school staffs and see what would work best from their context during weekdays and the weekend, but I’m hopeful that at least a 12 hour time free from work related email/texting will be established for their schools. This is not about mandating when you do your work but simply not pressing send on your email or text between those hours. It is not going to be easy as most of us have become so technology dependent that we just send without ever looking at the time. This is also going to be a difficult transition for our parents as they’ve become accustomed to getting an almost instantaneous response from the school or individual staff member. That is why I’ve said a soft policy to allow everyone to get used to the fact that it is alright to disconnect for a period of time each and every day…and not just when you are sleeping. While we will get to this destination, remember, this is a journey right now!
Due to the inclement weather on Wednesday last week, the regular board meeting was postponed until December 4th. There is a recommendation on the table to use approximately $1.3 million dollars in operating reserves to cover off most of the shortfall in funding from the provincial budget. As I’ve previously indicated, the Board of Trustees were adamant that no reductions to front line staff would occur mid year when provincial funding was announced. They will also be looking at some other alternatives to potentially add to our operating reserves in order to ride out (but not totally eliminate) the shortfalls in funding expected in the next three years. Stay tune for some key messages coming out later this week.
I think it is really tough being in education today and I know that staff morale is waning as this was a topic of discussion at our most recent TBAC meeting. I want to go back to something that Dr. Jody Carrington said, “You do holy work!”. It may be difficult…okay it is difficult to not listen to the messages out there and some of the decisions being made but I need everyone to focus on that statement, “You do holy work!”. And I’m asking, especially our most veteran staff, to assist in reminding everyone about the work we do and the value you provide. There are a number of things we cannot control but we can control our own responses and in this time, we need those, whose influence is most trusted, to carry that message loud and clear.
While I’ll still provide a final message to staff before my official retirement, this will be my last “From the Desk of the Superintendent” monthly message. I began using my blog in 2011 to send out messages to staff and have written over 350 blog posts to date. When I began the process, it was my intent that my blogs would be informational. However, as I continued, I found that in many ways writing my blogs was an opportunity to journal publicly. It allowed me to share my thoughts on mostly educational topics and sometimes about life in general. I hope you found them to be both interesting and informational. Regardless it will be a practice I want to continue into my retirement.
And finally, as we enter into this season of Advent, I share with you this prayer from Sarah Martin from “The Awe & Wonder of Advent: Day 18”
Father, just as You sent John the Baptist to prepare the way for Jesus, help me to clear the path in my heart, too. Show me the distractions in my life that block me from all-out worship of You this Advent. Lord, I await Your coming! As I celebrate the first Advent––the first coming––I look toward the day where I will see You face to face. I imagine what it will be like. Give me a heart, Lord, that looks for Your coming on a daily basis. Help me to live my life where I’m constantly seeking Your presence. My offering to You today is my righteous life for I know I am only clean because of Jesus. Show me today how I need to be refined, purified, forgiven. Give me the strength to ask for forgiveness and to then change my ways.”