Operational Plan sets goals for new school year: RRDSB

This year, the Rainy River District School Board (RRDSB) will look to develop a culture of caring and a culture of lifelong learning in schools through many initiatives that aim to increase student attendance, mental health supports, antiracism resources, and by working with families and partners.

Director of Education Heather Campbell provided the 2023-2024 Operational Plan report which was briefly reviewed at the end of the RRDSB regular board meeting on September 5.

“As we work to develop the Student Achievement Plan over the course of the year, the Operational Plan provides an initial framework for our schools for professional development and school-based improvement planning efforts,” the report read.

Broken down into two parts, a “culture of caring” and a “culture of lifelong learning,” the goals align with priorities that were established by the province of Ontario, under The Better Schools and Student Outcomes Act, 2023, and the board’s Strategic Plan and and the Student Achievement Plan (previously known as the Board Improvement Plan).

Most aim to help students improve in reading, writing and math, prepare students for future success, and improve student engagement and awareness of mental health supports.

“The reduction of persistent absenteeism and knowledge of pathways to care - have been ongoing priorities for the RRDSB,” the report read, noting that there was a percentage of students who reported being unaware of available mental health supports.

Another effort to promote regular student attendance is to address barriers to attendance through the development of a nutrition programming plan.

In addition, as part of the board’s Mental Health and Addictions Plan, the board will continue to build mental health literacy for staff, while looking to provide identity-affirming mental health supports for students.

Last year, the board began work with students as Mental Health Champions, which builds on their Mental Health and Addictions Plan.

With respect to promoting regular attendance, the board will implement new antisemitism curriculum expectations and the Equity Backpack Program for all Grade 6 classrooms.

In a closing note under the “culture of caring” section of the report, it noted that there will be re-envisioning of alternative education across the system to provide more flexible options for programming, which will be the final aspect to improving students’ participation in class time, learning, as well as to increasing graduation rates.

“It is our hope that with an updated alternative education program, fewer students will be referred to Supervised Alternative Learning and remain on track for graduation,” the report read.

Under a “culture of lifelong learning,” the board aims to prepare students for future success where students pursue learning pathways that reflect their individual interests and needs, building their skills for the future.

This year, schools will fully implement the career and life planning lessons in Grades 7, 8, and 9, as well as in Grade 10 Careers, while also working to support Guidance teachers in integrating the Individual Pathway Plan process as part of their work in meeting with each student.

Continued support of their job skills programs – Dual Credits, Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP), and Specialist High Skills Majors (SHSM) – will also occur.

Student Achievement Plan metrics will be collected (or continued to be collected) and monitored.

Near the end of the presentation, Campbell emphasized the importance of connecting with parents/guardians and our broader communities.

“This important work includes the initiatives within the First Nation, Métis, and Inuit Board Action Plan, in increasing the presence and work of Elders, Senators, and Knowledge Keepers within all schools, and supporting educators to implement the new FNMI expectations within Grades 1 to 3 Social Studies curriculum,” she said.

Elisa Nguyen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Fort Frances Times