School board to update student transfer policy

Province also releasing ministerial policies soon

The South Shore Regional School Board (SSRSB) is trying to prevent potential problems by reviewing its student transfer policy and adding ammendments.

“The transfer policy is dated in that it does not take into account new provincial class caps,” said Jeff DeWolfe, the director of programs and student services for the SSRSB. “The problem we have is … that in one area if you meet these child-care requirements and provide the documentation you will get a transfer.”

A guaranteed transfer for those with the correct documentation is the issue, as schools may be required to create additional classes or add teachers if the caps on classroom size are hard-line caps compared to soft-line, and the transfer policy’s wording isn’t changed.

“What we’re looking for is a bit more information from the province. Once we have that then we will change the language in the policies to indicate that class caps would be an exception that would allow us to deny a transfer,” said Mr. DeWolfe.

In the meantime the school board is gathering information and not processing current transfer requests.

Class caps are already in place for Primary to Grade-4 students. According to “Nova Scotia’s Action Plan for Education 2015,” these will be implemented in grade 10 and 11 math classes next year as well. Mr. DeWolfe didn’t think these higher-level single-subject class caps would influence the SSRSB’s ability to approve or deny transfers.

School board policies are reviewed on a rotating basis depending on the degree of changes that are necessary, and the SSRSB attendance policy was due to be looked at this year. However, most policy changes are in a holding pattern because changes to the code of conduct are anticipated.

The Department of Education and Early Childhood Development will be issuing ministerial policies in conjunction with “Nova Scotia’s Action Plan for Education 2015,” shortly. These will guide areas including the code of conduct, homework, student assessment and attendance.

“In reviewing the [attendance] policy we realized in fact the policy is quite out of date and needs some immediate tweaking,” said Geoff Cainen, superintendent of schools.

There’s been a shift since it was originally written – suspension is no longer a go-to consequence for those who skip a day. Instead various supports are offered.

“We take a much more proactive approach to attendance now and try to support students through having places for students to go and get caught up on missed work and get supports, and you wouldn’t see a lot of that in our existing attendance policy,” said Mr. DeWolfe.

These ministerial policies will replace and update school board and school-based policies. “When you issue a ministerial policy, then we would not need a board- or school-based policy,” said Mr. DeWolfe.

The code of conduct and the homework policy are supposed to be released in September 2015.

As originally published in LighthouseNOW Progress Bulletin

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