QESBA turns 80! - A new school year: New challenges and opportunities

    MONTREAL, Aug. 27 /CNW Telbec/ -

    Welcome back! On behalf of the directors and staff of QESBA and our nine
    member school boards, we want to offer our warmest wishes for a
    stimulating, safe and productive 2009-2010 school year. In the coming
    days, some 110,000 students will begin another chapter - or start a first
    one - in their educational life within the 340 schools, vocational and
    adult centres of the QESBA English public school network across Quebec.
    Our principals, teachers, professionals and support staff will be there
    to accompany them each step of the way.

    It is a formidable challenge to ensure that every student is given the
    daily opportunity to discover their full potential. Meeting that
    challenge requires an active school partnership with parents, strong and
    accountable elected school board leadership and steady communications
    between all of us. QESBA has every confidence that those pre-requisites
    are in place.

    There are some particularly challenging issues that will engage all of us
    as our public schools reopen. This year marks the final stage of
    implementation of the new Quebec Education Program. Students entering
    Secondary V this year will have been the pioneers of the "reform" at each
    successive year in their schooling. As they now complete the process,
    they will have in hand - finally -every English textbook required, and
    without delay. QESBA and its education partners have worked extremely
    hard to end the unacceptable gap of up to two years in receiving English
    texts for our students. The situation remains frustrating (a number of
    the texts will not be final versions and will arrive, in some cases, in
    various stages) but the long delays have been basically eliminated.
    Education Minister Michelle Courchesne has been instrumental in
    correcting this problem, as has the LEARN consortium, where QESBA and all
    our nine boards are partners. QESBA will address promptly any remaining
    problems that occur this year and is committed to keep on top of the
    textbook issue whenever new programs or courses are introduced.

    School completion rates are a subject of much discussion in Quebec. Our
    English public school boards have always stressed that the successful
    completion of high school is Job #1. Of Quebec's top seven
    school boards, measured by the percentage of students who successfully
    completed high school in 2008, six were English public school boards. The
    average completion rate in the English public school sector is 80 per
    cent, substantially higher than that in the French sector. However,
    everyone would agree that we cannot rest on our laurels, there is still
    so much more to be done. Each of our member boards is actively focused on
    and committed to further reducing the drop-out rate. From early
    intervention programs to peer tutoring strategies and alternative
    programs, our school  boards are tailoring approaches to maximize student
    success across the province.

    Our schools are not only public, they are a public trust. Your school
    board, comprised of school commissioners elected by universal suffrage,
    answers to parents and all members of the tax-paying public. The future
    of your public schools, the programs and services they offer are
    everybody's concern. QESBA is committed to promoting the greatest
    possible transparency and accountability in public education. With the
    adoption of Bill 88 last Fall, there are some major changes coming to the
    governance of schools and school boards in Quebec. QESBA has made
    numerous representations to the Ministry of Education, Recreation and
    Sports with a view to ensuring that the law actually improves the
    delivery of public education services. We will be watching closely, and
    reporting progress to you in this important year of transformation.

    This year we once again begin the process of negotiations towards the
    renewal of collective agreements in education and throughout the public
    sector. QESBA and its negotiating partner, the CPNCA, will be striving
    for a framework that will maximize the ability of our system to respond
    to changing educational needs and to the distinct realities of our
    English public school network.

    Of course, the health and security of our students and staff is a
    priority in every school year; as we all track developments related to
    the H1N1 virus, your school and your school board will be providing you
    with concise and up-to-date information and guidance at every step. QESBA
    and the Association of Directors General of English School Boards of
    Quebec are both represented on the provincial committee overseeing H1N1
    protocols for schools. Those protocols are being painstakingly developed
    in concert with provincial, national and international health

    Finally, this year marks an important anniversary for QESBA, the voice of
    English public education in Quebec. The association has spent the past
    eight decades providing steady elected leadership and promoting
    innovation, accountability and excellence in public schooling. We look
    forward to working with our educational partners to strengthen English
    public education in Quebec for many decades to come.

    Debbie Horrocks

For further information:

For further information: Kimberley Hamilton, Director of Communications
and Special Projects, (514) 849-5900, ext.: 225, (514) 919-3894, cell.

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Quebec English School Boards Association

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