UCDSB looks to expand after school programs

BROCKVILLE – A recent motion passed by Upper Canada District School Board trustees in January may mean more after school programming for students.

Trustee Carole Dufort proposed the motion which directed the board to “look at the possibility of expanding after school programming in our elementary schools at the lowest cost possible to families.”

Dufort spoke that feedback she received during the school board’s consultation over flipping the elementary and secondary school start times highlighted the gap for families.

“There are families already worried that the change in bell times could put additional pressures on already limited after school programming opportunities as well as financial pressure on already tight budgets,” she told the board.

Vice chair Lynda Johnston spoke in favour of the motion saying that consulations with parents in her area mirror that of Dufort’s.

Trustees around the table questioned what this would mean for third-party operators already in UCDSB schools offering daycare.

Director of Education Ron Ferguson said any expansion would be to areas that third party operators do not already operate, or to augment current programs.

“This is not third parties,” Ferguson explained. “This is Upper Canada school board looking at exploring options for an expanded day.”

Any look at expanding after school programming will take place, regardless if there is a change to school start times. In early 2023, the UCDSB began a process to look at flipping the elementary and secondary school start times. For that move to go into effect, the board has consulted with students, parents, and other stakeholder groups. The largest of those stakeholders is the Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario, which the UCDSB co-owns the local transportation consortium with.

Dufort’s motion included in it the need to offer the programs “at the lowest cost possible to families.

Trustee Lisa Swan agreed that this is needed. However, Trustee John McAllister cautioned that the board should continue to work with existing third-party operators.

No timeline was set for when a report back to the board will happen after the motion passed.

Dufort’s motion resulted from an update to the board on the school start-time consultations.

Trustees were told that the consultation period is largely complete, except for discussions with the CDSBEO.

Consultations by the board included two public information sessions, a family survey, discussions with school councils, the student senate, and a student survey.

Trustee David McDonald opined that the board has has more consultation on this than when the board harmonized the school start times and bus times a few years ago.

McDonald serves on the board of transportation consortium Student Transportation of Eastern Ontario. He said the consortium is ready when a decision is made on swapping start times.

“STEO is ready – ready to do the hard work,” he said of getting a transportation plan ready. That plan needs the CDSBEO on board though.

Board officials said that a change to start times would be revenue-neutral if approved. Financially, without its Catholic counterpart, the UCDSB cannot make the move. Discussions between the two boards remain ongoing, but no details were presented publicly regarding any progress made.

The Leader contacted CDSBEO officials for comment. None was received by publication deadline.

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