School is out, Mackey is back in

By Matthew McCully

Tuesday was the last official school day of 2019-2020 for the Eastern Townships School Board (ETSB).
While teachers and staff can take a moment to catch their breath at the end of a tumultuous year, the fun is just beginning.
There are 28 working days between now and the re-entry of students in the fall. In addition to all the regular planning, the board and teachers and administrators will be busy figuring out how to organize classrooms and transportation in conformity with the education ministry’s COVID-19 directives, prepare for a plan B in the event of a possible second wave, and contend with the possibility that the legal challenge to Bill 40 could falter, dramatically changing the structure and mandate of the board.
Maybe math teachers will be recruited to figure out some fun equations, like how to transport 85 per cent of the student body to school with only 1/3 bussing capacity because of social distancing requirements.
The board, in the face of adversity, still ended the year on a high note.
“You should never let a good crisis go to waste,” ETSB Chairman Michael Murry said, quoting Winston Churchill.
“Let’s make next year the best ever,” the chairman said, pointing to the lessons learned this year that it is impossible to standardize teaching and learning. “It’s essential not to try and do it all the same way for everyone,” Murray said.
“We will need all our creativity, lateral thinking and ingenuity to move forward,” he added.
Teachers will have plenty of tools at their disposal in the fall thanks to experimenting over the last month with distance learning and out-of-the-box classroom set-ups.
They will also have the support of Kandy Mackey, who will be returning to the board in August.
Mackey was appointed Director General but took a leave of absence for personal reasons in August of 2018. She will return to the ETSB next month in the role of Assistant DG. Interim DG Michel Soucy was officially appointed to the job, which he has held since Mackey’s absence.
During Tuesday evening’s ETSB Council of Commissioners meeting, the board announced the appointment of Catherine Canzani to the position of principal 50 per cent at Farnham Elementary School replacing Jane Akroyd, who is retiring.
Canzani’s move to Farnham creates an opening for principal at Waterloo Elementary. Mansonville also has a principal position to fill before the fall.
The board approved the budgets for the coming year for schools and centres, as well as the administrative structures at the board level and in schools.
Of note was the merger of Adult Education at the Brome Missisquoi Campus with New Horizons in Sherbrooke.
Steve Dunn will assume the role of centre director working out of New Horizons but overseeing both locations. He will be supported by Maude Danis Coulombe. Distance Education is no longer an entity at the ETSB, simply considered one way to teach, DG Soucy added.
A number of resolutions for expenditures were adopted including $500,000 for technology and $250,000 for renovations in nine elementary schools to accommodate K4 classes.
Storm Drains at New Horizons, work on Sherbrooke Elementary’s gym floor and changes to the electric entry at Richmond Regional can also move forward.
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