The Record, Off the Record #2 : Education Policy Meeting Monday May 7

This School District  61 Education  Policy meeting started with an in camera meeting. I can’t tell you anything about it except that there was one. Legal opinion seems divided on whether or not votes can be reported after a public announcement, such as reporting o the vote that preceded Chair Peg Orcherton’s report the next day to the Times-Colonist and CFAX regarding Superintendent John Gaiptman being appointed as Secretary-Treasurer in addition to holding the Superintendent’s office, after the resignation of current Secretary- Treasurer George Ambeault. All I can tell you until I get firm legal opinion, and maybe second opinion, is that a vote was held and that this announcement, (which Chair Orcherton wrote later and said  she would send to the Times Colonist and CFAX) was the result:

“The Greater Victoria Board of Education met last night at a Special In-Camera meeting and  decided that they would ask their Superintendent, Mr. John Gaiptman, to also take on the dual role of Superintendent/Secretary Treasurer.  Mr. Gaiptman has been asked to provide the Board with regular reports regarding his assessment of the administrative needs of the School District.Mr. Ambeault will continue in an advisory capacity until mid to late June when his resignation comes into effect.”

After the in camera meeting, Trustees and senior administration who were present got a really wonderful, educational tour of the new Vic High tech education facility , the Fairey Tech Building.The old building was a warren of dark spaces. This new facility is light filled and supremely functional. Students from hairdressing, fashion design, autobody, metal , and electrical gave the tour, and they were articulate and confident guides. Principal Randi Falls listed the recent significant  awards the students won at the South Island Skills Canada Completion.

The Education Policy meeting agenda is online. Official minutes will  be posted after approval at the next Board meeting. This meeting is chaired by Trustee Catherine Alpha.

During approval of last meeting’s minutes, Trustee Loring-Kuhanga asked for an update on Associate Superintendent Sheri Bell’s statement that she would meet with Middle School Exploratory teachers, after hearing their detailed presentation at the last Ed policy meeting. Trying to make sure “exploratory” isn’t a part time mostly female employment ghetto is something this District has to address as it has been a very poor situation for those teachers sine the “Exemplary Middle School Model” was instituted here.  The situation is a “bargaining issue”, Board Chair Orcherton said, and shut down discussion.

The next business portion of the meeting consisted of 7 Policy and Regulation changes proposed by senior administration. Six Polices and Regulations were deleted with unanimous vote as the positions no longer exist. I always ask  for a history of the deleted positions as the history of the District is being erased with these Policy and Regulation deletions, to a great extent.

It was the revision to Policy 2120.030, to become “District Principal of Learning Initiatives” that was the impetus for intense discussion. Learning Initiatives consists of  four teachers seconded from the classroom full time, to present workshops. A District principal, Janine Roy, supervises them. The wording of the explanation and function of the position was seen to be seriously problematic by several Trustees. Associate Superintendent Bell described the offerings from Learning Initiatives  as “professional learning opportunities”, but the text of the policy and the Regulation referred to “professional development” connected to “educational change”.

The ensuring discussion was interesting and heated, with the Board Chair accusing Trustees McNally, Alpha, Loring-Kuhunga and Nohr of being overly focussed on one employee group, the teachers. That was  possibly because this policy only addresses teachers (and principals).

It is hard to believe after all the representations from the District’s teachers that past Boards have heard on the importance of maintaining a distinction between “professional development”  and “inservice’ – and Trustees Horsman, Ferris, McEvoy, and Orcherton were there for all of them over many years) that anyone would say the argument to replace “professional development” with “professional learning opportunities” was “just semantics” or “wordsmithing” and not a substantive argument. But those evaluations were made.

My  motion to repalce all “professional development” references with “professional learning opportunities” did not reach the table as the Committee Chair did not realize it was a motion to amend – my bad, as I was not clear about that, and it appeared to the Chair to be a new motion, while a motion was still on the table.Not allowed in Robert’s Rules.

Trustee Bev Horsman moved to refer the issue back to senior administration, who will bring it back to another meeting for further discussion.

It was an intense meeting. You had to be there. I hope you will be. Next meeting is OPPS, Monday, May 14, 7:30 pm. There will be an in camera meeting at 6 pm, before that.

As always, in The Record, Off The Record , I speak for myself, not the Board;   the conclusions are my own, and reports of votes are unofficial.

About Diane McNally