The Record, Off The Record #4: Regular Board Meeting May 22, 2012

Before the regular Board Meeting there was an in camera meeting.

That’s all I can tell you. What is “in the public interest” is proving to be a very
difficult concept to define.

Regular Board Meeting May 12, 2012 (Agenda here)

I counted 1 reporter, 1 presenter, and 4 members of the public at this meeting, when I thought to count, after item A.6 on the agenda.

A.1. Approve the agenda: Approved.
A 2. Approval of Minutes of April 16 Board meeting: Approved.

A 3:  Business Arising from the  Minutes: One topic came forward. On the last OPPS  agenda, at the bottom of the pages, the was a fairly subtle note :”An audio recording is being made of this meeting” .  There had been no explanation, no discussion or vote, no information provided regarding recording  by whom or for what purpose. I didn’t notice until we were well into the meeting. I asked, and was told that the District was considering doing streaming video of the Board meetings, and setting up the  recording capability was a first step. The audio recordings will be kept “in a vault with the minutes. As
minutes are public documents, I imagine the audio recordings are as well.

A 4: Student Achievement: Three students from the SJ Willis Link, Alternative Education, and Continuing Education  programs presented very affecting stories of struggle and success, with praise for the programs and staff. The student from the Link spoke of the importance of the 1:1 time with the teacher and the small classes so crucial for learning. Continuing Education  programs are open until 9:30 pm, allowing flexible scheduling for students. SD61 does not appear to have a current web page for Alternative Education.  The McCreary Centre Society presented “Making the Grade”, a Report on Alternative Education, in  2008. Sd61 Greater Victoria participated.

A 5: The presenter, Trustee McEvoy had sent regrets and was absent.
A 6: Community Presentations

  • a) Big Bothers and Big Sisters presented on the effects of the program on lessening behavioural, conduct and victimization related issues.
  • b) Dermod Travis, Executive Director of Integrity BC, spoke in support of a public question period on regular Board meeting agendas, stating “You can never have too much democracy”. Trustee Loring-Kuhanga’s motion to institute question periods failed at the May 14 OPPS meeting.

A 7: Trustees’ Reports: Trustees McNally (previous blog entry), Nohr, and Loring-Kuhanga reported on their activities since the last Board meeting..

A 8: Chair’s Report: My notes indicate that Chair Orcherton addressed some of the issues presented by Dermod Travis, saying there is opportunity for public participation in the two School District 61 Standing Committees  ( Education Policy and Operations, Planning and Policy) , and “staff will direct you to how our processes work.”

C:  Board Committee Reports:

  • C 1 Education Policy Committee: A recommended motion to delete nine obsolete polices and regulations (see agenda) carried unanimously. (The “recommended” appellation means the motion has been debated and carried in the previous Education Policy meeting and is now brought forward for the full Board’s consideration and vote. )
  • C 2 Operations, Planning and Policy Committee: 5 Recommended motions (all previously discussed and debated in OPPS) :
  1. Submission of a needs budget (in addition to a compliance budget, which was previously approved) : Motion referred back to the June OPS meeting for further discussion.
  2. Three readings of a motion to delete an obsolete sentence in Bylaw 9221 carried unanimously.
  3. Two policies deleted since positions no longer exist. Carried unanimously.
  4.  Expenditure of capital portion of Annual Facility Grant Allocation of
    Trustee Nohr requested further information, and was told that the projects would be mostly carried out over the summer break, and that the Director of Facilities  would provide a list of projects at the next OPPS meeting, . Motion carried unanimously.
  5. Motion to write a letter to the Minister of Education requesting restoration of funding for students with special needs, referring to the effects of Bills 27 and 28 and the BC Supreme court decision on those Bills.  Motion tabled to next OPPS meeting. Pointed comments were made and reiterated regarding the need for “new information” in order for this motion to be considered again at the upcoming OPPS meeting on June 11.

D. District Leadership Team Reports: A report of the poll vote  which constituted the third reading of the budget bylaw was presented. The budget carried. The voting record states: For: Ferris, Horsman, Leonard, McEvoy, Orcherton; Against: Alpha, Nohr; Abstained: Loring-Kuhanga, McNally. (To me, an email poll vote seemed inappropriate for such a major item as the final  budget vote. However the drawback would be that the vote would take place at the June meeting, and there would not be firm numbers to work with for staffing. The vote went to a third later vote, called by the chair as a poll vote, because I did not vote for all three readings of the Budget motion at one meeting, the previous Board meeting. All three readings have to be carried unanimously. I needed to have that unanimous requirement unfulfilled so I could move my motion to submit only a needs / restoration budget. My motion failed 4-5 at that previous Board meeting.)

E. Reports from Trustee Representatives: I reported on the BCPSEA Representative Council at which a motion came forward from Vancouver School District 39 to set side issues of teacher qualifications, “suitability”, pro-d and evaluation of teachers in order to facilitate mediation failed massively with only 3 votes in favour, from Cowichan SD79, Vancouver SD39 and Victoria SDS61. I attended the April meeting of the  Healthy Saanich Committee but was  unable to attend the May meeting of the HSC.

F. New Business / Notice of Motions (paraphrased) :

  1. Moved Nohr: Write a letter to the Minister of Education requesting appointment of a new mediator for teacher negotiations : Failed 4-4. ( With 8 Trustees present, a tie vote is the same as a fail.)
  2. Moved Nohr: Write a letter of appreciation for partner groups that participated in budget input: Withdrawn as the Chair said the letter had already been written by the Chair, and sent out in email to trustees.
  3. Moved McNally: Write a letter  from the Board in support of Cowichan SD79 Board’s submission of only a restoration budget. The discussion was interesting. As it was audio recorded I believe that audio recording – which should be available to the public as a record of a public meeting – will back up my notes, in which I recorded the following: here for for advocacy, not politics, not here to defeat the government but here to do the job with the money we have, not clear how students would benefit from this action in the short term. Trustee Horsman asked the Secretary-Treasurer if Cowichan was “worse off” than other Districts. The reply included the comment that Cowichan was “not being persecuted but can’t say they are being treated fairly”. Other comments included an assertion that it was not the Cowichan trustees who were taking a risk, but that they see placing Cowichan parents in a position of risk. Trustee Nohr countered that the Cowichan Board has been put in a reactive place (as have all Boards), and that Cowichan trustees are trying to restore the co-governance aspect with the Ministry of Education, as specified in the School Act. The Chair commented that this Board has the ability to get personal access to the Minister, and that there was no use getting into a game of “chicken” with the Ministry. Trustee Alpha commented that the Cowichan Board was not demonstrating “reckless disregard”, that the trustees had public support and the support of Cowichan Tribes, and further that as we were all elected to Trustee positions, this is politics and trustees need to hold to government accountable for policies that have damaged public education. Motion failed 4-4.
  4. Moved McNally: Set up a District web page for all public letters written  by the Chair. After Trustee Horsman’s objection that the District already had a “web page”, and that only a link be set up, some discussion ensued regarding the differences between a “page” and a “site”, and concluded with the fact that link on a site has to link to something, namely, a “page”. Carried unanimously.

G. Communications (an addition to this agenda; information comes quickly and unexpected topic additions to the agenda can be approved without time to stop to see if the agenda adheres to the format required in Bylaw 9360.  One would expect variations would be made specifically by motion and  by vote, not the case here.) The chair presented a letter from the Minister of Education in reply to the Board’s letter asking for reimbursement of PAC playground expenditures pre-January 2011. The Minster said there will be no reimbursement for expenses prior to January 2011.

H. Public Disclosure of In Camera Items: No disclosure.

I: Adjournment: Adjourned.

The Record Off The Record is provided as my own summary of votes and comments in this Board meeting. The official minutes will be approved at the next Board meeting on June 18, and posted on the SD61 website after approval.

About Diane McNally