School District 61 Board of Education Back in Session: No Unfinished Business

Mulberries at Springridge Common, early September. There was once a School District 61 school building on this site, long ago.

Welcome back! The Greater Victoria Board of Education is back in standard meeting mode.The 2012-2013 school year begins with Trustee Bev Horsman going into her 27th year on this Board. That’s almost 8 years longer on the Board than John Young,  who was defeated last November’s civic election after 20 years on the Board.

What Do School Trustees Do? While talking to parents at a back to school barbecue (serious appreciation for Silver Rill corn!) I was asked by one parent who had had children at the K-5 school for four years, , “So…. what do school trustees do?” Good question – I’ll address that in a future post. Soon.

First Meeting: Standing Committees . A combined Operations, Planning and Policy / Education Policy standing committee meeting  was held on Monday September 10. (The public meeting was preceded by an in camera meeting, 6:00 pm start.) Minutes will be approved at the next Standing Committee meetings and posted on the website after approval (Ed Policy October 1, and OPPS October 9 on the District Calendar ), so as always, this meeting report is unofficial.

Following the agenda, here’s the record, off the record.

1. Approval of the Agenda: Approved.

2. Approval of Minutes: June 4 2012 Education Policy / June 11 Operations Planning and Policy approved.

3. Business Arising From Minutes : None.

4. Education Policy Development Committee :Trustee Catherine Alpha, chair.

A. GVTA Inquiry Projects: Debra Swain, Chair of the GVTA Professional Development Committee introduced several teachers from SD 61 GVSD / SD 62 Sooke. Teachers explained their involvement in professional development activities, made related presentations, and provided hard copies of Charlie Naylor’s BCTF report on Teacher Inquiry and The Program for Quality Teaching.

  • The presenting teachers were obviously passionate about the results of this teacher driven professional development.A comment at the Board table likened the process to “teachers getting together and brainstorming”. No. This process is much more complex.

B. Middle/Secondary Action Research Projects: Middle school teachers presented results of their Action Research  projects in which they had been involved.

C. Revision of Policy and Regulation: The only item put to a vote at this Education Policy meeting was “Revision to Policy and Regulation 2120.030, formerly Director of School Services revised to District Principal of Learning Initiatives“, which was presented to the Board by senior administration for approval.

  •  Policy and Regulation review has been given to senior administration (while trustees are constantly reminded of the over-the-top workload of this group, though not by any member of senior administration).
  • Trustee Loring-Kuhanga brought a motion to establish a Policy Review Committee to the Board meeting of January 16, 2012: That the Board of Education of School District No. 61 (Greater Victoria) establish a small working committee (consisting of 2 trustees, 1 executive member, 1 teacher, 1 administrator, 1 parent and 1 CUPE member) to review all of the policies and regulations and to report revisions to OPPS on a monthly basis. Minutes state “Motion did not get heard at the meeting and will be moved to the next Operations, Policy and Planning Committee meeting agenda of February 13, 2012”. However, at that meeting “The motion was deferred to the April Operations Policy and Planning Committee meeting.”  The motion was not dealt with and was moved to the May OPPS meeting  where it was defeated 6-3 (For: Loring-Kuhanga, McNally, Nohr; Against: Orcherton, McEvoy, Ferris, Leonard, Alpha, Leonard, Horsman).
  • The BCSTA Pocket Guide to Successful Board Governance states on page 11 that “Trustees should review all policies for currency and accuracy at least once in their three-year term.” I’ve been told at the Board table that I’m welcome to do that myself. That’s not how I interpret this suggestion from the BCSTA, but given the current Board process, it seems like a good idea.

The revision of this Policy and Regulation ( Administrative Regulations  are developed by senior administration, not Trustees )  was presented at a previous meeting for Trustee review with “strategic plan” still in the subheadings. Trustee Loring Kuhanga, who has been a Trustee on the SD63 Saanich Board in the past, where there is a Strategic Plan in existence, commented positively on seeing “strategic” left in. Discussion ensued on the lack of a strategic plan in School District 61. “Strategic” was removed in the revision presented on September 11.

Carried: For: Alpha, McNally,Leonard, McEvoy, Ferris, Orcherton, Horsman. Against: Loring-Kuhanga, Nohr

Though I voted in favour, I am having increasing difficulty  with voting in favour of policy revisions that are driven by practise, and policy review without direct Trustee involvement. However, it seems pointless to bring a motion to attempt to change the process, as Trustee Loring-Kuhanga’s related motion was defeated It appears that School District 61 practice changes without regard to policy, and then practice is used to change policy. (All of these points have been discussed in public Board and Standing Committee meetings , so there are no surprises here.)

Creation of a new position in senior administration (that had been ongoing for 8 years before being addressed in Policy revision) that attracts a salary of $108,000 (and which, by association, keeps three full time teachers out of the classroom on salary, and has an associated budget of $95,000 ) cannot be thought of as “housekeeping” (which is how these policy revisions have been characterized). The BCSTA Pocket Guide to Successful Board Governance states: “There is an important distinction between policy-making and administration; the board formulates policies under which the district functions, then delegates implementation to the superintendent and staff”.

  • It was pointed out by a long-serving trustee at the table that this Standing Committee is not called the “Education Policy Review Committee”, but the “Education Policy Development Committee”, as a reason for Trustees not reviewing policy. Something to think about. Definitely.

5. Operations Policy and Planning Committee: Trustee Elaine Leonard, Chair.

A. Presentations: A business owner’s representative presented concerns about the possible impact of the new Oak Bay High School.

B. Finance and Legal Affairs : 1. and 2. Motions on the Carbon Neutral Capital Program and Playground Equipment Funding Capital Project carried unanimously, giving the Board access to some funding for these projects.

C. Public Disclosure of In-Camera Items : limited to a report on leases by Superintendent Gaiptman.

D. New Business / Notice of Motions

1. Moved Orcherton: That the Board of Education of School District 61 Greater Victoria directs [sic] senior management to review all Board policies, practices and bylaws with respect to the Board’s interaction with the Public with the view to clarify, educate, and if necessary, recommend any improvements to these practices and policies. Moved to amend: McNally: to include District stakeholders and all interested Trustees. Defeated: For: McNally; Against: Alpha, Ferris, Loring-Kuhanga, McEvoy, Leonard, Nohr, Orcherton. Back to the main motion, which carried.

  • Members of the public, including a former Chair of the Saanich Board, pointed out that The Board (Trustees), not Administration, is responsible for Policy.

2. Moved Loring-Kuhanga: That the Board of Education of School District 61 (Greater Victoria) public board meeting agenda include a standing item for 2 Question and Answer periods to allow for public questions: at the beginning of every meeting and at the end of every meeting. Also to amend By-Law 9360 regarding Agenda format that includes two Question and Answer periods.

Chair Leonard ruled this motion out of order, stating that it had previously been defeated at a Standing Committee, so it’s surprising that the motion had been accepted for the agenda. A motion defeated at a standing committee can be brought to a Board meeting (as with my motion to record votes). Interestingly, there was also a statement at the table that a defeated motion can’t be brought back for the entire “session”, which was stated to be the three year term. Robert’s Rules states a ‘session” to be “the same order of business”, meaning the same agenda. No agenda is likely to last for three years.

3. Moved Loring – Kuhanga: That the Board of Education of School District No. 61 (Greater Victoria) establish a Hiring Committee that includes Trustees to begin the process for recruiting a Secretary-Treasurer and a Human Resources Director. The motion was amended to strike “and a Human Resources Director’. Defeated 5-4. For: Alpha, Loring-Kuhanga, McNally, Nohr. Against: Ferris, Horsman, Leonard, McEvoy, Orcherton. Chair Orcherton said “a report “ would come in September.

4. Moved McNally: As per Bylaw 9010 SD61 “Bylaws of the Board”, That Part 10 of Bylaw 9360, “General Meeting of the Board”, be revised to read (sans rationales) :
The Order of Business on the SD61 Board of Education Board meeting Agenda shall be :
1. Approval of the Agenda
2. Approval of the Minutes
3. Business Arising From the Minutes
4. Unfinished Business

5. Student Achievement
6. District Presentations
7. Community / Public Presentations
8. Trustees’ Reports / Reports from Trustee Representatives  (Includes Reports from Trustee Representatives which now appears as “E”. This placement increases efficiency and focus , and expedites the business of the meeting.)
8.1 Chair’s Report The Chair’s report is currently a stand alone item. As the Chair is part of the Board, and a Trustee,, there is no need for a stand alone report. Placement under Trustees’ Reports increases the coherency of the agenda.
9. Board Committee Reports
9.1 Education Policy Development Committee
a. Minutes (information only: attached)
b. Recommended motions
9.2 . Operations, Policy and Planning Committee
a. Minutes (information only; attached)
b. Recommended motions
10. District Senior Administration Reports (The current title “District Leadership Team Reports marginalizes Trustees’ roles. The description of the Trustee role in the BCSTA Learning Module 4 clearly refers to leadership expectations and activities. http://learn.bcsta.org/module-4-governance-role”.
10.1Superintedent’s Report
10.2 Secretary-Treasurer’s Report
11. New Business / Notice of Motions
11. 1 [Motion]
12. Public Disclosure of In Camera Items
13. Adjournment

Why? The order of business on Board agendas of School District 61 needs review. The proposed agenda format is more efficient and easier to follow. The Agendas presented at Board meetings do not follow the existing format set out in Bylaw 9360, and there is no place for “unfinished business”. If a meeting ends because of time constraints (Orders of the Day) the unaddressed motion has to be resubmitted with the mover’s hope that the motion will be higher on the agenda’s new business next time. Robert’s Rules recommends a standard agenda that includes “unfinished business”. The City of Victoria agendas and other municipal agendas dealing with motions that affect public business and public spending include ‘Unfinished Business”. Burnaby School District 41 agendas, for example, include “Unfinished Business”.

Defeated 5-4. For: Alpha, Loring-Kuhanga, McNally, Nohr. Against: Ferris, Horsman, Leonard, McEvoy, Orcherton.  (What did I learn? Not to submit “omnibus motions”! )

E: General Announcements: none

F: Adjournment: Moved Ferris: Motion to Adjourn.

Next posts:

  • The Record, Off the Record: Board Meeting September 17
  • Wifi in SD61 K-5 Schools, the “Precautionary Principle”, and the Saanich SD63 WiFi Moratorium
  • What Do Trustees Do?

Welcome back!

About Diane McNally