SD 61 Board Meeting October 15, 2012: Just Another 21st Century Meeting

As always, The Record Off the Record reports, along with sentence fragments and creative use of square brackets, are my own. Official Minutes of Standing Committees and Board meetings are published on  the SD61 website.

Oct 15 2012 Audio File SD61 Board Meeting

Surprise! The board Chair announced out of the blue during the Chair’s Report (B on the agenda) that there will be a review of the use of Blackberries and other technology  in meetings, in a “public engagement” meeting. (This is better process than the sudden appearance a few months ago of a small notice stating  “This meeting is being audio recorded”  at the bottom of Board agendas, but only marginally.) Who is organizing this Committee? I don’t know. Who is / will be on it? I don’t know. It had not occurred to me that needed a review, but it has obviously occurred to someone. Who? I don’t know.

Will you as a member of the public, have to turn your phone off and never look at it during SD61 meetings? Will you as a member of the “engaged public” be allowed to use smart phones / tablets, but Trustees won’t? Possibly, use of technology would be denied for everyone  in public meetings. Forbidding the use of technology  would seem to fly in the face of the Ministry of Education’s BC Ed Plan enthusiasm for  technology in classrooms  and “21st Century Learning“. This is a 21st Century Board and these are 21st Century Meetings, after all.

The fact that this committee is going to meet means that there is a range of possible recommendations and outcomes, one being Trustees being forbidden to use phones or tablets during In Camera meetings.  If  that were to be the case, I wouldn’t be able to tell you that this ruling occurred, under threat of censure and possible loss of vote, as In Camera decisions and discussions are not for the public to know except in Section 72.3 Reports at the tail end of every agenda (H). Not everything that happens is reported.

The Chair announced previously that The Public Communications Policy is under review, as well. I don’t know who who saw a need for that, or why, or who is on that review committee, either.

Policy 1150 : Communications Policy says the “Superintendent has responsibility for maintaining ongoing communications with stakeholder groups and the community”. Does that Policy  discourage Trustee blogs? Perhaps there will be a surprise  announcement to Trustees at a Board meeting about a Blog Policy.

Policy 1160 Public Information states that members of the public are entitled to “full, objective and timely information”. How full? Who defines “objective”? Who decides what time is “timely”?

The former version of the Board outsourced policy review and revision to senior administration in an “agreement” (not a motion voted on after debate in public). It can be assumed  that  senior administration are reviewing these these Policies and will report to Trustees at some point.

Note: Given ongoing  surprise announcements, an unforgettable  surprise from the previous Board (made up of all but three members of the current Board, except McNally, Loring-Kuhanga and Nohr, elected in November 2011),  In Camera events that can’t be made public, and more, posts are reviewed by legal counsel.

The October 15 In Camera  (non public) Meeting before the public / open meeting began at 6:15 and ended a little before 7:30. A motion to disclose the hiring of Debra Laser, former Assistant Secretary Treasurer SD61, as Secretary-Treasurer carried. The disclosure of selected In Camera items to the public is at H on the Board public agendas, near the end of every Board meeting.

October 15, 2912 Public Board Meeting

Official minutes will be approved at the November 19 Board meeting, and will be posted on the SD61 website after that.

A. Approval of the Agenda: approved
A.2. Approval of the Minutes: September 17, 2012 Board minutes: approved ( audio file posted  on that blog entry)
A.3. Business Arising From the Minutes: none

A.4. Student Achievement
a)Cops for Cancer  presentation, Alana Charlton, Principal, Reynolds Secondary, and Dean Norris-Jones, teacher, Reynolds Secondary and Reynolds Students  Several Ecole Secondaire Reynolds Secondary School students spoke about their involvement with Cops For Cancer fundraising and the annual head shaving event. Their heartfelt eloquence held everyone’s attention. Students began fundraising in September and on September 29 had $0. At the end of the fundraising effort Reynolds students had raised $109,000.

A.5 Community Presentations
a) 2012-2013 United Way Campaign: John Fawcett, District Principal Student Services  and Linda Hughes, CEO, United Way, presented information on this year’s United Way Campaign.

A.6 Trustees’ Reports

B. Chair’s Report

  • A “public engagement meeting” will review Blackberry and technology  use in meetings. A policy on use of iPads, and phones in meetings will be developed and then presented to Trustees and the members of the public who attend the Standing Committee (generally a total of one member of the public) for review. It will  then be moved on to the Board agenda one or two weeks later for ratification by a majority vote of Trustees. [I am not alone in believing that this Standing Committee “review” level of “involvement “ is not the part of the process where the true power of the process and engagement in policy development  lies. Initiation is the powerful and generative  part of the process, but Trustees are excluded from that stage via the will of the majority of the Board. ]
  • A “farewell event” was held  for the former Director of Human Resources, who has moved to a position on the mainland
  • Announcement of creation of a new Culture and Community Committee [that, in reading minutes back to 2004, appears to has been under consideration  for some time. Apparently nothing yet on the SD61 website, but the general parameters are on Trustee Nohr’s site.]
  • District audio records of Board meetings: On request, access “will be granted’.  [The Chair’s  report is part of the audio file posted here, so you will be able to hear the instruction that the mp3s are not to be used to “embarrass’ any Board member. The record is what it is: a complete audio record of the meeting. A video record as well as audio is posted on Trustee Deborah Nohr’s site.]
  • “Permission is granted”for public recording of  video and audio “will continue to be allowed”. [Whose prerogative  is it to grant this permission, or to block it? It’s not clear.]
  • Conduct of Board business : The Chair referred to Bylaw 9368 Procedure of Board meetings. Meetings will be run according to Robert’s Rules except when they’re not, as stared in the Bylaw; a trustee can challenge a ruling of the chair [but apparently no one needs to know why: no debate, just vote (Section 107.00), and so far the majority likes it that way.] The Chair outlined the hierarchy of oversight (my paraphrase): law, corporate status, Bylaws of the Board, Robert’s Rules.
  • How the Board interacts with the public: the Chair addressed trustee statements about “abrogation of Board responsibility” in regard to Policy review and revision and the 5-4 defeat of Trustee Loring-Kuhanga’s motion to add two question periods to the Board agenda. [The tone throughout this Report seemed to be one of admonishment. That’s open to interpretation. You can judge for yourself as the audio file is posted here.]
  •  Media releases by the Chair which  come as complete surprises to Trustees: The Chair stated that production and release of media releases is the prerogative of the Chair.

C. Board Committee Reports

C.1 Education Policy Development Committee
a) Minutes from the October 1, 2012 meeting:information only (to be posted on SD61 website after approval at Education Policy meeting November 5
b) Recommended motions : [These are motions that were discussed at the previous Education Policy meeting and were carried by a majority vote of trustees on the Committee (assigned by the Chair annually), and thus go on to be recommended to the Board. A motion that is defeated in a Standing Committee can still be brought by the mover to the Board.]

i )That the Board of Education of School District No. 61 (Greater Victoria) adopts (sic) the revised Policy and Regulation 2212.2, District Principal, Special Education Services.

     Carried. For: Alpha, Ferris, Horsman, Leonard, McEvoy, Orcherton    Against: McNally, Loring-Kuhanga, Nohr (The negative votes support a position that trustees should be directly involved in policy review and revision.)

ii) That the Board of Education of School District No. 61 (Greater Victoria) adopts (sic) the revised Policy and Regulation 2127.060, Psychologist.

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

iii) That the Board of Education of School District No. 61 (Greater Victoria) deletes (sic) Policy and Regulation 2127.061. Psychometrician as the position no longer exists.

  Carried. Unanimous.

  • I voted against this motion at the October Ed Policy meeting, and my reasons are explained in that post. I now regret voting in favour of the motion here. My reasoning was that the position has not existed for some time. However if trustees participated directly in policy review, there could have been a more complete discussion about why the position no longer exists, (Sooke School District 62 still has a psychometrician), and an in depth discussion regarding who is responsible for diagnosing early learning difficulties now that this position has been eliminated. There are wait lists for assessment by District school psychologists in many school districts in British Columbia, so having a position dedicated specifically to early learning challenges seems desirable. This was a major component of the job description for the deleted SD61 position.

C 2. Operations Policy and Planning Committee
a) Minutes from October 9 meeting: information only (will be posted on the SD61 after approval at OPPS November 12)
b) Recommended motions:

i) That the Board of Education of School District No. 61 (Greater Victoria) support Oak Bay High School and their application to the School Community Connections Program for the Oak Bay High School Community Television Production Teaching Centre.

    Carried: unanimous

ii) That the Board of Education of School District No. 61 (Greater Victoria) approve for submission to the Ministry of Education the 2012/2013 Five year Capital Plan that includes the three seismic upgrade projects, the mechanical / energy upgrade, the three buildings envelope projects, the two replacement schools and the two school addition projects identified [Quadra and Vic High].

Carried: unanimous.

  • The Director of Facilities will send out a list of upgrades done and upgrades still to do. School districts in British Columbia are required to submit a Five Year Capital Plan to the Ministry of Education, annually.

D. District Leadership Team Reports: none
E. Reports from Trustee Representatives

  • Trustee McNally: Healthy Saanich Committee: report on the “no GMO seeds in Saanich” discussion and public meeting

F. New Business / Notice of Motions: none
G. Communications: none

H. Public Disclosure of In Camera Items: Debra Laser, former Associate Secretary-Treasurer (George Ambeault resigned as SD61 Secretary-Treasurer to move to ERAC), was  interviewed and was awarded the position of SD61 Secretary-Treasurer.

I. Adjournment

Next Board Meeting November 19.
Next Posts:

  • Report on (Final) WiFi Committee Meeting October 17, 2012
  • Roots of Empathy
  • What Do Trustees Do?
  • BCPSEA Symposium 2012 Report

About Diane McNally