As always, The Record, Off the Record is an unofficial record of School District 61 meetings, the “you had to be there” record. Official minutes are posted after approval on the School District 61 website. It usually takes one month for minutes of a meeting to be approved at the next meeting of the same Standing Committee, or Board meeting.
A. John Bird, President of Victoria Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils (VCPAC meeting quorum: 19 of more than 50 schools)
1. WiFi in K-5 Schools in SD61: VCPAC asks for deferral of the WiFi motion brought to the Board from the SD61 WiFi Committee until February 2013, as VCPAC has not discussed cell phones in schools or WiFi brought in by school staff. BYOD is a target in the BC Ministry of Education “ Education for Tomorrow 2012 – 2013” document (p 60).
2. Question Period at Board Meetings: VCPAC requested in 2006 that the School Act be changed to ensure a question period at Board meetings in BC school districts. The letter is on the VCPAC website, along with a short (but incomplete) history of SD61 Board question period activity.
- Trustee Loring-Kuhanga brought a motion to the May 14, 2012 Operations Policy and Planning meeting asking for two public question periods at every Board meeting. This motion was defeated: For: Alpha, Loring-Kuhanga, McNally, Nohr. (Absent: McEvoy) Against: Ferris, Horsman, Leonard and Orcherton.
- Motions carried at one of the Standing Committees are considered “Recommended Motions” to the Board, and often there will not be extensive debate at the Board meeting as that has taken place at the Standing Committee meeting. However, the mover can bring a defeated motion forward to the Board. Trustee Loring-Kuhanga brought the motion again to the September 17, 2012 Board meeting, where – again – it was defeated. For: Alpha, Loring-Kuhanga, McNally, Nohr. Against: Ferris, Horsman, Leonard, McEvoy and Orcherton.
The VCPAC Question Period document jumps from January 2007,(Jan / 07 VCPAC sends resolution to BCCPAC requesting that the Minister make question periods mandatory for School Boards. This resolution passed at BCCPAC 2007 AGM) to September 2012 (Sep / 12 Chair Orcherton’s motion to review Board practices and policies passes at the September 17, 2012 Regular Public Board of Education meeting).
- Trustee Loring-Kuhanga’s motions re question period for the public on the agenda of public Board meetings in School District 61 are not reported.
The September motion included in the document has so far resulted in a District-produced report on question periods at twenty BC Boards of Education, which was presented at 5. B on the agenda. Although the report was self-congratulatory in tone, it nevertheless (and probably inadvertently) highlighted the fact that School District 61 is in the minority of Boards of Education in British Columbia in not providing question period(s) in Board meetings. A parent presented personal research further highlighting this minority position.
VCPAC recommended that the Board strike a committee to deal with the question period concerns expressed in the VCPAC letter (linked above). Trustee Loring-Kuhanga asked how the committee would be set up, and was told by the Chair that would be dealt with later in the meeting. (It seems that it wasn’t; I’m no clearer on how it will be set up. Maybe it’s me.)
5. Finance and Legal Affairs
A. WiFi Committee Report: WiFi in School District 61 isn’t exactly “finance”, though the rollout / wifi-ing of K-5 school will cost. It’s not exactly “legal” either (yet – the Portland, OR School District has faced a costly lawsuit from a parent over WiFi).
- There is apparently no Technology Strategic Plan for School District 61. (There’s no general District Strategic Plan, either, so that’s consistent. SD61 uses the Superintendent’s Achievement Contract Report in place of a strategic plan for some time, although a Regulation still exists – probably not for long – outlining the responsibilities of the Strategic Planner.There is no associated Policy, which has been deleted.) In September 2012, the SD61 IT Department provided a very general statement regarding the District Technology “Roadmap”.
- In the WiFi Committee’s final meeting, participants were told there would be no minutes from the meeting. Surprise! In this OPPS meeting we were told there will be minutes, and that they will be posted on the SD61 website (they are).
The motion from the October 17 WiFi Committee meeting came forward:
That the Board of Education of School District No. 61 (Greater Victoria) develops [sic] an application process whereby elementary schools may submit to the Board of Education for approval to implement Wifi in their schools.
Ferris: Moved to Table until the VCPAC report is presented.
For: Alpha, Ferris, Horsman, Leonard, McEvoy, McNally, Nohr, Orcherton. Abstained: Loring-Kuhanga.
Community presenters reiterated health concerns with WiFi, especially in K-5 settings. Although George Jay School is the only K-5 SD61 school with “official” District installed WiFi (Harbourside Rotary Club donated $5,000 to the school to purchase iPads), Wifi is being brought into non-WiFi environments via personal routers and hotspots, at 11 K-5 schools. The current status is more or less an “understood moratorium”, which is not a moratorium at all.
- Remarkably, a motion to establish a moratorium on Wifi expansion at the Board meeting on June 20, 2011 was not even addressed at that meeting: “Due to discussions on the same topics, there was no action on these motions: [pages 7-8] F.2 I: That the Board of Education of School District no. 61 (Greater Victoria) establish a moratorium on wifi installations in elementary schools until the wifi committee has completed its work”.
Various forms of a proposal to limit WiFi expansion in schools were crafted and amended, with apparent objectives from various Trustees covering a range including the intent to stop further informal installations, complete removal of all but the District-installed George Jay WiFi infrastructure , and leaving the status quo as is, until the VCPAC report in February.
That the Board of Education of School District No. 61 (Greater Victoria) remind the Greater Victoria Teachers’ Association and School District staff regarding the current Board direction related to Wi-Fi in elementary schools. Carried.
For: Alpha, Ferris, Horsman, Leonard, McEvoy, McNally, Orcherton Against:Loring-Kuhanga, Nohr
B. Report to the Board of Education: Report from Senior Administration regarding question period and public participation (above).
C. International Student Program Overview :
In response to requests from Trustees Nohr and Loring-Kuhanga some time ago, an extensive report was presented by School District 61’s International Student Program staff, with three main areas of focus: marketing and student support, administration, and the homestay program component. The International Program is a net profit enterprise for SD61. Schedule 2A of the SD61 2012-2013 Budget line item for “Offshore Tuition” revenue shows $7,863,871 (revenue impacted by expenses, such as salaries of instructors, administrators, and student recruitment / program marketing and promotions travel expenses). [Second attempt to insert a PPT in WordPress worked. You may get this post twice. I know, once is enough. But this time the PPT link should work.]
6. Facilities Planning : no report
7. Public Disclosure of In Camera Items: No In Camera meeting
8. Motions Referred to the Committee
A. McNally: Challenge the Ruling of the Chair (also known as “Appeal from a ruling of the chair)
That the Board of Education of School District No. 61 (Greater Victoria ) amend Bylaw 9368 ”Procedure” Article 107.00 to read : “Any Trustee may challenge the ruling of the Chair, according to Robert’s Rules of Order. The Trustee making the challenge (with a seconder) will be asked by the Chair to state the challenge; debate will occur according to Robert’s Rules of Order; a vote to sustain the chair [or not ] will follow debate.
As it stands, the challenger does not have an opportunity to state the challenge, so no one has any idea what the challenge is; the Chair is not required to state any reason for or defense of the ruling; there is no debate on the challenge’s merits before a vote is a called to support the Chair (or the challenge). This is… uncommon.
This motion had been referred to this OPPS meeting from the October Board meeting, but at this point in the meeting it was moved to refer this motion to the next OPPS / Ed Policy meeting, December 3. Carried unanimously.
9. New Business / Notice of Motion
A. McNally: Letter to Leader of Provincial NDP
That the Board of Education of School District No. 61 (Greater Victoria) instructs [sic] the Chair to write a letter to Adrian Dix, Leader of the Provincial NDP, strongly urging him to reconsider his expressed support of funding for private schools.
Moved Alpha: To Table: For: Alpha, Ferris, Horsman, Leonard, McNally. (McEvoy absent for the last part of the meeting.) Against: Loring-Kuhanga.
10. General Announcements: none
11. Adjournment : Approximately 10:15 pm.
Combined Education Policy / Operations Policy and Planning Standing Committees: Monday December 3, 7 pm
- The Record, Off The Record: Board Meeting, November 19, 2012
- What Do Trustees Do?
- Roots of Empathy (and other SD61 Healthy Safe and Caring Schools Initiatives and Programs)