The Record, Off The Record is my own “you had to be there” record of public meetings in School District 61 Greater Victoria (5 municipalities). “Official” approved minutes are posted on the SD61 website generally one month after the meeting.Trustees are referred to by last name only for brevity; “the Board of Education of SD No. 61 (Greater Victoria” is referred to as “the Board [etc]”. No audio recordings are made of Standing Committee meetings, only of Board meetings. [No record of how the audio recording decision was made, or any debate on proposed uses of and storage of the record appears to exist.]
In Camera meeting before and after the public meeting: 6:15 – 7 :00, and 9 – 9:15.
1. Approval of Agenda:
- McNally: Question about the whereabouts of Nohr’s motions (F.3 $10/Day Child Care Plan, and F.4 Encourage Awareness of the $10/Day Child Care Plan) that were referred to this committee for this agenda from the November 19, 2012 Board meeting. [As there is no record, as required by Robert’s Rules, no further information is available.] Once again, these motions were referred – this time to the next Education Policy meeting, reportedly by the Education Policy Chair. [Again, no recorded motion or vote.] Agenda approved.
2. Approval of Minutes: Joint Education Policy Development Committee Meeting and Operations, Policy and Planning Committee Meeting, December 3, 2012 : Approved (Education Policy Standing Committee minutes; one dissenting vote)
3. Business Arising Out of the Minutes :
- Motion from the floor: McNally:That any motion to refer be made and conducted according to Robert’s Rules of Order, with a mover, seconder, debate, and votes recorded.
Highlights of the debate (verbatim in bold, underlined):
- Why do we need all this nit-picking? Here’s why: School District 61 is the 6th largest employer in the CRD, with 51 (56 on the Ministry site) schools, 19877 students and a 2012-13 budget of $194,366,227. All decisions of a public body this size with responsibility for a large amount of public money need to be impeccable and processes clear to all stakeholders.There appears to be a certain comfortable laxity around clear and required process, perhaps the result of long internal associations, in some cases of nearly 30 years.
- This is making a mountain out of a molehill. Robert’s Rules don’t always apply. Bylaw 9368, Procedure of Board Meetings, explains in its first article exactly when they don’t: “100.00 In all meetings of the Board of Trustees, procedures shall be governed by Robert’s Rules of Order, except where provision of the bylaws of the Board or the Schools Act may conflict, in which case the latter shall prevail.”
This Board, with nine Trustees, can be considered a small group (not more than about a dozen members”) under Robert’s rules, so can run on “Small Group Rules”. What’s different about Small Group Rules (p487, Robert’s Rules, 11th Edition)?
1. You can raise your hand instead of standing.
2. Motions don’t need to be seconded [though in SD61 Board meetings they are required to be seconded, but aren’t in Standing Committees, part of the “so, which rules apply this time?” scramble in SD61 meetings. [This lack of consistent alignment with established rules and Bylaws makes it difficult for anyone used to consistent application of meeting rules to know how to proceed, and easy for those used to the status quo to sideline objections using vague justifications. ]
3. There is no limit to the number of times a member can speak to a debatable question (except for appeals when each member can speak only once, the Chair twice).
4. Informal discussion of a topic is allowed while no motion is pending.
5. Unless agreed to by unanimous consent, all proposed actions must be approved by vote under the same rules as in larger meetings.
6. The Chair doesn’t have to stand while putting questions to a vote.
7. The Chair may speak in informal discussion and in debate, and vote on all questions.
That’s it for Small Group Rules.
- Why do Robert’s Rules need to run every aspect of these meetings? We spend a lot of time on this in every meeting. Here’s why: Because Board Bylaw 9368 “Procedure” says so, and because School district 61 is a large employer funded by taxpayer money and is responsible to the electorate to be transparent and accountable in process.
- The order of application is 1. Law, 2. School District Bylaws and Policy, and 3. Robert’s Rules. This is the latest of many reiterations of this “1, 2, 3 guide” the Board has heard. Yes. And nowhere in law, or the Bylaws or Policy is anything stated that would make this referral procedure motion invalid. Actually, this process for referral is required.The School Act says nothing about referral votes. So, Robert’s Rules apply. That’s what Bylaw 9368 “Procedure” states.
At this point in the debate, one Trustee was seen to hold up her copy of Robert’s Rules with both arms extended toward another Board member, and then fling the Robert’s book over her shoulder in exasperation onto the Press table. Bonus points if you can name that Trustee. [Hint: me.]
Defeated. Against: Ferris, Horsman, Leonard, McEvoy, Orcherton For: Alpha, Loring-Kuhanga, McNally, Nohr.
So, anything can be referred without a motion to do that or a recorded vote, to some other meeting. Business as usual: If you’re in the public seats, continue to ask yourself “What just happened?”
b) Nohr: Question regarding targets for enrolment in the International program.
c) Loring-Kuhanga: Reiterated that the Aboriginal Delegated Authority was not consulted during senior administration’s review and rewrite of the Child Abuse Policy and Regulation, and requested that objection to be recorded in the minutes. Senior administration (District Principal of Learning Initiatives) stated that the Policy and Regulation will come back to Trustees for further review, and that will be enough. [There was not unanimous agreement on that. ]
The agenda was varied with unanimous approval to allow 7. A: Anti-Bullying Film Festival: Student Video Presentations to proceed at this point, so students could leave the meeting after they presented.
d) Nohr: Queried the the Superintendent regarding the WiFi motion [C.2 on the November 19 agenda ] carried in the November 19, 2012 Board meeting.
4. Public Request to the Committee: None.
5. Correspondence Referred to the Committee: None.
- Pop quiz: What is the process to get correspondence referred to public Committees? Trustees do get emails from citizens addressed to the Chair and all Trustees but these concerns don’t appear to gt addressed on any agenda or followed up in public discussion.
6. General Announcements: None.
7. New Business: (Students presented after 3. c) above.)
A. Anti-Bullying Film Festival: Student Presentations
The top two entries, both available on the Boys and Girls Club of Victoria Youtube channel were presented:
Both these videos are powerful statements from SD61 students who invested a good deal of time and effort in these short films.
- Pink Shirt Day is another response to bullying. The initial incident that sparked Pink Shirt Day was homophobic bullying.
- In BC, 18 out of 60 school districts have specific policies regarding sexual orientation directed bullying / harassment.
- School District 61 has a comprehensive set of Recommendations included in Regulation 4303 attached to Policy 4303 Discrimination, but no stand-alone policy.
B. Cooperative Gains Savings Plan (The Board resolved into a Committee of the Whole via motion and vote. Robert’s Rules of Order states that the Committee of the Whole is suitable to large assemblies. The procedure is invoked by a motion to go into a committee of the whole. The only motions in order in a committee of the whole are those to adopt a proposal for inclusion in the committee’s report; to amend; to “rise and report”; as well as certain incidental motions and requests.)
Minister of Education Don McRae’s savings plan letter to Boards of Education:
Trustee McEvoy, also the President of the BC School Trustees’ Association, reported on the reaction by a majority of Boards of Education in BC to the expectation by Education Minister Don McRae that Boards find 1.3 % “savings” in their current budgets to pay for the recent provincially-negotiated CUPE raise. (All Trustees in BC have been copied on all letters from all BC School Board colleagues.) The “savings plan” is expected to free up 3% of a Board’s budget over two years. McEvoy noted that the recent gains to the teachers’ pension plan have been offloaded to school districts as well.
McEvoy reported that all across BC, a majority of Boards of Education have rejected the Minister’s “expectation”. He reported that BCPSEA and the BC School Trustees Association were not consulted, which contravenes the co-governance relationship that has been acknowledged and referred to in many documents, such as these BCSTA Briefing Notes on Co-Governance from 2010, and in BCSTA’s Strategic Priorities for 2012.
The South-East Kootenay News provides a readable summary of the issue. “We submitted this year’s school budget to government in June 2012. Now government is moving the goal posts yet again and asking us to fund a retroactive 1.5% wage increase for last year and this year,” said [Board Chair] Lento. “We support fair wage increases for all staff but to ask us now to go back to last year’s budget and fiddle with our books is beyond belief….Many boards now face the prospect of significant deficits in the next fiscal year and any savings to be had in the next six months would sensibly be used to offset those impending deficits. The simple truth is that any further “savings” will cause additional negative impact on direct service to students and facilities.”
British Columbia School Trustees Association President McEvoy expressed similar concerns in a letter to Minister McRae.
McEvoy noted that that previous provincially negotiated contracts with employees were supported by budget increases from the Ministry, not paid directly from existing District budgets.
More will be known about funding from the Province in March. Funding and offloads to districts have both been so capricious for years, that one Trustee wondered aloud if the Ministry of Education would hold back the 1.3 % from funding in March.
The Cowichan SD 79 Board actively resisted the ongoing inadequate funding of public education that is the unwritten but apparent policy of the current government (while subsidizing private schools with public tax dollars) by refused to comply with directives to balance another inadequate budget. the Board was fired by then-Minister of Education George Abbott, and replaced by an appointed Official Trustee. Don’t wait for a letter of outrage to Minister Don McRae from the one-person appointed Board of SD79.
After this meeting (January 10) : “Education Minister Don McRae has apologized for a recent letter asking B.C. boards of education to cut spending to help finance a wage hike for support workers, the B.C. School Trustees’ Association (BCSTA) says. McRae asked them for savings of 1.5 per cent during 2011-12 and 1.5 per cent during 2012-13 to help pay for a pay increase under the government’s cooperative gains mandate. Board chairs suggested his request for more savings after years of penny pinching was outrageous. “
School District budgets won’t be finalized until June 2013. School District 61 is carrying an approximately $8 million dollar structural deficit.
8. Adjournment (approximately 9 pm)
An In Camera meeting followed adjournment.