The Record Off The Record is my own 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]”.
In Camera meeting 6:15 – 7:30
A. Commencement of Meeting: The Greater Victoria School District wishes to recognize and acknowledge the Esquimalt and Songhees Nations, on whose traditional territories we live, we learn, and we do our work.
A.1. Approval of the Agenda : Approved with addition
- Loring-Kuhanga’s February 2012 question period motion travelled a route on and off agendas for almost a year until recent referral to an Ad Hoc Committee; the Audio Files motion referred to this Board meeting from the Operations policy and Planning Standing Committee meeting of January 14 by Alpha was left off this agenda. (Nohr recently proposed a Stewardship action that would track motions and related action and progress; it was defeated in a previous meeting. Trustees were told to track their own motions.)
- Referred motion : Moved Alpha: That the question of recording be referred to the Board meeting of January 21 for consideration at that time. Alpha noted this omission and the motion was placed on this agenda under F. New Business /Notice of Motions.
A.2. Approval of the Minutes: Board meeting December 10, 2012 : Approved
A.3. Business Arising From the Minutes
- The Chair’s Report at the December 10 / 12 meeting included a discussion of funding issues and pressures. A discussion of the current status of Ministry “holdback funds” is needed.
- $1.8 million of the holdback funds have been received by SD61 now so will be included in the budget. This total is less than last year; the provincial government could release more, as the total holdback fund at the provincial level is $25 million.
- Because of the SD61 budget timeline which constructs a budget before the June-end required date, Alpha noted that a release of holdback money in March is very late for SD61’s process.
A.4. Student Achievement
a) Spectrum Community School Lacrosse Academy
- School administration and students presented with great enthusiasm and passion on the Lacrosse Academy experience. The Spectrum Lacrosse Academy was approved by the previous SD61 Board in September 2010.
- This Sports Academy is skills based and participants do not play competitively. This Sports Academy program began with Grades 9 and 10, and has now expanded to include grades 9 to 12. From the website: “Students spend 25% of their instructional time in Academy blocks. Students practice lacrosse skills three times a week, during instructional time, on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, the Academy students are off-field, participating in PE activities, strength and conditioning, or classroom work. A major emphasis in the Academy is academic performance and accountability. Students will be withheld from Academy activities if classroom performance is not up to standard. Students will be strongly encouraged to put schoolwork as a high priority in their lives, in the hopes that they will be eligible for post-secondary education., with or without a lacrosse scholarship.” Some students have had sports scholarship offers.
- The hope was expressed that the Academy will attract students from all over the Lower Island.
- Academies charge fees which pay for coaching by individuals hired for that purpose.
A.5. District Presentations
Mitchel du Plessi, Youth and Family Counsellor at Lansdowne Middle School was recognized for her outstanding work with children and youth in our community. She was chosen by Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, BC Representative for Children and Youth as the recipient of the 2012 Representative’s Award of Excellence: Service Provider. Mitchel is Past President of the South Vancouver Island Youth and Family Counsellor Association. Mitchel introduced herself as a settler on the land of the Songhees and Esquimalt Nations. As far as I know, this is a first in SD61 Board history.
A.6. Community Presentations: None
A.7. Trustees’ Reports
- McNally: Roots of Empathy groups at Craigflower School since the last Board meeting. Roots of Empathy BC is active at Rockheights Middle School as well, in the Esquimalt group of schools.
- Ferris, Nohr, McEvoy, and Loring-Kuhanga reported as well.
B. Chair’s Report
- December 17 letter to Minister of Education re “savings plan” as directed by Board
- Interviewed by Lyndsay Kines, Times-Colonist reporter December 17
- On CFAX with Terry Moore December 18
- January 8 met with Budget Advisory Committee
- January 10 met with Superintendent and Secretary-Treasurer regarding looming teachers’ pension plan offload to Districts (would be a cost of $1,2 million for SD61)
- January 17 letter to Minister of Education, s directed by Board
- Plans to meet with Minister again. [Other Trustees have expressed interest in these meetings, and have asked to attend. As Bylaw 9110 states “The authority of the chair does not exceed that of any individual trustee”, perhaps these contacts will be expanded. ]
- Plans to meet with Robin Austin, NDP Education critic
- January 25th is deadline for formation of Ad Hoc Committee on Public Engagement; will announce composition of committee when known.
C. Board Committee Reports
C.1. Education Policy Development Committee (Chair Alpha)
a) Minutes From January 7, 2013 : Provided for information only. (Standing Committee minutes are reviewed and approved at the appropriate Standing Committee.) Alpha noted that there are no motions coming forward to the Board on this agenda as “recommended motions” from this Standing Committee.
C.2. Operations,Planning and Policy Committee [sic] (Chair Leonard)
a) Minutes from January 14, 2013 : Provided for information only. Leonard noted that there are no motions coming forward to the Board on this agenda as “recommended motions” from this Standing Committee. (However, a motion regarding the audio recording of Board meetings , referred to this agenda from OPPS, was left off this agenda and was included after this was noted at the beginning of the meeting.)
D. District Leadership Team Reports
- International students are included in the report. It was noted that the numbers would be different if presented without the International component. The report states “We look forward to the release of new Ministry graduation data tracking true graduation rates, for our District, that exclude temporary International students and students in the Youth Detention Center.”
- The graduation rate is up, and was reported in the local Times Colonist newspaper.
- Improvements in various areas are based on Foundation Skills Assessment scores, infamously used by the Fraser Institute to rank schools based on using statistically insignificant sample sizes and ignoring critical variables.. The Student Achievement Report, while encouraging for SD61, is by the Ministry’s own definition, only a “snapshot”.
- On page 2 of the document, reporting timelines for improvement shown vary from one year to four years. On query, senior administration explained that this is a statement of the years over which improvement has been shown:
- Page 6 reports the highest “Dogwood completion rate” on record for SD61 in 2012, at 77.8 % of all students.
- Reading Recovery, a research-proven effective intervention for children in Grade One who experience notable struggle with early literacy learning (for example, random scribble “writing” continuing in the middle of the Grade One year, lack of knowledge of the alphabetic principle, and inability to read any words or text) is noted on page 10 of the Report in Section 7, “Other Comments”. School District 61’s support of this highly accountable individualized program delivered 1:1 by a teacher trained in an additional year-long professional development program, is a notable commitment to improving outcomes for struggling learners in the early years, with lifelong positive effects.
Motion to adopt Superintendent’s Report on Achievement:
Carried. For: Ferris, Horsman, Loring-Kuhanga, McNally [This is a Ministry required report; there is a template for how to construct it provided by the Ministry; it’s done correctly, so voted in favour of submission] Against: Alpha, Nohr
Nohr requested that a class size and composition report be provided. The Vancouver School Board SD39 did receive such a report from the VSB Associate Superintendent at the Personnel and Staff Services Committee meeting, January 15 / 13. The report identifies classes with more than 3 students with IEPs in all grades and classes.
- The current Minister of Education, Don McRae, sent a letter to the then-Minister of Education, Shirley Bond, stating his concerns with class sizes and composition in September 2008: “If I continue to teach classes of this size and composition, I do not see how the system will get 18 more years of service from me,” he said. “I will eventually break or stop caring, and then it will be time for me to move on.” He did move on – to his current job as Minister of Education, and seems to have forgotten this letter. Or perhaps, would like to forget it.
School District 61 no longer reports class composition. Board minutes from October 20, 2008 are no longer available in the “Archive” section on the SD61 website but a hard copy record contains the following motion, moved by then-Trustee Mark Walsh, now SD61 Human Resources manager:
- That the Board of Education joins [sic]the Victoria Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils as co-authors in writing to the Minister of Education calling for the repeal of all clauses in Section 76 of the School Act that directly relates [sic] to individuals with individual education plans.
The motion was carried. Votes were not recorded at that time, but then-Trustee John Young had his negative vote recorded on his request.
E. Reports From Trustee Representatives
- McNally:Attended Healthy Saanich Advisory Committee, January 17/13
F. New Business / Notice of Motions
McEvoy / Ferris: That the question of recording be referred to the Ad Hoc Committee on public engagement.
- See McNally’s motion page 3 on the January 14/13 Operations Planning and Policy Standing Committee agenda; motion to refer to the Board agenda originally brought by Alpha in discussion at that meeting.
Carried. For: Alpha, Ferris, Horsman, Leonard, Orcherton. Against: Loring-Kuhanga, McNally, Nohr.
There is no legal problem with recording public meetings, including students who present. The Board decided to stop recording for the student presentation section of the meeting, since, regardless of legal opinion approving that practice, there were concerns expressed. Why there should be difficulty with posting this record – particularity when the minus student engagement section – isn’t clear. But off it goes to the Committee to Study Many Things, Including A Public Question Period.
Members of that committee were announced shortly after this meeting (members of the public were personally selected by the Board Chair):
- Allied Specialists Association: Dr. Melanie Houston
- CUPE 947 : Union Local President Brad Hall
- Victoria Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils: Chair John Bird
- CUPE 382: Did not send a representative
- Two Members of the Public: Donna Jones (former SD61 Trustee; Chair of the Board; President of BCSTA in 1990), and Rebecca Pearson of Van City.
- GVTA: will send a representative
- SD61 Committee support staff: Deb Whitten, School Principal Mark Walsh, Exempt (recently hired Director, SD61 Human Resources), and Sherri Bell, Deputy Superintendent (listed on the SD61 website as “Associate Superintendent”)
The original mover of the motion to create this committee stated on query that trustees would be unwelcome and more or less forbidden to attend these meetings on public engagement at Board meetings. At a subsequent Board meeting this was found to be not a universally popular idea. Trustees McNally and Nohr plan to attend as observers.
G.1.Letter to the Minister of Education December 17, 2012
G.2 Letter to the Minister of Education January 16, 2013
H. Public Disclosure of In Camera Items
a) Board directed Chair to write a letter to BCPSEA and BCTF regarding the now-defunct SD61 / GVTA Aboriginal Equity Agreement
b) SD61 will begin immediate recruitment for the position of Secretary-Treasurer as current Secretary-Treasurer wishes to return to the position of Associate Secretary-Treasurer.
c) Board to provide letter to the Catholic Diocese regarding no sale or long-term lease of SD61 Richmond School property
I. Adjournment 9:10 pm
February 4: Education Policy and Development Committee, 7 pm, Tolmie Building