February 12/13: The Record Off the Record: Vic High Building Centennial, School Calendar, Board Self-Review

There has been more money held back by the Ministry of Education this year than in any previous year. Ministry of Education funding decisions that affect School District budgets for public education could not infrequently be described as unpredictable.

The Record Off The Record is my own personal record of and commentary on 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 6:15 – 7:30 pm.

Recognition of Songhees and Esquimalt Nations’ traditional territories.

Absent: Trustee McEvoy

Operations Policy and Planning Standing Committee: Chair Trustee Leonard

1. Approval of the Agenda: Approved.
2. Approval of the Minutes: Approved.
3. Business Arising From the Minutes: None.
4. Presentations:  

A. Victoria High School Building Centennial  

Former City of Victoria Mayor and Victoria High School alumnus  Alan Lowe presented. Vic High is the oldest high school in Western Canada.  A celebration this May will honour the building’s 100th anniversary, along with the class of 1968’s 45th reunionThe current school building, which was designed in 1911 and opened in 1914, has been listed on the City of Victoria’s Heritage Registry since 1982.

With unanimous agreement, Ferris’ motion at 9 A on the agenda  was moved up.

Ferris: That the Board [etc] supports [sic] the National Historic Site Application for Victoria High School. (The motion was amended to include writing a letter in support of this application.)
Carried. Unanimous.

Vic High Front View
Vic High Front View

5. Superintendent’s Report

A. Sub-Committee on Public Engagement

  • Former Associate, now Deputy Superintendent Bell [some school districts have Deputy superintendents; some, like Vancouver School District 39 at this time, have only “Associates”, as did Victoria until June 2012 – at that time the Superintendent assumed via Board majority vote the dual role of Superintendent and Secretary-Treasurer when George Ambeault left his SD61 GVSD position as Secretary-Treasurer for a position as Executive Director at ERAC, up to the time that Debra Laser was hired as Secretary-Treasurer] reported that the Committee on Public Engagement  – the Committee trustees were intended by the original mover to be excluded from – will meet for the first time on Monday, February 18.
  • After Nohr and Loring-Kuhanga asked when and where, Trustees were told  the committee will meet at 4:30 in the School District’s Tolmie Building Conference Room. Nohr and McNally plan to attend as observers.
  • Nohr asked the Board Chair (Orcherton) how members of the public were selected, and was informed that the Board Chair selected the members of the public (former SD61 trustee Donna Jones, and Rebecca Pearson of VanCity Credit Union) for this Committee using personal  criteria of “some familiarity with public education and with being chairs of meetings”.

6. Finance and Legal Affairs

A. 2013-2014 School Calendar: Motion to accept: Carried. Unanimous.

The calendar will be posted on the SD61 website for feedback: “The School Act and the School Calendar Regulation require a Board of Education to adopt a calendar for each school year by the end of March of the previous school year. This notice is being provided to employees, partner groups, parents and the community for feedback directly to the Superintendent of Schools, in writing, via email at: super@sd61.bc.ca The Board of Education will make a decision at its Regular Public Board Meeting scheduled for March 25, 2013. The deadline for feedback responses is 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday, March 19, 2013.”

B. Seismic Project Identification Report Capital project Bylaw No.111909 Victoria High  (Bylaw attached to agenda)
C. Seismic Project Identification Report Capital Project Bylaw No. 115658 Quadra Elementary School (Bylaw attached to agenda)

Moved Ferris: To refer  B and C to the February 18 Board meeting.
Carried. Unanimous.(These budget bylaws require three readings at a Board meeting so will be voted on on February 18.)

7. Facilities Planning

A. Oak Bay Capital Project Update:

  • Three proponents – Bouygues Building Canada (Toronto), Farmer Construction (Victoria), and Yellowridge Design Build (Port Moody)- have been named. The project is scheduled to start after the May 1st long weekend.
  • Loring-Kuhanga pointed out the desirability of engaging local business in the context of issues around CETA.

8. Public Disclosure of In Camera Items: None.
9. New Business / Notice of Motions

A. (Ferris’ motion was moved up on the agenda.)
B.  McNally: That the Board [etc] write a letter to the Minister of Education asking for the entire amount for SD61 currently held in holdback  funds, including the amount that covers BCPSEA membership, be immediately released to SD61.

Horsman moved to amend by adding after “membership”, “funds previously paid for by the Ministry of Education” . Accepted by the mover and the Board.
Carried. Unanimous.

  • There has been more money held back by the Ministry of Education this year than in any previous year. Many Ministry of Education funding decisions for public education could be described as “unpredictable”. 

C. McNally : That the Board [etc] urge the President of the BCSTA to write similar letter to the Minister of Education on behalf of all public school Boards of Education.

It was pointed out that the letter in B will be copied to BCSTA, and that this Board cannot recommend action on behalf of all BC Boards of Education. Motion withdrawn, as the intent is covered in B.

D. Nohr: That the Board [etc] develop a performance evaluation for itself with goals, criteria, and a specific timeline for completion.

The motion was amended with the approval of the mover to add “Board performance”, and “using the BCSTA Board review package”.

McNally: Moved to amend the amendment: Add “guided by a facilitator agreed upon by consensus”.

The motion after amendments approved by vote  is basically: That the Board [etc] develop a Board performance evaluation using the BCSTA package, guided by a facilitator agreed upon by consensus.

Highlights of debate on main motion and amendments:

  • Nohr: focus on three main areas: leadership, stewardship, relationships, via a committee of the whole, yearly
  • Orcherton :intention to abstain on both amendments and on the main motion.
  • Horsman / Orcherton: doing this in public would be a mistake [agreed;  emotions can be intense, the process can be exhausting, and usually takes 2 or 3 days]
  • Horsman :no cost to the Board.
  • McNally : this is too important to not hire a paid facilitator
  • Alpha: could use some of Trustee pro-d funds (each Trustee is allotted about $2000 annually to attend professional development such as BCSTA meetings and the BCSTA AGM, Vancouver Island School Trustees Association which meets up-Island, BCPSEA meetings or events, or other relevant events such as the Centre for Civic Governance annual presentation. )
  • Orcherton: “I thought elections were when we were evaluated”.

CarriedFor:  Alpha, Ferris, Horsman, Leonard, Loring-Kuhanga, McNally, Nohr   Abstained: Orcherton.

[From Robert’s Rules of Order FAQ: The phrase “abstention votes” is an oxymoron, an abstention being a refusal to vote. To abstain means to refrain from voting, and, as a consequence, there can be no such thing as an “abstention vote.” In the usual situation, where either a majority vote or a two-thirds vote is required, abstentions have absolutely no effect on the outcome of the vote since what is required is either a majority or two thirds of the votes cast. On the other hand, if the vote required is a majority or two thirds of the members present, or a majority or two thirds of the entire membership, an abstention will have the same effect as a “no” vote. Even in such a case, however, an abstention is not a vote and is not counted as a vote.]

The Office of the Auditor-General of British Columbia [thank you John Doyle: BC’s loss, Australia’s gain] has produced two reports that provide useful considerations for a Board self-review as well. A  December 2009 report summarizes the results of a survey of public sector Board members that focused on access to and use of information. A previous 2008 report from the same office examines best practices in public sector governance.

10. General Announcements: None
11. Adjournment: 9:00 ish (exact time will be stated on official minutes when posted)

Next Meeting: Monday February 18 Board Meeting 

Vic High and Fairey Tech Addition
Vic High and Fairey Tech Addition