April 8/13: Operations Policy and Planning: The Record, Off the Record: We Don’t Want You To Worry

The Record Off the Record is my personal record of and commentary on Board and Standing Committee meetings in School District 61 (Esquimalt, Oak Bay, Victoria, View Royal and a portion of Saanich and Highlands ).  “Official” approved minutes of Board and Standing Committee meetings.- Operations Policy and Planning, and  Education Policy and Development –  are posted on the SD61 website under the “Board of Education” menu generally one month after the meeting. The meeting schedule is posted on the District Calendar 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.)

No In Camera meeting before the public meeting.
Absent: McEvoy

Recognition of Songhees and Esquimalt Nations Traditional Territory.

Operations Policy and Planning Committee: Chair: Leonard

1. Approval of Agenda: Approved.
2. Approval of Minutes: Combined Education Policy Development Committee and Operations Planning and Policy Committee Meeting Minutes March 4, 2013: Approved
3. Business Arising Out of the Minutes : None.
4. Presentations: None.
5. Superintendent’s Report: None.

6. Finance and Legal Affairs
A. School Websites
: (Information) Ted Pennell, Andy Canty

Trustees were surprised [at least, this one was] to be informed by IT staff about this interesting project. The presenters made the following points to support the project:

  • Ease of use: easy to update district-wide content (management at District level, snow days etc) , while school level content can still be uploaded at the school level, and may not require volunteers as is the case in many instances now
  • Provides translation using Google Translate [which tends to be literal but useful], image galleries, platform for blogs [the ubiquitous “Lorem ipsum” was used as a space filler in the blog example,  which prompted one Trustee to ask if Google Translate had been used to translate blog content into Latin].
  • Host our own (SD61’s) data
  • Provide responsive and excellent design, accessible on all devices
  • Ease of use at programming layer using Cascading Style Sheets (CSS)
  • Improved virus fighting
  • District provides “architecture” with some options available (catalogue services options ) [An IT service catalogue is a clearly defined list of IT services.]
  • Vendor for build is local: Upanup Studios (Victoria)
  • WordPress platform, which is open source
  • Cost for WordPress access: $27,000; some additional cost for plugins (cost approximately $150 for entire District); cost for implementation support should be about $15,000 for website transition support
  • Pilot launch May 1, 2013 with 4 schools (Campus View, MontereyVic High, and The Link ); May 24 rest of schools go live
  • Overall, opportunity to create “excellent web presence”

B. Sub-Commitee on Public Engagement     Information: Verbal report from Deputy Superintendent Sherri Bell, who chairs this committee [Trustee Nohr  and I attend as observers]: The Public Engagement Committee has addressed the Public Question Period [Loring-Kuhanga’s February 2012 question period motion  travelled a route on and off agendas for almost a year until recent referral to this  Ad Hoc Committee] and will likely use one more meeting for this topic and then move on to Bylaw 9360, General Meeting of the Board. [This is actually an Ad Hoc Committee  as per the motion December 2012; the District has no Policy or Bylaw that mentions “sub-committees”.  It’s not a Community Advisory Committee as trustees were specifically excluded in the original motion by Horsman:That the Board [etc] form an Ad Hoc Committee to review Bylaw 9360  to make recommendations for enhancements for public engagement including a structure for a possible Question and Answer period. The Ad Hoc Committee will include one representative from ASA, CUPE 382, CUPE 947, Exempt, GVTA, VPVPA, and the Superintendent of Schools. The committee will report to the Operations, [sic] Policy and Planning Committee and will be at no coast to the Board.”]

7. Public Disclosure of In Camera Items: None (No In Camera Meeting preceded the public meeting.)

  • Section 72 (3) of the School Act states:A board must prepare a record containing a general statement as to the nature of the matters discussed and the general nature of the decisions reached at a meeting from which persons other than trustees or officers of the board, or both, were excluded, and the record must be open for inspection at all reasonable times by any person, who may make copies and extracts on payment of a fee set by the board.”

8. New Business / Notice of Motions:

The Chair approved Nohr’s written presentation of new wording for the motions that appear on the agenda (“not substantive changes”; there was no disagreement from Trustees.)

A. Nohr: [Amended motion presented at this meeting]: That the Board [etc] write a letter to the Premier and Minister of Education expressing concern about the unanticipated increase in the number of downloaded costs and the resulting adverse impact on the District. These costs (listed in bullet form) [they weren’t] include: teachers’ pension plan, MSP increase – 4% (Jan. 1, 2013 and Jan. 1, 2014) , general inflation for goods and services (2%), hydro – 1.44%, transition back to PST-April 1, 2013 and declining enrolment (-258 FTE).

  • Orcherton: Supports
  • Leonard: Maple Ridge is the template school district for this; they have a deficit of 6 million  and SD61 does not [SD61 “balanced” the budget while continuing to carry an $8.3 million structural deficit] and won’t have to cut staff this year; should advocate when we have a strong case. Moved (Leonard):  To table to April 15 Board meeting./      Carried: unanimous.

B. Nohr: That the Board [etc] write a letter to the Premier and the Minister of Education requesting that the government provide [Leonard: motion to amend carried unanimously; amendment underlined] the wage increase for any negotated settlement for teachers, CUPE staff, Allied Specialists, principals / vice principals and exempt staff. /      Carried: unanimous

  • Ferris: We’re in negotiations and raises often mean layoffs.
  • Horsman: Supports; not negotiating raises locally.
  • Orcherton: CUPE has taken a strike vote (95%)

C. Nohr: That the Board [etc] present a document at the April 2013 Board meeting and include the document on the district website summarizing the following class organizational data on a per school basis: kindergarten/grade one splits, grade 1 to 8 splits, ELL/ESL, ELD, gifted students and international students. /      Defeated: For: Alpha, Loring-Kuhanga, McNally, Nohr     Against: Ferris, Horsman, Leonard, Orcherton

  • Nohr: Serves the needs of school and District Administration to assess whether allocation of teaching resources best meets student needs; helps parents understand allocation of resources; refers to the Auditor General’s Report for Boards [ assuming Nohr is referring to Auditor General John Doyle’s School District Board Governance Examinations April 2013 ]
  • Orcherton: Read article [not sure of reference; possibly April 2013 document above] and comments re Auditor General. SD61 Board never reported out on those items even when were required to report on class size and composition …. goes back to Bill 33 …. Bill 22 .. and would identify students [Moved Walsh (now SD61 HR Director), 2008:  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.}
  • Alpha: Need more transparency and clarity. Needs should be made public. Other Districts have this information in their websites with no problems.[SD39 Vancouver provides class size and composition data  but it’s not clear which Districts if any report out at the school and class level on kindergarten/grade one splits, grade 1 to 8 splits, ELL/ESL, ELD, gifted students and international students.]
  • Loring-Kuhanga: Individuals need to know information about schools. Providing this information is not “micromanagement”.
  • Horsman: Gifted students can’t be identified as they have IEPs. Why identify grade splits? It’s a school based decision. Avoiding splits would require much more money. ”Transparency” is a red herring. This report would encourage parents to worry about school organization. Is this report available on the Ministry website? [No.] This is going past transparency to… not necessary.
  • McNally: Providing this information is not disrespectful to any group of students. Such a report would provide information about the reality of classes and schools and serves transparency.
  • Leonard: More red herrings. Responsibility lies with the Superintendent who delegates organization of the school. [Regulation 2100: Superintendent,  linked, opens a new line of contemplation as SD61 has not had a Strategic Plan for years and relies on the Achievement Contract instead.]
  • Orcherton: Do we have this information compiled? It would be a snapshot. (Deputy Superintendent Bell: It would take a while.) Parents should visit the school, not only read the website. This list would be a detriment to public education.
  • Ferris: Students with Learning disabilities are all accommodated and accepted.
  • Parent (in public seats): Not sufficient to say justice has been done, must be seen to be done. Unless the information is available to others, there is no way to have a conversation about it. Has been a fundamental change in how the government directed classrooms to be organized last year, and parents are mostly unaware. [Bill 22 ]. Can’t ask the question if you don’t have the information. Every parent knows which students have an IEP – it’s not a mark of shame.
  • Kelly Acker (parent at the Board table as VCPAC Director): This report would not identify individual students. It would be useful for trend analysis. If you don’t have an informed public on what basis do we elect you? Hiding statistics is not good policy. Appalled that this report would not be provided.
  • Parent (in public seats, also VCPAC active member): There is shame regarding special needs. People should talk to the principal and get a sense of school culture that way.
  • Leonard: Parents will pick a school on statistics which may have no bearing on what the school is.
  • McNally: Parents are already picking schools. With open catchment areas schools are attempting to brand, differentiate and market themselves, and put on annual school promotion programs to attract “customers” from other catchment areas.  [“Students in the Greater Victoria School District have the choice to attend either their catchment school or any other school within our District.”]
  • Nohr: Having this information is equally as important as visiting the school.

Notice of motion [for Board meeting agenda] from the floor: Orcherton: To request a report from senior administration on the learning Improvement Fund : how applied and where gaps are.

9. Adjournment: 9:25


Next posts
Wednesday April 10 7 pm Board Room: Special Budget Meeting
Monday April 15 7 pm Board Room, Board Meeting

Next meeting:
Of interest: April 23, 7-9 pm: VCPAC AGM  Hillcrest School
Monday May 6, 7 pm: Education Policy Development Committee

About Diane McNally