SD61 Board Meeting, June 17, 2013: The Record Off The Record: It Sounds So Nice

“There are also more than 100 academies in B.C. public schools offering specialized sports programs and charging fees ranging from several hundred dollars to more than one thousand.”

FN on Van Island

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 are posted on the SD61 website under the “Board of Education” menu,  (Education Policy Development Committee is posted as “Education Meetings”; Operations Policy and Planning Committee is posted as “Operations Meetings”) generally one month after the meeting. Reports from In Camera meetings are posted on the Board meeting page as “Section 72 Reports”. “Section 72” refers to Section 72 (3) of the BC the School Act which 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.” 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.)

Trustee Assignments December 2012-December 2013
Trustee Assignments December 2012-December 2013

Clarification: I am not on the GVTA Negotiations Advisory Committee, though that’s what this assignment (by the Chair) chart says. I do not know  what the SD61 overall bargaining objectives are. I don’t know what any SD61 bargaining objectives are. Maybe I missed that class,  but I don’t think so. And I still don’t know if the GVTA Negotiations Advisory Committee above is the same thing as the two trustees who sit at the local issues bargaining table with the teacher employee group, or if that is called something else. (Some explanations just don’t explain anything.) Two trustees do sit at that table but neither of them is me, since they are Orcherton and Ferris, not Orcherton and me. (Yikes, I’ve been replaced!)  I do know what the GVTA’s bargaining objectives are –  they are publicly available on the GVTA website, along with bargaining bulletins to the GVTA membership, also publicly available.  The CUPE 382 newsletter has some references to negotiations, so I know this: “A 99% strike vote is certainly a clear message from our members that we are not happy at being shut out these last 4 years with no improvements on wages and benefits.”  And since CUPE 947 suggests in that bargaining unit’s newsletter“Try to keep some money aside going into the next school year. It is likely there will be job action this fall“, I know that. So as to why I don’t know more, the  BCSTA has this to say: “Trustees in some districts participate directly in union negotiations; in other districts the bargaining is left to staff and the board approves the negotiated agreements.” Apparently “we have people” to do the heavy lifting in SD61.

I also have no idea how grievances are dealt with or settled, if they are, or what the outcomes are.

Letters / emails received:

  • 1 re teachers’ outfits at a school event
  • 1 re parent praise for a primary teacher

An In Camera Meeting  preceded the public Board meeting: 6:00 – 7:30.

A. Commencement of Meeting:  Board Chair: Trustee Orcherton: Recognition of Songhees and Esquimalt Nations’ traditional territory. As a guest on this territory since 1968, and with my ancestors having come out of Scotland and Ireland, some things I’ve learned:

Simon Fraser University  Bill Reid Centre: “For over 4000 years, the area now known as the City of Victoria and the local territories, waterways and islands were occupied by ancestors of the people who became known as the Songhees and Esquimalt First Nations. When Europeans first arrived in the area, the Songhees were not the single unified group we know today, but were comprised of several local groups who collectively referred to themselves as Lekwungen. The Lekwungen speak a dialect of Northern Straits Coast Salish, other dialects of this language are spoken by the Saanich people on the Saanich Peninsula and adjacent islands, the Semiahmoo on the mainland around Semiahmoo Bay, the Lummi with their principal territory in Hale Passage near Bellingham, and the Samish in the area of Samish and Guemes Islands. A more divergent dialect is spoken by the Klallam on the Olympic Peninsula. ”

A.1. Approval of the Agenda: Approved, with addition of reports at A.7 and E, and notices of motion for the next meeting in September, at F.
A.2. Approval of the Minutes
a) Minutes of May 21, 2013,  Regular Board Meeting: Approved
A.3. Business Arising From the Minutes: None

A.4. Student Achievement:    A decision was made via vote to discontinue recording of students who present at Board meetings. The was a belief on the part of a majority of trustees that this would somehow endanger students who are voluntarily appearing at a public meeting. Recording begins when student presentations have finished. However, photos of students, sometimes recognizable, and on occasion their first names along with their school appear on the District Board Highlights page. 

a) Rogers Elementary: Kolette Cristante and Rogers Elementary School Kindergarten drum group : Ms. Cristante was recognized by Rogers Principal MaryAnne Trofimuk for her ongoing interweaving of Aboriginal knowledge into the daily curriculum.  [As a former Reading Recovery  teacher at Rogers Elementary School I can attest to the beautiful calming nature-connected classroom that Ms. Cristante provides for her students. It’s a welcoming and peaceful environment.]

A.5. District Presentations:

a) Enhancement Agreement 2013-2018: Acknowledging the work of Janice Simcoe, chair, Advisory Committee, and member of the Aboriginal Nations Education Council: Presenter Horsman.  Janice Simcoe (Chippewas of Rama First Nation) was recognized for her many years of work on the School District 61 Aboriginal Enhancement Agreement.

  • Because of the many Nations involved in many initiatives on this territory, a variety of languages are used to say “thank you”. On this occasion, one speaker ended remarkswith “Gila’kasla”.
  • After the presentation, Horsman (Trustee since 1986) remarked “We should name the next school we have to nameGila’kasla“. It just sounds so nice.”

A member of the Coast Salish people who heard this at the meeting expressed dismay at this suggestion at a community event a few days later.

More things I’ve learned: “Coast Salish peoples inhabit the Northwest Coast of North America, from the mouth of the Columbia River in Oregon, north to Bute Inlet in British Columbia. Coast Salish territories includes much of the ecologically diverse Georgia Basin and Puget Sound known as the Salish Sea (right). This huge drainage basin comprises the coastal mainland and Vancouver Island from Campbell River and Georgia Strait south through the Strait of Juan de Fuca, the Lower Fraser Valley and the lowlands of Puget Sound. ”

  • Gila’kasla: In the language of Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw Nations, who have membership in the Kwakiutl District Council, “Gila’kasla” means in English  “welcome / thank you”.  (“Kwakiutl” is now generally written Kwakwaka’wakw,
     and the territory is north of here.)
  • The Coast Salish expression that is similar to  English “thank you” is “Huy tseep q’u!”, sometimes written as  “hyshqa”.

Rather than naming “the next school” with a name from another territory’s language “because it sounds nice”, we could consider a beginning to decolonizing school names that already exist, using names from the language of the territory the schools are on. (No, I haven’t made a motion to do that. A lot of consultation would be required before any such proposal. But “PKOLS Secondary” comes to mind….)

Signatories to the Aboriginal Education Enhancement Agreement

Report respectfully submitted to (and signed by):

  • Esquimalt Nation: Chief    Andy Thomas 
  • Songhees Nation: Band   Councillor Ron Sam 
  • Board of Education, SD61: Chair Peg Orcherton
  • Superintendent of Schools, SD61: John Gaiptman

b) Presentation to Margaret Dow, Educational Assistant     (CUPE 947),   Frank Hobbs Elementary School: Marg Dow received the  National Inclusive Education Award.Presenter Orcherton. (As a former teacher colleague of Marg Dow’s for ten years, I was happily surprised to see this award on the agenda.) SD61 maintains a segregated school  on a separate building on its own grounds for about 18 students with special needs (Victor School).

c) Jack Jeffrey, volunteer George Jay Elementary School: Presenter McEvoy : Mr. Jeffrey was unable to attend. Two former SD61 students, now young adults, who experienced Jack’s mentoring and caring interest in them spoke with feeling about Jack’s positive influence on their lives through the chess clubs he ran as a volunteer in SD61 schools.

A.6. Community Presentations:

a) Stephanie Longstaff, President, Sooke PAC: Vancouver Island Parents Conference: Hoping to have Barry MacDonald (Boy Smarts) as a presenter
b) Vicki White, Chair, Vancouver Island Parents Conference:  Ms. White noted that she is Leaving VCPAC as eldest child has graduated from SD61, but maintaining involvement with the Parent Conference, to be held February 1, 2014, Spectrum Community School, with Gordon Neufeld as a keynote speaker.
c) Wendy Joyce, Vice-Chair, Victoria Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils 2013/2014 Initiatives and Priorities: Invitation to trustees to attend VCPAC events.
d) John Bird, Chair, VCPAC: 2013/2014 VCPAC Initiatives and Priorities  Presented VCPAC Executive members for 2013-2014 elected at May 2013 AGM.: 3 returning long-term, 1 returning shorter term, 5 new.

  • Nohr, question to Mr. Bird through the Chair (Orcherton): “How were the VCPAC objectives and priorities determined?”
  • Orcherton: “I will not allow the question.”

e) Peter Milne, Parent: Conflict of Interest: Mr. Milne referred to conflicts of interest in regard to individuals on a panel selected to review Canada’s Safety Code 6 which states guidelines for use of radiofrequency exposure guidelines.

  • “Health Canada has updated Safety Code 6 and is employing an “Independent” panel to review its work. It hired the Royal Society of Canada, which has strict guidelines to protect against conflict of interest, to conduct the panel.  But the conflict of interest guidelines have been relaxed for selecting the academically credentialed panel. Some members turn out to have financial relationships with companies, industry associations and lobby groups which are directly affected by the outcome of this panel review. ” (Mr. Milne’s reference from Citizens For Safe Technology)
  • Mr Milne refered to “Doubt Is Their Product” (Oxford University Press US, 2008): In this eye-opening expose, David Michaels reveals how unscrupulous product-defense consultants have increasingly shaped and skewed the scientific literature, manufactured and magnified scientific uncertainty, and influenced policy decisions to the advantage of polluters and the manufacturers of dangerous products. “
  • Mr. Milne referred to a definition of “conflict of interest’ posted by Citizens for Safe Technology: “Conflict of interest exists when an author (or the author’s institution), reviewer, or editor has financial or personal relationships that inappropriately influence (bias) his or her actions. . . The potential for conflict of interest can exist whether or not an individual believes that the relationship affects his or her scientific judgment. Financial relationships . . . are the most easily identifiable conflicts of interest and the most likely to undermine the credibility of the journal, the authors, and of science itself.”
  • Mr. Milne used as an example: “Dr. Jerry Phillips, a scientist who did cell phone safety research funded by Motorola speaks of how Motorola attempted to control the “message” and outcomes of his research. He refused to amend the research summaries and no longer does research for Motorola.”
  • Mr. Milne also stated that “Concerns have been raised about conflict in our school district with the past chair of the Wi-Fi committee who was simultaneously paid by ERAC. I’ve included a link. ERAC has facilitated workshops such as “Go Wireless or Go Home” and promotes the use of wireless technology. This appears to have influenced the past chair’s denial to allow researchers to present to the Wi-Fi Committee using 21st Century technology along with the denial of the distribution of flyers for a Parent Information Session on Wi-Fi on school property or parent bulletin boards. “
  • Mr Milne closed: “It is a school board’s responsibility to ensure that all decisions are made regarding the health and safety free of conflicts and certainly free of risks to our school communities. There’s not nearly enough time in 5 minutes to address all the conflicts of interests related to wireless technologies but I have shared a portion and knowing this you cannot say that you made decisions to install Wi-Fi without being aware that these conflicts exist. I will provide you each with links to back up the information I have provided you. As stated in previous years, I am not giving you consent to expose my child to Wi-Fi or other wireless technologies at school. I will be providing you each with a signed non-consent document again. “

A.7. Trustees’ Reports : School Groups‘ Trustee Liaisons (assigned by Chair annually; Secondary Schools, and associated middle and K-5 schools):

  •  McNally:  Esquimalt Group School Liaison / District activity report: Received two letters, one expressing concern with teachers’ attire, and one expressing kudos for a District teacher. Attended annual Aboriginal Education banquet and graduation ceremony at SJ Willis, June 6, 72 grads.  June 13 attended District Retirement Tea at SJ Willis, annual event recognizing the contributions to the District from all employee groups; 50 retirees this year. June 14 attended Vic West Grade 5 school leaving assembly. June 20 attended  Craigflower Elementary  feast and fundraising raffle that featured several very appealing works of art as well as other items to bid on. June 2attended Macaulay Grade 5 school leaving assembly; Principal Scott Thomas is also leaving the school after several years, to move to Rogers Elementary as Principal.  June 25 attended  Craigflower Grade 5 school leaving assembly June 27 attended Shoreline Middle School Grade 8 school leaving assembly (Tweet on website: Shoreline staff put on a spectacular dance performance at the farewell assembly. Your commitment to kids is truly impressive) and food garden blessing .

B. Chair’s Report:  The Chair reported on activities undertaken in the role of Board Chair.
C. Board Committee Reports

C.1 Joint Education Policy Development Committee and Operations, [sic] Policy and Planning Committee Meeting [Operations Policy and Planning Commmittee]

a) Minutes: June 10, 2013 Official minutes will be posted on the SD61 website after the Standing Committees approve them in September 2013. (Ed Policy and OPPS are on occasion combined.)

b) Recommended (was discussed at previous Standing Committee combined meeting; came there as a “recommended motion” as well; unclear which individual or body “recommended” it to the Standing Committee) motion: That the board [etc] receives [sic] the 2013-2014 Achievement Contract. / Carried: For: Ferris, Horsman, Leonard, Loring-Kuhanga, McEvoy, McNally, Orcherton    Against: Alpha, Nohr

  • McNally: The Achievement Contract is a Ministry of Education required document that has been completed correctly. Pleased to see reference to Reading Recovery, with ongoing implementation and support in SD61.
  • Nohr: Can’t support it due to funding issues. [one point of view is that support could imply that Ministry of Education funding is enough to support achievement, when current underfunding is not sustainable]
  • Alpha: Can’t support it due to provincial funding shortfall.

D. District Leadership Team Reports

D.1 Superintendent’s Report 

a) Board of Education and Standing Committee Meeting Dates: Recommended motion (unclear where or from whom the “recommendation” arose as was not discussed previously at combined Sanding Committees June 10; perhaps recommended by Superintendent): That the Board [etc] approve the 2013-2014 Board of Education and Standing Committee meeting dates. (See p 49 of agenda ) / Carried:Unanimous

b) Specialty Academy Fees : Recommended motion  [unclear where or from whom the “recommendation” arose; this motion was  not discussed at the previous combined Standing Committees meeting June 10]: That the Board [etc] makes [sic] available to the public via the District website, the schedules of fees that have been approved by the School Planning Councils  for the District’s Specialty Academy [sports] programs. / Carried: Unanimous  (As of the BCTF 2006 AGM, teachers do not sit on School Planning Councils.)

  • McNally: This is a vote to put a link on the District website. My vote in favour of this motion does not imply that I support fee-based Academies,  or “choice” that requires students to drive, be driven by parents, or have to cycle or take the bus across town because Ministry funding does not support accessible programs in neighbourhood schools. Janet Steffenhagen  reported in the Vancouver Sun in September 2011 (“Parents billed for “free” public education in BC”):  “There are also more than 100 academies in B.C. public schools offering specialized sports programs and charging fees ranging from several hundred dollars to more than one thousand. But those aren’t prohibited by the court ruling.
  • Some related SD61 Policies (most policies have an associated Regulation that is more explicit):  Programs of Choice in SD61;  School Planning Councils;  Variety of Schools (1972);  Student Fees

c) Enhancement Agreement: Recommended motion (discussed at previous Standing Committee):That the Board [etc] receives [sic] the Aboriginal Enhancement Agreement. / Carried. Unanimous

  • Aboriginal Nations Education Division Announcement: “The Aboriginal Enhancement Agreement will be presented to the Board of Education on June 17. We are excited to launch the agreement with the Integral Theory of Student Success. Watch out for our new posters that will accompany the agreement.”
  • The first Aboriginal Enhancement Agreement in SD61 was signed in 2005.

E.Reports From Trustee Representatives:

F. New Business / Notice of Motions:

F.1 McNally: Health and Safety Committee Notice of Motion: September 2013 Board meeting

Moved McNally / : That the Board establish ongoing Trustee representation to the District Health and Safety Committee, assignment to be made by the Board Chair from amongst trustees who express interest, assignment by the Chair to be for a one year term, assigned Trustee to report to the Board regularly in In Camera or public meetings as appropriate; the District Health and Safety Committee to be open to attendance from any Trustee.

  • Rationale: Safety of employees and students is major concern and objective of any employer (Policy 4300.1, Health and Safety, and associated Regulation). Trustees need to know the status of health and safety concerns (recognizing privacy legislation in relation to individuals) and planned actions in SD61, as Trustees are ultimately accountable in the eyes of the public. Health and Safety action plans and reviews and plans to address WorkSafe workplace or whole District citations, along with consideration and discussion of employee and parent concerns, need to be a regular duty of elected officials, notwithstanding the delegation of day to day operations. Several other BC school districts have trustees as members of their District Health and Safety Committees, Gulf Islands SD64 being an example .

A similar motion from McNally was defeated at the combined Education Policy Development / Operations Policy and Planning meeting June 10, 2013. (Against: Alpha, Ferris, Horsman, Leonard, Loring-Kuhanga, McEvoy, Nohr For: McNally ) Arguments against included:

  • Ferris: It’s not appropriate for Trustees to influence the Committee’s thoughts. It’s frustrating when people want to do staff jobs.
  • Leonard: We are responsible for Policy development. Regulations are the purview of the District Leadership Team [senior administration]. This isn’t policy. It’s information.
  • Orcherton: Health and Safety is a bargaining issue. Our role is to set policy. [This Board is not active in Policy generation, though some Boards do see their role as being involved at the generative level of policy development. To be involved or not is simply a matter of District culture, enshrined in District Policy and practice.] We are a Governance Board. This would be interference.

A motion that was defeated at a Standing Committee may come forward to the Board, but will not appear as a “recommended” motion. (Recent motions have appeared as “recommended” without having been discussed at a Standing Committee.) “If a main motion was rejected at an earlier meeting or convention, it may be renewed by being introduced as a main motion at a subsequent meeting or convention.” (p 25 American Institute of Parliamentarians Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure, 2012)

Currently the SD61 Health and Safety Committee is made up of the Chair of the Committee, the President of CUPE 382 (outside workers), a representative from CUPE 947 (inside workers), a representative from the Victoria Principals and Vice Principals Association, a rep from Allied Specialists (psychologists, hearing / vision specialists, and others) a teacher rep from the GVTA, and on occasion additional members of partner groups represented. Trustee representation is  notably absent. In June 2013, when two SD61 Trustees attended, the meeting was cancelled by the Director of Human Resources.

Formerly, the Committee minutes  were accessible to the public via simple online search. They are now password protected. As of May 12, 2011 a new format was instituted; the next meeting date is not in the minutes, and minutes appear to be inaccessible to the public from this point on.

Related Policy 4144.1, dated 1973, still refers to “Workmen’s Compensation”.

F.2 Ferris: notice of motion re trustee remuneration. (See Associated Regulation 8230)

F.3 Loring-Kuhanga: notice of motion (approximate wording): That the Board of Education of School District 61 (Greater Victoria) adopt the “Whole School Suicide Prevention Model” http://need2.ca/our-services/whole-school-program/ for all middle and secondary schools and provide annual presentations to students and staff in order to increase an awareness, education and prevention of suicide amongst our youth.

G. Communications: None.
H. Public Disclosure of In Camera  Items: None
I. Adjournment: 9:40 pm

Next meeting:

Monday,September 9, 2013 7 pm: Combined Education Policy Development Committee and Operations, Planning and Policy Standing Committees

Monday September 16, 2013 7:30 pm: Board Meeting

SD85 Vancouver Island North supports Cowichan board election
SD85 Vancouver Island North supports Cowichan board election
 2 SD85 Board supports Cowichan School Board election
2 SD85 Board supports Cowichan School Board election