Nov 18/13 Board Meeting: The Record Off The Record: Coastal Kindergarten / The K-5 WiFi Vote

A.7. Trustees’ Reports: School Groups Trustee Liaison  (assigned by Chair annually to school groups; Secondary Schools, and associated middle and K-5 schools): Esquimalt: Leonard / McNally   //  Mt Doug: Nohr //  Oak Bay: McEvoy  //  Vic High: Ferris  //  Reynolds: Horsman //  Spectrum: Alpha / Loring-Kuhanga  //  Lambrick: Orcherton

McNally:

B. Chair’s Report: Chair Orcherton reported on her activities as Chair. The report can be accessed on audio file.

C. Board Committee Reports

C.1 Education Policy Development Committee: Chair Alpha
a) Minutes : From November 4, 2013 for information only, attached p 10-11 agenda packup. [Official minutes  posted on the SD61 website after this Standing Committee  approves them at its next meeting.]

b) Recommended [recommended after discussion and being carried by majority vote at the Standing Committee meeting] motions:

  • Deputy Superintendent: Perhaps there have been some misconceptions about Coastal Kindergarten. This is a 2-year pilot, a place to highlight the program. Both schools are Community Link schools and have additional Education Assistant time. The District / Program will be applying for grants and other funding. There will be an evaluation component. In the spring, workshops will be provided for interested teachers.
  • As Chair of the Standing Committee, Alpha moved acceptance of recommended motion, and spoke to it: Children need opportunities to be outside. “Nature Deficit Disorder” is apparent. Young students need play based and nature based experiences that result in improved relationships with nature and with each other, to counter the isolating effect of computers and screens.

i. That the Board approve Program of Choice application Coastal Kindergarten Program Proposal for a two year pilot located at James Bay Community School and South Park Family School beginning September 2014. / Carried. / For: Alpha, Ferris, Horsman, Leonard, Loring-Kuhanga, McEvoy, Nohr, Orcherton   Against: McNally

  • [At the October 21 Board meeting Leonard: spoke against the motion, saying [paraphrased] “Such a kindergarten could occur in any kindergarten; not going to support yet another separate program. This program can still go on but without Board approval as a “pilot program”. We certainly can have “magnet schools” but at this point, we have enough.” The motion was referred to this November Board meeting.]
  • McNally: Support the program in its essence and philosophy. But the retail model of public education that emphasizes marketing of schools by creating competitive programs in a system of universal public education is objectionable. Fully support the program, but not another “program of choice” in which  parents across the District compete for space for their child; should be simply a school initiative for the schools’ catchment area that doesn’t involve driving students across town and lining up for competitive entry. [On principle: no more niche programs that aren’t available at all neighbourhood schools. See “Choice and Fragmentation” post for complete rationale, October 7/13 Education Policy meeting.]
  • Nohr: Asked to have the GVTA representative speak, as the GVTA was not able to get on the speaker list
  • GVTA President:Had hoped to have a teacher from one of the schools involved to speak, along with another kindergarten teacher and the GVTA 1st Vice President. Teachers are not all pleased with this program and issues and concerns remain.
  • Nohr: In SD61 budget meetings Trustees have heard from kindergarten teachers who ask for extra support as the population of children who need specialized instruction and needs for behaviour support increases year after year. Would like to hear more from teachers before proceeding.

Nohr: Motion to refer this motion to the December Board meeting. / Defeated. For: McNally, Nohr    Against: Alpha, Ferris, Horsman, Leonard, Loring-Kuhanga, McEvoy, Orcherton

  • Orcherton: Re GVTA speakers, Bylaw 9360 states that topic must be indicated and name should be indicated, and that wasn’t done.
  • Deputy Superintendent: Contacted the GVTA early the morning after the last Coastal Kindergarten discussion, offering to meet and discuss GVTA concerns. No response.
  • Loring-Kuhanga: Proposal was a lot of work for District Leadership Team , schools and the city of Victoria and others Last time this was discussed, voted to refer to GVTA could consult further but offer was not taken up so will vote for the motion.
  • Ferris: Choice makes public education stronger. Nothing that indicates resources will be taken from other programs.
  • President, VCPAC: Not a program of choice; it’s preparing children for the future. It’s a pilot program, not a choice issue. Some concerns with programs of choice at the elementary level.
  • Horsman: Need a program to develop and fine tune. High school choices [eg 155 BAA courses and 11 Programs of Choice scattered around the District ] don’t impact kindergarten programs. An exciting move for kindergarten in addition to French Immersion. Has to start somewhere.
  • Orcherton: It’s a pilot. Hope it will go District-wide. Fun for children.
  • Alpha: [As Chair of standing committee and mover of the motion, opens debate and closes on the motion if desired]: Re programs of choice, mid 1970’s parents from Gordon Head Parent Coop Preschool started South Park Family School and was a school parent there.  A former principal of the school wanted to end the Program of Choice aspect and move to community / neighbourhood catchment. Was one of the school parents who worked against this as wanted to support and retain the parent coop preschool principles. South Park remains a Program of Choice.

About Diane McNally