Education Policy February 3/14: The Record Off The Record: Rugby, Ministry Data, Abandon That Appeal

Recognition of Songhees and Esquimalt Nations’ traditional territories.

1. Approval of Agenda: Adopted, with addition of motion at 8 D:

 McNally: That the Board of Education of SD61 Greater Victoria write a letter to the Premierof British Columbia  urging the Premier to abandon the Province’s appeal of the ruling of Justice Griffin in British Columbia Teachers’ Federation v. British Columbia, 2014 BCSC 121, Date: 20140127, Docket L021662, Registry: Vancouver.

2. Approval of Minutes:  Minutes of January 6,  [attached to agenda,   ] /Approve  [Related Lined Paper post: New Oak Bay High School]
3. Business Arising From the  Minutes:  None
4. Public Request to the Committee: None
5. Correspondence Referred to the Committee: None.
6.  Motions Referred to the Committee: None
7. General Announcements: None

8. New Business:

A.  Rugby Academy at Esquimalt High School: Recommended motion from Deputy Superintendent in memo to Board, February 3. [SD61 Programs of Choice [now including even  kindergarten with the Coastal Kindergarten approval] are listed on the SD61 website.]

Interestingly, the community appeared to believe that the Academy had already been established  in a June 19, 2013 news release from the Municipality of Esquimalt:  “The $2500 bursaries, provided by the Esquimalt High School Rugby Academy ….” 

Recommended motion: That the Board approve the Rugby Academy at Esquimalt High School.  / Defeated [for lack of majority;the outcome will likely be different at the Board meeting on February 17].   For: Horsman, McEvoy, Orcherton   Against: Loring-Kuhanga, McNally, Nohr

Colin Roberts, Principal of Esquimalt High School, along with Ed Garlinge, teacher, and Tom Woods, community member (former police officer and school liaison officer) .presented a comprehensive proposal (attached to the agenda)  for District Program Status for an Esquimalt High Rugby Academy. [Esquimalt High School already has a Curling Academy. ]

Rugby Canada players and coaches will form the coaching staff, who will be paid a per diem.. Academy staff will select students for the academy from applicants based on understanding of program goals, academic readiness, and motivation to commit to the program.(need 26 – 30 applications for the Grade 9-12 Academy to be viable in the first year, with another 30 added in the second year, and capped at that number.) Students will pay $100 per month in fees / $1000 annually. Players will have “fundraising opportunities” to raise money to offset the fees.

  • Orcherton: How will you assess “motivation”?
  • Colin Roberts: Potential Academy students will be required to submit an application, and we will look at references from teachers and coaches.
  • McNally: The Coastal Kindergarten proposal was spearheaded by a for-profit pre-school / nature school operator, Bonnie Davison, recorded on her school’s Facebook page October 23, 2013:” I have been working with the school board (SD61) to get a nature kindergarten started in our district for Sept 2014….”  School District 61 minutes from around 2004 indicate that the District was approached by a private business to start discussions around implementation of the Lambrick Park Diamond for Excellence Baseball Academy. Is there a private interest behind this proposal?
  • Tom Woods: Brought  forward this idea as was in the school and saw opportunity to support Rugby Canada plans for 2016, and to expand girls’ rugby. Rugby Canada has relocated here, in Langford.
  • McNally: Appreciate the careful and extensive work that went into the proposal, but can’t support further competition for “customers” amongst public schools , and can’t support another fee for service Academy in a public school. Students who want more sports involvement than is already offered in the high school standard curriculum and in extracurricular activities  can access community-based sports. Local community rugby organizations include Velox. Castaway Wanderers, and James Bay Athletic Association, all with youth teams  and active competition schedules.  We don’t have to look for staff outside the schools to ensure strong role models are available for students. Students often mention teachers as individuals who made a difference and who were strong role models. Even if the fee is paid after a parent hardship appeal it still can be one more humiliation and stressor for poor families. Personal experience of this in the past, and asking for charity for one more thing you can’t afford  is just too much sometimes. It’s no secret who can’t afford what. [I have heard in the past in a high school the expression “That’s so welfare”, as a put-down.] One trustee presently on this Board is recorded in the March 22, 2004 minutes as recommending that the District “monitor funding impacts and possible competition between schools”. If this motion carries we are again enshrining retailing-model competition amongst schools.
  • Ed Garlinge: Spectrum Academy staff helped with the proposal and Lambrick Park supports the proposal.   [Spectrum Community School has two fee-charging applicant based Academies, Hockey and Lacrosse.  Lambrick Park has one, Baseball Diamond for Excellence .    Other supporters are listed in the Proposal.] Community clubs do exist but only two offer girls’ programs. Canadian Women’s Rugby wants to mentor.
  • McEvoy: What is the fee and what would it fund?
  • Woods: $100 / month for equipment and to pay the per diems; fundraising opportunities for students who can’t pay.
  • McEvoy: In practical terms these programs won’t run without fees, so the question is, do we run it or have nothing?  How much play will students get?
  • Garlinge: BC School Sports [“Public and Non-Public Secondary Schools from across the province are Member Schools of BC School Sports. The association is self-governed with Member Schools approving the operating and competitive policies by which school sport is governed.”] sets restricted and unrestricted leagues. These games will be outside that, and will play exhibition games . Brentwood College, Shawnigan Lake School, Oak Bay High, and Claremont currently field teams.
  • McEvoy: Excellent; hoping for full subscription for the Academy.
  • Nohr:  Is rugby separate from the standard PE activities or additional?
  • Roberts: One block is considered PE, and one block is Principles of Rugby. The school has a bus if the team needs to travel for games.
  • Nohr: Would like more information about the student fundraising. Any weight given to applications from vulnerable students ? How will selection be made if you get 40 applicants?
  • Roberts: Students could  cover some of their costs that way [fundraising], and will be involved in fundraising for community benefit as well. Motivation to succeed and to be part of the program is important. We can take 30 students in the first year; would weight applications by program entry  criteria.
  • Woods: Rugby is an inclusive sport. Motivation to succeed is important.
  • Loring-Kuhanga: Goals of the program are good. Son played internationally as part of  regular high school rugby, not Academy program. Have a problem with fees and Academies. There is an unaffordability factor for poor students and families and family pride can be an issue. We have enough Academies. This is public education – why can’t we achieve the goals of this program without an  Academy? Rugby Canada could be involved without an Academy. “I can’t afford it – can you raise the money for me?” presents a roadblock for vulnerable students.
  • Woods: A student who wants to play rugby still can play for the Esquimalt High School Rugby Ravens school team.
  • Superintendent: Some students in two sports in other academies are playing will full payment from the District.
  • Orcherton: Was me in 2004 concerned about competition and funding. Struggled with Baseball Academy. We have programs of choice and can change that at this table if we don’t want them. In 2007 the provincial government changed the School Act to allow fees after {late] John Young, Trustee at the time, took this Board to court over school fees and won. We are obliged to follow Policy. Poverty is an issue but students will have a champion to take the need for assistance forward.
  • McNally: SD61 Policy  6120.1 Programs of Choice specifies “may” support  programs of choice, not “must”.
  • Horsman: Happy to support this. To have no Academies because they are not available everywhere is not something I can support. $100 a month is not that much of a fee. [If you are a disabled parent on welfare with one child, your entire monthly is $993 a month.] Academy students will get a higher level of coaching than they can dream of in the community. [It would be interesting to know what the Velox,Castaway Wanderers and the James Bay Athletic Association coaches think about that.] If they need help now they can give back later. Anyone who wants to play rugby can as it is offered as part of the school program.
  • Superintended: Rugby is offered at all high schools in SD61.
  • Horsman: They could all feed the Academy, then.
  • McEvoy: May be difficult for some students or families to approach the school. The principal or vice principal may identify students from the school community who may need assistance. “Let not perfection be the enemy of the good.” [Voltaire: Le mieux est l’ennemi du bien.]

Not Voltaire; McNally: Let not the good be the enemy of the best. The good (apparently, in this case) is fee based application based competition based public education. The best is a free universally accessible public education.

    • Horsman: No further discussion, will call the vote. [Defeated for lack of majority.] Even though this motion has been defeated at a standing Committee, it can still go forward to the Board meeting on the 17th. Get on the speakers’ list so you can present.

About Diane McNally