This school year closed with teachers on strike, and the government appealing the third time they’ve lost in BC Courts. The appeal will be heard in October but in theory, and given this government’s track record of not complying with legislation, it could go to a higher court for resolution. A useful backgrounder is here, the Tyee’s roundup of the best of their ten years of reports on BC Education: Deep Reading for Education Keeners.
The BCTF provides a chronology education related legislation from 2001 – 2012:
The Record Off The Record is my personal record of and commentary on Board and Standing Committee meetings in School District 61 Greater Victoria (Esquimalt, Oak Bay, Victoria, View Royal,and parts 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. Agendas are posted the Friday before the meeting.
Streaming video, but no video by you, only by “reputable media outlets”, [and no “devices” is the fervent wish of come Trustees] and a question period at Board meetings are being contemplated among other changes in Policy as a result of motions that were moved by majority vote to the Ad Hoc Public Engagement Committee [only invited members of the public participated, and Trustees were forbidden to participate, by majority vote of the Board.] Final vote in the fall; will come to a fall OPPS meeting first, which allows for more extensive public input at this point than do Board meetings; watch the agendas.
It’s taken more than two years to get close to having a [highly controlled] question period on the Board agenda. Recently, Qualicum School District 69 managed to answer 39 questions, with questions and answers provided in the minutes, in one meeting. The current SD61 culture seems fearful of questions and recording and loss of control to all those wild radicals who typically attend School Board meetings. “Control” is heard frequently in these discussions.
Minimal required 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 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.” Key word: “general”. Any report beyond the basic one required must be done by an in camera motion and majority vote. SD61 Bylaw 9360.1 states: In-camera items that may be discussed confidentially include legal, property, personnel and privacy matters as defined by provincial legislation. [Note, not “are limited to”.]
The public 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”. 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 motion or debate on starting recording or proposed uses of and storage of the record appears to exist.] Motions may be shortened but retain the essential wording. Seconders are not noted.
Home page: widgets and sticky post: Motions and Vote Records to June 2013, to be updated to June 2014 over this summer
School District 61 Greater Victoria is the 6th largest employer in the Capital Regional District with a budget of $195,330,769.00 of your tax dollars for the coming school year. You pay nine Trustees approximately $1,200.00 a month, each, with a raise to come soon.
- 100.00 In all meetings of the Board of Trustees, procedures shall be governed by Robert’s Rules of Order, except where provisions of the bylaws of the Board or the Schools Act may conflict, in which case the latter shall prevail.” [I don’t have an example illustrating how the School Act could conflict with Robert’s Rules.]
- (3): The Chair, the Secretary-Treasurer or any three trustees, may call a special general meeting of the Board, in addition to the regularly scheduled meetings of the Board, upon not less than forty-eight hours’ notice in writing to all trustees.
Apparently calling one according to Bylaw provision doesn’t mean it will happen, though. It has been pointed out that in one case of 3 trustees calling a meeting that was refused, the Bylaw that should have been used is the In Camera bylaw. The thing is, 3 Trustees called a meeting and it has to be one or the other of the two applicable Bylaws. Both allow the same thing. Here’s an idea: call the meeting and do it under the appropriate Bylaw. Instead, not one of the three “3 trustee” meetings called for by Alpha, Loring-Kuhanga, McNally , Nohr has occurred.[Other reasons given have included “too busy”.]
Robert’s Rules side trip: Motion from the floor vs Notice of Motion: Robert’s Rules of Order, Newly Revised, 11th Edition:
- P4, pp 121-124: ”…there may be an additional requirement of previous notice, which means that the notice of the proposal to be brought up – at least briefly describing its substance – must be announced at the preceding meeting or must be included in the call of the meeting at which it is to be considered….the call of a meeting is generally sent to all members a reasonable time in advance…” Notice of Motion is not the same thing as making a motion from the floor.
- Making a motion [from the floor, ie making a motion that is not on the agenda, and making it during the meeting] : Paraphrasing Robert’s Rules of Order 11th Edition, p 33 – 42: Obtain the recognition of the Chair during the appropriate section of the agenda for your motion. Do not discuss or explain the rationale for your motion before it is on the floor – ie recognized by the Chair and seconded. Make the motion, and obtain a second. State the rationale. Debate occurs. A vote occurs. The motion is disposed of.
In Camera meeting before the public meeting: 6:15 – 7:30.
Board Meeting June 16, 2014
A. Commencement of Meeting: Chair: Orcherton
Absent: Alpha (locked out) , McEvoy (travelling)
A.1. Approval of the Agenda: Adopted, with addition at Superintendent’s Report, Nohr’s motion from the floor at F.3, and various Trustee Reports.
A.2. Approval of the Minutes:
a) Minutes May 20/14 Board Meeting: Approved [Official minutes here; Lined Paper Record Off The Record here.]
A.3. Business Arising From the Minutes: None
A.4 (Usually student presentations but strike and lockout prevents teachers from attending with classes) Community Presentations:
a) Vincenza Grupposo, Victoria Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils Director: Public Education [VCPAC Constitution / Voting Procedures / Membership Rules here]
- Class composition: Limit on the number of students with special needs in a class is an”us vs them” situation and reduces appreciation for diversity, prevents public education from fulfilling mandate of education for all. Could deny entry to a classroom so parents may forego assessment that would result in a designation.
- Must send a message that schools need to be properly resourced to meet the needs of all learners.
[No argument with that, though defining “properly resourced”, if not what Justice Susan Griffin referred to in her January 2014 ruling, could be the subject of endless debate] Adding more Education Assistants sometimes seems to be thought of as “resourcing”. The provincial union representing Education Assistants (CUPE BC) is currently working on establishing a system of credentialing.
“The K-12 Presidents’ Council today ratified the provincial framework agreement it negotiated on behalf of education support workers with the BC Public School Employers’ Association (BCPSEA).”
b. Audrey Smith , VCPAC :
- Time for cultural change, equitable access and supportive learning conditions.
- Vancouver Island Parent Conference February 7 / 15 will be developed with SD62 Sooke DPAC.
- VCPAC will hold all candidates’ meetings for School Trustee candidates in the fall. [Election 2011 statements here. ]
A.5. Trustees’ Reports:
Esquimalt: Leonard / McNally
Mt Doug: Nohr
Oak Bay: McEvoy
Vic High: Ferris
Spectrum: Alpha / Loring-Kuhanga
- Reports from Ferris, Horsman, Loring-Kuhanga, McNally on audio file.
B. Chair’s Report: Chair Orcherton reported on her activities as Chair. On audio file.
C.1 Education Policy Development Committee: Chair Ferris [Alpha regrets]
a) Minutes : June 2/14 for information only, attached p 20-21 agenda packup) Official minutes are posted on the SD61 website after this Standing Committee approves them at its next meeting. Lined Paper Record Off The Record here.
b. Recommended Motions (carried at Ed Policy meeting and thus “recommended” for Board approval)
i) That the Board supports [sic] the work of the French Immersion Committee.
Amendment: That the Board support the recommendations of the French Immersion Committee regarding kindergarten registration. / Carried as amended. Unanimous.
ii) That the Board receives [sic] the 2014-15 Achievement Contract. / Carried. For: Ferris, Horsman, Leonard,Loring-Kuhanga, McNally, Orcherton Abstain: Nohr
- McNally: Pleased to see Reading Recovery (p9 ) continuing as an Innovative and Promising Practice. However, Reading Recovery isn’t exactly “innovative’ as it originated in the 1980s with Dr. Marie Clay in New Zealand as a highly individualized instructional method for struggling readers in Grade One. It gets excellent documented results, and prevents escalating problems for students.
- Nohr: Won’t support this motion as this is a Ministry of Education required document that doesn’t provide an accountable and detailed addressing of the needs of students who struggle because of underfunding. Many students are not having their needs met. Received an email from a parent who had resorted to a private school placement as thee was insufficient speech language pathologist time and counsellor time in the public school. This parent made a decision to find smaller class size. Appreciate all the work that went into this document but it doesn’t reflect all students.
- Loring-Kuhanga: Haven’t always supported this document. It includes references to Foundation Skills Assessments (FSAs) which not a big fan of. Thanks to all staff for the work put into this.
C.2 Operations Policy and [Operations] Planning Committee
a) Minutes : June 9/14 information only p 51-54 of agenda. [Lined Paper Record Off The Record post here ] Official minutes are posted on the SD61 website after this Standing Committee approves them at its next meeting.
b) Recommended motions [motions carried at OPPS and moved forward to Board]
i) That the Board approves [sic] revised Policy 3450.1 School (Non-Public) Funds / Carried. Unanimous (changes shown at p 55 – 61 of agenda)
- McNally: Will restate my position that Trustees should be involved at the generative stage of Policy development and at the beginnings of Policy revision, not just when the already revised Policy comes to the Table.
- Orcherton: Opportunities for input at Standing Committees.
- Loring-Kuhanga: Same kind of stand as McNally. SD61 Trustees can participate in Standing Committee discussion but not at generative level.
ii) That the Board agrees [sic] to give all three readings of Bylaw 9250.2 Notices of Motion at the meeting of June 16, 2014. [See Lined Paper June 9 post for discussion – brought two Bylaws in line with each other re number of days asked for for notice of motion] / Carried. Unanimous. // Read 1st, 2nd, 3d time and adopted. [Bylaw changes and additions have to be read 3 times before adoption.] / Carried. Unanimous.
iii) McNally: That the Board modify its letterhead to include a footer to reflect the composition of the entire Board. [Example below.Vancouver must be meeting over the summer.] / / Carried as amended. For: Horsman, McNally, Loring-Kuhanga, Orcherton Against: Ferris Abstain: Leonard
- McNally: When campaigning in 2011 I often heard “School Trustees? What’s that? What do they do?” People don’t often know that letters from the Chair are written as a direction by a majority of the Board, and often don’t know who is on the Board. This is a public information service. Vancouver School Board has the names of the entire Board at the bottom of every letter and it seems sensible to make it obvious who is on the Board and who the public is paying, with every letter that goes out.
- Leonard: This is much ado about nothing; letters aren’t written for the public.
- Nohr: The public will read them. This would provide full reference to the Board.
- Orcherton: Motion to amend: Delete reference to “footer” and let administrative assistant design it./ Carried unanimously.
D. District Leadership Team Reports
D.1 Superintendent’s Report:
a. Specialty [Sports] Academy Fees: Recommended motion [I assume recommended by the Superintendent]
That the Board makes [sic] available to the public via the District website, the schedules of fees that have been approved by School Planning Councils for the District’s Specialty Academy [all sports “academies” so far, in which students spend a quarter of the school day playing or studying a sport; add Rugby at Esquimalt High School] programs. / Carried. Unanimous.
- Superintendent: SD61 has new Academy, Rugby at Esquimalt High. Fees have not increased this year. Policy is if students cant pay the fee will be paid for them.
- McNally: I understand no student has even been funded for the Hockey Academy, as the equipment is very expensive, so students living in poverty do not have access to the Hockey Academies.
- Superintendent: There have been donations of equipment… schools handle it.
- McNally: Academies are part of school branding, an exercise that entices students to travel out of the neighbourhood school area and take their $6,900 funding per student with them, leaving the neighbourhood school poorer and often struggling. This is retail model competition for customers, and more or less like vouchers. I can’t support fees in principle, but as the majority of the Board has, people need to know what they are.
- Loring-Kuhanga: Would like an update on how many students can’t afford the fees.
b. Retirement Tea: Superintendent: Very unfortunate that this wonderful event [scheduled for June 12] was cancelled as there was a picket line up at SJ Willis. Disappointing and hope to reschedule. [Teachers began rotating strikes on May 26. The Aboriginal Education Graduation scheduled for June 5 was relocated from SJ Willis to the Songhees Wellness Centre. Email discussion took place regarding possibility of relocation of the event, which for various reasons did not occur.]
D.2 Secretary-Treasurer’s Report:
a) Appointment of Election Official
That the Board appoint Tom Moore as the Chief Elections Officer to conduct the Trustee Elections on November 15, 2014. / Carried. Unanimous.
- Nohr: What is the cost to the District?
- Secretary-Treasure: No cost. There is a cost for the election but none for him specifically.
“While provincial elections are administered by Elections BC, local government elections are managed by chief election officers that are appointed independently by each local government.”
Last election November 2011 results here.
2011 BC Government Trustee Election Rules here.
May 2014 updates to School Act re School Trustee Elections here.
E. Reports From Trustee Representatives:
BCPSEA: Ferris: None
BCSTA: Horsman: None
Budget Advisory: Alpha, Ferris, Horsman, Orcherton: None
Culture and Community: Ferris [replacing Nohr], Orcherton: None
District Gay-Straight Alliance Council: Alpha, Horsman: None
Aboriginal Nations Education Council: Loring-Kuhanga: None
French Immersion Advisory: Ferris: None
Healthy Schools: Nohr: None
Junior Achievement BC Regional Committee: Ferris: None
Joint Job Evaluation (District): Alpha, Ferris: None
Negotiation Advisory Committees (District)
ASA: Leonard: None
CUPE 382: Ferris; None
CUPE 947: Ferris: None
Exempt: Nohr: None
Vice Principals and Principals Association: Nohr: None
Teachers (local issues): Ferris, Orcherton: None
Saanich Arts, Culture and Heritage Advisory Committee: Loring-Kuhanga: None
Healthy Saanich Advisory Committees: McNally: None [note below]
Saanich Parks, Trails and Recreation: Loring-Kuhanga None
Success By Six: McEvoy, McNally: None (No meetings since initial one early in 2012 school year. The active section of this initiative locally seems to be “1000×5”, and I haven’t been assigned to that initiative.)
Swan Lake / Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary: Horsman: None
Vancouver Island Labour Relations Association: Ferris: None (no website exists for VILRA)
Victoria Chamber of Commerce: Nohr: None
I attended Healthy Saanich Committee meetings faithfully for 2 ½ years but as there have been no reports from most Trustees assigned by the Chair to other committees, I gave notice to the Board Chair and HS Chair that I would no longer do so unless the agenda had items specifically pertaining to SD61. Board Chair Orcherton expressed intent to get an update from all organizations as to whether they want a Trustee liaison or not [V. Hanley, Administrative Assistant will follow up].
F. New Business / Notice of Motions:
[Notice of motion means notice of a motion intended for the agenda of a meeting in the future. Motions that are accepted from the floor – ie at this meeting – are not “Notices of Motion”, but motions from the floor and are treated as any other motion to be debated in New Business.]
F.1 McNally : [For Alpha] That the Board direct senior administration to consult with school communities to explore the possibility of an elementary school site that could be designated as WiFi free so the parents requesting accommodation for their children will have a public school option that meets their needs./ Defeated. For: Loring-Kuhagna, McNally, Nohr Against: Ferris Horsman, Leonard, Orcherton [Initially Ferris, after speaking against the motion, raised his hand in the “for” vote. The chair called his name three times, after which he put his hand down, and voted against.]
- McNally: Part of my 2011 campaign was “no WiFi in K-5”. Over the last two years you have heard many presentations from concerned parents and concerned PhDs in relevant fields of study, for example Dr. Martin Blank.who presented in person to this Board. [Martin Blank, PhD, Special Lecturer in Physiology and Cellular Biophysics 1968-2011; Associate Professor of Physiology and Cellular Biophysics Columbia University: EMR has been shown to cause other potentially harmful biological effects, such as leakage of the blood brain barrier (that surrounds and protects the brain) that can lead to damage of neurons in the brain, increased micronuclei (DNA fragments) inhuman blood lymphocytes, all the EMR exposures considered safe. Probably the most convincing evidence of potential harm comes from living cells themselves when they start to manufacture stress proteins upon exposure to EMR.] Frank Clegg, former President of Microsoft Canada has writen abut the dangers of EMF exposure for children. I have posted 21 posts dealing with WiFi.You have all been given a binder full of research. I read the entore thing, all the articles, including those that say “No problem”, based on Canada’s inadequate Safety Code 6. I read the entire BioInitiative Report. I read Dr. Ulrich Warnke’s Birds, Bees and Mankind. The VCPAC WiFi survey resulted in over 800 comments. I read them all. 32% of respondents were not in favour, either equivocally, did not have enough information, objected to the survey’s construction, or were clearly not in favour of WiFi in K-5 schools. A recent Globe and Mail article, “Is There Such a Thing As Too Much WiFi” , had this to say:
While most Western bodies have deemed the scientific evidence on health effects inconclusive, many European jurisdictions are choosing to err on the side of caution until more is known. In a resolution in 2011, the Council of Europe recommended that the As Low As Reasonably Achievable (ALARA) principle be applied to electromagnetic radiation, fearing “there could be extremely high human and economic costs if early warnings are neglected.” It also condemned the “lack of reaction to known or emerging environmental or health risks and virtually systematic delays in adopting or implementing effective preventive measures.” ….. Russia’s exposure limits for RF radiation are 100 times lower than Canada’s. While Russian schools can choose to install WiFi, they are the exceptions, says Oleg Grigoriev, chairman of the Russian National Committee on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (an expert group that reports to the Russian parliament). He says damage to children’s cognitive function caused by long-term exposure to low-strength electromagnetic fields has long since been demonstrated by Russian researchers. Russia, he explains, began experimenting with the impacts of electromagnetic fields on the nervous system a century ago, and, as a result, does not consider its approach precautionary, but rather “science-based.
- Since conclusive research is not in, it is incumbent on us, as people responsible for child safety, to use the Precautionary Principle and designate at least one school WiFi free.
- Horsman: This motion should be declared out of order. The Board made a decision that this would be a school level decision. This motion is sidestepping a decision of the Board. It superimposes a decision on the school [Rogers] because that school didn’t file a request.
- Nohr: Understand Horsman’s point but there is a potential heath risk. Need to do all I can to provide an option. Health concerns for students supersedes the process we have in place, and even a small minority deserves a place of safety.
- Ferris: The motion is out of order. Install the rest of the equipment, and educate our educators on best proactive to keep kids safe. [See below]
- Orcherton: The Board will follow the direction of the November 18 / 13 decision [below] and leave this decision with school communities. If a child has a medically substantiated condition the District will work with that family. There is a difference between “preference” – which could mean a transfer to a different school – and “accommodation” – which results in more work.
November 18, 2013: That the Board allow the use of WiFi in elementary [K-5] schools subject to each school first obtaining the support of their school community. / Carried. For: Ferris, Horsman, Leonard, McEvoy, Orcherton Against: Alpha, Loring-Kuhanga, McNally, Nohr
January 2014: McNally: iPad Safety / Defeated For: Alpha, Loring-Kuhanga, McNally, Nohr Against: Ferris, Horsman, Leonard, McEvoy, Orcherton (motion below)
a) i. That the Board ensure that all K-5 classrooms with wifi capability have simplified iPad safety requirements posted where students can read them, and
ii.that the instructions are clearly interpreted in drawings for non-readers;
iii. that the classroom teacher review these safety requirements with students as needed and if unsafe operation of the iPad is noted, and
iv. that all school personnel who will be working with students and iPads be given a copy of the iPad safety information below: (motion continues in detail)
F.2 McNally: [For Alpha]: That the Board provide written rationale of the Board’s decision regarding designating an elementary school site as WiFi free to the parents requesting accommodation for their children after the Board has made that decision. /Ruled out of order.
- Horsman: This motion is out of order. [It’s the Chair’s prerogative to declare a motion out of order, not sundry members of the board.] .
- Orcherton (Chair): The motion is out or order. It’s a school-based decision.
F.3 Nohr: That the Board write another letter to Premier Clark and Minister Fassbender requesting that the Premier demonstrate good faith bargaining by providing the BC Public School Employers’ Association (BCPSEA) with a renewed mandate to bargain class size and composition into the collective agreement; and that the Premier request BCPSEA and the BCTF to use the services of a special mediator with a view to reaching an agreement as soon as possible. / Defeated. For: Loring-Kuhanga, McNally, Nohr Against: Ferris, Horsman, Leonard, Orcherton
- Ferris: There’s nothing that says anything about funding. I don’t see composition in the contract or how many kids in a class. This will be in the courts forever. The Learning Improvement Fund is not enough.
- McNally: I support this motion. Class Size and Composition language was restored retroactively by Justice Susan Griffin in January of this year in her ruling against the government and for the BCTF. No, the Learning Improvement Fund is not enough to right this wrong.The LIF is like stealing money and then giving it back as a so-called gift.
Griffin’s 2014 decision buttresses the teachers’ demand for a $225-million annual fund to hire new teachers and deal with class size and composition issues and a second $225-million fund to deal with retroactive grievances by members, as well as to pay for improved medical benefits, professional development and preparation time. The BCTF proposes these funds as interim measures, until the court case is decided.
The provincial government is offering to continue a $75-million annual Learning Improvement Fund , and says it can’t afford the BCTF’s terms. The employer’s most recent offer includes a clause that says if either party is dissatisfied with the outcome of the court case, it could give written notice to terminate the collective agreement.
- Orcherton: Class size and composition is on the table in the BCPSEA document published just before we wrote the letter [May 23/14] asking for a mediator. Mark Brown is now taking a more active role. [Brown stepped down from the role June 19 when well-known mediator Vince Ready was requested by both the BCTF and BCPSEA; Ready declined].
- Leonard: BCPSEA has changed its stand on Class size and Composition; has made some movement. The issues in the motion have been addressed so will not support.
As of June 16, this is not what I call “movement”: BCPSEA Backgrounder, June 16: “Class sizes currently contained in legislation (theSchool Act) to be included in the collective agreement.; Learning Improvement Fund ($75M) moved into the collective agreement to address issues of class size and composition.; Joint fact-finding committee to establish an improved base of information regarding non-enrolling teachers and other specialists. Process to allow court action to unfold regarding the BC Supreme Court decisions, and revisit outcomes at a later date [a less than frank way of referring to BCPSEA’s infamous opt-out clause, whereby BCPSEA can dismiss the findings of the appeal court on Griffin’s January ruling. ]
G. Communications: None.
H. Public Disclosure of In Camera Items: None.
I. Adjournment: 9:05 Motion to adjourn as usual by Ferris; seems “traditional”.
Central Middle School Jazz Band – recorded on phone, so poor sound quality. But dedication and talent is evident! Kudos band teachers, and students!