October 2014: Ed Policy: The Record Off The Record: What’s All This About “Transparency”?


The Record Off The Record is my personal record of and commentary on Board and Standing Committee meetings in School District 61 Greater Victoria. Official approved minutes of Board and Standing Committee meetings are posted on the SD61 website under the “Board of Education” menu, generally one month after the meeting. Education Policy Development Committee is posted as “Education Meetings”; Operations Policy and Planning Committee is posted as “Operations Meetings” . Agendas are posted to the website the Thursday before the meeting.

Minimal required reports from In Camera meetings with occasional additional items included as a result of a majority vote to report the item  are posted on the Board meeting / minutes 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.” The BC School Act states in 69 (2): “If, in the opinion of the board, the public interest so requires, persons other than trustees may be excluded from a meeting.”

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”. At this time, no audio recordings are made of Standing Committee meetings, only of Board meetings. Video record of Board meetings will be underway and posted on the SD61 website soon as a result of a recent vote.  Motions may be shortened but retain the essential wording. Seconders are not noted.

  • Coloured links for more info /sources.
  • Square brackets = my comments.
  • Conventional brackets = common explanation.
  • Home page: Widgets for email signup / Facebook / Twitter. Sticky post: Motions and Vote Records to June 2014.

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 this school year. You pay nine Trustees approximately $1,400 a month, each.

Robert’s Rules side trip:
We Never Get Tired of Talking About Notice of Motion (Apparently)

  • 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.
  • A motion can be renewed, ie the same motion that was defeated can be brought back, at a subsequent meeting: “A motion is considered renewed if it was made and disposed of without being adopted and then made again …an assembly should not have to deal with the same motion or substantially the same motion more than one time in a single session.” A session is defined as “ a regular weekly, monthly, or quarterly meeting for an established order of business in a single afternoon or evening…”.
  • To restate: Making a motion again after it has been defeated at a previous meeting is called renewal of the motion. All you need to do for this motion is to make the same motion again at your next monthly meeting. You can do this regardless of how you voted on the original motion.
  • Bylaw 9250.2 Notices of Motion says “should” , not “must” submit motions ahead of time. Everyone would agree that  it is a good idea to submit motions ahead of the meeting but on occasion emergent issues precludes that happening.
  • See Chapter Six American Institute of Parliamentarians Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure, and Robert’s Rules for Dummies, p 80.
  • As well, SD61 Bylaw 9368 Procedure of Board Meetings: “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.”    (No instance of the School Act being in conflict with Robert’s Rules has ever  been brought to my attention. )

Trustees are assigned by the Chair as members of the two standing committee, Ed Policy and Operations Policy, and a quorum of members is expected for business to be done.

Bylaw 9130: Standing Committees of the Board: “The purpose of each standing committee shall be firstly to clarify issues that need to be referred to the Board for review and decision making and, secondly, to present policy recommendations for Board consideration. …. 3. The Chairperson of the Board shall be an ex officio member of both Committees, with voting rights. 4.All members of the Education Policy Development Committee shall be ex officio members of the Operations Policy and Planning Committee with voting rights. 5. All members of the Operations Policy and Planning Committee shall be ex officio members of the Education Policy Development Committee with voting rights. 6. A quorum is a majority of trustee members on the committee.”

So what’s “ex officio”?

The Official Robert’s Rules of Order Website FAQ
Question 2: Can ex-officio members vote, and are they counted in determining whether a quorum is present? Answer: “Ex officio” is a Latin term meaning “by virtue of office or position.” Ex-officio members of boards and committees, therefore, are persons who are members by virtue of some other office or position that they hold. For example, if the bylaws of an organization provide for a Committee on Finance consisting of the treasurer and three other members appointed by the president, the treasurer is said to be an ex-officio member of the finance committee, since he or she is automatically a member of that committee by virtue of the fact that he or she holds the office of treasurer. Without exception, ex-officio members of boards and committees have exactly the same rights and privileges as do all other members, including, of course, the right to vote. There are, however, two instances in which ex-officio members are not counted in determining the number required for a quorum or in determining whether or not a quorum is present. These two instances are: 1. In the case of the president [Chair], whenever the bylaws provide that the president shall be an ex-officio member of all committees (or of all committees with certain stated exceptions); and 2. When the ex-officio member of the board or committee is neither an ex-officio officer of the board or committee nor a member, employee, or elected or appointed officer of the society (for example, when the governor of a state is made ex officio a member of a private college board).
Again, however, it should be emphasized that in these instances the ex-officio member still has all of the rights and privileges of membership, including the right to vote. [RONR (11th ed.), pp. 483-84; p. 497, ll. 20-29.] …. Any member noticing the apparent absence of a quorum can and should make a Point of Order to that effect whenever another person is not speaking. It is dangerous to allow the transaction of substantive business to continue in the absence of a quorum. Although a Point of Order relating to the absence of a quorum is generally not permitted to affect prior action, if there is clear and convincing proof no quorum was present when business was transacted, the presiding officer can rule that business invalid (subject to appeal). [RONR (11th ed.), pp. 348-49; see also pp. 12-13 of RONRIB.]

Bylaw 9130.1 Education Policy Development Committee: Article 4: The Education Policy Development Committee shall meet in accordance with the provisions of Bylaw 9360.2 (Meetings of the Standing Committees) for the purpose of providing direction to administration on the development of new educational policies and to review Board motions which require translation to educational policy. In addition, the Committee shall, from time to time as it sees fit, make recommendations to the Board in respect of educational policy for the District.”

Senior administration (the Principal of Learning Initiatives, for Ed Policy)  set the agendas for Board meetings and Standing Committee meetings, with input from the Chairs.

2014 Ed Policy Oct 6 Agenda 12014 Ed Policy Oct 6 Agenda 22014 Ed Policy Oct 6 Ed Partners Council
Education Policy Development Committee: October 6, 2014
Chair: Alpha         Absent: Leonard, McEvoy       Regrets: Loring-Kuhanga

Meeting held at Ecole Reynolds Secondary, on territory of the Lekwungen People.

1. Approval of Agenda: Adopted.
2. Business Arising From the Minutes : [Usually #2 on the agenda is Approval of Minutes; no minutes as the previous Ed Policy meeting conducted no business.  Related Lined Paper post here.]
3. Public Request to the Committee: None
4. Correspondence Referred to the Committee: None
5.  Motions Referred to the Committee: None
6. General Announcements: None

7. New Business:
A. Introduction of Student Representative: Dezy Manuel, Spectrum Community School.  [Named in Superintendent’s tweet; different one each month.  This is probably the best way to establish student engagement in governance and interest in a future elected Student Trustee,  as student councils have been politically  inactive in SD61.]  Have a representative from all high schools except SJ Willis, to come soon.

  • Dezy reported she was pleased to be at the table and to be part of the Superintendent’s  student group and was interested in using this position to help other students.
  • McNally: Excellent to see student involvement; good beginning to elected student councils.
  • Alpha: Great to hear about this collaborative and supportive group.

B. Impact of Student Leadership:  Tom Aerts, Reynolds Principal, presented students who  played key roles in ensuring the annual Reynolds events that support the Tour de Rock / Cops for Cancer took place, ensuring Reynolds could meet its always exceptional fundraising goal for this event. School started late this year because of the labour dispute, and the key organizer, Vice Principal Dean Norris-Jones, was a rider on the Tour de Rock this year. Mr. Aerts related that while he was telling Dean Norris-Jones “Of course, take the time for this exceptional community service, and be a rider”, he was inwardly wondering “But who will do Cops For Cancer?”  Students stepped up magnificently. From the Reynolds website: “Congratulations to the Reynolds Secondary Community for raising an astounding $100,000 for the Tour De Rock team in just two weeks!”    Follow @reynolds_high to see pics.  Astounding spoken word youth poet Hannah Berry spoke  her poem. It’s here on Rob Fleming’s website. Watch for Hannah on the youth poetry slam / spoken word scene.

C. Project Based Learning: Topher MacIntosh, Principal, and Allison Balabuch, teacher, Ecole Intermediare Central Middle School

  • Allison Balabuch gave an impressive account of her many years refining her teaching practice using project based learning and criterion-based learning. Descriptors: hands-on,skill-based, “slow education”, place based learning, experiential learning, inquiry based, “brain farming” … Alan Barwin’s Bear Beach project is an example.
  • Funded by District Learning Grants, community grants and fundraising, and donations by local business. The school holds a Viking Market, and students do projects thorough Junior Achievement.
  • Community partnerships this year: Emily Carr House, Point Ellice House, RBC Museum, Hallmark Society, Victoria Art Gallery, and Craigdarroch Castle.
  • Last year’s partners included Nature Houses, which have received no funding by the Provincial government for more than decade, and are in need of many upgrades. Student created permanent displays , welcome revitalizations.

2014 AGM Concurrent Proposals Package

D. Staffing Update: Superintendent [My recap follows; any incorrect information, attribute to my notes – this moved along pretty quickly]

  • Learning Improvement Fund  has been transmuted into the Education Fund Provincially, $75 million; SD61 share $2.4 million.
  • Support staff [CUPE] allocated $18.75 million provincially; SD61’s share $609,000.
  • By September 24 staffing was completed. On Friday 26th school requests for a portion of the Education Fund for additional teachers came in, with class size and composition sheets for K-8 classes. After regular staffing completed, consultation took place Monday 29th. On September 30, met with CUPE 947.
  • $620,000 was spent from the SD61 portion of the Learning Improvement Fund [which no longer exists, typical of capricious Ministry of Education #bced funding]. What was left was equivalent to 21.7 FTE. Schools requested 75 FTE.
  • Gave 8 FTE full time teaching positions at elementary and middle schools during regular staffing in spring, added 8 more through this process. Elementary schools got 6   0.1 FTE teacher  [1.0 FTE = a full day, full time position] for learning support, special education, counselling, music, or library, or other specialist positions. Middle schools got from .25 to .45 FTE for teacher learning support positions. Secondary schools run on the block system so got from .1 FTE up to .429 FTE for adding blocks or teacher learning support positions.
  • Then met with CUPE 947, and added $200,000 to meeting time for Education Assistants [CUPE Education Assistants, while often responsible for carrying out complex programs for students under the supervision of a teacher, have no paid time to connect / debrief / plan with teachers; see p 17 here]. Previously through Learning Improvement Fund attempted to top up CUPE 947 part time positions to full-time.
  • Enrolment is up over projections by 100 in elementary schools, but down 40 at middle school 6-8 overall; secondary enrolment is down by 150.

E. Notice of Motion [Properly, New Business, since this is not notice of a motion for a future meeting]

Orcherton: That the Board encourage the Education Partners’ Council to reconvene for the purpose of rebuilding relationships with educational stake holders, collaborative advocacy for our students and supporting Public Education.

2014 Ed Policy Oct 6 Ed Partners Council

  • Orcherton: This council came out of the Declining Enrolment Committee in 2007. It was recommended [by whom?] that it go on to deal with issues separately from the Board. Asking stakeholders to reconvene. Tonight’s meeting has created good feelings to get back on track – we are proud of students and teachers. We need to be working together to lobby and advocate. We need to take this 5 years of the teachers’ contract to rebuild and nurture.
  • McNally: One of the important aspects of public education is developing critical thinking in students. Looking at the parameters of this council critically, there are a lot of “un”s: unelected, unannounced, unaccountable, unrecorded. It is far from adhering to standards of transparency and accountability. Its terms of reference are vague. All the stakeholders are already at the Board table at any meeting they desire to attend, and can present to the Board at any time. That would be the place to raise concerns.
  • David Marcovitz, member of public: Was talking with Tom Ferris re in camera meetings. So thought I had better show up because if no one comes to the meetings that are public…. This Council operates secretively, and is in effect an in camera meeting.
  • Cindy Graf, GVTA: Disheartened. 35 years of teaching. Parents feel left out – they don’t feel they can help their children any more. That needs a lot of work. In this District the school board and administration are going on one direction and teachers are going in another. We have to get back to working together.
  • Horsman: Don’t understand McNally and Marcovitz. What’s this about “transparency”? It’s not even a committee of the Board. There are lots of opportunities for transparency at the Board. They [the Council]  don’t make recommendations. [See term 8; yes they do; this committee can do that.] So what’s the problem?
  • Alpha: If we’re talking about rebuilding relationships this Council will do the exact opposite. Five appointees from VCPAC  doesn’t give a broad voice to parents. You don’t build a relationship by having a hierarchy and people appointed by the top person; you put out a call. The relationship between teachers and the Board of SD61 is fractured as Cindy said. The GVTA withdrew many years ago from this council and has not returned. It’s problematic when one partner group doesn’t feel it can participate. Teachers have had it with “collaboration” not being meaningful.
  • Debra Swain, GVTA: Terms 9 and 10 have been problematic for the GVTA. Those terms stated that we could not discuss this committee’s work with our members. And a recommendation did come out of this committee regarding school closure. The GVTA had opted out before that. There is a lot of baggage attached to this group.
  • Nohr: VCPAC is not the only voice for parents in SD61. It’s important to address that. Tried previously to talk about that and it was not well received at all, but that is the truth of the situation. [See F 1 and 2, Lined Paper] Partners should go through own organizations and bring bring recommendations from those organizations or unions to the Board table. Would love to hear from CUPE 947 or 382. Have heard from those locals maybe three times in 2 1/2 years. Issues are not being brought to the Board table but are being discussed in secret. It’s an in camera meeting, and not the vehicle we need to repair the damage.
  • Ferris: Hate to inject a positive note;  that is a 2007 document and  we need to come up with something that reflects what they need . Motion to table this motion. / Carried. For: Alpha, Ferris, Horsman, Nohr, Orcherton   Against: McNally [I wanted to see the motion go to a vote.]

The SD61 Board has used “Motion to table” seemingly forever to make things go away. That’s not what it’s for.  “Moving to “Table!”: Many people think tabling a motion is tantamount to killing it, but the motion to Lay on the Table is used to set a pending motion aside temporarily in order to take up something else more pressing or urgent. If you want to kill a main motion, you move to Postpone Indefinitely.”

The other appropriate motion would have been a motion to refer, or commit. If a motion needs to be discussed much more informally or at greater length than is possible in a regular meeting, Robert’s Rules allows you to refer the motion to a committee, or perhaps to the executive board of your group by adopting the subsidiary motion to commit. For all but the most simple and direct of motions, everyone’s interests may be best served by referring a motion instead of spending a lot of meeting time on discussion.”

  • Alpha: Will need a motion to clarify who will consult with whom and when. [If a motion to refer had been made by Ferris, that would have been part of it.]

9. [Actually, 8] Adjournment: 9:10


About Diane McNally