In Camera meeting before the public meeting: 6:30 – 7:30.
Board Meeting October 20, 2014 [About 100 people in the public seats tonight! ]
- Student Representative Dezy Manuel, Spectrum Community School. [Different student each month. Though this was not the intent of my original “student trustee” motion, it 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.]
A. Commencement of Meeting: Chair: Orcherton
A.4 Student Achievement: Lakehill Elementary: Social Responsibility – Acting Principal, Amy Polson
Dacian Filipescu attended with his friends from school. Dacian spoke and his friends related what they’ve learned about inclusive sports and play, and told about their fundraisers to help Dacian’s family get mobility aids for him and a wheelchair van as Duchenne’s muscular dystrophy progresses.
A Facebook group is continuing the effort to raise funds and posts notices about ongoing fundraisers. A wonderful group of people, and a memorable presentation.
A.5. District Presentations: None
A.6 Community Presentations:
a) Peter Milne: Accountability (Unable to attend; Carolina Tudela made a short presentation on Mr. Milne’s behalf)
b) Nicole Strong, Bill 33
Nicole is a teacher and a parent of a child with autism. She did not provide a text of her speech but it was electrifying. Worth listening on the audio file. Nicole made the point that far from being “discrimination”, limiting the number of children with IEPS and highly individual learning needs in each classroom provides the best learning environment for all children.
c) John Bird, VCPAC, Classroom Resources Fund [Recent letter on VCPAC page; long history of this issue posted in various files.]
d) Sally Gilbert, Classroom Resources Fund
I am a parent of 3 children in School District 61 and I thank you for the opportunity to speak with you tonight. Despite being quite an involved parent at my children’s schools, I honestly had never given much thought to the District or Provincial PAC bodies until this August when the BCCPAC released the media statement saying: -as representatives of 81% of BC parents, they wanted to be involved in the labour negotiations, and they suggested the creation of a ‘Classroom Resources Fund’ as a way to solve the dispute.
I was offended and puzzled by these statements since in no way did they reflect my views nor the views of the parents I know. I was then further surprised to learn that this “Classroom Resources Fund’ proposal had originated in my very own district, and I knew nothing of it.
In my attempt to learn more, I attended the VCPAC September meeting where Mr. John Bird gave a presentation update on the CRF. I thought I would learn more about the committee that had developed the proposal, the evidence based research that had been used to support it, the Educational partners who had been consulted, and the steps / dates that I, as a SD61 parent, had missed out on to give my input into this project that has been in the works since January 2012. None of this was supplied at the meeting and the answers I have received since about the development process is that ‘a lot of people have put a lot of work into this’ and ‘it is a preliminary conceptual framework that will now be taken to the educational partners for input’.
To me, if you do not have documentation to show your consultation process with the people you represent and you have not yet consulted with the people who this will impact, it is very premature to be giving Provincial Media Releases claiming to have a way to solve a deeply difficult labour dispute.
I respect and appreciate Mr. Bird’s passion, commitment and intent with the CRF as a way to address the underfunding of Public Education in our province. He and I both acknowledge and agree wholeheartedly that this underfunding has had deleterious consequences on our students learning in the classroom, especially in schools where there is not a well-organized parent group able to prop up the school with fundraising and donations of money & time. However, I do not think a new PROCESS on how to spend classroom funds is needed. The current objective funding formulas based on ‘needs’ can work when there is adequate funding and monies in our school supply and operational budgets. I worry that the creation a ‘separate envelope of funding’ for each classroom and the reliance on parental input and opinion as to how money will be spent, will lead to a further uneven playing field with the ‘squeakier’ but not necessarily more deserving or needy students getting the ‘grease’. I am also concerned that introducing a new process could open the window for the erosion of funding allocations for students with extra learning needs, despite the fact that this is not the intent. Was the intent of labelling the Classroom Composition Guidelines so hard fought & won by our Teachers as “discriminatory” intended to lead to classrooms with 30 students, 5 IEPs and 1 EA? I don’t think so, but that has happened. The result is poor working conditions for our classroom teachers AND poor learning conditions for ALL of our students. Teacher Working Conditions and Student Learning Conditions are so intricately tied to each other that I think it is foolish to pull them apart.
Mr. Bird feels we have all spoken out loudly about Public Education underfunding for the past 12 years. I disagree. I, for one, was fairly blissfully unaware of the situation in many of our schools and classrooms until I started paying attention this year. Like you, I preferred to pay attention to all the good things that are happening, thanks in large part to the skill, creativity and dedication of the people who work in our schools. I do not yet think the collective WE have caused enough noise around the fact that our provincial spending on education has decreased from 21% to 13% of our provincial budget and we are 2nd to last for Canadian provinces for Public Education spending.
Please, Trustees, Superintendents & Administrators, as our Leaders in Education, please find your voices and step up. If all Trustees were as courageous as some in this Province and room, I do believe we would be in a different place in BC Public Education today.
Please be Leaders and stand up for Public Education funding in our province. We need you loud, we need you strong and we need to stand up for our children and say they their Education is worth as much as other kids in Canada. Please, don’t not only celebrate the things that are going well in our schools but also acknowledge and advocate for who & what needs more resources. I can guarantee you the respect and appreciation of all parents in our district if you choose to take on this role.
e) Bobby Arbess, Classroom Resources Fund [Cautioned by Chair to be “respectful”.]
To my School Board: My name is Bobby Arbess. Despite the long-winded speech I am about to deliver, I am not running for a position as a school trustee. I am here to talk about unity, not the kind of button-lipped unity of genteel society when everyone is always smiling at one another pretending nothing is wrong, just for the purpose of all getting along, but the kind of unity in which people take up a common cause to fight for something that is widely recognized of great importance.
His educational experience, his relationship with academic learning and his love of school would most likely be greatly enhanced If his classes were smaller, if he had teachers who weren’t overwhelmed or burnt out, who received an honourable remuneration for their important contribution to society, who were listened to when they tried to advocate on behalf of their students’ needs, who didn’t have to spend their own income to create a stimulating classroom environment, who didn’t have to go to court or stand on picket lines or lose months of their salaries to uphold their basic civil rights, who had more time to do what they become teachers to do: to help each child learn and find out what makes them tick, what inspires and interests them most, what ways of learning work best for them,–IF there were the necessary resources to make school really work for EVERY kid, regardless of socioeconomic, linguistic or cultural background, gender, family environment or ability.
My son is like every other child of this generation growing up in a BC public school system, which has been steadily and systematically gouged, stripped, robbed, starved of its resources as this government has waged a war of attrition on public schools, very sadly defunding, devaluing and dismantling the once thriving, robust BC school system in favour of the votes and election campaign donations that come with lower taxes and reduced public services. A government that puts its own hold on political power and the interests of its corporate sponsors, above the needs of its own children. This is what we, all the advocates of a fully funded quality public education system are dealing with in BC. This is the common threat we all face and so within that context of what unites students of this generation and all of their advocates, I am here to speak to you, our school trustees, our foremost advocates and to call for unity amongst ourselves, to set aside the diverging agendas that do not allow us to work together properly for our kids’ best interests.
As a parent, I was not alone in my awareness that the teachers’ right to bargain for effective limits on class size and composition were at the very crux of what drove our BC teachers to withdraw their labour for five weeks on the picket lines this year, fighting to restore what the BC Supreme court has now twice ruled was illegally stripped from their contract in 2002, by this province’s now Premier.
This breach of their very constitutional rights, censured by the International Labour Organization of the United Nations, laid the framework for the stripping of billions of dollars of funds from our schools, bringing about the massive decline of BC public ed which at the end of the day has hurts the kids most, especially those in need of the most attention and support. This I believe is the proper context we must contend with, if we are all of us to deliver on the promise of a fully functioning, diverse, supportive and integrated classroom environment for all kids.
As a parent, I cannot consent to bodies that claim to represent me, in taking a public position that unwittingly or not contributes to the violation of teachers’ rights and which seeks to undo the gains they seek on behalf of our children.
I refuse to accept an oversimplified notion, contained in the CSF, that somehow the teachers struggle to bring about better classroom supports for the 90,000 BC public school children with special needs designations constitutes a form of discrimination. It is another slap in the face of teachers and as a parent, I am appalled at this divisive tactic that could only work to drive a wedge between parents who BCCPAC and VCPAC, claim without our consent, to represent and our teachers who have been at the forefront of the struggle to defend public education for thirteen years and longer.
This is no way to create the unity that we all need to join together as teachers, parents, school boards and administrators to take on the real threat to public education in BC and that is the policies and ideological agenda of this government and its efforts to dismantle and privatize public services.
f) Jason Gammon, 8 Days’ Work, 8 Days’ Pay
I would like to thank you for the opportunity to speak today, although it is disappointing that this matter is still outstanding and unresolved to the satisfaction of the teachers whom you employ. I am speaking of the issue of our September pay.
Teachers worked 8 days in September, but the District only paid teachers for 7 days. As per the back-to-work agreement signed by the BC Teachers Federation and the BC Public School Employers’ Association, it was agreed that Friday, September 19th (the first day back at work) would be a paid day for teachers regardless of the Collective Agreement Language. This was to enable preparation for the Monday start of the school year. In addition, many Victoria teachers worked over the weekend of September 20/21st ON THEIR OWN TIME AND FOR NO PAY to ensure classrooms were ready for students on Monday September 22nd.
Why is this District choosing to not pay us for the additional day? The District’s answer lies in Superintendent Sherri Bell’s interpretation of our Collective Agreement; she writes: It is important to recognize that teachers in Greater Victoria School District are not paid by the number of days in a month, but by an annual salary, which is divided equally over 20 pay periods”; she further states that the District “will not fund for more than the language our local collective agreement allows.” While I am not here to argue over Ms. Bell’s interpretation of our Collective agreement, I am here to argue that the District has a responsibility to honour the back-to-work agreement signed by the BC Teachers Federation and the BC Public School Employers’ Association. Across the province the majority of school boards paid their teachers 8 days pay, for 8 days worked; despite collective agreement language, the majority honored the back-to-work agreement . Teachers dropped their picket signs and came back to work for many reasons, one being the assurance that Friday September 19th would be a paid day. The argument made by Ms. Bell that school district 61 has met it’s contractual obligations is a hollow one and extremely demoralizing to teachers.
Ms. Bell further states, and I quote: “There have been suggestions that the School District could just pay teachers an additional day by taking the funding from the strike savings the District realized in the last school year. In our case the savings have already been committed to be put toward the 2015-2016 structural deficit.”
Ms Bell’s statement that the approximate $4 million dollars saved on the backs of SD 61 teachers and CUPE workers during the strike was used to pay off debt rather than pay School District 61 employees for a full day of work is offensive to teachers coming back to work after a very arduous strike and particularly after going without pay for close to 3 months..
It has been stated that it would cost School District 61 $360,000 to pay all contract teachers for Friday September 19th. While I agree this is a fair amount of money, it isn’t when you consider that this board’s annual budget is close to $200 million dollars. To put this in perspective, $360 000 is about .2% of the school district’s annual budget. A drop in the bucket for this District, yet sufficient to honor the back to work agreement and most importantly to display an act of good faith and value towards your employees.
After the strike, you, the Board of Trustees, sent a letter to teachers stating: “We now look forward to focusing on rebuilding positive relationships with all of our stakeholders”. And I’m sure if you’re elected as Trustees once again, you’ll want to continue rebuilding. If you truly wish to foster a positive relationship with your stakeholders, then this is where it starts for the teachers of School District 61. Do the right thing, show us you value our work…. and pay teachers what they are owed for the work they performed on September 19th.
A.7 Trustees’ Reports :
Esquimalt Group of Schools: Leonard / McNally
Mt Doug: Nohr
Oak Bay: McEvoy
Vic High: Ferris
Spectrum: Alpha / Loring-Kuhanga
- Horsman: Visited Reynolds head shave event / Cops For Cancer, and Lakehill.
- Nohr: Have visited with people arriving at a number of schools, encountering a sense of community and sharing. Parents want to hear from individual trustees re underfunding.
Regulation 8200: Requests by Trustee candidates to visit a school are not considered appropriate during an election campaign. Should a Trustee be invited to attend a school event, they should be introduced as a Trustee but no comments should be voiced regarding the election campaign. Should a trustee candidate attend a school event, the candidate may be introduced by name only but without reference to the Trustee election.
B. Chair’s Report: Chair Orcherton: Visited new Ecole Quadra School; beautiful seismically upgraded facility for SD61. [Complete report on audio file]
C. Board Committee Reports
C.1 Education Policy Development Committee:
a) Minutes: October 6/14 : For information only, attached agenda. [Official minutes are posted on the SD61 website after this Standing Committee approves them at its next meeting. Lined Paper report here.]
C.2 Operations Policy and Planning Committee
a) Minutes: October 14/14: Information only, attached to agenda. [Official minutes are posted on the SD61 website after this Standing Committee approves them at its next meeting. Lined Paper report here.]
b) Recommended motion [carried at OPPS October 14] : That the Board approve the revised Policy 4144.1 Workers Compensation . / Referred to November OPPS for further discussion because of possible potential override of GVTA Collective Agreement. Concerns voiced by GVTA representative at the table.
D. District Leadership Team Reports: None
D.1 Superintendent’s Report: Addressed suicide prevention programs in schools.
- Loring-Kuhanga: Cyberbullying is not addressed in our Policies. Want updated federal legislation which is at second reading included in a Policy. [Policy 4304, Bullying and Harassment, refer to employees only.]
- Horsman: We have a Policy Development document. [Bylaw 9210 ]
D.2 Secretary-Treasurer’s Report: None
E. Reports From Trustee Representatives:
BCPSEA: Ferris: None
BCSTA: Horsman: Below
Budget Advisory: Alpha, Ferris, Horsman, Orcherton: None
Culture and Community: Ferris, 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 [No longer attending unless specific agenda item impacting SD61, which seems to be the practice for every other Trustee assignment]
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
[Board Chair Orcherton expressed intent some time ago to get an update from all organizations as to whether they want a Trustee liaison or not.These assignments seldom if ever result in a report to the table.]
- Horsman handed out hard copies of late Resolutions from various BCSTA branches for the October 24/24 Provincial Council meeting coming up on the weekend for Trustees to view for the first time. Resolutions: 9.1 North West Branch re its amended Constitution and Bylaws 9.2 SD57 Prince George re use of @BCEDplan social media accounts to promote bargaining position of BCPSEA and provincial government 9.3 SD58 Nicola-Similkameen re 3% wage increase for excluded employees 9.4 SD61 Peace River North re capital plan submissions 9.5 SD60 Peace River North re Ministry Student Location Factor formula be changed to take into account rural students who need transportation to high school 9.6 Board of Directors: Membership of SD8 Kootenay Lake [Kootenay Lake has not paid fees as that Board intends to discontinue membership in the BCSTA. ]
- McNally / Loring-Kuhanga: Proposed letter in 9.2 needs to go further and ask for an apology on the part of Government.
- Loring-Kuhanga: 9.3: Excluded [exempt] employees’ raises should be on par with BCTF and CUPE raises.
- Orcherton: When was last raise for exempt staff? 5 years?
- Leonard: CUPE and BCTF will be more than 3%.
- Orcherton: Were under a freeze from PSEC for 5 years and could not negotiate salary.
- McNally: do exempt staff have any kind of organization that acts in their interests? [No.]
- Nohr: Who are exempt staff? [Board secretaries, senior managers, managers]
- McNally: We are discussing wage raises for exempt staff and whether or not we approve of this Resolution while SD61 exempt staff are in the room. Possibly shouldn’t be doing that.
Overall approval for support of the Resolutions. [Discussion on. audio file.]
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: New Business: That the Board of Education immediately convene and advertise publicly an ad hoc committee with three tables
a) to meet at minimum monthly (more, or less, often by agreement of attendees) until the final budget vote to examine the current budget and any financial information as needed, including the line item budget, in order to propose this year’s one time only savings to address the budget’s $8.5 million structural deficit
b) one table to be composed of any interested SD61 community members including VCPAC and any interested trustees; one table to be composed of interested SD61 employee groups and any interested trustees; one table to consist of interested members of the SD61 PVPA and any interested trustees ; tables to meet on the same evening, same venue; format of evening as open question period or other format to be decided by the tables
c) the Secretary-Treasurer or designate and Superintendent to be present at the meetings
d) to report to the Board monthly, method and meeting to be determined by the committee members at each table,
e) and that the meetings be held at 6:30 pm in school libraries.
- McNally: The Budget Committee didn’t meet last year even though a school was closed, and hasn’t met this year as far as I know. Pubic engagement for input, analysis and comment is not broad.I realize that the rooms are often empty when public budget consultation opportunities are offered. That’s because a $200 million budget ( with an annual structural deficit of $8.5 million and climbing) is too complicated to grasp in one or two meetings. We need to take this to the community and do more and earlier budget outreach, and have much more frequent and fuller Budget Committee meetings including any interested Trustee. There is renewed interest in public education and funding after the recent BCTF action in defense of public education in BC. Now is the time to engage it.
- Ferris: This is short notice for a complicated motion. Refer to a future OPPS meeting?
- Leonard: this should be addressed first a the Committee level. Motion to refer to January, February or March OPPS – when there is room for it. [This timing will make the motion moot for this year.] / Carried. For: Alpha, Ferris, Horsman, Leonard, McEvoy, McNally, Nohr, Orcherton Against: Loring-Kuhanga
F.2 Notice of Motion: Nohr: Code of Conduct
G. Communications: None. [Ever, apparently.]
H. Public Disclosure of In Camera Items:
I. Adjournment: 9:20