Full agenda with attachments here.
In Camera meeting 6:00 pm- 7:30 pm before the public meeting.
Student Representative: March 23 Board meeting:
Jonah Van Driesum, Oak Bay High School
- A different student from the Superintendent’s Student Advisory Group attends Standing Committee and Board meetings each month, from a group of students recommended by their principals or otherwise selected at their school to work with the Superintendent as representatives of the student voice in SD61. These nine students meet every 6 weeks with the Superintendent. [This is probably the best way to establish student engagement in governance and interest in a possible future elected Student Trustee, as student councils have been politically inactive in SD61 and have not run elections.]
- Selection Process for Student Representatives : In a past report the Superintendent reported that each school has a different way of selecting their student representative. The group is developing a consistent format and process. For example, one rep was nominated by a vice principal; one was drawn from scholarship group that answered 5 question form for final selection.
A. Commencement of Meeting
A 1. Approval of Agenda: Adopted, with amendment : Leonard, motion from the floor [not a Notice of Motion for a future meeting; a motion for this meeting] to be added at G. 1 f) [Leonard previously said that if a motion to pay teachers for the 8th day carried, Leonard would bring a motion to pay all other employee groups a “bonus day”.]
A2. Approval of the Minutes:
a) Board Meeting February 16/15: Approved . Lined Paper report here.
A 3. Business Arising From Minutes: None
A 4. Student Achievement:Tillikum School, Lori Burley, Principal
- A student drum group presented, and two former students read their retelling of the “Legend of Cammosung”, which explains the presence of what were (until 1960 when someone dynamited them) two big rocks under the Gorge Bridge.
A.5 District Presentations
a) Randi Falls, Principal, Victoria High School : Track Revitalization Project Update
A.6 Community Presentations
a) Dr. Kerry Crofton: Doctors For Safer Schools [electromagnetic frequency radiation and technology]
b) Dr Martin Blank: [postponed to next Board meeting]
c) Cindy Graf, GVTA: Teachers’ Professional Development Funds : Prezi link here.
d) Debra Swain, GVTA: Teachers’ Professional Development Funds
e) Tami Tate, PAC Chair, Oak Bay High School : School Fundraising
[Board decision at February 16 / 15 meeting re naming rights here.]
f) Gerald Smeltzer, Oak Bay Community Association: Sno’uyutth Pole
B. Trustee Reports
B1. Chair’s Report ( on audio file)
- Reply from Minister to Board’s letter on exempt staff wage freeze on SD61 Advocacy page.
- Whiteaker: BCSTA AGM: Requesting comments from Trustees on the 25 motions going forward to the BCSTA AGM [one from SD61 re acknowledgement of Territory ] (Phrased as a motion; carried unanimously.)
- McNally: School visits to all schools in both Esquimalt and Lambrick groups completed, with thanks to principals who took the time to converse and give school tours. Planning PAC visits with school PAC chairs now. Attended Victoria Sings on March 4; highly recommend attending this four-evening biannual event that showcases choral music teaching and student learning and talent in SD61. Arbutus Middle School Choir was one of the schools presenting. Also attended the last theatre production in the old Oak Bay Theatre, the musical Beauty and The Beast. Our student trustee tonight, Jonah Van Driesum, was one of the stars! Highly recommend SD61 theatre productions for excellent entertainment and as a demonstration of what students, parents and teachers are achieving together in fine arts in SD61. See video clips on the Facebook page here.My greeting from the Board at Victoria Sings: Good evening. It’s my pleasure to bring greetings and appreciation from the Board of Education of School District 61. Victoria Sings is a four night concert series which takes place every other year in this beautiful auditorium in the UVic University Centre. This year 28 choirs are participating. I want to recognize the dedication of teachers, students, and parents who pull this excellent event together. We know that music education enhances the process of learning generally. The systems music nourishes, which include our integrated sensory, attention, cognitive, emotional and motor capacities, are the sustaining forces behind all other learning. The most profound effects of music are delivered when one learns how to play – or sing – music. Learning the art of music literally changes our brains for the better in ways that can last a lifetime. And. Music adds beauty to a world that can always use more of that. I am and I know you are looking forward to hearing the marvellous musical talent assembled here tonight. Tonight we will hear choirs from Margaret Jenkins Elementary, Tillicum Elementary, Central Middle, Arbutus Middle, Oak Bay Secondary Vocal Jazz, Oak Bay Secondary Juniors, and Esquimalt Secondary . Thank you all. The Youth Choir 61 website states that “Youth Choir 61 exists to enrich artistically the lives of the students, their families and the community they serve.” We are certain to be enriched by these gifts of music tonight. Again, thank you all!
- Watters: Attended first meeting of SD61’s District Gay-Straight Alliance as Trustee representative. Many students in attendance. Pink Shirt Day very successful, much engagement District-wide. Planning a week to counter homophobia and transphobia. Some of the present Regulation language presents gender language difficulties; will be addressing that at an upcoming Education Policy meeting.
C. Board Committee Reports
C.1 Joint Ed Policy and OPPS
a) Minutes from March 2/15: Information only (will be ratified at next Standing Committee meetings) Lined paper report here.
b) Recommended Motions (Motions that carried in a Standing Committee)
- Watters: Is the end of March achievable?
- Benula Giasson, GVTA President: Why develop a rationale? Trustees know why teachers went on strike.
- Whiteaker: This was passed at the BCSTA Provincial Council; wording wasn’t created by the is Board.
- Nohr: We understand that BC funds education at $1000 less per student than the national average. Only PEI is doing worse. Willing to see the deadline moved to the end of April. / Carried Against: Leonard
- McNally: Yes, we do understand why teachers were on strike. But this is an unusual call from BCSTA for collective action on the part of all School Boards in BC, so I will support it on that basis.
- Nohr: Boards are legally required to pass a compliance budget.
- McNally: Are we not including historical information? This is a limited “needs budget” and this Board has the information for a budget that reflects what has been stripped away since 2001.
- Leonard: No. Using readily available information that the Secretary-Treasurer has. This is the course that was determined in the Standing Committee meeting.
- Nohr: As this was originally my motion in OPPS, would like to amend: After “high school” insert “at each grade level”, and make the date “April Board meeting”, not “March 2015 Board meeting”. / Carried.
- Ferris: The history of the idea is that 25 years ago the government came up with the way funding was allocated at the time.There is no explanation for the need for this motion. It divides students into groups – ELL [English Language Learners] for example – and is opening a Pandora’s Box. Is it Aboriginal students next ? Why do we want to go back to segregating students ? We just need to know that there is an adequate process and we don’t need to be involved. How many categories of students are there? No two students are the same. Parents and ethnic minorities want their kids educated in the neighbourhood school .
- Giasson: This is about ensuring the needs of students are being met. How will we know about the needs in schools regarding class sizes and class composition? This is not a privacy issue.
- Jonah Van Driesum, Student Rep: Have been in very crowded classes as a student. People have a right to go to their local schools .But this motion is not forcing children out of their local schools. It’s asking for data to support student. It’s concerned with the well-being of students overall.
- McNally: As a special education teacher for 22 years in SD61, and a CUPE education assistant for 10 (and taught before that) I have seen the changes in service to children with special needs over the years since 2001. Funding is gone for some groups of students, for example students assessed as “gifted” and “learning disabled”. They get nothing. They once got targeted funding to help them get the specialized instruction from a teacher that they need. I hear about this document breaching student and family privacy. Vancouver School District and Fort St John publish this document, and there have been no challenges. If this were genuinely a privacy breach there would have been legal action, and there has been none, anywhere. The privacy issue is opinion only. A Trustee wonders why we would want to segregate students. I wonder too, as SD61 has maintained a stand- alone building far away from any other school, Victor School, an entire segregated school for students with special needs, quite likely the only remaining segregated school in the entire province. If we don’t want to segregate students, why do we run Challenge programs at some of or high schools at a middle school? To “segregate” children with high intellectual ability in order to meet their needs. Students with special needs are collected in a classroom – as a learning support teacher I have direct experience with this – and one CUPE education assistant is responsible for meeting the education and other needs of three or four students with often extremely disparate needs. It’s not possible to do that, but on paper it looks as though the student has “an assistant” and “support”. That’s true, but at about one-quarter of what that student should have. This is information that increases our ability to advocate for the funding that especially students with identified special needs require.
- Audrey Smith, VCPAC 1st VP: This report doesn’t give enough information, and is discriminatory.
- Leonard: [to Student Rep} Class size limits are in the School Act. / Is this report currently done by the District or by the Ministry?
- Superintendent: No.
In 2014, the Ministry of Education required this report. But who knows what they want Districts to do this year.
“Identify students in classes that meet the criteria for one of the following three broad categories:-Students Entitled to an IEP* excluding Gifted)-Gifted-EnglishLanguage Learning(ELL)*Include only Special Education students who are entitled to an Individual Education Plan (IEP).[ But this was 2014. Who knows what the Provincial Government has done with this document since last spring? One note indicated that collection is not being done this year so a Districts entry is optional. Maybe it doesn’t exist any more. Like realistic funding for students with special needs.]
“Current Collection: Class Size and Composition. The Class Organization Web Form is now open for you to review, modify, or test different classroom organizations through the remainder of the school year. There will not be another formal data collection this year, so any changes you make to the data in the web form are only for your own use or information.”
- Leonard: This would be creating work with a short time line.
- Superintendent: Would be left to Information Technology.
- Loring-Kuhanga: Resisted labelling at first as an Aboriginal person. Have seen what class size and composition language has done to improve instruction. Have talked to friends and family about this. Worried about releasing ELL and Aboriginal reports. Trustees have access to this information via the Superintendent. The information is available for Trustees. Voting against.
- Nohr: It’s important that this information be made public. Trustees will be more able to educate the public in regard to what class composition means. ”Grey area” [students with learning disabilities] students are no longer funded. This report is part of transparency. It’s data, it’s neutral, not personalized. How can we make a case for increased funding and greater understanding? This is about affirmative action.
D. District Leadership Team Reports
Approve Calendar for next year. / Carried. Unanimous.
D.2 Secretary-Treasurer’s Report
E. Question Period One question submitted:
- What data evidence do you have for closing Learning Initiatives? [Question recorded, not answer. Answer will be given to questioner later. Interesting question, as how that data would be captured is an intriguing research topic. Exactly what would the data look like and capture? How would the research be designed? NB: There was no data required for senior administration to decide to shut down the Learning Mentors part of Learning Initiatives last year in order to achieve budget savings.]
F. Public Disclosure of In Camera Items: None [There may have been a motion / motions, and there may have been a vote / votes to report out on some items, and that motion / those motions failed, or there may not have been a motion or motions to report out. If there were, any report out needs a majority vote in camera.]
G. New Business / Notice of Motions [Once more: Notice of motion is not the same thing as making a motion from the floor.]
G. 1 New Business
- Ferris: There is no reason why we should be discussing this here. It should go through OPPS. Motion to refer to OPPS in April. / Defeated. For: Ferris, Leonard, Whitaker Against: Loring-Kuhanga, McNally, Nohr, Paynter,
Leonard: Always helpful to have any motion go through Committee first.
- McNally: We prefer to not have motions from the floor, either, but tonight Trustee Leonard has made one. This is such an obviously simple and straightforward motion that it does not warrant committee examination. No one can define how the named committee types clearly differ from one another. This is a confusing and unnecessary part of the Bylaw.
- Whiteaker: Should have gone through Committee so Committee can better understand the purpose.
- Whiteaker: Would like a year with no cuts.
- Watters: Campbell River has done something similar. [More on audio file.]
- Nohr: Looking at this issue through the lens of provincial equity. Teachers took on the issue of advocacy. They lost a great deal of money, but the strike raised understanding about underfunding.
- McNally: Six other Districts that have the same anomalous language in their Board – teacher local union contract as SD61 have done this. Coquitlam is the well known example. The Coquitlam Superintendent spoke to equity as being the motivator. I support this motion, looking to the spirit of the law not the letter.This is our opportunity to do the right thing.
“This was a fairness issue that needed to be addressed,” superintendent Tom Grant said to explain the reversal of a decision to not pay teachers’ based on how monthly pay is calculated in the collective agreement…Under the collective agreement, which Ferrari said the district applied correctly, teachers are paid 20 days in a month, so subtracting seven days left them with 13 paid days. The district had sought advice from the BC Public School Employers Association, which released its press lease Monday stating teachers had been paid according to the collective agreement. However, the superintendent said on review, not paying teachers for the eighth day, seemed unfair. “This is a fairness issue for people who have done a pretty remarkable job in this district. It was the unintended consequences of an action and we would hope people would look at those unintended consequences.”
- Ferris: Teachers were wrongly dealt with. The Province didn’t come up with the money for teachers but didn’t give us the money either. This is a budget motion so this is the wrong place for it. And this is opening up the contract. Who would ask their employees to do a thing like that?
- Larsen, GVTA: In September teachers went back to work and expected to get paid. The GVTA is asking for a Letter of Understanding. How did Surrey manage to do this? How did other districts manage to do this?
- Superintendent: This is not about September 19th. Teachers were paid. There is some confusion. September 19 has not been an issue. The issue is the contract language. Teachers did work 8 days in September, but the language says “deduct for days not worked”.
- Secretary-Treasurer: There are 18 BC School Districts with similar language. The two lower island Districts close to SD61, Sooke SD62 and Saanich SD63, have not paid.
- McNally: This would be a Letter of Understanding, worded “without precedent and without prejudice”. That means it would be a one off, with no effect going forward on anything in the future. It could not be referred to for any other negotiation. And as for the Trustee’s question “Who would ask their employees to open the contract, this Board would and has. The Board – GVTA Collective Agreement has many Memos of Understanding and Letters of Understanding at the end of the document. They have resulted from just that process and those who have here at the Board for a few terms have been part of approving them. The Province recommended to Boards that they pay benefits for teachers, including this Board, though the local contract says in the event of a strike teachers will pay the full cost of their benefits. The Province itself broke the contract, and as a result of that direction, so did this Board. The BCTF and the province did not do due diligence on this issue but once again, this is our opportunity as a Board to do the right thing.
- Leonard: Agree that province and BCTF did not do due diligence. This is negotations and should not be discussed in this meeting. Payment would not be in keeping wit the language in the contract. If one group gets a bonus we should do that for all, which is what my motion [from the floor] is about.
- Whiteaker:. At first , thought teachers were short a day’s pay. But they have been paid according to the contract. This is the bargaining agents’ problem. Coquitlam has since sought assistance from the Ministry for help with balancing he budget. [Coquitlam sought payment from the Ministry at the same time they made the announcement:“The payout worth about $700,000 is being calculated as an incremental strike cost and the district will include the sum in its calculations for the Ministry of Education, to be balanced against strike savings the province has said it wants back. : ] Have a personal grievance with the BCTF as they didn’t ensure that the sign-off honoured all collective agreements.
- Watters: This is a matter of principle. BCTF and the Province messed this up but we have an opportunity to make it right.
- Loring-Kuhanga: I support the teachers and have a background in education. Was out on the picket lines with teachers. This is a fight between School Boards and government, but now it has become a fight between teachers and the School Board. Have found out that teachers were paid for the day. The 6 Districts that paid are struggling to find the money. Will we lay off teachers to to get the money to pay teachers? BCPSEA recommended that this Board pay teachers’ benefits during the strike; tat’s $600,000 that the Contract says teachers should have paid .If the is Board does this, we will be taking $420,000 away from kids.
- Nohr: Selected phrases are being used to create the belief that $420,000 out of a $200,000,000 budget will directly impact students.
Defeated. For: McNally, Nohr Against: Ferris, Leonard, Loring-Kuhanga, Paynter Whiteaker Abstain: Watters
- Nohr: Have participated in Learning Initiatives and found it valuable. Those who are asking for data –when schools did an evaluation of their needs at the beginning of the year, for example Craigflower School presented many needs, and what they got was 4/10 of a teacher. However, making a motion to refer this motion to the April 22 Budget Meeting. [ Should be “Postpone to a Certain Time”, RROR 11th Ed, pp 179-182]
- Leonard: Prefer to deal with this tonight. Could come up again if it is the only recourse to balance the budget.
- Read Jorgenson, Principals and Vice Principals: Agree with Leonard. Urge defeat of this motion.[Many school administrators were present for this motion, at least 31.]
- Paynter: Want more information.
- Motion to refer [Motion To Postpone to April 22 Budget Meeting: / Defeated. [For: Nohr, Paynter… Against: Leonard, McNally… (incomplete)]
- McNally: This District starts every year with an $8 million structural deficit. Every year it is a scramble to close the gap between what is spent and revenue that comes in. Last year the Learning Mentors function, many .1 positions in schools, was ended by a decision of senior administration, one would assume because SD61 can not afford a $1.2 million in house professional development delivery service. This Department now costs SD61 about $440,000 every year. The core business of a School District is not providing professional development for teachers. Every teacher has a 5 year or 7 year University degree and has access to the BCTF Program for Quality Teaching, the annual Tri-District Tapestry Conference, and access on a rotational basis to conferences out of town. I agree with the previous presenters, joint funds for access to education conferences is not enough, but the access is there. Yes, new teachers face a learning curve. Every person starting a new job faces that. SD61 has three expert teachers who could be delivering excellent direct instruction to students in classrooms. How could that be a bad thing?
- Smith: Sounds like Learning Initiative’s is dong the mentoring. VCPAC supports Learning Initiatives.
- Leonard: Was appalled to see this motion. Some have cried ‘transparency”. The last time this came up it was an in camera meeting.
- McNally: Point of Order, Chair – Leonard has revealed an in camera motion. There are a few in camera motions I’d like to talk about. May I? I’m assuming the answer is “no”, Chair.
- Loring-Kuhanga: No.
- Leonard: There is no reason this should be on a pre-budget agenda. [Directed to CUPE 382 President] This could be a motion to cut daytime custodians. [?] This is not an open process; won’t support this.
- Van Driesum: Talked to teachers and people in the community. Learning Initiatives supports teachers to be effective in the classroom, and supports teachers in that learning curve. Closing would be a loss to teachers and students.
- Nohr: Trying to redirect a small amount of money and talented teachers back to the classroom.
f) Leonard: That all other [apart from GVTA] SD61 employee groups be paid a bonus day’s pay. / Withdrawn. Approved by meeting.
G.2 Notice of Motion: None
H. Adjournment: Approximately 10:10 pm