Education Policy and Directions April 4, 2016
Not in attendance: Leonard, Loring-Kuhanga
Agenda approved with no additions. Education Policy and Directions Committee meeting Minutes of March 7 approved. No Business Arising from the minutes. No Presentations to the Committee.
5. New Business
A. Superintendent Langstraat introduced student representative for April, Rebecca Hansen, student at Reynolds Secondary School.
B. Transfer Process: Superintendent, along with Simon Burgers, District Principal – Languages and Multiculturalism, explained the current transfer process and numbers, along with historical numbers for transfers, and the need for examination of the process going forward as numbers of transfer requests have increased.
- Superintendent: Looking for a recommended action from the Board at the end of this discussion. Much pressure re transfer process this spring, especially in regard to Oak Bay.Held meeting with Principals in February to try to work out a fair process for community.
- Burgers: Document re Oak Bay can be a guide for conversation. In the past, requests for transfers typically about 71. This year 152 requests for transfers, many to Oak Bay. Choice issues; often it’s the school that people want to choose. Focus on French Immersion but not a French Immersion issue. French immersion at Oak Bay is highlighting an issue that needs examination District-wide.
- Whiteaker: School sports needs examination also. Appreciate choice; some students are a bitter fit for a one school than another school.
- Superintendent: May refer some of this to the Policy Subcommittee. Want healthy French Immersion programs across the District in all our schools so have to balance the programs.
- Orcherton: Are various reasons why parents want the school they want. This is the downside of “choice”. McNally will appreciate that. Oak Bay is a new building with Bowker Creek convenient. At one time Sir James Douglas was 70% French Immersion, when the District did not want to go past 50% in a school. Board recently approved French Immersion at George Jay to try to rectify this as many George Jay students were transferring to SJD for French Immersion.
- Superintendent: Increasing enrolment requires attention and planning from Facilities over the next decade. Over the next few years will face this problem. Recommend that issue be referred to the Policy Subcommittee.
- Whiteaker: That the Board refer the matter of student transfers to the Policy Subcommittee / Carried. Unanimous
C. BAA Courses: Associate Superintendent Whitten led discussion on Board Authority Authorized courses in reference to the document on page 9 of the agenda. Recently SD61 listed 155 BAA courses at various high schools throughout the District. At this point there are 141 active BAA courses. Will request IT department to report on 30 BAA courses that appear to be defunct, next year and if no enrolment for 2 years will delete them. A new Speech and Debate BAA course is contemplated for the coming year.
- Watters: Equity of access is a concern. We need to communicate to all students that the course exists and then be sure interested students can actually attend. How many students from other schools typically attend BAA courses at a high school?
- Whitten: Do not have that information but there has been discussion about aligning timetables so students can attend their neighbourhood catchment school for part of the day and the BAA course school for the other part of the day.
- McNally: What is the lowest number of students to run a BAA course?
- Dave Thompson, Principal, Oak Bay High School: Usually 18 to 22. Leadership BAA courses run in every school and are significantly larger.
D. Ad Hoc Partnership Committee: Recommended Motion: That the Board approve Policy 1325 “Partnership” and attachment. / Carried. For: Ferris, McNally, Nohr, Orcherton, Watters Whiteaker Against: Paynter
Associate Superintendent Whitten led discussion on the revised draft policy 1325 partnership, included pp 11-14 of agenda.
- Whiteaker: At fifth point page 11 add “and District staff”. School-based project committees need to know they cannot go ahead with plans for large projects without involving senior administration at the district level. / Consensus .
- Whiteaker: Definition of “exploited” in the attachment is unsatisfactory; want to see more robust description. [Extensive discussion at the Partnership Ad Hoc Committee addressed this definition; will be interesting to see what develops in further discussion.]
- Paynter: not comfortable supporting this motion without knowing exactly what the regulations will be.
- McNally: It has been made clear to Trustees and is in Bylaw 9220, that Regulation development is the purview of senior administration. Even so, a regulation that needs review and revision can be, and has been in the past, sent back for further work to senior administration.
a) McNally: That the Board direct the Superintendent to a) report on District support in place, if any, for students who no longer have youth bus passes as a result of government action and who use public transportation to get to any Academy or BAA course, including the new Aviation course at Mt Doug, b) report the number of students who need this support to access District and c) effects if any on attendance at programs, particularly the SJ Willis Alternative program. / Withdrawn.
- McNally: Problematic that District runs courses at various locations, and some students may not have vehicles to get to the course they want, and now transit process are even more of a barrier. Board needs to subsidize students with bus passes, or at least write a letter to demand reversal of this policy.
- Ted Godwin (Central Middle School PAC Chair): Youth bus pass has not changed. [Appears that as of April 1, the multi-month discounted Youth Pass option has been eliminated. ] Ticket prices have changed , making field trips very expensive.
- McNally: With Board’s permission I will withdraw this motion and craft a better worded motion for a future meeting as it is apparent I have confused the Province’s clawback of subsidized bus passes for persons with disabilities with Victoria transit’s decision regarding transit fare structures in our region./ Accepted. Withdrawn.
- Rebecca Hansen: Even though this motion has been withdrawn it brings attention to an issue that impacts students deeply. Many students find transit costs and related issues very problematic. [Approached Hansen after the meeting asking her to craft a motion which I, or any Trustee would be happy to put on the table.]
b) McNally: That the Board of Education direct the Superintendent to report to the board on the number of mental health initiatives and providers in schools in SD61, including
a) a list of all single program (one-off) presentations to students in SD61 schools by school and by presenter for 2014-15 and 2015-16
b) a list of ongoing provision of “mental health” service to students contracted by SD61 in entirety or as a partnership, including social workers consulting to schools (if any), number of counsellors at schools and numbers of that group who do mental health counselling for students, psychiatric nurses visiting schools (if any)
c) background information on funding for all the above
d) stated objectives of any program or service above
e) how efficacy of change in students from mental illness to mental health is measured,
f) the District’s accepted definition of mental illness
g) the District’s accepted definition of mental health . / Defeated. For: McNally Against: Ferris, Nohr, Orcherton, Paynter, Watters, Whiteaker
- McNally: This is too important an issue to have one-off presentations at various schools. There is a province-wide bandwagon effect regarding student mental health initiatives, and the providers need more scrutiny from the District. Some may be funded by Big Pharma companies with an interest in medication as “the answer”. (Not anti-medication; have seen it help some, and have seen it make life hell for some people.) How will we know when we “get there” if we don’t define where we want to go? What is “mental health”? Is the an “expert definition” that the District accepts? How will we know if any of the interventions approved at school and / or District level are effective?
- Orcherton: The information can be pulled together from schools can it not? That is this motion asking the Board to define mental illness and mental health?
- McNally: Over the course of the long Wi-Fi debate the board looked to the opinions of various experts on the matter of Wi-Fi’s safety particularly as it might affect young children indicated five schools. Many definitions of mental health and mental illness out there and the board needs to determine which one it will follow.
- Watters: What do students want and what do they want us to give them? Operational plan has to address what students need.
- Whiteaker: Involved with mental health and education provincially. Looking at mental wellness and mental health. Operational plan needs to be student focussed and will support that.
- Nohr: Can’t support the motion. The strategic plan is poised to be operationalized. This is a large area; wait and give administration the time to address it.
- Paynter: On the fence with this. Concerned with one-off programs and variability in program delivery amongst schools. Needs to fit n to a larger strategy and District-wide availability
- Superintendent: Agreed service should not be willy-nilly, and must have equitable access. What is the best process to get at this information? The operational plans attached to the goal addressing the needs of vulnerable students in the new strategic plan will bring this information forward.
c) McNally: That the Board of Education of School District No. 61 (Greater Victoria) request that the Superintendent call for a report to the Board on, a) Reading Recovery enrolment in SD61 and in the South Island Consortium, and b) achievement in SD61 as well as any pertinent date provision from the South Island Consortium Reading Recovery Teacher Leader. / Carried. Unanimous.
- McNally: The Board has never had an in-depth report from the Consortium Teacher Leader. The last presentation to the Board regarding Reading Recovery mixed Reading Recovery in with the Read Society’s “Noisy Kids Reading Club”, implying that Reading Recovery is just a nice thing kids can do to boost their reading. That is not the case. Having taught at the Read Society, and having taught Reading Recovery for 10 years, I’m aware of the very significant differences. Reading Recovery is an expensive intervention as it gives struggling children in Grade 1 up to 12 weeks of individual attention for half-hour of intensive personalized instruction daily, but it is very accountable data driven teaching. As this is budget season it will be useful for the Board to have this information. Support of Reading Recovery from the SD61 Board over many years has been commendable.
- Superintendent: In support of this motion. Planning a schedule for annual reports that will come forward to the Board and will present that before the school year ends. That will do away with the need for requests for reports on a one-off basis.
- Orcherton: Have experienced positive impact of Reading Recovery in our family.
- Godwin: Have seen positive results in our family as well.
6. Notices of Motion:
a) Watters: That the Board write a letter inviting all partner groups to participate with the District GSA in the Victoria Pride Parade.
No General Announcements. Meeting adjourned at 8:55 pm.