Nov 14/17: Operations Policy & Planning: Issues in Funding Public Education

Operations Policy&Planning Standing Committee 
Members: McNally (elected 2011), Leonard (1996), Paynter (2014), Watters (2014); Board Chair Loring-Kuhanga (2011) (ex officio (vote but not counted for quorum)
Present:  Leonard,  McNally, Nohr (2011),  Paynter, Watters, Whiteaker (2014)
Absent:  Ferris (1999), Loring-Kuhanga, Orcherton (1999)


Territory Acknowledgement900

Agenda here. 

Dialogue with the public is welcome during Standing Committee Meetings.

2. Approval of OPP minutes Sept/18/17:  Approved;  SD61 minutes here; Lined Paper record  here.
3. Business Arising from the minutes: None
4. Presentations to the Committee:
A. Anomura Housing Society unable to attend
B. Emergency PreparednessGreg Kitchen (Associate Superintendent) and Marketa Lund (SD61 DPAC / VCCPAC): Update report pp 9-10 agenda. School emergency Preparedness Guide here.      REMP, REPAC, and EMBC linked to preparedness. Looking to District wide child – family member reunification drill. Lund and SD61 are leading the province.

  • McNally: In news reports, people usually try to save their pets in a disaster. Regulation 6163.6 Animals in Schools has no associated Policy, and does not envision care for “classroom pets” in fire , earthquake or other disaster. What are we teaching our children? We are teaching them that animals are disposable and can stay behind and die, as no one is tasked with getting them out. They are in aquariums or heavy cages generally. When doing disaster planning, consider promoting a ‘no classroom pets” policy. 

(October 2016) Lund says relying on parents and PACs to purchase and maintain school emergency supplies does not reflect plans to use school buildings as municipal reception centres for other displaced people following a major disaster. For that reason, she says, the federal and provincial governments should allocate funding for disaster response in addition to seismic upgrades to the buildings. 

5. Superintendent’s Report:
A.  Superintendent introduced Student Rep   Nicole Quast, Oak Bay High School.
B. Greater Victoria Foundation for Learning:  pp 11-29 agenda (SD61 Foundation set up many years ago but inactive for decades; re-filed as a Society January 6, 2017).

A couple of aphorisms may apply to this Operations meeting’s Foundation meeting item:

  1. The good may be the enemy of the best, meaning that  attempts to improve something may actually make it worse.
  2. And try to not visualize the popular “hold their feet to the fire” metaphor, just go with it. Is establishing a Foundation with private funders to fund public education holding the Ministry of Education and the Provincial government’s feet to the fire, or inviting them to  kick back and roast vegan marshmallows while the Foundation’s staff (if it is large and wealthy enough to have its own staff and not utilize District staff) organizes and  holds golf tournaments and  solicits contributions from corporations and individual philanthropists?

And then. Districts and teachers have to apply to the Board of the Foundation for disbursement. Who decides if the application has merit or not, and using what criteria?

Discussion below, after “Adjournment” at #13.

C. Equity Committee:  update p 30 agenda

The Committee recognizes that emergency response materials are not funded by the Ministry of Education, as such the Committee recommends the following:

  • That the Board support standardizing emergency response materials across the district, so that each school is afforded the same level of emergency preparedness.
  • That the Board utilize the Foundation as a viable mechanism for improving equity across the district, especially as it relates to emergency preparedness.
  • That the Board advocate that the government fully fund emergency response materials in schools.

D. Correspondence Protocol: Has been standardized with a three day turnaround. Email addressed to “” will actually go to Trustees, as I proposed  a couple of years ago – no uptake then – instead of going to the email of the Superintendent’s Executive Assistant who has decided whether to send it on or not, whether spam, etc.

E. Public Engagement Plan: Met 15 times; Trustees Orcherton, McNally; Superintendent; Communications officer Lisa McPhail,  Communications Consultant Katie Hamilton, informed by parent input and focus groups. Plan will come to the Board for approval November 27.  120,000 hits a month on SD61 website.

6. Personnel Items
7. Finance and Legal Affairs:
. Tillicum Library Naming Request: That the Board approve naming the library at Tillicum elementary School “The Lori Burley Learning Commons”. / Carried. Unanimous. ( McNally had to leave the meeting for half an hour to deal with a family emergency so could  not vote. Leonard, Paynter, Watters in favour.)

B. Policy and Regulation 3170 “Board Reserves”That the Board approve creation of the Policy and accept the associated Regulation.(pp35-37 agenda)

  • Secretary-Treasurer: Have always had a prudent reserve at the District level.
  • Paynter: Motion to refer [postpone to a definite time ie postpone to December; Board refers to committees for further study; this is a Committee] to December OPP. / For: Paynter  Against: Leonard, McNally, Watters
  • Leonard: How long will a school be able to maintain a higher than $10,000 reserve balance? / Secretary-Treasurer: Length of time for approved school project to be completed. / Leonard: District reserve fund should be a line item and part of financial statement. / Agreement.
  • Recommended [by senior administration] motion: That the Board approve Policy 3170 Board Reserves and accept Regulation 3170 Board Reserves for information. / Carried. For: Leonard, McNally, Watters  Against: Paynter

C. Audit Committee TOR: [Paynter has asked for an Audit Committee for at least two years.] Secretary-Treasurer: Will provide a fresh look  at financials and report to OPP; an operational review considering the strategic plan , spending, outcomes.

  • Recommended [by senior administration] motion: That the Board approve the Audit Committee TOR. [pp41-42 agenda] / Carried. Unanimous

D. Policy Subcommittee Report:  [Changes to Bylaw 9210 “Development of Policy” in red, p 47 agenda online.]

Recommended [by senior administration]:  That the Board agree to give all 3 readings to Bylaw 9210 “The Development of Policy”. / 3 readings. / Carried. Unanimous.

8. Facilities Planning
9. Public Disclosure of  Camera Items: None (No in camera meeting)
10. New Business:
A. Trustee Questions [for the Superintendent]: None / will go to email
B. Watters: That the Board dissolve the Needs Budget Committee. / Carried. Unanimous.
C. Watters: That the Board establish an Advocacy Ad Hoc Committee to develop effective advocacy plans in partnership with or stakeholders./ Carried. Unanimous. [TOR provided by Watters for discussion purposes; will come back after revision.]
11. Notices of Motion: None
12. General Announcements: None
13. Adjournment: 10 ish

The Greater Victoria Foundation For Learning 

  • Whiteaker: Many public goods depend on Foundation. Community Living is just one example, with their own Foundation.  Going forward with this, the Bylaws [pp 13-29 agenda] need a complete rewrite – incomprehensible legalese and unreadable. Current members now need to hold an AGM and rewrite the Bylaws. This needs to be an arm’s length Foundation.
  • Leonard: Was a Director with  original group. Bylaws modeled on the Vancouver School District Foundation [now dissolved – below]. Board composition changed after an election and it never got started. Was to be an arm’s length entity the SD61 Board does not have control over.Envisioned golf tournaments, fundraisers. People don’t want to contribute to SD61 as a charity.

Maybe because they don’t know the charity exists?

Vancouver Public Schools Foundation board votes to dissolve foundation

Vancouver, B.C. (June 29, 2009) — Last month, the Vancouver Public Schools Foundation’s board voted to dissolve the foundation effective June 30, 2009 and move responsibility for the accounts to the Vancouver School Board. The Vancouver School Board is known for its primary role of supporting students and providing a world-class learning environment. School district staff can provide similar direction and support to VPSF objectives and donations. Donors will still be able to support public education through tax-deductable donations to the Vancouver School Board. Cheques may be made payable to Vancouver Public Schools Foundation until June 30, 2009. Beyond then, cheques should be made payable to the Vancouver School Board. VPSF donors have helped fund: CICB Wood Gundy Caring For Kids Hot Meals Programs, InnerCity Hot Breakfast Programs; Student Emergency; Tzu Chi Buddhist Relief; Dream Big Productions; Early/Intermediate Literacy; Kidsafe; Nightingale Organic Garden; and the Scientist in Residence Program. For information about donating to the Vancouver public schools, please contact the Vancouver School Board department that best suits your needs.

  • Secretary-Treasurer: This Foundation for Learning Constitution is currently in place. Kept it to keep the Foundation alive.
  • Superintendent: Would like approval in principle before taking it away to work on it.
  • Leonard: Moved: Support in principle of reinvigoration of Foundation with direction to Superintendent to bring forward revised Consitti and Bylaws at a later date.  / Carried. For: Leonard, Paynter, Watters Against: McNally  // Pre-vote debate below:
  • Carolyn Howe, GVTA (2nd VP/ H&S Officer): As a teacher would advise against this. Involved in fundraising for another organization [possibly Ensemble Laude, award winning women’s choir] and it becomes a large endeavor. A golf tournament for example is a big deal to do. Focus on how best to use the funds we have. We now have a government we can work with rather than trying to generate funds in another way.
  • Paynter: Will always be things we want to explore that don’t fit into funding, eg more equipment for shops or emergency preparedness. A Foundation provides opportunities for teachers to do more things.
  • McNally: Teachers and the Board will have to apply and meet criteria. Who will define and choose what gets funded and what doesn’t? Are we moving  toward funding public education with golf tournaments?  School District 61 already has status as a charity. You can send in money any time. So do individual schools, which is problematic in the context of equity. This Foundation proposal demands an examination of expedience vs principle.
  • Watters: Supporting the motion. Community involvement and equity have to be written into the TOR.

How to start a Foundation here. Under the Income Tax Act, a registered foundation may make grants or gifts only to qualified donees [SD61 is one] , including:

  • Registered charities
  • Registered Canadian amateur athletic associations
  • Registered national arts service organizations
  • Housing corporations resident in Canada constituted exclusively to provide low-cost housing for the elderly
  • The United Nations and its agencies
  • Universities outside Canada listed in schedule VIII of the Income Tax Act Regulations
  • Charities outside Canada to which Her Majesty in right of Canada (the Federal Government) has made a gift during the last 12 months
  • Municipalities in Canada
  • The Federal Government, Provincial Government, or their agents

SD61’s Bylaw 9111 “Charitable Trust Fund” was originally set up in 1985 and was not revised until November 15, 2010. 

SD61’s Policy 3451 “Donations to Schools” , approved in May 1985 and never reviewed, encourages donations to individual schools (think about how this affects the equity we strive for) , while admitting that

The Board believes that an adequate level of funding should be provided from tax revenues to ensure that an appropriate educational program is available to all students based on their needs. Notwithstanding that belief, the Board recognizes the present lack of funding and the desirability of enhancing education to whatever extent is possible.  To this end, the Board encourages donations to the District by parents and other interested parties.  Unless otherwise directed by the donor, donations will be used to provide equipment facilities or services which are additional to these provided from taxation sources. It is contemplated that the District may establish a Charitable Trust under its control [it has – see above] , in which event donors are to be encouraged to make contributions to that Trust rather than to independent trusts, or societies.  The District will obtain a charitable status under the Income Tax Act and will issue tax receipts for all donations wherever legally permitted.

The current proposal to reinvigorate the Foundation (5.B ii here) sees the Associate Superintendent of Partnerships and Pathways as administering the Foundation and supporting the Directors. The Directors are currently Trustees Elaine Leonard and Tom Ferris. Formerly the Directors were the Superintendent, Secretary-Treasurer, director of International Education.

Some other School Districts in BC do use Foundation funding for a variety of purposes- the easy to find ones below.

  1. Abbotsford SD34:  The Directors of the Foundation would now be elected by the members (who are the Directors). … In 2002 the name was revised to Abbotsford Community Foundation”. … The Abbotsford Community Foundation has experienced steady asset growth over the years.  This has come about through the generous giving of a number of people in the community plus the establishment of several special funds by other not for profit groups and special interest organizations within the area.  ACF’s current endowment is well over $10 million and from 1980 to 2016 has distributed over $9 million in grants and student awards.  The Abbotsford Community Foundation through the generosity of its donors provides grants to local charities through its Community Fund and scholarships to graduating Abbotsford high school students.
  2. Langley SD35:  The Langley School District Foundation was established to support and provide programs of excellence, not funded or fully funded by the Ministry of Education. Although the Foundation is independent of the Langley School District, its sole purpose is to support Langley students. Mission: To make learning UNFORGETTABLE for every Langley student. With the support of the community and our partners in the public and private sectors, we are committed to enhancing and enriching our educational programs to ensure that every Langley student receives the best education possible. Our job is to generate resources – donations, sponsorships, partnerships, expertise and volunteers – That will support initiatives and programs for Langley School District students.
  3. Nanaimo-Ladysmith SD68 : Nanaimo-Ladysmith Schools Foundation  first started as the Nanaimo Schools Financial Award Society in 1982 and is a registered, community-based charity that helps students-in-need, supports enhanced learning initiatives at Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools, and solicits  scholarships & bursaries  to assist graduating high school students with the high cost of post-secondary education. Nanaimo-Ladysmith Schools Foundation is a registered charity directed by a Board of community volunteers who raise funds. All donations are managed in the Foundation’s own bank and investment accounts. A professional accountant serves as Treasurer and oversees financial activity and annual reporting. NLSF has a license (#1101488) to operate a 50/50 Draw Payroll Contribution program. Half the draw will be given to the lucky recipient; the other half will benefit the Financial Awards program of scholarships & bursaries for graduating students. In 2017, Lotto 68 provided $9,000 in scholarships. Our generous donors help purchase musical instruments when district budgets are extremely tight.  Since 2009, NLSF has distributed $36,500 for instruments at 16 elementary schools.
  4. Cowichan Valley School District 79:  The Inspiration Foundation has been established to help fund projects initiated by members of the education community of School District No. 79 (Cowichan Valley).The Foundation had an initial funding of $250,000 to be expended over five years. A second former school district graduate has come forward with another $60,000 to provide for expanded educational opportunities in SD79. Initially, the money supported projects at the secondary level, but this has been expanded to include middle schools as well. The purpose of the Student Inspiration Foundation is to provide funding for new initiatives that have the potential to improve student achievement and/or motivate and inspire students to explore possibilities beyond their present experience. It is also intended to foster change by allowing individual teachers, groups of teachers and even entire staffs to explore new initiatives which, hopefully, will be of long term benefit for students in School District No. 79.
  5. Mission School District 75:   Information about the Mission Community Foundation’s Scholarships and Bursaries can be obtained by going to their website at

There has been a variety of crowdfunding  campaigns in BC School Districts. Torquay School   located in Gordon Head      won $100,00 for a new playground in a BC Automobile Association online vote. Chevron Fuel My School has generated controversy. Also associated with Chevron is  MyClassNeeds Foundation (MCN)  “… a registered Canadian charity that helps connect deserving K-12 classroom projects with interested donors through a crowdfunding website.” “… only principals and teachers were informed Chevron was the funder.”

MCN looks popular. Who decides what “worthy” is? Aren’t taxes the way we “crowdfund” public goods? Reallocation at the provincial level  is always a possibility, and a scarcity mentality is never the complete reality.


About Diane McNally