Re-Elect Diane McNally SD61 Board of Education Trustee: Campaign Statement

 

I’m pleased to be endorsed as a candidate by the Victoria Labour Council as I seek a third term on the SD61 Board of Education!

The K-12 public education landscape in SD61 today is complex with many factors and issues to consider. I’d like to hear what you see as priorities. Contact me at McnallyTrustee@gmail.com, Facebook at Diane McNally SD61 Greater Victoria School Trustee, and Twitter at @McNallySD61BC.

I have published a record of every motion, carried or defeated, with highlights of debate and links to important background information here since 2012. I will continue to provide this accountability.

In my first term I achieved an important accountability change: I established recording of Trustee votes at Board and Standing committee meetings in minutes so voters can determine if Trustee votes align with their stated values and with those of voters.

My motion in my first term to bring a Student Trustee to the table resulted in student presence and engagement in debate on policy and other discussions at Standing Committee and Board meetings. We owe our students that. I intend to work to provide much more opportunity for students to tell Trustees what they think, and what their priorities are. Recent dialogues with students make it clear that mental health and access to counseling support in schools is a priority for students.

I have insisted on adherence to Robert’s Rules for clear, civil and accountable process. I ensured that Trustees can challenge a Chair’s ruling and have that ruling reviewed in the meeting before debate proceeds.  Clear process is now established in Board culture.

Recently, my motion resulted in the development of  the first (draft) of a SD61 Animals in Classrooms Policy, emphasizing empathy and compassion as critical learnings for students.

My election issues

  • I hope to work to contribute to  Indigenous student graduation rates and success by supporting actions the Nations and off reserve families  want to see that will positively impact students off and on reserve.  The Truth and Reconciliation Commission  brought forward 94 Calls to Action. The BC Ministry of Education has made some progress, outlined in a short report.
  • I continue to advocate for an actual completely provincially funded  free no fee universally accessible public education. I expect more than just “adequate” funding of public education, the public good that shapes our future. Private funding through a Foundation (the recently revitalized Greater Victoria Foundation for Learning,  recommended by senior staff and supported by Board majority vote) may seem appealing and is certainly expedient, but growing dependent on private funders is clearly a danger. School District 61 is already a registered charity, and Policies allow donations to the District and to individual schools, the latter obviously in opposition to the overarching principle of equity that is prominent in School District 61’s strategic plan. For public education in British Columbia to be considered a charity is not good enough for a Province and District that values its children and youth.
  • Past and present Boards of School District 61 have supported creation of and maintenance of competitive entry sports Academies, each with a $1000 fee per student for entry. Every middle school and secondary school has excellent sports programs taught by accredited teachers. Academies are a soft slide to privatization – the coaches are often private contractors, paid by your education taxes.
  • The new funding formula that the Ministry will present this winter may or may not be a wonderful thing for students with special needs (now “diverse learners”) and their parents. Services for children with exceptional needs for support and the staffing levels that will ensure this will need close watching and advocacy at the Board level, along with an expectation of visible accountability measures for student outcomes. This is a significant equity issue and as a former teacher of students with special needs for support, this issue commands my attention.
  • Students designated “gifted and talented” continue to have special education class options in competitive entry district Challenge programs.  Challenge program students are articulate about why they value this separate special education program that meets their needs. Listening to students and parents tell us what is truly the most enabling environment for students will be critical as the District moves forward with implementing the District Strategic Plan. I think it’s safe to say that no one asked the students with “low incidence labels” what they thought about the collapse of their District programs.
  • Budget decisions that address requirements for staffing levels as a result of the BCTF court case win will need close attention as staffing level issues remain for teachers and education assistants. I support decisions that bring more work in house, that move to end contracting out of CUPE 382 (Facilities) workers, and that bring all EAs up to 30 hours a week.
  • As Trustees we clearly need to improve our outreach to parents. I intend to find ways to provide many more opportunities for mutual dialogue. How can I help you navigate “the system”?
  • What part should Boards of Education play in Early Childhood Education staffing and programming, and provision of space? I believe Board involvement and provision of space, with appropriate  funding from the Province, is essential. 
  • Strengthening community non profit partnerships  can improve student access to learning opportunities in their community, including  opportunities in the Arts.
  • Extending and deepening municipal partnerships and communication is essential and underway. Complicated land issues exist.
  • Community schools are an idea whose time has come again.  The concept needs to be re-examined, revitalized and revived.
  • It’s clear that evidence based substance use education is needed in high schools and middle schools, and perhaps in earlier grades. Increased coordination among the Lower Island Districts is critical as is provision of information and support for parents.

I offer you a thoughtful approach to decision making about public education and student opportunities for success that is characterized by critical thinking and deep analysis of issues, integrity, independence, and caring. I have lived a lifetime commitment to public education, as a student in public schools in Canada , Japan, and all over the US, and then beginning my 34 + year career in education at age 18 in Alberta after two years at U of A Edmonton.  I have been proud to be a member during that career of the ATA, CUPE, GVTA/ BCTF.

Committee / Community Work:

  • BCSTA Bylaw Revision Committee
  • SD61 Public Engagement Committee
  • SD61 Advocacy Committee
  • SD61 Board representative to the CRD Board
  • SD61 Board representative to the Our Place Therapeutic Recovery View Royal Community Advisory Committee
  • SD61 appointee to Saanich Committees
  • Citizen participant in community harm reduction organizations
  • Member of Moms Stop The Harm
  • Strata council president 10 years
  • Orca Network volunteer outreach
  • BCSPCA Wild ARC Council 3 years (former)
  • BC SPCA Victoria Branch Community Council Chair 3 years (former)
  • Early Music Society of the Islands Board member (former)
  • GVTA Executive (Contract Chair, 1st VP) (former)
  • GVTA Staff rep in schools (12 years) (former)
  • President, Local Specialists Association, Special Education (former)
  • Sooke Regional Museum, volunteer

Education / Experience:

  • B.Ed, MBA, Diploma French Language and Literature
  • Naturalist Diploma, Whale Museum
  • Teacher 22 years SD61, 2 years Alberta, EA 10 years SD62, TTOC SD61, 62, 63

 

 

 

 

 

About Diane McNally