2019 Sept: Ed Policy and Directions: Gifted Ed

SD61 Greater Victoria Board of Education meetings: two Standing Committees, and one Board meeting per month.

Times / dates on District Calendar under “News and Events” menu.

Related (and all)  Policies here: https://www.sd61.bc.ca/board-of-education/policiesregulations/

Agendas, minutes and videos here: https://www.sd61.bc.ca/board-of-education/meetings/

Contact Trustees at Trustees@sd61.bc.ca

SD61 Greater Victoria School District includes students in Esquimalt, Oak Bay, Victoria, View Royal, parts of Saanich and the Highlands, and the Traditional Territories of the Songhees and Esquimalt Nations.

SD61 Board of Education: Duncan (elected 2018), Leonard (1996), Ferris (1999),  Hentze (2018), McNally (2011), Painter (2018), Paynter (2014),  Watters (2014), Whiteaker (2014)

Lined Paper is  my personal record of and commentary on SD61 Board and  Standing Committee meetings, and other topics. I no longer provide debate content or complete meeting records as in previous meeting related posts, as Standing Comittee and Board meetings are now video recorded. 

Standing committee debate is where deep discussion takes place so it’s worthwhile to attend if you can. Official, approved  minutes are on the SD61 website, one  month after the meeting.

There are two Standing Committees of the Board. A motion that carries in a Committees goes forward to the Board agenda at the  of each month as a “recommended motion“, for debate and vote by all 9 trustees.  A motion  that is  defeated at a Standing Committee can still go forward if the mover wants to put the motion on the Board agenda.It’s just not “recommended” by the Committee. The committees allow for more open discussion of topics. Board meetings are formal, and there is no discussion from the public. At the Board meetings, Trustees and stakeholder groups at the table can only speak to a motion once, except the mover can open and close. Speakers on the speakers list have 5 minutes to present at Board meetings, with no further discussion.

Education  Policy & Directions Standing Committee Members: Duncan (Chair),  Ferris, McNally, Painter, Watters ex officio (vote but not counted for quorum)

Operations Policy & Planning Standing Committee Members: Hentze, Leonard, Paynter (Chair), Watters (ex officio)

Education Policy and Directions Standing Committee

Present: Committee members (with vote) Duncan (Chair), Ferris, McNally, Painter; Paynter (no vote)
Not present: Hentze, Leonard, Watters, Whiteaker

The Greater Victoria School District wishes to recognize and acknowledge the Esquimalt and Songhees Nations on whose traditional territories we live, we learn, and we do our work.
A1. Approval of the Agenda: Adopted
A2. Approval Minutes
a) Ed Policy and Directions Minutes June 3, 2019: Approved
A3. Business arising from the Minutes: None
a) George Jay Elementary / Barbara Lelj: Ongoing space issues at George Jay. Last 5 years progressive dismantling of resources at the school. Hot lunch, free bread, clothing exchange all gone. Music room was supposed to be an an itinerant space but did not happen, is a classroom. Parent room taken for a classroom, Strong Start was moved to another location off site in order to use that space for a classroom. Want 2-3 portables, reinstate lost spaces and move classes out of basement.
b) George Jay Elementary / Brianna Day: George Jay students the city’s most vulnerable learners. Parents frustrated and angry. We need support now – 2-3 portables, outdoor learning space, remedy for lost gym time. Teachers need more EA time with crowding intensifying all issues. Maker space is gone as well as the others – the school is a shell of what it was. How can we help you to return George Jay to the school it was?
c) George Jay Elementary PAC President / Angela Carmichael: “Transparency” has been very muddy. Hard not to think we are being left behind because we are a working class neighbourhood. Many issues. Responsive and safe environment? Not for George Jay kids.
d) George Jay Elementary / Alicia Power [on call physician and could not attend]

Chair Duncan suggested attending next Operations Policy and Planning Standing Committee as many of the issues expressed can be more fully explored there.

C1. Introduction of Student Representative – No Student Reps Available
C2. Parent Education Fund: Deputy Superintendent Whitten: Report on P 6 agenda. Paynter: asks for a list of events publicized on the website. McNally: Schools can combine their individual $250 grants to do bigger events.
C3. Learning Teams Survey Results:
Louise Sheffer, Director of Learning (pg. 7)

This survey was the result of a motion carried at the March 11 Board meeting: (Duncan) “That the Board of Education of School District No., 61 (Greater Victoria) direct the Superintendent to produce surveys for the purpose of gathering feedback on the District’s Learning Support Operational Plan’s goals. The purpose of the first survey will be
to gather feedback from all staff regarding Goal 1 : Provide meaningful and purposeful educational opportunities for vulnerable students with diverse needs while considering the physical, social-emotional and academic domains. The purpose of the second survey will be to gather feedback from parents and students on their experience of inclusive learning in our district. Survey participants should be invited to participate on a voluntary basis and the surveys should be conducted on an anonymous basis to exclude the collection of respondent’s personal/private information.”

Results of the limited survey questions dealt only with professional development opportunities. (P7 agenda)

  • Paynter: Intent of the motion was to understand how well we are supporting vulnerable learners. Focus of the motion was a result of what we’ve heard from parents and classroom staff. This doesn’t meet the objectives of the motion.
  • McNally: Disappointed with the narrowness of the focus of survey questions on only pro-d.
  • Duncan: Good to know what pro-d teachers and parents want. But when I brought this motion forward I hoped to find out how we are doing with learning environments and supports for students, to know where we need to focus resources as we develop the new strategic plan and budget development. Have heard a lot from parents [and teachers and EAs] about gaps in service and hoped this survey would help focus resource allocation. Want further discussion on how to survey staff for that kind of information.
  • Superintendent: Trustees could inform staff. [Most senior staff have been present for the classroom staff and parent presentations over at least two years.] There is a forum on services to students coming up, date TBA.
  • Jane Massy, President CUPE 947: “Topics of conversation” won’t help SD61 Education Assistants . We’d be happy to help you form a survey . It’s money we need, from the Board or Province.
  • Kristil Hammer, DPAC:Will the questions be coming to the Board in advance? Because there was clearly a disconnect between the Board’s intent and staff on the last part.
  • Duncan: Stakeholders should be able to contribute to the development of the questions.
  • Day (George Jay parent): Son has sensory processing issues and no EA hours allotted. Could be flight risk; safety issues because no EA.
  • Jody Whiteman, DPAC Chair: Any news from Ministry re funding formula?
  • Superintendent: Not yet. Ongoing review of submissions.

C4. Gifted Education – McNally (Policies PP 8-10 agenda )
Board direct Superintendent to provide a report to the Board in February 2020 that provides: 1. Information regarding provision of targeted gifted education in SD61 over the last two years [really should have been last 15 years] 2. Information explaining the current and any proposed service delivery model / models of service under consideration for the 2019-2020 school year and forward for students designated “gifted” in SD61 in order that the Board may consider how best to allocate resources to serve the vulnerable gifted student population, before a service model that differs from the current practice is put in place.

  • McNally: Chair, I request permission of the meeting to withdraw this motion and to speak briefly to my reasons for withdrawing. On April 24, 2017 a motion carried that directed the Superintendent to provide a report to Ed Policy on current practices and future directions for supporting gifted learners. [McNally: That the Board of Education of School District No. 61 (Greater Victoria) direct the Superintendent to provide a report to the Education Policy and Directions Standing Committee on current practices and future directions for supporting gifted learners in our district, and recommendations for updating Policy 6142.05 Education of Students or Learners With Gifted Abilities accordingly. ] I have been unable to find that report, but am told that meeting / tracking software will be helping with the existing problems  with finding staff reports. As a tangent, the sd61 website does have a “reports” sub menu but there is not much to be found there. So, once I have that report and the public has it also, there will be no need for this motion. As well, the motion recommended a review and update of Policy 6142.05 Education of Students or Learners with Gifted Abilities. I’m not sure how students and learners differ, but that’s not the main issue with the Policy – the main issue is  that this policy originated in 1987 and was last updated in 1992. There is no directly connected Regulation. The Policy Advisory Committee is on overload with policies that were not updated in a timely manner for a very long time, as for a significant period of time previous Boards believed that Policy was not the purview of Trustees. The Policy Committee (current trustee members Paynter and McNally ) is also working on creating vital policies that have never existed in SD61, so the committee has not got to this task. Associated with that Policy is Regulation 2123.026 Coordinator of School Services Special Needs which was also created in 1987 and was last updated in 1995. So, before any motion regarding gifted students comes to the table, I suggest that the policy and regulation need review first, and in the social justice spirit of “nothing about us without us”, at that time VCPAC could be involved along with students in the existing Challenge programs at Mt Doug and Esquimalt. Requesting permission to withdraw the motion. / Approved by Standing Committee members.
  • Barbara Lelj, parent, George Jay: My child is gifted, was reading Harry Potter in kindergarten, is in a 4/5 split with some children who can’t red chapter books yet, and all she gets is more work. It’s unsatisfactory. Need support for gifted children in Grade One, not wait until high school!
  • Deputy Superintendent Whitten: Designations for Gifted occur in Grade 4 or 5. SD61 did have a gifted ed coordinator Mitch Barnes [who retired last June], and .1 person at each elementary and middle school; have tried, and are looking at how best to support these students. Otis Lennon assessment. Does that actually define “gifted”? We may change that.
  • Parent: The “funding” is now lumped in with all funding so Trustees and the District decide where it goes. How was it decided how it was dispersed? How wold we advocate for a gifted program in every school? Is there a person responsible for gifted ed in SD61?
  • Deputy Superintendent Whitten: Yes.
  • McNally: Who is that person?
  • DS Whitten: Sean McCartney.
  • B Lelj: What you say is happening for gifted kids is not happening for gifted kids. One teacher who takes the kids for 2 hours a week doesn’t serve. Every classroom teacher should know how to teach gifted kids.
  • Superintendent: This is where advvocacy is going. We hae a lot of work to do.

Former Vancouver school board chairwoman Patti Bacchus said the drop in the number of gifted students is related to delays with assessments for another group, special needs students, and the fact that gifted students do not receive any additional funding once they are identified.

Mission The Gifted Children’s Association of British Columbia is a collaborative community, connecting to support the gifted. Vision
Our vision is that the diversity of giftedness is recognized, valued and supported. We invite you to become more involved in learning about students with high potential and in participating in the growth and effectiveness of this provincial organization that exists to support families and the full range of diversity of gifted children.

Editorial statement: Beware of the prevalence model of funding that is almost certainly going to be imposed on BC School Districts. The non-existent funding for gifted kids and all children with special needs for support will be even harder to track.

D. Notice of Motion: [Motions intended for a future agenda]: None

E. General Announcements: None

F. Adjournment: 8:10 pm

About Diane McNally