Nov 9/20 Operations Standing Committee: They Wanted To Change the General Meeting of the Board Bylaw – I Said No, No, No

Apology to the great Amy Winehouse (1983-2011).

Nov 9/20 Operations Policy and Planning Standing Committee agenda here. Click on the date of the meeting and choose PDF. All reports are not incuded in the HTML version. And sometimes not in the PDF version either, hence this motion below coming to OPPS in December (I could not be at the Nov 9 meeting to put this motion on the floor):

Office of
Trustee Diane McNally

To: Operations Policy and Planning Standing Committee
From: Trustee Diane McNally
Re: Report Menu and Submenus SD61 Website, OPPS Agenda Nov 9/20
Date: November 2, 2020

Trustees, parents, and other partners / stakeholders spend a frustrating amount of time searching through agendas and minutes, even when using the “search” function,  to find specific information reports and updates from the District Team, Facilities , Senior Administration, and other staff who present reports to the Board. There is a “Reports” menu under “Our District” high level menu, but very few reports are filed there.

A submenu repository for all reports made to the Board or Standing Committees would not create additional work for staff once the menus are set up by IT, while significantly simplifying the work of Trustees, as well as  creating additional transparency and ease of access to critical information  for partners and stakeholders. Student Representatives, who are already busy, will be able to find information that affects their learning, an aspect of student engagement particularly applicable at the secondary level. All reports from staff are critical information and should be easily and quickly available online.

Alignment With Strategic Plan

  • Aligns with Core Value “Transparency”: “Accountable for decisions we make and how we make them”
  • Aligns with Core Value “Engagement”: “We work to actively engage students in their education and make them feel more connected to their learning”
  • Aligns with Core Value “Partnerships” : “Open and respectful partnerships”

McNally: That the Board of Education SD61 Greater Victoria direct the Superintendent to direct the Information Technology Department to set up submenus under the “Our District” menu, between “Provincial School Act” and “Trustee Elections”, and
Further, that the Superintendent  develop a protocol by the end of November 2020 with staff that will ensure all public reports are placed in the appropriate file, following approval / receipt by the Board, the day after the meeting that approves / receives the report

The SD61 Policy Advisory Committee [Trustee members appointed by the Board Chair for a limited period – now, Trustees Leonard and Board Chair Watters, along with the Superintendent, Secretary-Treasurer and other staff as required] has proposed changes to the General Meeting Bylaw, below. So far two Operations Policy and Planning meetings have discussed it. It has been sent back each time to the Committee for changes. “The Policy Sub-Committee will consult with educational and community partners as deemed appropriate with reference to Policy 1163 Consultation.

Bylaws of a BC School Board : section 68 of the School Act.

Red = new proposal
Purple =my comments

  1. The Board of Education of School District 61 shall meet in general session will regularly meet on the fourth Monday of each month except where the fourth Monday is a statutory holiday, in which case the meeting will take place on the next working day, except for the months of July and August, when no meeting will be held, and for the month of December, when the meeting shall be on the second Monday of the month.
  2. In addition to the regularly scheduled meetings of the Board, the newly elected Board will meet in general session, the Board, as elected, shall meet for the first time within 30 days after the official results of the election of trustees shall will have been declared, for the purpose of receiving the results, the swearing in of the new Trustees, and the selection election of the Chair and Vice-Chair of the Board. This inaugural meeting of the Board shall will be called and chaired by the Secretary-Treasurer of the School District until the Chair is elected, at which time the elected Chair will preside. Each year thereafter during the term of office, the election of Chair, Vice-Chair, and Board representatives to various agencies where the Trustees have regular representation and the appointment of Trustees to internal and external committees shall will take place at the November Board meeting. At the meeting following, the Chair will appoint, after first canvassing Trustees for interest, Trustees to external and internal committees, as well as family of schools, municipal and First Nation liaison roles.
  3. The Chair, the Secretary-Treasurer or any three Trustees, may call a special general or extra-ordinary meeting of the Board, in addition to the regularly scheduled meetings of the Board. upon not less than forty-eight hours’ notice in writing to all trustees. / Roberts Rules index sends you to “special”if you look up “extraordinary. “Extraordinary” meeting doesn’t exist in Roberts. [Bylaw 9368: 100.00 In all meetings of the Board of Trustees, procedures shall be governed by Robert’s Rules of Order, except where provisions of the bylaws of the Board or the Schools Act may conflict, in which case the latter shall prevail.] And how much do you want to argue about the difference between “special” and “extraordinary”?
  4. A special general meeting of the Board may will be called upon less than the normal forty-eight hours’ notice, in writing or by telephone, with such meeting being deemed to have been properly convened if a majority of trustees agree to waive the normal forty-eight hours’ of written notice. if the proposed agenda item(s) must be dealt with before the next regular meeting, or the proposed agenda item(s) requires more time than can be accommodated on a regular board meeting agenda and thus needs to be the exclusive focus of the meeting. A special meeting must be called not less than forty-eight hours’ notice in writing to all trustees, unless at the call of the meeting, in writing or by telephone, a majority of trustees agree to waive the normal forty-eight hours’ of written notice.Only those items included in the agenda of the special meeting forty-eight hours before the special meetings, may be discussed. No agenda items may be added at the call of the meeting. / “The call of the meeting” is the notices sent out at the prescribed length of time before the meeting. See RRO index p 660: “call of meeting: see “notice”. Calling the meeting to order is different. Lots of “calls” on p660. So this should read, “No additional items will be added to the agenda as the meeting is called to order”.

5. The following procedural matters will be implemented:

  • The meetings will be conducted in two major sections:

The first will encompass the agenda, minutes and acceptance of presentations from the public and employee groups;

The second will be for the consideration of Board Committee Reports and Special Reports to the Board.

  • The meetings should be conducted in a timely manner and time guidelines and limits adhered to with respect to:
  • General meetings of the Board of Education commence at 7:30 p.m. and continue until no later than 11:00 10:00 p.m., save as may be extended by majority consent / How about “except as”, instead of the archaic “save as”? Since all the “shalls” are ‘wills” now. 10 pm? Can hardly get through agendas now. Nothing precludes ending BEFORE 11 if all the business has been taken care of.
  • Starting the meeting on time;
  • The Community Presentations period is limited to a maximum of six speakers, each speaking a maximum of five three minutes.; there can only be three speakers per issue (numbers and time may be extended at the discretion of the Chair). / So, ok – you / I can actually get quite a lot into 3 minutes if you / I rehearse. And please, send in handouts ahead of time so they can be part of the agenda.
  • Individuals or delegations wishing to make a presentation at a Board meeting will make their request, including topic, background, issue and requested action, if any, on the Request for Presentation Form found at   [ _______ ] , by email, to the Secretary-Treasurer who will advance requests to the Agenda Setting Commmittee for consideration and decision. / A Request For Presentation form is adding an extra layer of arduous to a process many people find daunting anyway. Let’s forget this form. It hasn’t been developed yet anyway; no link.

Individuals or delegations wishing to make a presentation will be advised of the Agenda Setting Committee’s decision to place the presentation on an upcoming agenda on the Wednesday before the Regular meeting. Presentations on behalf of the groups will be presented by the spokesperson(s) of that group, who will be identified on the agenda. / Where did this Agenda Setting Committee Come from? There’s no TOR. It popped up out of nowhere. No one asked for it. Unless a motion is egregious and ruled out of order for good reason by the Chair (and that can be challenged) , it has a place on the agenda. This proposal looks like censorship.

  • Presenters are to provide written and or presentation materials by 4:00 p.m. the Friday before the meeting. / Hoping this will mean no more table drops of information from anyone. Sometimes trustees get fairly complex information at the last minute, even during the meeting.
  • No public debate with presenters; information only will be received
  • There will be no public debate with presenters; information only will be received. Requests for action from presenters or delegations will not be considered until the following meeting of the Board, unless a motion relative to the action requested is reflected in the published agenda. / Sorry, but Robert’s Rules states that motions from the floor are always in order [P 64 12th Edition, 62.3]. Everyone now tries to avoid them because they take everyone by surprise, but urgent matters arise, and sometimes if the Chair won’t put a motion on the agenda, there is no other way to take the issue forward except by a motion from the floor. Refusing to put a motion on an agenda was common in some previous iterations of this Board by Board and Standing Committee Chairs who did not know Robert’s Rules or didn’t care, and abused the office.
  • The Question Period is limited to 15 minutes.

6. Wherever possible, The public will be encouraged to attend a Committee meeting rather than a Board meeting in order to facilitate dialogue with the public before decisions are made. Discussion and debate of issues takes place at two regularly scheduled Standing Committee meetings each month. During the Standing Committee meetings, members of the public make presentations and discussions often ensue with committee members, stakeholder groups, and staff. the Education Policy and Directions, or the Operations Policy and Planning Committee meetings in order to facilitate dialogue with the public before decisions are made.

In addition to the opportunities to present participate at Standing Committees, the Board Chair will ask partner groups employee partner groups including the Greater Victoria Teachers’ Association (GVTA), the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 947 and Local 382), the Victoria Parent Advisory Councils (VCPAC), Esquimalt and Songhees Nations, Youth Student Representatives Committee, [original version here at F.2] and the Victoria Principals and Vice-Principals Association (VPVPA), are able to provide comment on specific motions prior to them being voted on by the Board. The Board Chair will ask stakeholder representatives whether they would like to provide comment on motions prior to the them being debated by the Board. of Education considering the motion. Each stakeholder representative will have up to two minutes to provide comment through the Chair.

7. In the event that the Board shall may fail to conclude the business of the agenda by the time of adjournment, the Chair may ask the Board to prioritize the remaining agenda items. Agenda items not concluded at the meeting, will be placed on the next month’s agenda. designate not more than one additional meeting, to be held within one week on the day and date designated by the Chair. Add: unless dealt with in a special meeting (see #3).

8. The agenda shall All agendas will be prepared and circulated by the Chair of the Board, with input from the Vice-Chair, the Superintendent, the Secretary-Treasurer and the Deputy Superintendent (the Agenda Setting Committee), and circulated by the Chair or designate. Proposed agenda items will be provided to thev Secretary-Treasurer no later than the Monday before the meeting./ Currently Wednesday noon. But backing up two days could work as there are usually two weeks between the Operations meeting and the Board meeting, giving time to prepare motions and presentations.

In consultation with the Superintendent, Vice-Chair, Secretary-Treasurer and the Deputy Superintendent, and when applicable, relevant Committee Chair, items detailing a recommendation for the Board’s consideration, submitted by Trustees, will be considered for inclusion included on the Agenda provided initial communication with Superintendent or Designate has occurred, and is accompanied by submission of a backgrounder in standard Board format. Backgrounders will be subject to copy edit for clarity and accuracy of information, when necessary, and with consultation of submitter. / Submitting a motion for the agenda is beginning to look like something the Chair and Superintendent want to be avoided if possible. This section is over-controlling of the Board and individual trustees. Red strikethroughs are mine.

If it is determined that the item has not been properly prepared for inclusion on the Agenda (e.g. information is not correct, not accurate, not provided in backgrounder format), the Chair will communicate decision and rationale to the Trustee who submitted the item by Tuesday of the week prior to the meeting. If the Trustee does not agree with the decision, they may request it to be included on the agenda by resolution at the call of the meeting. / The call of the meeting is the notice that is sent out – it provides the date of the meeting and the agenda. Calling the meeting to order is different. The meeting , ie trustees, can decide the rest. Just put the motion on the agenda, and let trutees dispose of it though motion or referral. Strikethrough is mine. We won’t miss this addition, will we?

Agenda items, including individual trustee submissions, are not to be shared with the public prior to the agenda being finalized and items have been determined to be “in-camera” or “regular open”. Trustees know what is a public matter , and what should be an in camera item. It is not an individual trustee’s problem if the Chair decides to put something that should be public on an in camera aganda and keep the discussion away from the public. Gasp! Does that happen? Yes, it does, and you won’t know. Red strikethrough mine.

9. There shall will be an agenda circulated to all trustees not less than three days prior to each regularly scheduled meeting of the Board in general session, and not less than forty-eight hours prior to a special meeting of the Board, in general session. Unless otherwise called under Item 3. Strike last bit; it’s redundant.

10.The agenda shall will be approved or changed by ordinary motion as the first item of business at each meeting. / What’s an “ordinary motion”? Robert’s Rules doesn’t mention “ordinary motions”. We could argue about what one is and never resolve that because it’s not defined in Robert’s. [See P 687 RRO 12th Ed index., and here.]

11. The General Agenda shall will contain the following:

Guidelines for the meeting format including outlining opportunities for public and stakeholder comments

A. Acknowledgement of Traditional Territories; Approval of the Agenda; Approval of Previous Minutes and Business Arising from the Minutes, and Presentations, of which first priority will be given to schools, and then to the public and community. / This might have the effect of limiting time for community presenters. Or maybe not. “Priority” means “first”.

Student Achievement Presentations; District Presentations; Community Presentations


C. Chair’s Report; Trustee Reports (including Reports from Trustee Representatives with Other Public Bodies)

D.Board Committee Reports: (1) Education Policy and Directions Motions (2) Operations Policy and Planning Motions

E. District Leadership Team Staff Reports

F. Question Period
G. Public Disclosure of In Camera Items / Only if there is an in camera motion to do that, and it carries with a majority vote by Trustees present – I’m barred from these.]
H. New Business
I. Adjournment

The order of the Agenda shall will be as above, unless varied at the meeting by majority vote.

12.An electronic copy of the Agenda shall will be made available to the media, partner groups and the public (website) through the Secretary-Treasurer’s office on the day after copies are delivered to trustees, and such Agenda shall have attached the Committee Reports. three days before the meeting.

13.The Board Chair may reschedule any regularly-scheduled general meeting of the Board to a different time and date in order to meet the business requirements of the Board. The Board may, by ordinary resolution, cancel a regular general meeting of the Board. / “Resolutions” are “motions” [Robert’s 12th Ed index, p702]. How about “by a main motion carried by a majority “?

14. In accordance with Section 67 of the School Act, School Act Section 67:[Do we need to say thus twice?] the A board may allow Trustees to participate in or attend a meeting of the board by telephone or other means of communication if all trustees and other persons participating in or attending the meeting are able to communicate with each other. (7) If a trustee participates in or attends a meeting of the board by telephone or other means of communication as provided under subsection (6), the trustee is to be counted for the purposes of establishing a quorum.The Chair may will allow a Trustee to participate in or attend a meeting of the Board by telephone or other means of communication if all Trustees are able to communicate with each other. Such attendance shall will only be permitted where Trustee participation is prevented by extraordinary circumstances. Trustees wishing to attend electronically must provide a minimum of 48 hoursnotice to the Chair, of such attendance. / Why 48 hours? Does it take that long to plug in the phone and speakers in the Board room? And who gets to decide what “extraodinary circumstances” are in an individual’s life? Do I need a note?

15. With the exception of poll votes pursuant to Bylaw 9011, the Board, and electronic meetings called by the Chair, the Board will shall not conduct meetings electronically. For the purposes of this Bylaw, electronic communications that would constitute a meeting include communications shared among all trustees that materially advance or debate a matter before the Board. This Bylaw does not prohibit the electronic provision of information pertaining to a matter before the Board.

Greater Victoria School District Adopted:                       
April 27, 1981
Various Revisions
Revised:        November 25, 1991
Revised:         June 23, 1997
Revised:         January 16, 2006
Revised          January 19, 2009 (corrected)
Revised:         November 17, 2014
Revised:         December 14, 2015
Revised:         June 20, 2016
Revised:         April 24, 2017
Revised:         April 23, 2018

About Diane McNally