September 25/17: Board Meeting: Auditor’s Report, Dress Code In Limbo, Trustee $, 9 Budget Motions

School Act Part 6 — Boards of Education Division 1 — Corporate Status and Meetings: Meetings and chair : 67 (5.1) Without limiting subsection (5), a board may establish procedures respecting the provision of advice by a district parents’ advisory council to the board.

P1 Board Meeting


Territory Acknowledgement900

It’s time for a new format for this blog. With the change, here’s some history.

When I was first elected in 2011, I came to the School District 61 Board fro a background of  consistent application of Robert’s Rules in small meetings and in large meetings of 400 or more  people.  Everyone understood the procedure of the debate, order was kept, and everyone knew how motions were disposed of. If you didn’t know  Robert’s you’d be  left behind as there was no patience for remaining ignorant of required process.

As a representative of the teacher’s union local I attended SD61 Board meetings for for several years, thinking that this Board must be so much more sophisticated with Robert’s Rules than  I, since I had little grasp of what was going on. The meetings  moved very  fast. Other attendees  could not understand how the meetings were conducted, either.

However, once elected and immersed in the process of the Board, it became clear that  Board and Committee meetings did not follow Robert’s,  required by SD61 Board Bylaw 9368 and hadn’t for some time, which is why no one really understood  what was happening.  “Out of Order”, used frequently and incorrectly by Chairs of the Board and Committees,  really meant that the Chair didn’t like the motion and wanted it to go away. Although enshrined Robert’s, challenging a ruling of the Chair was not allowed. (Bev Horsman, no longer on the board, was horrified by the idea of a challenge to the Chair saying, “That would undermine the Chair’s authority!” Imagine that. ) I brought a motion to the table to  revise the relevant Bylaw  [ at 8. A here] to include a provision for Challenge of the Chair’s ruling,  as it exists in Robert’s rules of Order. Much opposition but eventually carried.

Motions were  recorded in minutes as simply carried or defeated. Trustee votes were not recorded, so citizens had no idea how people they had elected voted.  I made a motion to  have names attached to votes and published in the minutes so electors would know how people they elected voted on issues. My motion to record votes  [February 2012] failed at Ed Policy in 2012 with intense pushback 5-4 [Orcherton: “Individual trustees can decide how transparent they want to be to the public.”] But at the following  Board meeting the motion  carried unanimously, with five trustees who had argued vehemently against the motion suddenly changing their minds  after media attention. Perhaps it became apparent that transparency for elected officials  isn’t an option.

I initiated [at 8.B here] a motion to have  students at the Board table. They are now, not as I envisioned, but the presence is even better than I’d hoped.

You can imagine given  the lack of rules of engagement and arbitrary actions by Chairs that were supported 5-4, the kind of experiences that in camera meetings were. Because I can’t tell you.

A lot more that needed to change, and meetings have changed for the better, but not without unrelenting  focus and effort on applying Robert’s Rules. RRO 11th Edition was bought and given to all Trustees. I’m not sure that even now, all Trustees have read it. It’s not fun but required reading for the job.  Just one example,  below. Never mind that Board Bylaw 9368 requires that meetings use Robert’s Rules.

Jan 7/13: Motion from the floor: McNally:That any motion to refer be made and conducted according to Robert’s Rules of Order, with a mover, seconder, debate, and votes recorded. / Defeated. Against: Ferris, Horsman, Leonard, McEvoy, Orcherton   For: Alpha, Loring-Kuhanga, McNally, Nohr. So, anything can be referred by a Chair without a motion to do that or a recorded vote, to some other meeting. Some “referred” motions never resurfaced. [As of 2014, Robert’s is in force.]

Some Trustees  may still believe Robert’s is “bureaucratic bullshit”, but nevertheless the  majority now accepts that the Board functions well according to Robert’s Rules. Now, if you know even the rudiments, you can follow debate and disposal of motions. Minutes make sense and are complete. There is no longer a need to record in detail what happened in the meetings. The essentials are captured in the minutes of the two standing committees and the Board meeting. posted on the SD61 website. Improving process and updating Policy and Regulations (which the majority bloc – Ferris, Horsman, Leonard, McEvoy, Orcherton – of the Board for the 2011 3 year term said would take too much time, and besides, “Trustees don’t get involved in Policy”)   are well underway and continue, with two trustees  the committee.Because yes they do get involved with Policy.

Robert's Rules

Regular Board Meeting
September 25/17
Chair: Loring-Kuhanga
Present: Ferris, Leonard, McNally, Loring-Kuhanga, Nohr, Watters, Whiteaker
Not Present: Orcherton, Paynter

The agenda was approved with a couple of additions. Minutes of June 26, August 21 approved. No business arising, no student achievement presentation. KPMG, the District Auditors, presented their analysis of the District’s financial statements and found them to be in order.

In the Community Presentations section, five people spoke to the proposed SD 61 Dress Code motion. During the first presentation by Tasha Diamant, there were abusive comments being made to her that the Board could not hear, but there was apparent body language from a member of the public. When Tasha had finished her presentation and was returning to her seat, the man who had been making remarks became more aggressive with his remarks, although people at the Board table still could hear only the odd word, not all of what was said.  I heard only “weird”, which was bad enough. Two more women presented. Tasha moved away from the commenting  man to another seat, stood up  and called out what had happened and the man denied it; the next presenter, Max, said what he had heard, supported what Tasha had said,  and called for action.  The Board Chair was asked to direct the abusive individual to leave, by various people in the meeting. Nothing like this had ever happened in this meeting room before. The chair asked and then directed the man to leave.  He argued,  two male senior administration rose, and followed the individual and his friend out of the room. The final presenter, Renay, made her presentation in support of the motion. They are all on SD61 video on the website. The incident is in Part 1, at 26 minutes 10 seconds.

The incident needs close attention in a debrief, development of clear protocol for such breaches in conduct / threatening behaviour, and possibly a reconfiguration of the room to ensure that all in the room can hear everyone.

This is the motion that carried at Ed Policy on September 11th, and which the Board intended to debate at this meeting: The Board of SD61 (Greater Victoria) accepts the following recommendation: The School Code of Conduct will not include any other statements regarding expectations of dress, except for the following: Our school is committed to creating a learning community that values diversity and is free of all forms of discrimination. In line with the BC Human Rights Code which prohibits discrimination on the basis of an individual’s: race, colour, ancestry, place of origin, religion, marital status, physical or mental disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression and age, promotes a climate of understanding and mutual respect where all are equal in dignity and rights. Actions through verbal or nonverbal communication (including clothing) must demonstrate support for the BC Human Rights Code.

The meeting continued.  The Victoria Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils President spoke against the motion, and Trustee Deborah Nohr, who had previously spoken against the motion,  moved to refer it back to the One Learning Community Committee (which made the recommendation to adopt it). The motion to refer carried, which stopped any debate, and stopped anyone hearing  any reasons why a Trustee would be  be for or against it.  Ferris, Leonard, Loring-Kuhanga, Nohr for referral; McNally, Watters, Whiteaker against referral, meaning let’s do this now; it’s been through two Committees.

And mystifyingly, the next day in an interview with TC reporter Jeff Bell,

Audrey Smith, president of the Victoria Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils , said there hasn’t yet been an official parent representative involved in discussions about the dress code.

The mystifying part is, Smith was at the table and contributed when the code proposal was being discussed in meetings of the One Learning Community Committee and could have brought up the “official” problem then. But how much more “official”  does it have to get than the President of the Organization that (although it seldom if ever gets quirum at meetings) purports to represent parents of students in SD61?

Reportedly Smith has since  claimed she was misquoted by the TC reporter, but  Trustees weren’t told this. I called the TC and management is  investigating.

[VCPAC – most parent groups simply go by DPAC, “District Parent Advisory Council” – was unable to get quorum [a PAC rep from each of 15 schools] for even one VCPAC meeting in the 2016-17 school year, and most of the time in years past. This is an organization that presents itself though the President’s statements as  “the” voice of parents in SD61. How was business conducted, if any was? So get out to your school PAC meeting  and ask a lot of questions. Only one person gets to take the school PAC vote in issues to DPAC, though. Not one person, one vote.


The rest of the meeting dealt with establishing a French Advisory ad hoc committee to meet at least annually [carried],  that the Superintendent provide a report and recommendation on elementary counselling supports [carried], debate on trustee remuneration framed in the coming impact of 2019 Federal tax changes [carried], a motion to upgrade the upper  Esquimalt High School Field [carried] and nine budget related motions [all carried]. [For years, the SD61 structural deficit climbed every year, but the current administrative team directed by current Board decisions have reduced it from over $8 million a couple of years ago to $3,700,000. With direction from the current Board, paying down  the structural deficit is beginning to look very possible.]

Structural deficit SD61 Ambeault
SD61 Structural Deficit : former Sec-Treas Ambeault

The public question period had  three  questions, one asking about the legal basis for the district to collect funds from parents for playgrounds and one asking for policy on teachers teaching their own children (there isn’t one). One was handed in from the floor written as required, something like”explain dress codes“, left behind by the individual who was ejected. [ Ok. Here.]

Trustee Watters gave a Notice of Motion for the next Board meeting:

That the Board direct the Superintendent to instruct principals to  suspend enforcement of school dress codes pending completion of the One Learning Community Committee’s consultations and recommendations on dress codes.

Adjourned 10:25 pm.

bra straps
Please make an effort to maintain self-control.

Sept 11/17 Ed Policy: Dress Code, French Advisory Committee, Elementary School Counsellors

Vic High
Vic High

Lined Paper is  my personal record of and commentary on SD61 Board and  Standing Committee meetings. Official, approved  minutes are on the SD61 website, one  month after the meeting.

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.

District Strategic Plan here.

Sticky post: Motions and Trustee Voting Records  January 2012 – June 2017.  Motions may be shortened but retain essential information.

October 17/16, Whiteaker: That the Board amend Bylaw 9130 Standing Committees to remove the words “with voting rights” from Item #4 and Item #5. / Carried. Unanimous.  This had the effect of allowing only members of the Standing Committee to vote on motions, though other Trustees, if they attend,  can participate in  the debate. The Chair of the Board  ex officio member both Committees, with voting rights. Quorum is a majority of Trustee members on the committee.

Education Policy and Directions Standing  Committee September 11 /17
Chair: Whiteaker
Members: Ferris, Nohr, Orcherton , Whiteaker;  Loring-Kuhanga ex officio (vote but not counted for quorum)
Present:  McNally, Nohr, Orcherton, Paynter, Watters, Whiteaker
Absent:  Ferris, Leonard, Loring-Kuhanga

Territory Acknowledgement900


Dialogue with the Public is welcome during Standing Committee Meetings

1. Approval [Adoption] of Agenda Adopted.
2. Approval of Ed Policy & Directions Minutes:  
Lined Paper link here.  Minutes of June 5 /17 approved with corrections: Page 5 motion “deferred” should be “Motion postponed to definite time” as per RRO 11th Ed, p 179. [ 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.]
3. Business Arising From the Minutes: None
4. Presentations to the Committee:None

5. New Business
A. Student Representative:
Superintendent introduces Meghan Scott,  Esquimalt Secondary
Esquimalt Secondary (absent)
B. Dress Code: Associate Superintendent Deb Whitten, lead:  P 6 agenda (Interesting discussion at June 20 / 16 meeting), coming out of One Learning Community Ad Hoc Committee and Trustee Watters’ work with  the District Gender and Sexuality Alliance and updates to the District’s  related policy.

The One Learning Community Committee created a sub-committee tasked with
preparing a recommendation regarding the district’s expectation and guiding principles for dress .The sub-committee believes the following

recommendation aligns with the District values identified in the Strategic Plan.

Recommended (P 6 agenda): School Codes of Conduct will include the following statement:1.Our school is committed to creating a learning community that values diversity and is free of all forms of discrimination. In line with the BC Human Rights Code which prohibits discrimination on the basis of an individual’s: race, colour, ancestry, place of origin, religion, marital status, physical or mental disability, sex,sexual orientation, gender identity or expression and age,<insert school name> promotes a climate of understanding and mutual respect where all are equal in dignity and rights. Actions through verbal or nonverbal communication(including clothing) must demonstrate support for the BC Human Rights Code. And 2.The School Code of Conduct will not include any other statements regarding expectations of dress.

Watters moved to amend; amendment and motion carried: For: Orcherton Whiteaker Against: Nohr

The Board of SD61 (Greater Victoria) accepts the following recommendation:
The School Code of Conduct will not include any other statements regarding expectations of dress, except for the following: Our school is committed to creating a learning community that values diversity and is free of all forms of discrimination. In line with the BC Human Rights Code which prohibits discrimination on the basis of an individual’s: race, colour, ancestry, place of origin, religion, marital status, physical or mental disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression and age, <insert school name> promotes a climate of understanding and mutual respect where all are equal in dignity and rights. Actions through verbal or nonverbal communication (including clothing) must demonstrate support for the BC Human Rights Code.

  • Paynter: For consideration, Oregon Dress Code. Has basic requirements for dress.
  • Nohr: Recently has been concern at UVic gym re gluteal folds showing with some women’s shorts. A health issue. Concerned with scanty dress in schools on the part of some students.
  • Whitten: Opportunity for a conversation with the individual in private, based on respect and dignity.
  • Watters: Each family has its own culture and hopefully decisions will be made in the home as a team. A learning curve for young people going out into the world to present themselves well.
  • Orcherton: Thanks to Nohr for her points. This are happening quickly in the diversity area. The will be instances where someone is not dressing appropriately. If the recommendation is all there is, it takes away authority. We are preparing students for life in the workplace and inappropriate dress will not be tolerated. Respect is something we teach. First impressions powerful. May be  leaving it wide open; need some guidelines. Not just students, adults in schools need guidelines too. Can see problems, like the UVic concern with gluteal folds, otherwise known as the “butt crack”.
  • McNally: Gluteal folds are not a health issue. This is women’s body shaming disguised as a health issue. And allow me to demonstrate where a “butt crack” [“The intergluteal cleft, also known medically by various synonyms and colloquially as the “butt crack”  … is the groove between the buttocks…” (Wikipedia)]   is and where a gluteal fold is. [Does, fully clothed.]  Dress codes are aimed at women, based on very old ideas (enshrined in some religions – thinking snakes, apples, women who want knowledge,  fig leaves, clothing…) of women as virtuous, and the custodians of men’s behaviour which is fundamentally debased. Dress codes (“modesty”) bring those old ideas forward, putting women “in charge”  and responsible for men’s behaviour (though not in charge of much that counts). Dress codes  demean boys and men by characterizing them as incapable of focus on anything but a woman’s body and that they need to be protected by more or less shrouding that temptation. Men are socialized from an early age to be “manly” and to react  – as one Facebook commentator  put it – as “mindless horndogs”. It’s a great disrespect and demeaning  to male / male identifying students to think they can’t stay with the physics text if a woman / person identifying as a woman  walks by. Dress codes disrespect  sexes and genders. In Victorian times the sight of a female  ankle was thought to drive men mad with sexual desire. Now we laugh at that. Living for the day when the spaghetti strap type of issues and dress codes are laughable as well.
  • Paynter: Back to the Oregon code. Some parts have to be covered. And Human Rights doesn’t cover swearing expressions, references to drugs or alcohol. Yes has to be conversation between parents and kids.
  • Male appearing person  in public seats: Confused about body shaming.  School should be providing excellent learning opportunities.  If ankles are distracting we need to talk about that. This proposed lack of dress code is not in the best interest of the safety of my daughters. Think about what these things will do to families.Talking about people showing up naked at school – using our children as pawns in some political agenda. SD61 schools may not be a safe place for my children.

C. French Advisory- TOR (Pp 7-9 agenda): Simon Burgers

June 5, 2017: McNally:That the Board of Education of School District No. 61 (Greater Victoria):1. No longer require the establishment of an annual French Advisory Standing Committee; 2. Establish a French Advisory Committee on an ad hoc basis when considerations arise.


Recommended: That the Board of Education of School District No. 61 (Greater Victoria) establish a French Advisory Ad Hoc Committee to meet at least annually, or as required. / Carried. For: Nohr, Orcherton, Whiteaker.

  • Superintendent: Not an Ad Hoc Committee – Ad Hocs have a defined TOR that ends when the issue has been dealt with and reported on.
  • Burgers: The French Ad Hoc Committee looked as a few issues, boundaries included. Because of French Federal funding, need a place for stakeholders to have input into how the money is spent, and goal setting.
  • McNally: Suggestion s for changes to TOR: specify the Trustee member will be appointed by Board Chair, and change “Membership shall be renewed annually” to “Representative groups shall appoint a rep annually”.
  • Paynter: Why havng a conversation  about French programs only? Not a good use of scarce resources of the District.
  • Whiteaker:  Won’t be limited to funding.
  • Paynter: Make funding part of the mandate.
  • Turcotte, GVTA [and French Immersion teacher]: Funding comes from Ministry of Heritage in Ottawa to the School District.The Funding Guide recommends establishment of an Advisory Committee. What if the Committee members want to meet more  frequently? And some years up to now, hasn’t met at all.
  • Superintendent: TOR specifies at least twice a year. [It does;  the motion doesn’t.] Like Aboriginal targeted funding, concern on the part of the funder that funds used for targeted purpose. Yes, have same question re why Advisory Committees on some parts of the district’s programs and not others.
  • Burgers: So various stakeholder groups to provide feedback and look at models of service.

D. Elementary Counselling Services

Nohr:  That the Board request that the Superintendent provide a report on the elementary counselling services within our district for the November 2017 Education Policy and Directions meeting.

Revised motion: Superintendent provide report n and recommendations on counsellor support for elementary students and their families, by November Education Policy meeting. / Carried. For: Nohr, Orcherton, Whiteaker.

  • Superintendent: Very general motion. Please be more specific.
  • Nohr: 1:1000 students ratio. Students in need neglected and untenable working conditions for teachers. Learning compromised when emotional need not met. Equity issue – some families have benefits  and others cannot afford counsellors.Would like grid with student numbers per school and counsellor FTE, as well as some successful outcomes and some gaps  identified.
  • Watters: Want to now what the plan is to address this – agree there is a gap.
  • Orcherton: How to address the gap that exists.
  • David [public seats]: Would like action plan.
  • Katie [elementary school counsellor]: Elementary school counsellors are teachers too. An extra day at a school makes so much difference in being able to support teachers with what may be difficult for a classroom teacher ie discussions of sexual abuse prevention curriculum, other issues.Elementary school counsellors are often parents’ first contact with mental health and family support.
  • McNally:  Taught  for 22 years in SD61, and appreciated counsellors; saw the need for more service. Motion seems to be working toward putting more funding into counselling, and its needed, but money has to come from one area, so where will it be taken from to increase counsellors? Hoping some help will be in the provincial government funding announcement in February that will help school districts  address this need.
  • Superintendent: Need to re-examine what we ask elementary counsellor to do,  and the amount of paperwork, but a conversation for another time. [Possibly linked to a variety of discussions  about changing the funding formula for student with designations?  For example: Inclusive Education funding is allocated to school authorities through a formula that aims to ensure an equitable distribution of funding. Funding is not determined through coding. School authorities distribute the funding they receive based on the needs of students within their school communities. This model would cut down on paperwork and case management.] We also have YFCs  and partners in health – need to enhance participation there – child’s troubles in school often due to family breakdown, so need broader systems approach,comprehensive model.
  • David [public seats] : Has District considered working with Social Workers seconded to schools to address family breakdown?
  • Superintendent: Yes, but MCF struggles for resources and has been chronically  underfunded.
  • Nohr: Would like school population and FTE of counsellors and YFCs. Just a spreadsheet.
  • Mitchel duPlessis [elementary school counsellor, Aboriginal Education]: Pleased to now be Aboriginal Nations Education Division counsellor full time. Attention not to the child only but to the whole community.About prevention.

E. Vancouver Island School Trustees Association

  • Watters: SD61 Board has invited VISTA to gather here for March meeting. As member of VISTA Executive, part of planning for event. VISTA plans Friday might; SD61 Board does the rest. Minister of Education Fleming will be featured on  Friday night.Some ideas for workshops / sessions.
  • Superintendent: Approaching First Nations for territory  and  welcome. Student introduction of Minister. Student band, student art walk. Hotel booking research underway.
  • Orcherton: Counsellors are an issue across Districts. How to send in ideas for topics? [To Watters who will collate.]
  • Whiteaker: Invite parent group rep.
  • McNally: what opportunities for real student participation , not just food service and entertainment?
  • Scott: Yes wondered also about that.
  • Superintendent: That is built in, will be opportunities throughout. Student Rep please take back to students.

F. BCSTA Provincial Council re- Early Childhood Education: Whiteaker

  • McNally: What are pros and cons of taking motion forward to Provincial Council  vs spring AGM? [Discussion]
  • Watters: Will put this on next VISTA agenda [Sept 30.

6. Notice of Motions: None

7. General Announcements: Paynter: Send in thoughts on 3 BCPSEA questions re collective bargaining sent out to you. Have heard from McNally.

8. Adjournment: 8:45 pm