April 20/16: Special Board Budget Meeting / Parent Education Fund

School Boards must present a balanced budget to the Ministry of Education by June 30 (School Act, division 2, Section 113). SD61 finalizes next school year’s budget to avoid staffing upheavals over the summer, and at the school level in September, as much as possible.

This was the 4th and final budget meeting of 4 meetings dedicated to the topic, at which Trustees asked questions, discussed options, and had discussions with members of the public. Partner group input had been sought before the meetings.

One member of the public attended for part of this final budget meeting. The agenda was approved with an addition of a motion from the floor from Whiteaker: That the Board create a Parent Education Fund as part of the 2016-17 budget . No public presentations to the Board. Full agenda with financial statements and schedules  here.

C. 1 2016/17 Annual Budget Debate
a) Recommended Motions [recommended by Secretary-Treasurer]
i) That the Board approve carrying forward $5,910,764 to the 2016/17 school year to be applied against the projected deficit./ Carried. Unanimous.
ii) That the Board approve not spending up to $800,000 on capital assets from the local capital reserve in 2015/16. / Whiteaker: Motion to postpone indefinitely. / Carried. Unanimous.

The motion was believed by Trustees to unnecessary as the original motion allowed spending “up to”, which would include spending nothing; as well, negatively worded motions are discouraged by Robert’s Rules 11th Edition p 105: “It is preferable to avoid a motion containing a negative statement…”. “Postpone indefinitely” demonstrates intention by the meeting to not deal with the motion.

iii) That the Board approve carrying forward $1,800,000 to the 2017/18 school year to be applied against the projected deficit. / Carried. Unanimous.

b) New Business:
i) Whiteaker: That the Board create a Parent Education Fund as part of the 2016-17 budget item : PAC Grant of $6000, which will be administered under the guidelines for the Parent Education Fund. / Tabled to June Board meeting. Motion to table:  For: Ferris, Leonard, Loring-Kuhanga, Nohr, Orcherton, Paynter, Whiteaker   Against: McNally, Watters

  • Whiteaker:Last year this fund held $7000, and was successful. The SD61 Strategic Plan emphasizes building community and this fund does that, as schools collaborate to pool resources for parent education and events. With 48 school sites = 48 PACs, at $260 per school, the fund = $6,000. Suggest run this one more year and look at data then to see how it’s working. In year 2 there will probably be more involvement as PACs increasingly utilize the fund.
  • Paynter: Is this $6000 in the budget?
  • Secretary-Treasurer: The $6000 would  come from the item “PAC funding” . District PACS / DPACs [like VCPAC] get 24 cents per student FTE plus $165 per school, plus in SD61, $4000 annually to help support the Vancouver Island Parent Conference which the SD61 DPAC has organized.[Additionally, DPACs get gaming grants which they apply for. Some Districts allot $0 to the local DPAC. Whiteaker’s presentation on DPAC funding from May 2015 here.] Last year the Fund re-allocation  was $7000 ($4000 from the Conference District grant  plus another $3000). DPAC (VCPAC) would still get $10,000. Over past number of years SD61 has budgeted $10,000 but this didn’t reflect the formula the District agreed to use over the years, so the budget was adjusted. The Board has been giving $16,000 to  VCPAC on an annual basis. [VCPAC has a significant contingency fund, around $20,000.]
  • Orcherton: We have been spending $16,000 a year on VCPAC, so this motion is to take $6,000 from that for PACS, leaving $10,000 for VCPAC?
  • Secretary-Treasurer: Yes.
  • Orcherton: Won’t support this. VCPAC should have the money they’ve had in the past. VCPAC / DPAC can find ways to educate more parents with less money. Feel strongly that this is disrespecting VCPAC. VCPAC feels not respected by this Board.
  • Ferris: Scope and quality of conference VCPAC puts on is exeptional. $16,000 is a small amount of money. Could create a fund outside of it. Not necessarily against a separate fund. Taking fro VCPAC / DPAC is not right.
  • McNally: The new SD61 Strategic Plan emphasizes community and the Parent Education fund strengthens collaboration and community amongst schools as they combine resources to benefit their parent community. Don’t understand claims that  this fund is not supporting parents. It’s direct support of parents at the parent-controlled school  PAC level.Some Districts give no money to the DPAC.
  • Secretary-Treasurer: The $7,000 last year had a 1 year term associated with it, and was not a permanent reallocation.
  • Leonard: Against this last year and against it now. DPAC should administer all the money.
  • Paynter: Was a pilot project. Expectation was that information would come back as a basis to make a decision going forward. Don’t have that. Motion to table to June Board meeting. / Motion to table carried.  For: Ferris,  Leonard, Nohr, Orcherton, Paynter, Whiteaker  Against motion to table: Loring-Kuhanga, McNally, Watters

C.2 2016/17 Annual Budget Bylaw
a) Recommended motion (recommended by Secretary-Treasurer)

i) That the Board agree to give all 3 readings of the 2016/17 Annual Budget Bylaw at the meeting of April 20, 2016. (Motion to be carried unanimously.) / Carried. Unanimous.

ii) That the Board 2016/17 Annual Budget Bylaw in the amount of $211,963,918 be read a 1st, 2nd and 3d time, and passed and adopted on this 20th day of April 2016, and that the Secretary-Treasurer and Board Chair be authorized to sign , seal and execute this bylaw on behalf of the Board. / Carried. For: Ferris, Leonard, Loring-Kuhanga, McNally, Orcherton, Paynter, Watters, Whiteaker  Against: Nohr

  • Nohr: Support all the work that has gone into this budget, but not the motion. Letter on p. 26 of this agenda describes the unmet needs in SD61 . There is a lack of direct instruction for vulnerable students. Its unacceptable that underfunding  continues. This is a moral issue. [Summary of Nohr’s longer speech.]
  • Ferris: Support the general feelings of Nohr. Support the Board and employees as well, and the consensus is that this is the best we can do at this time.

The Board will approach the partners named as potential signatories to this letter in hopes that all will agree to sign on. VCPAC has declined to be a signatory.

Unmet needs 1

 

Unmet needs 2

 

I  voted against the SD61 budget in my first term, hoping that many Boards would follow the example of the Cowichan Board in 2012, when a majority of Trustees voted to submit only a budget that reflected true needs of the District. The Board was fired, and a Provincial Trustee appointed. It was interesting to see one person only making motions and one person only voting on them. Very efficient. None of that messy debate and democracy.

No other Board voted in majority to submit a needs budget only.

SD61 has submitted a parallel “needs budget”  in the past, and this year is submitting the document on p.26 (above) of the agenda which specifies needs identified by stakeholders that can’t be met with the funding we get from the Province.

I voted in favour of this budget because I  believe that handing over the Board of SD61 Greater Victoria to a provincial government appointed Trustee would create greater problems for the District and students at this time, but next year, if major cuts are required, that assessment may not hold.

The Greater Victoria school board has passed a 2016-17 budget without major problems, but a tougher time is expected in 2017.“We’re in a better position than most school boards are,” said chairwoman Edith Loring-Kuhanga.“A lot of the school boards across the province are having to make some serious cuts. We will face that next year.” Projections indicate there could be a deficit of $7 million to $8 million, she said. The Board has approved a 2016-17 operating budget of about $182 million and an overall budget of $212 million that includes capital funds and other items.

 

April 18/16: Board Meeting: Annual Facilities Grant / Pride Parade

There are 200+ BCCPAC Resolutions – ongoing, achieved or pending. Worth a look. Here’s an interesting one from 1994 still on the books: “That students have the opportunity to be taught the most commonly held theories on the origins of our universe and life on our planet, or at least be given a list of resources to explore these on their own; And that students be encouraged to discuss the pros and cons of these theories without being criticized for their opinions, in order to promote critical thinking skills;And that students be taught evolution as theory, not fact. ” Status: Active.

The Record Off The Record

P1: Meeting Schedule / Backgrounder / Standing Committees Backgrounder  / Trustee  Appointments
P2:
Board Meeting
P3: District 61 PAC (aka DPAC, VCPAC) Constitution excerpts / School Act re DPACs
P4: BCCPAC (British Columbia Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils)

The Record Off The Record 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.  Sticky post: Motions and Trustee Voting Records  January 2012 – December 2015. Motions may be shortened but retain essential information.

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.

Next Meetings
Wed Apr 20 7 pm: Final debate and vote on 2016/17 Budget
Mon May 2 7 pm Education Policy and Directions Standing Committee (location TBA)
Mon May 9 7 pm Operations Policy and Planning Standing Committee (Board Room)
Mon May 16 7:30 pm Board Meeting (Board Room)

Meeting agendas posted on SD61 website Friday before the meeting. Board meetings are now video recorded, though Standing Committees are not. (Look under the Board of Education menu.)

A Policy Subcommittee has been formed to review Policies,  some of which have not been reviewed for several decades and some of which are redundant.

Trustees  are assigned by the Chair as members of one of the two standing committees, Education  Policy and Directions, and Operations Policy and Planning. Agenda setting is the prerogative of the Committee Chair, with input from senior administration.

Trustees don’t “have to”  attend Standing Committee if not assigned. Standing  Committee structure operates on less formal   Rules of Order than does the Board,  ie. no need for a seconder for a motion, and a Trustee  can speak as many times as the Chair allows. The question can’t be called in a standing committee.Most substantive debate on motions takes place at the standing committees  Standing Committees also provide for dialogue between  presenters and the Board.

Operations Policy and Planning Standing Committee
Chair Leonard; McNally, Paynter, Watters  (ex officio Loring-Kuhanga – vote but not counted for quorum)
Education  Policy and Directions
Chair Nohr; Ferris, Orcherton, Whiteaker (ex officio Loring-Kuhanga – vote but not counted for quorum)
Policy Review Subcommittee (advises both Standing Committees)
March-June Leonard/Watters   Sept-Dec Nohr/Whiteaker
Jan17-March/ April McNally-Paynter

For OPPs and Ed Policy,  “quorum is a majority of trustee members on the committee”.  However, the relevant Bylaw also says “All members of the Operations Policy and Planning Committee shall be ex officio members of the Education Policy Development Committee with voting rights”. So assigned Trustees are the ones who count for quorum = 3.

External Trustee Liaison assignments are made by  the Board Chair.

April 6/16: Round Table Public Budget Presentation

Next Meetings:
Mon Apr 11 7:00: Operations Policy and Planning Standing Committee and Special Budget Meeting to receive public input: (250) 475-4106 to pre-register for the speakers’ list
Mon Apr 18 7:30 pm: Board Meeting
Wed Apr 20 7 pm: Final debate and vote on 2016/17 Budget

Present: Ferris, Leonard, Loring-Kuhanga, McNally, Nohr, Orcherton, Paynter, Watters, Whiteaker

Last year, no members of the public attended. This year, two members of the public attended, and an informal discussion took place.

Agenda:

1.    Welcome from Chair:Loring-Kuhanga
2.    Presentation of 2016/17 Budget Context: Secretary-Treasurer Walsh (available documents on SD61 website)

Secretary-Treasurer Walsh presented budget documents that included the updated 2016/17 Annual Budget presentation document    including new funding information on the “Operating Forecast Update” slide taking into account the two “new” Provincial grants which cover the previously unfunded labour settlement costs that were downloaded to Districts, and that all holdback funds will be released at the beginning of the school year.  As well, SD61 now is experiencing increasing enrolment  after a very long period of declining enrolment. This brings in $7166 per student FTE (students with Ministry designations are funded at a higher level but this is not targeted funding).

Given recent Provincial demands for reduction in administrative costs (the dismissive “low hanging fruit” remark  ), and the Ministry of Education commitment to “just in time funding” – just in time for what? To prevent building collapse? Certainly not in time for that results in leaking roofs as is the case at SD63 Bayview Middle School, ongoing school seismic upgrade issues , and longstanding and ongoing underfunding of public education in BC generally, this really is giving back money that was taken away. It’s better to have this money than to not have it. But it’s not “new money”.

“Just in time funding” is not the way to fund an ongoing essential public good that has predictable infrastructure costs that are not tied to each student FTE. Public education is not trying to move inventory, although the privatization agenda adherents seem to think that’s what public education in BC is about.

15-16-overview

 

 

A helpful handout document, “Operating Fund Account Descriptions” (Ministry of Education, 2006), lists expenditure categories with details and examples, in Function 1: Instruction. 

Slide 10 of the Budget presentation indicates 4 key functional areas: 1. Instruction  2. District Administration 3. Operations and Maintenance of Facilities 4. Transportation of Students.

Funding for the new Technology for Learning Strategy, aligned with the Strategic Plan, was clarified in  this document, available on the Secretary-Treasurer’s pages.

The District Program Summary handout shows this year’s budgeted expenses beside next year’s for line items. I have some questions about Reading Recovery, programming for Gifted students, Learning Directions, and the allocation for Parent Advisory Committee line.You may have some, too.

3.    Round Table Discussions

The two members of the public who attended, Carol Pickup (former Board Chair), and Dr. Starla Anderson (former Trustee candidate) , asked questions which led to discussion mainly on special education services.

  • Pickup: School closures are occurring all over BC school districts. It’s important to look 25 years out for Facilities planning. Property values her are skyrocketing and the District can’t afford to buy back property once it’s sold.
  • Walsh: The new Facilities plan, aligned with the District Strategic Plan, will provide a 10 year forecast.
  • Pickup: Class size and composition is an issue still live – in the courts
  • Walsh: Yes, in the Supreme Court. A decision is expected in November.   SD61 spends over what we are allocated for Special Education. About 1500 students have Ministry designations.
  • Pickup: Reported from a classroom teacher that there are on occasion 7 students with special needs in one classroom. Are resources adequate for meaningful inclusion of students with special needs?
  • Superintendent Langstraat: SD61 offers choices: congregated programs at a few schools – for example, special classes for students who need intensive behaviour interventions. We speak with parents about choice, so there  are both options.
  • McNally: Students cannot get funded service no matter how disruptive and troubled, if parents / families will not agree to designation, and in the case of intensive behaviour support needs, if parents will not agree to involve an outside agency, ie a psychologist or psychiatrist.
  • Pickup: Integration of every child is not possible full time for every student, especially in academic classes.
  • Langstraat: We take into account the most enabling environment for the student.
  • Pickup: Is Victor School still open? [This stand-alone  school’s website recently disappeared.]
  • Langstraat: Yes.
  • Pickup: Pleased to hear that.
  • Loring-Kuhanga:  The Board will send out a Needs Budget letter in which the need for additional funding for students with special needs is identified as a issue.
  • Anderson: Strategic Plan values are excellent. The Plan demonstrates lots of collaborative work of the Board. Trustees have two years to make it happen. Have heard that additional funding is going to Craigflower School.
  • Langstraat: Yes. Much smaller class sizes are needed at Craigflower, along with increased literacy support. Engaged in ongoing conversation with the Songhees and Esquimalt Nations about what they want for their children. The Board has a commitment to equity [ Budget discussion April 23/14: McNally: Motion to amend a) ii: That the $53,501 surplus be used to provide Craigflower school with additional Reading Recovery time  and / or learning support time to be decided by the school staff. / Carried. For: Alpha, Horsman, McEvoy, McNally, Loring-Kuhanga, Nohr   Against: Ferris, Leonard, Orcherton ], and what that looks like on the ground.
  • Anderson: Tutoring prisoners, and finding that 70% of the students have some form of Learning Disability. These incarcerated people were failed by the school system of her day. They didn’t get the help they needed.
  • Loring-Kuhanga: Context for Aboriginal families not wanting designations for children is that many school learning assistance programs were fun off funding that was brought in by Aboriginal students when so many were designated as Learning Disabled. There is a remaining stigma in many people’s minds.
  • Orcherton: Is there a wait list to get assessments? Could the District get caught up with designations? How many students are on the wait list for assessments and how long would it take to get caught up?
  • [ From 22 years’ experience as a special education  teacher in this District, I know that there is the “official” list, 4 students per year, on which the most needy students whose needs can barely be met if at all, rise to the top, and then there is the “really needs to be assessed” list which can have 4 years’ worth of students on it. Parents were  not even told that their child needs assessment until the child got a spot on the 4 per year list, in order to not set off alarm bells. The assessment might finally take place in middle school, and parents who can afford it and who suspect that an assessment would be helpful for education programming and support, spend $1000s of their own money to have an assessment done privately.]
  • Pickup: What is the state of the arts in SD61? While Chair, we hired a Director for the Arts, but that person was let go.
  • Langstraat: The arts are very healthy in SD61, especially music programs.

equality

4.    Concluding Remarks: Chair
5.    Adjournment : 8 pm

Additional information re BC education funding from PAN (Parent Advocacy Network) Vancouver,) below.

pan_questions_on_bc_budget_2016_moe_final 1pan_questions_on_bc_budget_2016_moe_final 2pan_questions_on_bc_budget_2016_moe_final 3pan_questions_on_bc_budget_2016_moe_final 4pan_questions_on_bc_budget_2016_moe_final 5pan_questions_on_bc_budget_2016_moe_final 6pan_questions_on_bc_budget_2016_moe_final 7

 

Jan 11/16: Operations: The Record Off The Record: Definition of a SD61 Asset (Corporate Naming Rights) / Crumb Rubber

McNally: That the Superintendent recommend policy that would specifically define physical assets based on the Cariboo-Chilcotin District 27 wording [quoted in document above] : that assets include all real property, including but not limited to teacherages, portables, vehicles, equipment, office furniture, computer equipment, electronic waste, library and text books,and obsolete inventory and / or supplies. / Defeated. For: McNally, Paynter Against: Leonard, Nohr, Watters

The Record Off The Record is my personal record of and commentary on Board and Standing Committee meetings in School District 61 Greater Victoria.

Official approved minutes of Board and Standing Committee meetings and official voting records posted on the SD61 website under “Board of Education” menu one month after the meeting. Agendas  posted for the public the Friday before the meeting.

P1: Disclaimer / Backgrounder
P2: OPPS  Standing Committee Report
P3: Some Applicable SD61 Bylaws /  BC School Boards Advocacy Letters
P4: District PAC (aka DPAC, VCPAC) Constitution excerpts / School Act re DPACs

Links for more info /sources in blue.

Sticky post: Motions and Trustee Voting Records January 2012 – June 2015. The District now posts a record of motions carried, but the motions that fail are equally interesting. (They do appear in the minutes of meetings, along with the vote, but not until a month after the meeting.)

Next Meetings
Mon Jan 18/16 7:30 pm: Board Meeting: Tolmie Board Room
Mon Feb 1/16 7 pm: Ed Policy and Directions: Location TBA
Tues Feb 9/16 7 pm: Operations : Tolmie Board Room
Mon Feb 15/16 7:30 pm: Board Meeting: Tolmie Board Room

SD61 Greater Victoria School District:

  • approximately 20,000 students
  • 27 Elementary Schools
  • 10 Middle Schools
  • 7 Secondary Schools
  • 13 Programs of Choice, 155 BAA courses
  • School District for Esquimalt, Oak Bay, Victoria, View Royal, part of Saanich and the Highlands, and the Traditional Territories of the Songhees and Esquimalt Nations
  • Approximately 650 graduated adult learners register with the SD61 Continuing Education / Distributed Learning Program
  • Approximately 20 non-graduated adults enrolled
  • 6th largest employer in the Capital Regional District
  • 2015-16 budget of $206,361,204.
  • 9 Trustees @ approximately $1,400 a month each,; expected to attend two meetings a month. Each Trustee has access to an individual $2000 annual professional development fund, which at this point, rolls over if not used.

Legally required reports (Section 72 Reports) from In Camera meetings are posted beside the relevant meeting. (Click “view all” on the Bylaws, Policies and Regulations  menu).  “Section 72” refers to Section 72 (3) of the BC School Act which states “A board must prepare a record containing a general statement as to the nature of the matters discussed and the general nature of the decisions reached at a meeting from which persons other than trustees or officers of the board, or both, were excluded, and the record must be open for inspection at all reasonable times by any person, who may make copies and extracts on payment of a fee set by the board.” [Kind of an antique process now that these are posted online.] Key word: “general”. Any report out beyond the very basic one required must be done by an in camera motion and majority vote.

SD61 Bylaw 9360.1 states: “In-camera items that may be discussed confidentially include legal, property, personnel and privacy matters as defined by provincial legislation.  Full board meetings must be held in public unless the board decides that it is in the public’s interest to hold a private session (closed or in-camera meeting). However, it is important not to abuse this power. Potential controversy or embarrassment to the board is not usually sufficient reasons for an in-camera meeting.”

Civic governments are bound by the Community Charter (except for the City of Vancouver, which adheres to the Vancouver Charter) and move into in camera meetings by a  motion made by a Councillor in a public meeting and carried by majority vote of the Council.  The public has to leave for the duration of the secret meeting and them come back. School Boards are governed by the BC School Act which allows  Chairs to set in camera meetings any time, often before public meetings.

Trustees and student representatives are referred to by last name only for brevity; “The Board of Education of SD No. 61 (Greater Victoria)” is referred to as “the Board”. No audio or video recordings are made of Standing Committee meetings, only of Board meetings. Motions may be shortened but retain essential wording.Seconders not noted (or needed in Committees).

Trustees are assigned by the Board Chair as members of the two Standing Committees, Ed Policy and Operations Policy.  Board and Committee agenda setting is the prerogative of the Chairs, with input from senior administration.

OPPS:
Chair Leonard; McNally, Paynter, Watters  (ex officio Loring-Kuhanga)
Ed Policy:
Chair Nohr; Ferris, Orcherton, Whiteaker  (ex officio Loring-Kuhanga)