Trustee information from PGDTA, Prince George Citizen, and CKPG

The PGDTA has posted the candidates responses to their survey, and a video of the first two minute presentations from each trustee candidate here: http://www.pgdta.ca/

The Prince George Citizen has a list of where to vote and who is running: https://www.princegeorgecitizen.com/news/local-news/where-to-vote-on-election-day-and-who-s-running-1.23470151

CKPG Questions and Answers: https://ckpgtoday.ca/article/542367/school-district-57-candidate-qa

Prince George Matters: https://www.princegeorgematters.com/local-news/prince-george-election-2018-unsure-of-election-details-and-requirements-this-will-help-1082753

Catchment and Capacity (plus the Duchess Park issue)

As many people know, Duchess Park is facing capacity issues, and some solutions have been proposed. There needs to be more work before a real solution is found, and as a trustee, I would want to make sure that any decisions reached are solutions that work for the district as a whole, use supportable data, allow people have informed opinions during consultation, ensure that any decisions are educationally sound, have the least possible disruption to our children, ideally keep families together, and ensure that the entire process is a respectful one – where people can see and trust the decision-making process.

Back in June 2018, I made this presentation to Duchess Park parents, to provide people with background around the capacity issues at Duchess Park:

2018 June 11 Information Session – Duchess Park PAC

There’s two slides in particular I think are helpful for looking at capacity issues in the school district as a whole:

What we have there are years of declining enrollments, followed by an upswing in elementary school enrollments – and finally, we’re also seeing an increase in secondary school enrollments.

I also made a presentation to the board in June, updating some of the projection numbers with a revised methodology:

Capacity is something that has long been an intrest of mine – for example, you can see some analysis here, using data from 2015-16:

https://public.tableau.com/profile/sarahholland#!/vizhome/SD57-EnrolmentComparisons/EnrolmentComparisons

I think one of the earliest documents was this one, from January 2012:

http://sd57dpac.ca/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/Short-version-Enrolment-History-and-Projections-jan-23-2012.pdf

 

Truth and Reconciliation Answer

At Tuesday night’s trustee forum, I was asked what concrete actions the district could take to support the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation committee, and I had one minute to speak to this. I couldn’t possibly be able to do this question justice in one minute – especially without a chance to put my thoughts in order first – so I thought I’d write down a few more points.

I did discuss funding – the district needs to continue to support the Aboriginal Education department in the district, and continue with the weaving of the Aboriginal content into all areas of this district and the curriculum. I’ve been impressed by the way the Aboriginal focii alternate between families of schools, bringing elders into the schools, and educating our children on things that I, personally, was never taught about in schools.

I also think it’s important to be able to support our teachers and other staff, and that’s in two ways – one is to have in-service and professional development opportunities to learn more, and be comfortable teaching, about Aboriginal content. I know I’ve talked with teachers who weren’t well educated themselves about residential schools, for example, and who are looking for support on how best to teach and explain something this important. Providing in-service and professional development opportunities cost money, and this is something the district can provide more of.

Another area is being able to recruit and retain teachers and other staff of Aboriginal ancestry, and that’s something that would be a discussion area with the PGDTA.

There is so much more that could be discussed, and I hope to be able to discuss more as a trustee in the future.

My answers to questions from CKPG

Why run for a trustee position?
Short answer: I believe I can do a good job, in a very important job. Longer answer: after my children’s school was closed in 2010, I realized that what decisions the school board makes actually matters. I got involved, and have found it fascinating, complicated, and important. I want to do my part to make the school system work for all our students, I want to work respectfully with our education partners, and I want people to be able to see and trust the decision-making process.

What do you see as the biggest challenge facing SD57?
There’s never just one challenge in the school system. There are many important issues facing the Prince George school district, including the capacity of schools, implementation of new curriculum, changes to the funding formula, and the ongoing challenge of providing appropriate support to all our students. Dealing with these challenges requires collaboration, consultation, analysis, dealing with others with respect, using the money we have to our best advantage, and advocating for more funding.

Is the current curriculum preparing kids for success?
The revised curriculum was rolled out in 2016 for kindergarten to grade 9 students, and is being fully implemented this year for grades 10 to 12. We don’t know yet if this is proving to prepare students for success, but I have been encouraged by the amount of consultation and teacher involvement there has been in the preparation of the curriculum, and what I’ve heard from teachers to date. The board will need to assess how the revisions to the curriculum are working in practice.

Do you believe the new ward system will be effective?
There are some potential issues: trustees are elected to represent the district as a whole, but will have only one community electing them; there is a population imbalance between the communities and the representatives. On the other hand, there has long been a population imbalance when all trustees have come from Prince George. The new ward system was established by the Minister of Education, and the board now has the responsibility to make it work – and must, in good faith, work together for the district as a whole.

How should the funding formula look? The provincial government is reviewing it.
I agree with the statement of principles for the new funding model by Ministry and BCSTA, which are that the funding model be responsive (takes into consideration unique local requirement), equitable (comparable levels of service across the province), stable and predictable (multi-year planning!), flexible (respects local autonomy), transparent (uses clear methodology), and accountable (allocates in an efficient manner, ensures resources are being used as intended). It will be interesting to see if the new funding model makes dramatic changes that will lead to better student outcomes, or if it is a reshuffling of current funding (where some districts are winners and others are losers). Education is a priority and an increase in funding is important.

My submission to the Prince George Citizen

I am passionate about the importance of the public education system in our democratic society, and the role that our school system plays in helping all our children acquire the knowledge, skills, and attitudes needed to contribute to a healthy community.

In 2010, the school that my children attended was closed, and I realized the importance of the district to individual schools and students. I volunteered at the district level, and as chair of the district parent advisory council, I helped represent parent views on issues such as capacity, student time to eat lunch, safety, financial hardship, bullying, and much more.

My qualifications for the job of trustee include:

  • years of experience with the school system, having participated in committees such as policy and governance, budget, education services, and more
  • commitment to public education
  • strong financial background, to help make decisions on the $165 million budget
  • respectful working relationship with the partner groups of the district
  • familiar with policy and procedures, having attended most board meetings over the past 7 years

 

Some of the things I’d like to work on as a trustee are:

  • Proactively planning for student numbers, so that students aren’t turned away from school or faced with crowded schools
  • The right of each unique learner to access the resources and supports they need for success
  • Working together, because success in education needs a team approach.
  • Using facts and data to make well thought out decisions
  • A commitment to transparency – it’s important that people be able to see and trust the decision-making process
  • School code of conduct, and anti-bullying policies and supports for students – making sure these policies are understandable, coherent, and effective in communicating the rights and responsibilities of our students, programs for anti-bullying and supports, and building strong communities
  • Recruitment and retention for employees.

My answers to Prince George District Teachers Questionnaire

Trustee Candidate Questionnaire – Prince George District Teachers Association

 

 

  1. Why are you running to be a trustee in the upcoming municipal election?

 

Short answer: I believe I can do a good job, in a very important job. Longer answer: after my children’s school was closed in 2010, I realized that what decisions the school board makes actually matters. I got involved, and have found it fascinating, complicated, and important. I want to do my part to make the school system work for all our students, I want to work respectfully with our education partners, and I want people to be able to see and trust the decision-making process.

Some of agendas from board and committee meetings I’ve attended

2. Prior to September 2018, had you ever been to a school board meeting?

Yes. I have regularly been attending school board meetings for about 7 years. I attended and made presentations as a partner group representative (District Parent Advisory Council), and also attended when not serving as chair of DPAC. I have also attended a number of committee meetings, including Policy and Governance, Education Services, Catchment and Capacity Stakeholder Review Advisory Committee, and Expanded Committee of the Whole (Budget). I should note that teachers (and other partner groups) have had some wonderful representatives over the years, committed both to students and to effectively representing their members, and I have been honoured to work with these representatives.

  1. What do you see the role of Trustee as it relates to the Superintendent of the school district?

The board of trustees is responsible for the district, and sets direction, makes policies, and provides oversight. The board is not involved in the day to day operations. The Superintendent is responsible to the board for managing operations, ensuring policies are followed, and carrying out board decisions, and the board should conduct regular evaluations. It is important to note that the board has responsibility and authority, individual trustees do not have this authority. The board and Superintendent must be able to work together in a professional and respectful manner.

 

  1. How will you deal with capacity and catchment issues in Prince George?

I’ve spoken about this many times in the past, and have made a number of presentations to the board, starting in 2011.  I think it’s important to base decisions on good data and projections with documented assumptions. It’s also important to be able to make decisions earlier, as when you wait, you need to make more disruptive decisions – and we’d prefer not to be too disruptive in schools! My priorities are to determine solutions for a school that works for the district as a whole (we can’t look at things just school by school), use supportable data, consult with staff and the community and ensure that people have informed opinions, ensure that eventual decisions are educationally sound, have the least possible disruption to our students and our staff, ideally keep families together, and ensure that the entire process is respectful to students, staff, and community.

 

  1. If elected, will you speak out publicly about issues which are a direct result of government underfunding or inaction? Please describe what actions you will undertake.

I believe that it is important for the board to speak with a unified voice when it comes to dealing with the government. As such, I would be in favour of board statements and other communications to effectively advocate for increased funding and other actions. It is important for boards to advocate, but to do so in an effective manner.

 

  1. Are you aware of the technology concerns of the district, particularly referring to being restricted to one platform and the lack of accessible Wi-Fi? What will you do to address these concerns?

Yes, I am aware of these concerns. I would be very interested in recommendations from the  District Technology Advisory Committee. Technology is there to help education and learning; learning should not be held back by technology issues. I have also been concerned by schools having parents funding technology, as this creates have and have-not schools in the district. Additionally, we also need to provide better support to teachers to better use technology in the classroom.

 

  1. What are your views on SOGI (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity) and SOGI 123 in the classrooms of this District?

I fully agree with a recent statement put out by all of BC education partners, stating that school should be “a place where students feel safe, accepted, respected and welcome regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity, race, religion or background.” I’m surprised that this could be considered controversial – we teach our children about various races, cultures and religions without issue, and just like there are a variety of races, cultures and religions, there are a variety of sexual orientations and gender identities. I’ve read through the SOGI 123 curricular resources, and support them being used in our classrooms.

 

  1. To what extent would you prioritize music and arts education in this district?

I would love to see more money being spent on music and arts education, especially in elementary schools, as I think we have been lacking in this. I’m not certain how to best to do this, and would love to discuss this in more detail.  

 

  1. In the past few years, this district has had problems in recruiting and retaining specialist teachers, for example in French Immersion, Core French (elementary and secondary), music, and trades. How would you address this issue?

Everywhere has had problems in recruiting and retaining French teachers, due to the country-wide increase in French immersion. Recruitment and retention should be a concern for all of our staff members.  I would be in favour of supporting the BCTF recommendations for recruitment, retention, and mentorship with the Ministry of Education. However, most of these recommendations would be out of the direct control of the board, such as shortening of salary grid, student loans, or moving expenses. The board can work to provide more mentorship opportunities and professional development, as well as assistance to principals to ensure good staff relations.

 

  1. Last year, the RCMP and the mayor asked that people stay home during inclement weather/snow storms. Our staff and students were expected to show up in these unsafe conditions. Will you support a change to the policy so that schools will close based on the recommendations of the RCMP or city staff during inclement weather? Why or why not?

Yes, I would support a change to the policy, to increase the safety of staff and students. My understanding is that the schools never close during inclement weather because of the risk that students may reach a school only to find it closed, and then be left out in the cold. I believe there are ways to manage this risk, perhaps by keeping a list of staff who live close to a school, who would be able to reach that school without unduly endangering themselves.

 

My answers to Prince George Matters questionnaire

Name: Sarah Holland

 Age: 50

 Number of years lived in Prince George: 22

 Current neighbourhood: The Hart

 Occupation: financial planner

 Reason community would recognize your name: former chair of district parent advisory council (DPAC), formerly on library board, volunteered with Hart Community Association

 Questions:

What is the most important issue facing the school district, and how do you propose to deal with it?

There’s never just one issue in the school system. There’s many important issues facing the Prince George school district, including capacity of schools, catchments, implementation of new curriculum, new union negotiations, and providing support to all our students. Dealing with it requires collaboration, consultation, dealing with others with respect, using the money we have to our best advantage, and advocating for more funding.

What is your specific reason for running?

Short answer: I believe I can do a good job, in a very important job. Longer answer: after my children’s school was closed, in 2010, I realized that what the school district does actually matters. I got involved, and have found it fascinating, complicated, and important. I want to do my part to make the school system work for all our students, and I want people to be able to see and trust the decision making process.

Where can the school board spend less?

After so many years of cuts, the school district was cut past the bone. Sadly, there are no vast sums of wasted money around.

Where should the school board be investing more?

The thing about the school system is that we can always spend more money on students. We have limited funding, so how can we best put to use what we have? One way to spend money effectively is to collaborate with teachers for continuous improvement of teaching skills, as we know that our students benefit from great teachers. Another way to spend money is to provide money for mental health and counselling. We’re also going to be needing more space in our schools, at some point in the nearer future.

Next time you’re walking in the woods and you come face-to-face with a Sasquatch, what do you do?

Back away slowly, while getting my cell phone video to work (I expect that would be quite educational).

If the next school board does something film-worthy, who would play you in the film?

Meryl Streep, because she can play anyone.

Complete the sentence:

When I’m not at home or at work, you can find me: most likely in my car, between home, work, school district meetings, grocery store, and transporting children.

The most random, yet interesting fact about me is: My father’s mother’s father’s father conducted guided donkey tours on Mount Etna.

My favourite beverage is: either water, tea, or wine, depending on mood.

For Christmas/Hanukkah/the gift-giving season, I would like: gift certificate to Books & Co

The best park in/near to Prince George is: too many to choose from!

If Prince George didn’t exist, I’d be living in: somewhere else in BC

When I need some pump-up music, I listen to: I have eclectic tastes in music. I’m currently listening to a variety of musicals, including Hamilton, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Mean Girls, Evan Hansen, Hairspray, Aida, and Crazy Ex Girlfriend.

Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI)

I’ve had several questions asked recently about SOGI education, and I thought I’d take the opportunity to post about this. I’m a bit delayed in posting due to illness (the usual September sharing of germs and viruses).

First off, I support:

  • human right legislation
  • treating all people with respect
  • the SOGI curricular resources
  • school districts following the directives of the Ministry of Education
  • reducing discrimination, suicidal ideation and suicide attempts for all students
  • age appropriate student education on the fact that there is variety of sexual orientations and gender identities, as well as family structures.

Some people may not know what SOGI stands for – it’s sexual orientation and gender identity. Everyone has a sexual orientation and a gender identify. SD57 used to have a LGBTQ policy, and now has a SOGI policy. SOGI is more inclusive than LGBTQ, because everyone has a sexual orientation and a gender identity. As the SOGI website says: “Unlike the acronym LGBTQ+, SOGI is a subject or topic and not a list of specific identities. It is an inclusive term that is relevant to all individuals regardless of where they identify on the sexual orientation or gender identity spectrums, as every person has a sexual orientation and every person has a gender identity. It includes identities like lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, two-spirit, heterosexual, cisgender, and more.”

In July 2016, Bill 27- Human Rights Code Amendment Act was passed to include “gender identity or expression” among the protected grounds covered by the BC Human Rights Code. The B.C. Ministry of Education followed in September 2016 with its own directive asking that explicit references to sexual orientation and gender identity be added to the policies and codes of conduct in each school district.

On Saturday, September 29th, 2018, the Minister of Education put out a statement cosigned by BC Teachers’ Federation, BC School Superintendents Association, BC School Trustees Association, BC Principals’ and Vice-Principals’ Association, CUPE BC, BC Association of School Business Officials, Federation of Independent School Associations, BC Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils, ARC Foundation, First Nations Education Steering Committee, First Nations Schools Association and Métis Nation BC, stating that “All of B.C.’s provincial education partners for K-12 schools are committed to ensuring every school — both public and independent — is a place where students feel safe, accepted, respected and welcome regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity, race, religion or background. … As provincial education partners, we stand unified in this commitment. All of our province’s 60 school districts have now updated their codes of conduct and all independent schools have updated their harassment and bullying prevention policies that safeguard students from being bullied for their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

The Ministry of Education also has some curriculum resources that address how to deal with SOGI in a classroom, and people can freely access that information here: https://bc.sogieducation.org/sogi3/

For example, there’s a 1.5 page lesson plan for K to 12 about why saying “that’s so gay” is not OK – https://teachbcdb.bctf.ca/download/957?filename=responding-to-22thats-so-gay22.docx

There’s also a lesson plan for English Language Arts 8/9, for Examining Novels for Gender Bias: “Questioning what we hear, read, and view contributes to our ability to be educated and engaged citizens”. As and example, one of the 10 guiding questions says: “Stories and novels can be a way for society to reinforce societal norms. What societal norms are being reinforced by this novel? Examples of societal norms might include ideas such as: work hard at school, be loyal to your friends, or men should not cry. To what extent do you agree with the social norms reinforced by your novel?”

In addition to the curricular resources, there’s also examples of inclusive language give, such as ““Good morning everyone.” instead of “Good morning boys and girls.”, or “Please tell your parents or guardian.” instead of “Please tell your mom and dad.”

There have been places in the province where there has been more criticism of the SOGI policies and curricular resources – and criticism of treating all students with respect. I actually know a DPAC chair in Chilliwack who ended up having to call the RCMP due to threats she received after supporting the SOGI policy, so I have to admit to being a bit nervous about this coming up as an issue in Prince George. The situation in Chilliwack is getting rather ugly during the election campaign, it appears, although I haven’t been following it in detail.

I believe there is also a movement to encourage trustees to come out against SOGI materials. Not only do I not support that, I will point out that any decision by a board to ban SOGI 123 materials or lessons would doubtless be challenged in court, and court cases cost money – money that would taken away from student learning.

I had one gentleman contact me online, to ask what I thought of SOGI. After I responded, he said: ” I have very deep concerns about it. I am fully for a safe and inclusive atmosphere for all students at every age! I just don’t believe teachers should be teaching these things especially to young children.” I am very reassured that we’re both at the same starting point – being for a safe and inclusive for all students at every age. I think it’s important to make it very clear to all our students that our schools should always be safe for them, inclusive for them, and students should always be welcomed in our schools no matter what their sexual orientation or gender identity.

The BC School Trustee website quotes a Langley trustee on SOGI: “Just as we teach students about the existence of various religions and cultures (without encouraging or discouraging them to follow any particular religion), it is important that students be exposed (in an age appropriate manner) to the fact that there are a variety of sexual orientations and gender identities. Notwithstanding some inaccurate criticisms, as with religions and cultures, students are not encouraged or discouraged to have any particular sexual orientation or gender identity … and are certainly not encouraged to change theirs. Quite the contrary, whether focusing on religion, physical attributes, learning differences, culture or gender identity / sexual orientation, we encourage acceptance of people the way they are. This is especially important when people are not just like us.” – Trustee Rob MacFarlane, SD35 Langley

I’ve also just been asked on Twitter about in what ways will I support and encourage SOGI education in schools. I definitely support and encourage SOGI education in schools, and I think that one of the best ways to continue to do so at a board level is to continue to fund SOGI support and professional development in our schools. As a (potential) trustee, I will also seek out suggestions on how best to do this from our valued SOGI educators.

So where does this leave us?

  • If people have concerns about SOGI education, I suggest they check out the SOGI website: https://bc.sogieducation.org/ or https://www.sogieducation.org/parents
  • If people have specific concerns around specific curricular items, please let me know, and I’d be happy to discuss this, as long as the starting point is that schools should be a safe and inclusive for all students at every age
  • If people have specific requests for ways for schools to be more inclusive, please let me know

Thank you for reading.

School Board Meeting – Tuesday, September 25th

The Board of Education will hold its regular public meeting on Tuesday, September 25th at 7 p.m. in the Boardroom located at 2100 Ferry Avenue. The board agenda package is available here: 2018.09.25 Regular Public Board Book.pdf

I have written a summary of the board agenda package along with some comments, and will be in attendance, as usual, in the back row next to a power outlet (the laptop I had been using wasn’t able to last out a typical board meeting, which is why I usually sit there). I look forward to meeting with other candidates at this time!

The public is always invited to attend, and it’s also important to note that the public can leave before the end of the meeting if desired. A video link is available, but typically not nearly as useful as being there is.

Possibly being added to agenda:

From what I understand, it’s possible that a report will also be made as to the preliminary results from the consultations around Duchess Park (potential Edgewood catchment move to Kelly Road, and French immersion and Francophone move to PGSS).

Public Input:

There is always public input available – people can come in advance of the meeting, write their name down on a list inside the door (by the stack of agendas), and speak for up to 5 minutes on a topic of their choosing. The board does not typically respond to any issues raised or questions asked at the time, but will respond later.

In camera (non-public) meetings

The board will approve their record of minutes of in camera (non-public) meetings. I note there are 11 listed on the agenda, which include “discussion regarding a request from an association”, “discussion and decision regarding personnel and governance matters”, “receipt of an update regarding a personnel matter”, “follow up conversation regarding consultation survey results”, and “follow up discussion regarding a submission to the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services”.

I believe that it’s important that people be able to see and trust the decision making process, and believe that some of the items discussed in camera should be made public.

According to bylaw 1:

1.12 All matters coming before the Board shall be considered in public sessions except the following:
1.12.1 Personnel matters
a) Salary claims and negotiations
b) Efficiency, discipline or retirement of employees
c) Employee promotion or termination
1.12.2 Legal matters
a) Accident claims
b) Legal actions brought by or against the Board
c) Legal opinions respecting any matters which are to be considered in private session
1.12.3 Student matters
a) Indigent students
b) Student discipline
1.12.4 Property matters
a) Negotiations regarding purchase, lease or sale of property
b) Future site planning and designation
1.12.5 Investigations regarding possible school closures
1.12.6 Auditors’ management letter
1.12.7 Medical matters respecting individual students or employees

Beyond that long list of items that should be discussed privately, there are also two other options that allow for anything whatsoever to be moved away from the public:

1.12.8 Other matters that the Chairperson considers appropriate for initial discussion in camera
1.12.9 Such matters as the Board may determine

Trustees can always move items back to the public, by making a motion:

1.13 No trustee shall disclose to the public the proceedings of an in camera meeting unless a motion has been passed at the meeting to allow such disclosure.

1.14 A trustee may make a motion to place an in camera item of business onto the agenda of the public session and, upon the motion being seconded and discussed, a simple majority vote in favour of the motion shall be sufficient cause to move the item into the public session.

 

Record of votes:

This board has opted to record who votes in favour and against motions in the minutes, which was not typically done in previous board’s minutes – this board implemented it last year, which can be of assistance when going through old minutes to find out what happened.

Management and Finance Committee:

Pages 13 through 55 of the agenda package relate to the audited 2017-2018 financial statements, presented by KPMG. The 2018 budget was $158,693,943 revenue and $168,349,956 expenses (which would have required using previous year surplus money), and the actual amount was $159,507,484 and $157,105,854 expenses (which increases the amount of accumulated surplus). The district is well run when it comes to maintaining control over expenses, and projecting revenue and expenses conservatively. It will be interesting to note what was not spent – that’s over $11 million budgeted for that wasn’t spent. Page 37 shows that about $8.4 million of was instruction expenses.

There’s lots of interesting information available in the financial statements – for example, it’s good to note that the teachers’ defined benefit pension plan is currently in a surplus position (likewise the municipal pension plan), when an actuarial valuation is done. Province wide, the teacher pension plan has about 45,000 active members and 37,000 retired members.

Note 14 on page 36 shows the transportation contract with Diversified ($4 million a year), and the Kelly Road construction costs ($22 million in 2019, $11 million in 2020, and $3.7 million in 2021). Note 15 refers to contractual rights, such as the shared use agreement (such as the Prince George municipal agreement, so that community groups can use school buildings), and lease revenue.

The statements following break the budget down into operating expenses (the bulk of the expenses), special purpose operations, and capital operations.

Page 55 is a great page, as it breaks down what is happening with the surplus (money not spent in previous years). A large part of the surplus is “internally restricted due to operations spanning the school year”, which could be translated to mean that they’re setting money aside with plans to spend it later. For example, about $8 million is school based budgeting decisions.

I think that the “Comprehensive Academic Intervention Stragey” is an unfortunate typo, but funny.

Another part of the report from Management and Finance refers to signing authority, and I see that Darleen Patterson is now listed as Secretary Treasurer, and Hannah Brown is the Director of Finance. Congratulations, and best wishes to excellence in financial administration, to both Darleen and Hannah. Marie St. Laurent is also listed as the Director of Human Resources, which is also new – congratulations and best wishes also to Marie.

And we’re on to page 59 of 75! Difficult to tell how long that will take, but given that there is a KPMG presentation, I would assume that this point will be reached by 8:30pm at the earliest.

This section is the school district’s submission to the select standing committee on finance and government services, and is part of the board’s work in advocating to the provincial government for additional funding. Four challenges are noted:

  • Rural and urban (equitable access to quality public education in all rural communities)
  • Predictable and sustainable funding  (refers to the provincial review of funding model, and the province covering expenses that they have negotiated for and yet aren’t funding)
  • Students and families in poverty (vulnerable students and families need support to address both nutritional and socio-emotional needs of students, and recommending adoption and funding of a comprehensive and accountable provincial poverty reduction strategy)
  • Aging school facilities (the majority of school facilities are in Poor condition – although it must be pointed out that our maintenance and custodial staff ensures these schools provide clean, safe, and well maintained buildings and grounds – and the need for additional capital funding)

 

And thus concludes the Management and Finance committee portion of the agenda.

 

Education Programs and Planning:

There is a committee report, including a Ministry of Education update. Two items arising from the committee are:

  • that the board provide a letter of support for Prince George becoming an official Physical Literacy for Life community
  • that the board enter into an agreement with France for the purpose of education collaboration

The agreement would follow from the work of College Heights and Duchess Park in an innovation grant for Authentic French Learning, and involves teachers collaborating with French counterparts.

Education Services Committee:

The committee report refers to emergency response (evacuations, etc), capital and facilities updates, the Kelly Road project, and purchase orders over $25,000.

The facilities updates include a long list of projects, including radon mitigation, drink water (lead mitigation), hazardous material removals, accessibility improvements, roofing projects, painting, and much more, including a parking lot at Glenview (finally!), adventure playgrounds at Glenview and Valemount, parking lot upgrades, drainage, and portable installations at Springwood, and much more.

The facilities people are very busy during the summer.

Policy and Governance Committee:

Two policies are being reported on – a new policy on placing GPS units in district owned vehicles, and a possible revision to the winter weather policy, as requested by the PGDTA after February 2018. Both are ongoing.

Trustee Reports:

  • BC School Trustee’s association
  • Board Annual Self Evaluation – it will be interesting to see if there is anything distributed for this at the meeting.

New Business:

Nothing listed at this time.

Correspondence:

The move to a ward system for this district has led the district to request some additional funding from the Ministry to support a smooth transition. A letter to the Minister was sent June 20th.

 

The next school board meeting is held Oc

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lunch in the Schools

I’ve had a couple of questions from parents about time given to children to eat lunch, and what my position is on that as a school trustee candidate.

My position on that is the same as when I, on behalf of DPAC, was bringing this to the school district last year, which is that elementary school students should have more time to eat lunch than 15 minutes.

There was some media about that, at the time (you can see me in the CKPG video):

The full lunch survey report is available from the DPAC website here: http://sd57dpac.ca/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/2018-jan-30-DPAC-parent-lunch-survey.pdf

To quote from this report:

  • DPAC’s recommendations are as follows:
  • Increase the amount of time provided for students to eat
  • Look at merits of providing reverse lunches (play first, then eat)
  • Review adult vs. student lunch time supervision in classrooms
  • Engage in further conversation and communication about these issues

In January, DPAC said: “We urge parents and parent advisory councils to continue this conversation with the staff at their child’s school, and to remember that purpose of parent advisory councils, according to the school act, is to advise the board and the principal and staff of the school respecting any matter relating to the school – to be a stronger, collective voice of parents.”

As a trustee, this would be an issue that I would be very interested in pursuing. It will be important to do so in consultation with teachers, education assistants, and school administrative staff, but I believe it is everyone’s best interests to make sure that students have enough time (and food!) to eat, as a hungry child will have difficulty learning and concentrating.

 

Page 1 Page 2