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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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