A Seat at the Table-Thanks for your Support!

I am so thrilled to have been elected to the Greater Victoria School Board. I campaigned with the message that I would be a voice for the children. And I will speak out boldly, accurately and constantly. Interestingly, what I have learned after 25 years of teaching is that when you address children’s needs properly you invariably address teachers’ needs also. It is always a win-win.

Thank you to everyone who was willing to stop, take a moment out of their hectic schedules and sincerely seek to understand the current issues and the clear solutions that are within our reach.Thank you for sharing your concerns, frustrations and positive experiences with me. I feel that I have a very good sense from you of some important work that needs to be done. Thank you for taking the time on Saturday, Nov.19, 2011 to vote for me.

 

I have come to know that the only way we will be able to solve our underfunding crisis in public education is through a joint effort. The trustees can’t do it alone.The parents can’t do it alone. The teachers have tried and they can’t do it alone. It requires a community effort to eliminate underfunded learning experiences for many of our children.

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Support For Students Through Academies, Music and Arts…Absolutely!

Let me make this very clear, if I were elected trustee, I would always protect our academies, music and fine arts programs. These programs are outstanding and many of our students in SD 61 stay in school and love school because of their involvement in specialty programs that connect to their passions, skills and sense of competency and empowerment. Not all students’ first passion is  the classic ‘academic track’ and we have acknowledged and supported this through the establishment of various academies in the district at the middle and secondary school level. A foundational principle of pedagogy is engage students and teach valuable skills and concepts through their personal interests. IT IS COMPLETELY UNTRUE THAT I STATED AT THE TRUSTEE FORUM (REYNOLDS) THAT I WOULD MAKE A MOTION TO ELIMINATE ACADEMIES. I WOULD NEVER MAKE A MOTION TO THIS EFFECT AND WOULD NOT SUPPORT SUCH A MOTION.

VCPAC All-Candidate’s Forum – & Shaw’s profile of trustee candidates

Information found on the Victoria Confederation of Parent Advisory Committee’s website: www.vcpac.ca

The Victoria Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils (VCPAC) will be hosting a second All Candidates Meeting for the public. This forum style meetings will allow the candidates to introduce themselves, and answer questions from the audience.

Tuesday, November 15th from 7pmto 9pm at Reynolds Secondary School

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Watch school trustee candidates on Shaw TV and learn more about those running in SD61 & SD62 on Shaw – Channel 11.

Tuesday 1pm & 9pm, Tuesday 1pm & 9pm
We’ll post further dates as available.

Time for Some Changes – Part 7

Nov 7, 2011
By Linda Travers

In Part 5 of Time for Some Changes, I suggested it was time to change the culture of the current Board of Education. We have the opportunity to do that with the upcoming election.

For the past 3 years, I’ve attended almost all the Board of Education meetings. My overall impression is that the elected trustees just simply approve what the Secretary-Treasurer and District Superintendent suggest. One must be in attendance at meeting to see how trustees vote. It is almost impossible for a member of the public to track trustees’ voting records. The minutes of the past three years do not show who makes a motion or how individual trustees vote on motions. You’ll find the occasional reference if a trustee has specifically asked for his/her negative vote to be recorded.

I choose to elect trustees who have demonstrated and will encourage decision making in an open, transparent public process that is responsible, good for public education and makes financial sense.

Here is a brief summary of my personal choices for SD 61 trustee candidates:
(Note: VPEC is NOT endorsing candidates)

1. Edith Loring-Kuhanga – as a former trustee in SD63 (Saanich) she brings knowledge and experience in how good decisions are made. Have a look at the information in various sections of the SD63 (Saanich) website http://www.sd63.bc.ca/ compared to the SD61 (Greater Victoria) website http://www.sd61.bc.ca/default.aspx

2. Diane McNally – as a former Reading Recovery teacher, she knows the importance of early intervention for students experiencing difficulty. She understands that a year in the life of a student not receiving appropriate placement is not commitment “to each student’s success in learning within a responsive and safe environment” (SD61 Mission Statement).

3. Deborah Nohr – over the past three years, she has brought teachers and parents to Board meetings to tell trustees about the situations students face in District classrooms. She also brought invitations from ten teachers inviting trustees to visit their classrooms to observe firsthand. No current trustees accepted the invitations.

4. Peg Orcherton – the only incumbent trustee I am voting for. She believes in open, transparent governance. She has tried to get motions on the floor for discussion. The lack of a following of Roberts’ Rules of Order by the Chair has led to confusion. Often neither the trustees nor the public in attendance understand the outcome.

5. Rob Paynter – he correctly pointed out to the current trustees, unhappy with Stantec’s Strategic Facilities report, that one must have a Request for Proposal with checks and balances throughout the process.

It is not necessary to vote for 9 trustees.

The Fernwood Community Association held a Trustee Candidates’ meeting on Nov. 1 providing an opportunity to hear and ask 13 of the 16 candidates about their platforms. It was unfortunate that Trustees Holland, Leonard and Young were not in attendance.

There will be Trustee Candidates’ meetings sponsored by the Victoria Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils.

Wednesday Nov. 9th 7-9 p.m. at Spectrum Community School
Tuesday Nov. 15th 7-9 p.m. at Reynolds Secondary School.

I hope you will be able to attend one of the meetings to help you decide on whom to vote for on Nov. 19.

Endorsement…..

I’ve known Deborah for the last ten years and have found her to be passionate about the education of our youth. She has a solid understanding of the needs of both students and those teaching them.  As a member of the board she  will not only speak out but also  take action on those issues that will come before the board.  She will bring to the board a much needed fresh voice  and perspective  on the many issues facing our school district.  I fully support her in the upcoming election .

Kenneth L Sherwood
Sherwood,Tucker&Thomas
Chartered Accountants

Come Join the Conversation – All Candidate Trustee Forums – Nov 1, 9 & 15

MEET THE TRUSTEE CANDIDATESŠand be a well-informed voter.

The first All Candidates Meeting is tonight, November 1st, 2011.

Fernwood All Candidates Meeting For School Trustees
Join us at the Fernwood Community Center on Tuesday, Nov.1,2011 at 7:30 pm

The Victoria Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils (VCPAC) will be
hosting two All Candidates Meetings for the public. These forum style
meetings will allow the candidates to introduce themselves, and answer
questions from the audience.(note: there is a correction of venues)
Wednesday, November 9th from 7 pm to 9 pm at Spectrum Community School (957
Burnside Road W)

Tuesday, November 15th from 7 pm to 9 pm at Reynolds Secondary School (3963
Borden Street)

Time for Some Changes – Part 6

Nov. 1, 2011
By Linda Travers

Auditor Genera John Doyle wrote in a 2008-2009 report that an effective public participation process is based on principles of transparency and openness.

At a Nov. 8, 2010 Operations, Policy and Planning Committee meeting it was moved and seconded that the Board take a precautionary look to allow the District Health and Safety Committee to review Wi-Fi in SD61. The motion carried. At the Nov. 15, 2010 Board of Education meeting the motion was changed to allow a representative ad hoc committee to review Wi-Fi and report back by the Spring of 2011 at no cost to the Board. The public in attendance at those meeting assumed they could serve on this ad hoc committee. But that was not to be. On Nov. 30, 2010 Sect’y.-Treasurer Ambeault sent out an email to say that trustees Orcherton, Ferris, Pitre, and parent advisory executive member John Bird had met. It had been decided that the WiFi committee would comprise of 2 members from the Parent Advisory Council, 1 member each from CUPE 382 and CUPE 947 who declined participation, 1 member from the GVTA and 1 member from the Allied Specialist’s Assoc., 1 administrator member each representing Secondary, Middle and Elementary schools and the Director of Information Technology. The chair would be Sect’y.-Treas. Ambeault. The purpose of the Committee was to provide a forum for interested parties to make their positions with supporting information known to the committee with 3 meetings (Jan. 24, Jan. 31 and Feb. 28, 2011) between 5:00 and 7:00 p.m. with additional meetings if required.

The last Wi-Fi meeting was Feb. 28, 2011. More Wi-Fi was being installed as the meetings were being held. In the Mar. 4, 2011 Saanich News, Board Chair Trustee Ferris was quoted as saying that SD61 had no plans to remove wireless internet from schools, following the last of 3 WiFi Comm. meetings. He goes on to say that having read the information over the last month-and-a-half I think it’s more a question of deciding what, if any, the discussion points will be and then, out of that, some recommendations might come.

Question: If there were no plans to remove wireless internet from schools as Chair Ferris stated in his Mar. 4 press statement, what was the reason for having a WiFi Committee meet to receive presentations on Jan. 24, 31 and Feb. 28? Why hasn’t a Board of Education June 20, 2011 motion to reconvene the Wi-Fi Committee happened?
It’s obviously time to elect trustees who believe an effective public participation process is based on principles of transparency and openness.

Letter From Three Progressive Trustees In Vancouver…Parents Please Read!

Provincial Liberal Education Plan – Trick or Treat?

The provincial Liberals’ new Education Plan looks all pretty shiny and new. But peel away the wrapping and there isn’t much there. The plan frequently references “flexibility” and “choice”, the catch words from Christy Clark’s term as Minister of Education. What do they mean? Ten years ago those words were used as the pretext for legislation that illegally stripped collective agreements and ushered in massive cuts, increased class sizes, decreased services for students with special needs, more school fees, created greater reliance on parent fundraising, and greater inequality within school districts. School districts across the province have yet to recover.

Aside from the pretty packaging, the Ed Plan doesn’t, at first glance, appear to contain anything really new.  Personalized learning has been happening in our schools for decades. The major barrier school districts and our educators face isn’t lack of flexibility, it is lack of funding.

The Liberals have repeatedly said there will not be any major funding increases – other than a small increase for special education.  There is no provision for funding of tech support or infrastructure. If school districts are expected to implement the plan without full funding, it will require further stretching of too few education dollars. The plan references students bringing their own smart phone or tablet to school for use in personalized learning. Vancouver has the highest percentage of students living in poverty of any major city in Canada. COPE trustees know that not all students can afford their own electronic device. Implementing this plan without full funding will mean that kids from wealthier families will have an even greater advantage over their lower income class mates.

The plan is contradictory. It calls for standardized testing, yet personalized learning. Greater oversight of teachers, yet increased teacher creativity. The plan says it values teacher input, yet much of it seems to depend on changes to teacher contracts that teachers have not agreed to.

After a decade of underfunding and undermining of public education by this provincial government, this plan uses the Liberal created perception of a poor public system as the reason to take radical actions to reform it.

COPE trustees believe in supporting the unique learning needs of every student and will strongly advocate for the full funding to do this.

The Liberal’s Education Plan sure looks like an ugly trick, wrapped up like a treat.

Jane Bouey

Al Blakey

Allan Wong