First Priority Always .… Advocacy for the Children
A New Trustee’s Point of View December 31, 2011
Greater Victoria School District 61
Once again I would like to take this moment to thank everyone for their support and their vote on November 19, 2011. With 13,445 votes, I feel confident to speak boldly on behalf of our children and work for the goals we see as mutually important.
On December 5, 2011 the Honourable P.M. Hubbard conducted the swearing in ceremony. At that time I swore to uphold the oath of office as trustee in the Greater Victoria School District and I again promise you I will do my very best to represent your voice at the Board table.
So we’re off to a grand start!
The former Board of trustees decided to renew the contracts of the superintendent and secretary-treasurer in November rather than allow for input from newly elected trustees. This is the very process that must be changed. It only makes sense that new trustees elected by the community should have input into the goals and objectives for the next three years for the superintendent and secretary-treasurer. In January we will ask for a report on their performance review. It is my expectation that we will be able to provide input.
We have had a very unnecessary struggle to receive a copy of the source budget document which is referred to as the line by line item budget. I ran on a platform of public education… properly funded… properly managed. It is imperative that I be as fully informed as possible and this requires the line by line item budget. Our Board chairperson, Peg Orcherton, has assured me that this information will finally be available on Saturday, January 7, 2012 at our first orientation meeting.
And the good news is…
The district is providing two full days of orientation on Saturday, January 7th and Saturday, January 14th. This will allow an opportunity to meet many of the senior staff and to be provided with critical documents, policy and regulations, goals and objectives and updated on the current challenges.
Catherine Alpha was elected as chair of the Education Policy Committee. The first order of business is to refine the mandate for the budget sub committee. I will personally be inviting a wide variety of individuals to come and speak about their experiences and provide input as we determine the costs for a properly and fully funded public education system. The first meeting is Monday, January 9 at 7pm and I invite you to attend. I believe it will be held in the Board room at the Tolmie building. Please call 250-475-3212 and ask the receptionist to confirm the location.
I will be attending my first PAC meetings at various schools in our district in January. I will also be visiting schools in my assigned area which includes Mount Douglas HS, Arbutus MS, Campus View and Frank Hobbs elementary schools. I will offer to volunteer in high need classrooms that are seriously affected by underfunding. When I return to the Board table I will describe the experience of the students, educational aids and teachers in these classrooms and I hope to persuade my fellow trustees to bring back some of the $835,000 ( funds not allocated in this school year) to support these students.
Future initiatives include…
We will bring forward a broad range of motions in January 2012 to support greater transparency, improved process and more involvement by all of our partner groups. There will be a systematic review of policy and regulations.
Just a final thought…
While there are many outstanding learning experiences occurring every day for many of our students the other reality is that public education is deteriorating. As I reviewed the Superintendent’s Report on Class Size and Composition (Oct. 2011) I was struck with disbelief that this government would support a funding policy that results in serious neglect of many of our children. One teacher stated, ” A disproportionate amount of time by the teacher is spent in redirecting students to the task and addressing behaviour. Teachers feel unable to meet all needs effectively.” I read this response over and over. A parent on a PAC executive stated, ” We expect to have enough support in each class to satisfactorily manage the amount of students with IEPs. The principal has indicated that there are not enough EAs to support these classes for each full day.” Why is this situation of neglect and underfunding acceptable? Where is the collective outcry by parents and community? I urge you to send a concise and clear directive to the government of the day expressing your expectation that our tax dollars will be used first for the children in our public education system. Let the Premier and the Minister of Education know that you will not vote for a party that does not put our children first. The government states that the education community is not innovative enough. All of us know, however, that there are not enough teachers, educational assistants, psychologists, speech and language therapists, counsellors, and school librarians. There is a serious disconnect between what the government of the day thinks is important and what we know is vital for our families and communities and the sense of self-worth for our children.
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