First Priority Always……. Advocacy for the Children

A New Trustee’s Point of View April 16, 2012

Greater Victoria School District 61 Report #5

Important Motions………. April 16, 2012 Board Meeting Repeal Bill 22 Why? This motion had been tabled and therefore it was brought forward to the April Board meeting. 1) Motion- Repeal of Bill 22 That the Board of Education SD 61 write a letter to the Minister of Education calling on the government to repeal Bill 22 and instead, have an independent mediator appointed through the Labour Relations Board. (no net zero mandate….. why? As I told you last month, we just received our 2012-2013 budget-$171,000,000. With this net zero mandate and not even a CPI adjustment (2-3%), we are looking at a starting deficit of approx. $3.4M for our students. The motion was defeated 5-4. ( Trustees Orcherton, Horsman, Leonard, McEvoy and Ferris voted against the motion; Trustees Nohr, Loring-Kuhanga, McNally and Alpha voted for the motion. )

Here’s how our teachers feel. Remember, teachers are advocating for full restoration of funding for our most vulnerable learners, those students with special education designations. As well, teachers want their salaries to stay commensurate with the cost of living index. Please read the letter from our teachers.

Greater Victoria Teachers’ Association

Dear Trustees, RE: Bill 22 We are writing to express our disappointment that the Greater Victoria Board of Education has not taken a position opposed to Bill 22. This Bill is an infringement on the right of teachers to free collective bargaining. This is an affront to our rights as citizens in a democracy. This Bill imposes a mediation process that guarantees an outcome that favours the employer representative – BCPSEA. This again is contrary to the basic democratic principles of free and fair collective bargaining. We cannot imagine how the Board could not oppose a piece of legislation that denies teachers such basic democratic rights. This Bill removes class size averages and class composition limits. We believe this will result in larger and more complex classrooms, as funding continues to deteriorate. Class size and composition restrictions were the single best mechanism to ensuring long term stable funding for teaching staff, as the years prior to 2001 demonstrate. We anticipate a significant deterioration of classroom conditions resulting from this Bill. Finally we need you to know that your decision will impact the relationships between teachers and the District at both the school and District level. Never have teachers felt more demoralized and less respected.

Yours truly, Tara Ehrcke President, GVTA

• This letter reflects the position of most if not all teachers in our district. The union speaks for the teachers reflecting their position.

I’d like to thank the three teachers ( Tara Erhcke, Keely Roden ( Esquimalt) and Barbara Macaulay ( Northridge ) who spoke at the Board meeting about their concerns with Bill 22. All three gave a very personal and compelling perspective about what our students may face in the coming years.

2) Motion-Needs Budget Proposal – Trustee McNally brought this motion forward and it was an especially important motion given the fact that trustees had just received an estimate of $48M as the current GAP in funding for our students!

That the Board of Education of SD 61 ( Greater Victoria ) submit only a needs budget reflecting remedies for the on-going structural deficit and reflecting costs for restoration of all services to the levels of service that existed in 2001.

The motion was defeated 5-4. ( Trustees Orcherton, Horsman, Leonard, McEvoy and Ferris voted against the motion; Trustees Nohr, Loring-Kuhanga, McNally and Alpha voted for the motion. )

3) We had a small surplus that we reviewed carefully in light of the input from our partner groups. There was some good debate at the Board table as we pointed out that students need teachers in many cases for instruction rather than educational assistants for support. The following motion was passed unanimously.

That the Board of Education of School District No. 61 (Greater Victoria apply the $349,541 projected surplus in the following manner, for the 2012-2013 budget year, upon passing of the budget bylaw. $95,563 to add 1 FTE psychologist to help deal with the backlog of psychometric assessments for students in grades K-3 in School District No. 61. $50,000 to be added for support services to psychologists and speech and language pathologists so that more time is made available for therapy with special needs students. $203,978 will be used for the hiring of Educational assistants or teachers for support for classrooms, students and students that are hearing impaired. Motion Carried Unanimously

3) Motion- Annual Budget Bylaw That the Board of Education of SD 61 ( Greater Victoria ) 2012/2013 Annual Budget Bylaw in the amount of $194,366,227 be: read for the first, second and third time, passed and adopted on April 16, 2012.

The motion was passed 5-4. ( Trustees Orcherton, Horsman, Leonard, McEvoy and Ferris voted for the motion; Trustees Nohr, Loring-Kuhanga, McNally and Alpha voted against the motion. )

*I could not vote for this budget when I know that many, many of our students are being seriously neglected and they are not receiving an educational experience appropriate for their needs. This situation affects everyone else in the class as well. Also, with respect to the principle of equity, this unacceptable situation is most pervasive in our schools located in lower socio-economic areas thus contributing to the perpetuation of more students in this demographic not graduating from high school.

PACs please consider making a letter writing initiative on behalf of public education one of your activities in the month of May.

You could write to your MLA, Minister of Education and/or the Premier and express your expectation that schools in SD 61 should be fully funded, at least back to the 2001-2002 levels thus adding approximately $ 48M.

• premier@gov.bc.ca

• *minister.educ@gov.bc.ca

• MLA Finder- drop down menu / easy to use

• robin.austin.mla@leg.bc.ca education critic

Thank you for taking the time to read this April report. I apologize for its tardiness. I would also ask you to please send this on to al

Your advocate for public education and trustee,

Deborah Nohr