Freedom of Speech Leads To Dialogue

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms ( April 17, 1982 )
Parents’ Perspectives and Presentations
Fundamental freedoms (section 2), namely freedom of conscience, freedom of religion, freedom of thought, freedom of belief, freedom of expression, freedom of the press and of other media of communication, freedom of peaceful assembly, and freedom of association.

Meaningful engagement leads to informed citizens and this comes from supporting, encouraging and living the fundamental value of freedom of speech. I stand by my comments that all parents must be heard. I would also suggest that as an elected trustee
I must undertake the necessary ‘due diligence’ to understand the context of presentations at the Board. In other words, ask questions and get a real sense for the who and what behind the presentations. I plan to do this more effectively at the board table in the future.

Please read and consider this editorial piece.

 http://www.timescolonist.com/opinion/editorials/editorial-school-board-muzzles-debate-1.78951

Government Claws Back Funds for the Classroom!

Trustee Nohr…Report #13      SD 61
Fairness and Equity for All in Public Education
January, 2013      What’s Going On At the Board?

60 Districts Write to the Minister of Education About Their Concerns Over Funding Clawback!
Districts around the province are reeling from the requests by the government to find funding that doesn’t exist. Originally, we were to find the following funding from our district budget:
Teacher pension increases– 1.3% approx $2.4 M / $1.2M for each of the next 2 years for SD 61
CUPE Cooperative Gains Mandate– 1.5%  approx $500,000/yr for SD 61
BCPSEA fees-$2-$3M to be taken out of holdback funds
And Now……Holdback Funding– provincially $26.3M and that would be approx $750,000/yr for SD 61
Every district in the province wrote a letter to the Minister of Education expressing concern about these funding expectations which would result in funding cuts to every district. I am very concerned, as trustees around the province are, that the $26.3M in holdback funds may be redirected elsewhere in the government or to future budget years rather than for this year when we were expecting and needing this funding. At this time we are uncertain about whether the Minister and government are going to respond to the clear concerns and expectations of trustees around the province.

Two Important Motions Passed to Support Students’ Needs-Letter Sent to Minister of Education
Two motions were passed identifying the need for greater funding support for:
1)K-3 students presenting with very significant learning/behavioural challenges (these students do not have designations with any funding at this early point in their schooling)
2) students with an ASD designation needing full-time Educational Aide support
These areas of concern will be brought forward to The Technical Review Committee/Ministry of Education for consideration.
New….Oak Bay High School
Long overdue…..still in the planning stages.
Cloverdale Elementary School
High Risk Priority for seismic upgrading
* If your school is slated for seismic upgrading, phone Central MS and ask to take a tour so you can see what is possible.
…..wifi, wifi, wifi……..
Just trying to understand……While there was a motion on the agenda (June, 2011) for a ‘moratorium’ on wifi in our elementary schools it was tabled at this meeting. At some point, the Chair directed the Superintendent to explain to the principals that there would be no district installation. However, I cannot find any motion to this effect. I thought, as did members of the public, that a ‘moratorium’ was a ‘moratorium’…meaning that the action was completely forbidden. That is not how the Chair explained the motion/situation. Then, early in this school year, the trustees were informed that some teachers were bringing retail routers into their classrooms. At that time, the Superintendent was directed to inform the principals and teachers that there could be NO additional wifi installation.Presently, the trustees are waiting to hear back from VCPAC and other parents who have a position on this issue. Again, I follow the precautionary principle that wifi be proven harmless and until that time I think we should have our elementary schools remain hard wired.
This is for your consideration…..
BYOD
Bring Your Own Device Demise

“The differences in bone density and the amount of fluid in a child’s brain compared to an adult’s brain could allow children to absorb greater quantities of RF (radiofrequency) energy deeper into their brains than adults… the current exposure limits may not reflect the latest research on RF energy”.

http://citizensforsafetechnology.org/Letter-from-the-American-Academy-of-Pediatrics-to-US-Congress,24,2818
http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/ahc-asc/media/advisories-avis/_2011/2011_131-eng.php

Why BYOD Is A Disaster Waiting To Happen For Schools

“having worked in educational IT (with both public and private schools), I have to say that the idea of launching BYOD at the K-12 level makes me shudder. There are several serious concerns that should be forefront in the minds of school IT staff, administrators, teachers, and parents about BYOD in schools.”

Read more: http://www.cultofmac.com/176277/why-byod-is-a-disaster-waiting-to-happen-for-schools/#cYzqtKs0JMCllqoF.99

A fantastic video from Australia which summarizes a lot of pertinent information about wireless radiation and children! ( 18 min. ) Please watch it!!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kmcAXZ-o1K4&feature=share&list=FLI_8xq3QcBTrnb4665kpsNA

New Committee- Public Engagement Committee
Should we have a Q&A? Should we video or audio tape the meeting? Of Course! It is a public meeting and the public is entitled to access.
This committee will review these issues and many others. Do you have any thoughts? Please let me know or send you ideas to porcherton@sd61.bc.ca or sbell@sd61.bc.ca.
Members of the committee include:
ASA – Melanie Houston
GVTA- Gill Miller
CUPE 947 – Brad Hall
VCPAC – John Bird
CUPE 382 – not participating
Public – Donna Jones and Rebecca Pearson ( Donna is a former Trustee and Chair of the Board from a number of years back and Rebecca is a Manager in a Credit Union with a keen interest in Public Education). A former trustee is not my ideal candidate for a member of the public. The criteria for choosing the Public members was to find people from within the Community that are not currently engaged in the District but have some experience/interest in Public Education and are familiar with Chairing/participating in meetings.
Staff to support the Committee will be;
Deb Whitten, Principal
Mark Walsh, Exempt
Sherri Bell, Deputy Superintendent

Richmond Elementary School….our jewel!
The Catholic Diocese of Victoria made a request to buy Richmond Elementary School. There is a unanimous position by the Board of Trustees that Richmond will NOT be sold. Currently, it is being used by other schools during seismic upgrading. I have spoken to a number of parents that would like to see their children attending Richmond, their neighbourhood school. Unfortunately, at this time, it cannot be done.
I voted NO for the Superintendent’s Report on Student Achievement  2012-2013
Why?
The report is very selective in the information it presents and it does not have a consistent statistical formula for analyzing student achievement. The report contains the following statement: This year we exceeded the provincial FSA results for all students in reading, writing, and numeracy in grade 4 and grade 7. However, for some cohorts there a was a 4 year analysis used while in other cohorts there was a one, two or three year time frame. This is not a sound statistical framework. So the previous statement is questionable. In summary, in my opinion, it was not sufficiently accurate in reporting the overall achievement results or comprehensive in reporting graduation rates over time.
Our First Nations’ students are making great progress. Graduation rates are as follows: 2008- 32.9%, 2009-36.5%, 2010-40.6, 2011-48.8% and 2012-52.8%. Congratulations to our students and staff and families who support them!
Tara Ehrcke, President of the GVTA, stated the following:
Greater Victoria also was in the news after this report was brought to a Board Meeting. Kudos to Lindsay Kines, who reported that the graduation rates increased from 76%, the previous high, in 04/05, to 78%, the current number. The provincial average is 80%. This is a very different way of describing the data than the chart showing the changes beginning from the low point in 2008. (http://www.timescolonist.com/news/local/graduation-rate-reaches-new-high-in-greater-victoria-school-district-1.51362)
Why? Because this government pulled approximately $275M per year out of public education each year since 2002. Students that  graduated in 2005 had been in the system when there was greater funding for teachers and counsellors and learning support. Specialist teachers like learning support teachers, librarians and counsellors have been hit the hardest. They provide essential support to our most vulnerable students. As a public trustee, it is my responsibility to inform the parents and community about the big picture. While there is tremendous dedication and hard work being done every day by our staff, the fact remains that our children deserve to be the first priority. Funding must be returned to the 2001 levels.

* Please take a look at Trustee McNally’s blog, Lined Paper:)

Highlights:
Spectrum Community School Lacrosse Academy- Students shared their positive experiences as members of the team and explained that their sports focus helped them stay positive about their academic commitments.Thanks to the staff, coaches and students.
Lansdowne Middle School- Mitchel du Plessi, a Youth and family worker received an excellence award for her dedication to supporting students. Thank you to ALL our counsellors and YFC workers who have such a vital roll in our schools.

Thank you,
Your trustee,
Deborah Nohr ( 250-380-0888 or 250-896-0808-c )
Please write a quick e-mail…and express your ideas and feedback to the Premier and Minister of Education, Don McRae
• 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