Health, Safety and Transparency……..June, 2013

Trustee Nohr…Report #18      SD 61
Equality for All in  Public Education……Fully Funded Public Education………
The First Priority for Our Tax Dollars!

Did You Know?  
The # of special education teachers in BC has decreased by 19% (750 teachers) from 2001-2012 while the numbers of students needing support has increased significantly. * The total decline in enrolment has been about 50,000 students or approximately 9%.
If BC was at the provincial average, there would be approximately an additional 6,800 teachers.
June, 2013      What’s Going On At the Board?
First, at our Education Policy Meeting   June 10, 2013
*Teachers received $3500 in grant funding this year, matched with funds from GVSD/GVTA pro-d monies, to facilitate their professional teacher -led inquiries. Teachers analyzed: multi grade cohorts in secondary school, student use of technology (accessing web-based info, use of social media, books vs. computers), students’ rationale for distributed learning, scaffolding to improve student writing and visiting other school districts to see how writing is supported.

*The George Jay school community is considering starting french immersion. It will be the topic of exploration over the next year. Students would be able to stay at their school and not transfer to Sir James Douglas.

*Community Literacy Plan  2006-2013 In 2007 BC school districts were mandated by the Ministry of Education to create a community literacy plan. The goals are to provide literacy support for persons with disabilities, vulnerable persons( poverty, justice system, mental health, women in shelters and person who are homeless), youth  15-18 who have dropped out if school, young adults  (19-24) who have graduated but are unemployed or not involved in continuing education). The work has been tremendously successful. The greatest challenge is sustainable funding. Please consider making  a donation to one of the community organizations supporting literacy.

Second, at our Operations, Planning and Policy Meeting   June 10, 2013

* A community member, Rob Paynter, presented an overview of the importance of tracking, recording and setting per diems for senior administration and exempt staff’s expenses. This information could be placed on the district website thereby providing the community with greater transparency of public funding use. I requested that the secretary-treasurer provide some data and information on this topic and report out in September at our first OPPs meeting.
* Motion to accept the  Achievement Contract  2013-2014  Carried- unanimously  * I subsequently changed my mind on this motion and voted against it at the June 17 Board meeting after much consideration. This document is required by the Ministry of Education and while it reflects the tremendous efforts of many teachers, EAs, school based administration, senior staff and parents….it does not reflect the reality for many students in our district and all districts around the province who do not receive  sufficient academic support, counselling, speech&language therapy or OT/PT. The Ministry sets up the template so that the district does not have to address this issue even though families and students face the frustration, anxiety, sense of poor self esteem and overall sense of loss in that school ‘just isn’t fun…and I don’t feel like I can learn’. It’s great to talk about the successes in our schools but it is vitally important to be the voice for those children who are receiving inadequate services…because they cannot speak for themselves. And therefore, I could not vote for the report.
*Motion  Moved- Nohr     Develop a Protocol and Process to Measure Classroom Radiation Exposure Levels  Defeated- Orcherton, Horsman, Leonard, Ferris, McEvoy  For- Nohr, Loring-Kuhanga, McNally and Alpha 
I wanted a joint technology and facilities effort to develop a protocol to determine what the ER levels are in our schools with wifi. We already measure air quality and assess asbestos safety…so why not find out what is happening with ER? Some places in Europe now have municipal workers that will come to your home, if you are concerned, and measure the ER levels. Remember, there are some places in Europe where the level of ER has been dramatically reduced to new international biological standards (1,000 micro watts per square meter)… and here in Canada, our acceptable levels are 10,000,000 micro watts per m2 which relates to thermal effects on the human body.
* Motion  Moved- McNally    Trustee Representatives to Outside Organization
Trustee McNally wanted to revise the Board’s public agenda format to include a list of all the outside organizations that have assigned trustee representatives. Trustee Ferris moved that this motion be referred to the Public Engagement Committee. Motion to refer-carried  6/3  I voted against referral. This is a decision that should be made by the trustees, not the public.
Now, at the Board Meeting     Tuesday, June 17, 2013
Student Achievement
*We were delighted to hear the drumming and singing from Kolette Cristante’s kindergarten class (Rogers School) There is a strong commitment to weave the thread of Aboriginal culture and knowledge through every aspect of curriculum at all grade levels at Rogers Elementary School. Well done!
District Presentations
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*Aboriginal Education Enhancement Agreement: The Spirit of Alliances….A journey of good hearts and good minds   2013-2018 
Through monthly meetings, focus groups,reflections on students’ experiences, the right goals and going deeper to the most effective strategies and using ‘integral theory’ to support attitudinal change and positive/ meaningful emotional experiences for students, the Enhancement Agreement was strengthened and extended for the next 5 years. The integral approach will start with ‘aboriginal world views to inform Aboriginal learning, which is relational, experiential, cooperative, affirmative and holistic. Thank you to Janice Simcoe and Nella Nelson for the presentation at the Board meeting and thank you to all the members of the committee. It is an especially exciting time because the chiefs of both the Esquimalt and Songhees nations signed the agreement.
*Margaret Dow, an educational assistant at Frank Hobbs, was acknowledged for receiving the National Inclusive Education Award. Thank you.
*Jack Jeffrey, a volunteer at George Jay, was also recognized for his influential work with students at George Jay. Two young adults spoke of the very important role Jack had played in their lives. With gratitude,  thank you.
Community Presentations
*Sooke PAC president spoke about the Vancouver Island Parents Conference and the growing success that they have had over the past years.
*Vicki White, VCPAC, also spoke about the increase in the number of parents and teachers that are now attending the conference.
* Wendy Joyce, VCPAC vice chair presented the 2013-2014 Initiatives and Priorities which includes more connection with school PACs. 
*John Bird, VCPAC president stated that the organization would Advocate for all students and develop capacity in PACs and VCPAC.
As a point of clarification, I wanted to know if the Initiatives and Priorities had been passed by the general membership or if this had been developed at the Executive level only. Chair Orcherton refused to allow this point of clarification…..
PRESENTATIONS TO THE BOARD
Individuals or groups wishing to make a presentation to the Board must submit a written request and any written materials to the Secretary-Treasurer by noon on the Wednesday prior to the Board meeting at which they wish to speak.
Wherever possible, public representatives are directed to appear at committee meetings, rather than Board meetings. Presentations to the Board are limited to five (5) minutes for each individual with a limit of three (3) speakers per issue. Lengthier briefings will be accepted in writing for the Board’s consideration. Trustees may only ask questions of clarification to the presenter. There will be no debate with the Trustees.
Reference: Public Meeting process http://www.sd61.bc.ca/super/pdf/PublicMeetingProcess/GVSD_Public_Meeting_Process.pdf

As a district we give $14,000-$16,000 to VCPAC yearly. I believe that we have a responsibility to be informed about their process as well as how they use the funding.  I believe that John Bird stated that VCPAC still had $3,000-$4,000 from the district that was to used for the middle school inquiry…that was approximately 3years ago. The board has still not received a final report on the middle school appreciative inquiry process.
*Peter Milne, a member of the public and parent in the district presented a detailed position on the importance of understanding the origins and ties to industry when reading research findings about wifi and health issues. He also expressed concern about the individuals sitting on the VCPAC wifi committee who have work directly associated with wifi technology.
Motions
1. That the Board of Education of School District (Greater Victoria) receives the 2013-2014 Achievement Contract 
Carried-Orcherton, Horsman, Leonard, Ferris, McNally, McEvoy, Loring-Kuhanga   Against- Alpha, Nohr
**As I said earlier in my blog, the voices of approx. 25% of our students (those who do not receive the support they need) are not heard, acknowledged, nor advocated for in this report. Therefore, I could not support such a flawed report.
2. A motion was passed to approve the dates for all the standing committee meetings for the next school year, 2013-2014. Carried-unanimously You can reference this information on the SD 61 website.
3. A motion was passed to make available on the school district website all the academy fees for the specialty programs. Carried-unanimously
4. That the Board of Education of School District No. 61 (Greater Victoria) receive the Aboriginal Education Enhancement Agreement (2013-2018). Carried- unanimously   You can reference this information on the SD 61 website.
Notice of Motions
Trustee Loring-Kuhanga (September) Whole School Approach to educate students and staff about suicide prevention (Need2)
Trustee Ferris (September) trustee remuneration
Trustee Nohr (September) revision/update to Health and Safety Policy 4300 (1994)*given as direction to the secretary treasurer
Trustee McNally included the following in her June blog…..F.1 McNally: Health and Safety Committee Notice of Motion: September 2013 Board meeting
‘Moved McNally / : That the Board establish ongoing Trustee representation to the District Health and Safety Committee, assignment to be made by the Board Chair from amongst trustees who express interest, assignment by the Chair to be for a one year term, assigned Trustee to report to the Board regularly in In Camera or public meetings as appropriate; the District Health and Safety Committee to be open to attendance from any Trustee.
•    Rationale: Safety of employees and students is major concern and objective of any employer (Policy 4300.1, Health and Safety, and associated Regulation). Trustees need to know the status of health and safety concerns (recognizing privacy legislation in relation to individuals) and planned actions in SD61, as Trustees are ultimately accountable in the eyes of the public. Health and Safety action plans and reviews and plans to address WorkSafeBC workplace or whole District citations, along with consideration and discussion of employee and parent concerns, need to be a regular duty of elected officials, notwithstanding the delegation of day to day operations. Several other BC school districts have trustees as members of their District Health and Safety Committees, Gulf Islands SD64 being an example .
A similar motion from McNally was defeated at the combined Education Policy Development / Operations Policy and Planning meeting June 10, 2013. (Against: Alpha, Ferris, Horsman, Leonard, Loring-Kuhanga, McEvoy, *Nohr For: McNally )

Arguments against included:
•    Ferris: It’s not appropriate for Trustees to influence the Committee’s thoughts. It’s frustrating when people want to do staff jobs.
•    Leonard: We are responsible for Policy development. Regulations are the purview of the District Leadership Team [senior administration]. This isn’t policy. It’s information.
•    Orcherton: Health and Safety is a bargaining issue. Our role is to set policy. [This Board is not active in Policy generation, though some Boards do see their role as being involved at the generative level of policy development. To be involved or not is simply a matter of District culture, enshrined in District Policy and practice.] We are a Governance Board. This would be interference.
A motion that was defeated at a Standing Committee may come forward to the Board, but will not appear as a “recommended” motion. (Recent motions have appeared as “recommended” without having been discussed at a Standing Committee.) “If a main motion was rejected at an earlier meeting or convention, it may be renewed by being introduced as a main motion at a subsequent meeting or convention.” (p 25 American Institute of Parliamentarians Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure, 2012)
Currently the SD61 Health and Safety Committee is made up of the Chair of the Committee, the President of CUPE 382 (outside workers), a representative from CUPE 947 (inside workers), a representative from the Victoria Principals and Vice Principals Association, a rep from Allied Specialists (psychologists, hearing / vision specialists, and others) a teacher rep from the GVTA, and on occasion additional members of partner groups represented. Trustee representation is  notably absent. In June 2013, when two SD61 Trustees attended, the meeting was cancelled by the Director of Human Resources.
Trustee McNally and I attended as observers only,  as the motion failed to have a trustee sit on the committee. * I had planned to vote in support of the motion to have a trustee on the Health and Safety Committee but during the debate I thought that it was stated by some trustees that there couldn’t be any trustees because issues come forward that may eventually be brought to the table for local bargaining. As I found out later, that statement was just an opinion expressed by some trustees, not based in law. There are districts that have trustees sit on their Health and Safety Committee….Qualicum and Gilf Islands. When this motion comes forward again in September, I will vote to have a trustee on the committee because a trustee could provide valuable direction and also a trustee could better understand the potential costs to the board if issues are not effectively and efficiently addressed.

Thank you,
Your trustee,
Deborah Nohr ( 250-380-0888 or 250-896-0808-c )   deborahnohr.ca
* Please take a look at Trustee McNally’s blog, Lined Paper:)

Remember……our district budget ($200,000,000) has no inflationary factor built in and that means we take at least 2% or $350,000 from our SD 61 budget BEFORE we even start every year…and that is before unexpected downloaded costs from the province.