Stay of Court Decision….Lots of Motions at the Board Table!

Trustee Nohr…Report #21      SD 61
February, 2014
Equality for All in  Public Education……Fully Funded and Properly Managed.
Latest Events for the Government, the BCTF and funding for Public Education (The Canadian Press- Feb. 26, 2014)
‘A judge has granted the B.C. government’s request to put on hold a costly court decision related to its contract with the province’s teachers until an appeal is heard.The government asked the B.C. Appeal Court to temporarily stay the ruling issued last month, which struck down legislation that removed class size and composition from the teachers’ contract.The lower court ruling also permitted the teachers’ union to distribute copies of its final argument, which contained references to sealed cabinet documents.The Appeal Court has granted stays to both aspects of the ruling until the appeal is heard, which is expected by May or June.Government lawyers had argued that allowing the ruling to stand would create chaos as school boards scrambled to hire teachers and find millions of dollars.The B.C. Supreme Court decision also found the government tried to provoke a strike by teachers and awarded the union $2 million.’
I am disappointed with the Court of Appeals’ decision to stay the BC Supreme Court decision. I recognize that a massive structural change would not be reasonable or prudent. There are, however, countless students not receiving adequate support and so a gradual funding injection may look like increasing counsellor support from one day a week to three or four days per week in each of our elementary and middle  schools….more support, no disruption, some hiring. Or it may look like additional aide time in some of our classes with a very high number of students that need more one to one instruction, supportive review or encouragement…again great for all students and the teachers with less disruption than currently taking place when needs are not being met…some new hiring. I support the process of putting  the majority of the funding into the September, 2014 structure as the planning will soon be underway.  I think the ‘disruption’ framing by the government is more like Chicken Little…the sky is falling! No, not at all.
Education Policy Meeting… A Few Highlights     February 3, 2014
New rugby courses are now available for grades 10, 11. 12 at Esquimalt High…available to all students.
Foundational Skills Assessment…Further Review
The Ministry stats that I included in my January, 2014 blog caused some concern. I would like to further clarify this issue.
On January 18, 2010 the Board passed the following motion: That the Board of Education of  School District  No. 61 (Greater Victoria) continues to honour all parent requests to withdraw from the Foundational Skills Assessment testing. Less and less students have been writing the test.
In 2007,  at the grade 4 and 7 level there were 7% of the students that did not write the FSA and in 2013 there were 23% of the students not writing the test. In my opinion, there are many reasons for this including: student reading level is not yet well developed and therefore the student may not be able to demonstrate skill mastery as they are impeded by their limited reading skills yet conceptually strong so why put them through a frustrating experience, lower cognitive ability, significant test taking anxiety, no funding to support students’ needs as reflected by test results, parental philosophical difference/ not supporting big, high stakes testing, parental support for teacher assessment and more personalized learning, a significant sense of frustration for students with special education designations…to name a few.  
SD 61 removes the 23% ( students not writing the FSA tests ) from their analysis. The Superintendent’s Report on Student Achievement (2013-2014) includes the following data: gr.4-83% meet or exceed expectations in Reading, 89% meet or exceed expectations in Writing, 81% meet or exceed expectations in  Numeracy; gr.7-82% meet or exceed expectations in Reading, 92% meet or exceed expectations in Writing, 77% meet or exceed expectations in Numeracy.
It is my opinion after having taught for many years as a special education teacher as well as having discussed the composition of the 23% with teachers that a significant number of these students would score below meeting or exceeding expectations for grade 4 and 7.  Over a decade of chronic underfunding is a major factor affecting student  achievement. Hope this adds clarity to the issue.
Operations, Planning and Policy Meeting… A Few Highlights… January 11, 2014
*The 2014-2015 school calendar is on the SD 61 website now…we still have a two week spring break.
*The amended annual budget Bylaw  2013-2014 totals $207, 798, 396 and it was passed unanimously
*The Board briefly discussed WorkSafe BC issues and the surcharges to our district. Surcharges are additional costs to our district.  We have asked our secretary treasurer for more detail about the  most prevalent areas of safety concern for our employees. The goal would be to do everything possible to reduce our surcharges….resulting in more funding for the students.  I will ask for some detail on this issue at our next Board meeting. The secretary treasurer will be reporting back.
The motion to support this inquiry is as follows:
Moved-Trustee Nohr
That the Board of Education of School District No.61 (Greater Victoria) request senior administration to provide a review of WorkSafeBC surcharges for 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 for the February 2014 OPP meeting. Voted for– Trustees Orcherton, Nohr, McNally and Horsman  Voted Against: Trustee Leonard and Ferris   McEvoy absent

Another great motion…….Cyber Bullying  
Moved-Trustee Loring-Kuhanga
That the Board of Education of School District No. 61 (Greater Victoria) develop  policies and regulations regarding cyber-bullying that are current with the proposed federal legislation, Bill C-13 by directing the District Leadership Team to review all SD 61 relevant policies and regulations and make recommendations to the Board of Education on any additions, changes and / or revisions that align with the Ministry of Education’s Safe, Caring and Orderly Schools.  * The motion was referred by Chair Leonard to senior administration for review.
Now for the Board Meeting     Monday, February 17, 2014   Lots of Motions…Take a Look!
Student Achievement
Students from  James Bay Community School presented on Habits of the Mind / Genius Hour
The students were confident and able to speak with clarity and understanding. It was obvious that they enjoyed their activities
Stakeholder Presentations
Community Presentations
Dr. Starla Anderson reminded us that the Q&A motion began back in Feb. 2011 She noted again, that most districts in the province have a Q&A. Dr. Anderson spoke about the important considerations to keep in mind when developing a public engagement policy and the important value that comes from the public’s experience and insight. She encouraged the Board to get its work done on Public Engagement by June, 2014.
Alex Nelson spoke about the residential school experience and impact it had for him, his family and community. He informed us that approx. 5000 students attended the Truth and Reconciliation gathering. Alex also emphasized the importance for all Canadians to be committed to living better as a result of the Truth and Reconciliation process.
Monique Gray-Smith – Little Drum shared the following’ We believe in the healing of our people.’ The 1892 smallpox epidemic resulted in the loss of 90% of their community. Let us invest in our common humanity. An Aboriginal history course required for graduation would inform and create the opportunity for positive change.
#1 MotionRugby Courses at Esquimalt High School gr. 10,11, 12
Motion: Passed
 For: Trustees Orcherton, Horsman, Ferris, Leonard, Nohr,Alpha, Loring-Kuhanga  Against: Trustees McNally  Absent: McEvoy
#2 Motion2014-2015 School Year Calendar   Passed 
For: Trustees Orcherton, Horsman, Leonard, Ferris, Alpha, McNally, Nohr, Loring-Kuhanga   unanimous
#3 MotionNegotiate at the bargaining table

That the Board of Education of School District No. 61 (Greater Victoria) write a letter to Premier Clark strongly urging the Provincial Government to return to the bargaining table, in good faith, to negotiate class size and composition language and to fully fund the agreed to language. Motion Failed   
For: Trustees Orcherton, Horsman, Leonard, Ferris  Against: Trustees Nohr, Loring-Kuhanga, Alpha, McNally * I could not vote for this weak motion because it does NOT acknowledge the recent decision of the BC Supreme Court to restore the funding to public education in support of class composition and class size language.
#4 MotionSurcharges by WorkSafeBC Tabled to the March OPPs meeting.
#5 Motion 2013-2014 Amended Annual Budget Bylaw  Passed- unanimously
#6 MotionSundance School

That the Board of Education of School District No. 61 (Greater Victoria) move the date for consideration of Sundance School as one of the suggested cost reductions to the March 27 Special Board Meeting 2014-2015 when all other reductions will be outlined. For: Trustees Nohr, Loring-Kuhanga, Alpha, McNally, Orcherton, Horsman  Against: Trustees Leonard, Ferris

#7 MotionRequired Course for Graduation- The Residential School Experience
That the BCSTA follow up on all Motions that were passed at the 2013 AGM regarding residential schools and request that the Ministry of Education develop a required high school course for all graduates in public schools similar to the 25 hour course that is provided to all graduating students in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. Passed- unanimously    I am very excited about this potential opportunity for our students and their families who will learn along side each other.
Thank you for taking the time to read my blog!
Trustee Deborah Nohr

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