Greater Victoria Trustees Get Things Done This Year!

Here’s a brief summary of some of the policies, committees and actions taken this past school year, 2014-2015, in support of student learning.

Thought you may be interested.

Just to let you know that we have a new superintendent starting in August, 2015. The Board passed a motion to undertake a full candidate search and ultimately the Board hired Mr. Pieter Langstraat. Piet is currently the superintendent of the Red Deer school district. I look forward to working with this transformational leader!

January, 2015

1. Through the hard work of a small ad hoc committee our district now has a Concussion Awareness and Care Protocol- Policy 5141.22 ( If you have further input go to www.sd61.bc.ca and submit your comment or question through our NEW Q & A portal ) Here is the policy-www.sd61.bc.ca/board-of-education/policiesregulations/?title=concussion+&document_types%5B%5D=policies * You should know that a concussion may only be diagnosed by a physician.

2. Our Information Technology department provided a first summary of the initiatives in our elementary, middle and high schools. ( As we undertake our strategic plan I expect that I.T. will develop goals / targets and timelines as well as more detail about the costs to our district ). I will bring forward a motion to have this document available on the SD 61 website for your reference.

3. Strategic Plan– Finally we had enough trustees in support of this very necessary process to get this started. Trustees that voted for a strategic plan are: Chair- Edith Loring-Kuhanga, Vice Chair- Diane McNally, Deborah Nohr, Rob Paynter, Jordan Watters, Ann Whiteaker and Peg Orcherton * We received over 1000 responses from parents and the public and we will be starting the discussions and visioning process in August, 2015.

4. The Ministry of Education has required all districts to submit a yearly Achievement Contract. Our summary document outlines all the significant and substantive programs supporting student learning. However, it does not identify the serious lack of supports for some students that need and are not receiving counselling, speech and language therapy, learning support/ small group instruction and ELL . For this reason I did not vote in support of the report as it is my responsibility to speak out about this very serious issue. I would expect more balanced and accurate reporting in this document. FYI- This past September principals and teachers did an assessment of needs in our district as a requirement for the disbursement of funds from the Education Fund ( approx. $2M ) and there was consensus that SD 61 minimally needed 49 more teachers to meet the basic needs of your children and our students. This funding gap and the specific lack of supports for some students should be noted in the Achievement Contract. Going forward we are unsure of the Ministry’s requirements and the form this will take.

5. We now have an Aboriginal Employment Equity Agreement in place again. Our goal is to have many more First Nations teachers in classrooms throughout our district. At this time we need First Nations teachers to apply to our district. This is an issue that we need to address to encourage and improve the number of First Nations’ teacher applicants.

6. Starting in January, 2016 – FSA Parent Document– Parents with children in grades 4, 7 and 10 will be receiving an e-document/hard copy document with a summary of various points of view regarding the FSA. Hopefully, you will find this informative. Soon after you will be given details about the testing times and you will be provided with a form to decline participation in the FSA testing. The choice is yours.

February, 2015

1. Passed the Budget Bylaw for 2014-2015 $212,943,661

2.School Calendar – school starts on Tuesday, September 8th this year
https://district.public.sd61.bc.ca/wp-content/uploads/sites/91/2015/02/Regular-Minutes-February-16-2015.pdf

3. Trustees voted against a motion to allow for corporate naming rights of physical assets in the District. This would preclude naming/ branding a theatre or gymnasium or school computer lab with corporate logos/names as an expectation when making a financial contribution.

March, 2015

1. The Board passed a motion to meet with our local MLAs and education critic, Rob Fleming, to discuss the need for consistent, predictable and proper funding for public education.

2. Our Needs Budget Committee ( Trustees Paynter, Nohr, McNally ) met with the secretary treasurer and the superintendent to develop a document that would more closely indicate the necessary funding to support student learning. It was estimated that SD 61 needed at aminimum at least $5M more for proper student learning.This did not include an analysis of capital needs; SD 61 needs a significant funding increase to address infrastructure updates.

3. I brought forward a motion to provide a public review of our class sizes and class composition numbers. It is my opinion that public information should be made public thus empowering everyone to address this issue collectively. Sadly the motion failed. I was very shocked that some trustees would block this essential process. Trustees for- Nohr, McNally, Paynter, Watters Trustees against- Loring-Kuhanga, Orcherton, Leonard, Ferris, Whiteaker

4. The government is still making cuts to public education. This year the Board needed to find $1M in administrative cuts. This is creating a house of cards.

April, 2015

1. SD 61 made available a survey form for input by all interested citizens, partner groups and employees for our strategic plan process.

2.I brought forward a motion which passed to strike an Ad Hoc committee, Technology Stewardship, to review all practices related to the use of technology by our students and our staff. We hope to have this committee underway early in the fall. Anyone may attend the meetings.

3. Our Capital Facilities Grant 2014-2015 is $3.3M These funds generally go to upgrading furnaces, windows and other projects that focus on sustainability.

May, 2015

1. Trustee Watters brought forward the following motion: That the Board of Education of School District No. 61 (Greater Victoria) direct the Chair to task the District Gay Straight Alliance Advisory Committee with developing a draft policy on Gender Identity and Gender Expression (in accordance with Bylaw 9210 The development of Policy; and Policy 1163 Consultation) to ensure the safety and support of transgender and gender variant students and their families, and present it to the Education Policy Development Committee with recommendations for implementation. Motion Carried Unanimously

2. Trustee Advocacy Raised to a Much Higher Level in the Community! We placed a letter in our local newspapers that we sent to the Minister of Education, Peter Fassbender, detailing the specific unmet needs in our schools as identified by principals and teachers in September, 2014. Again, this totalled $5M ( at a minimum ). The letter was signed by all partner groups with the exception of the principal and vice principals’ association.

3. Trustee Whiteaker’s motion to establish a Parent Education Fund ( $7000 ) was passed. Trustees for- Nohr, Paynter, McNally, Watters, Whiteaker Trustees Against- Loring-Kuhanga, Ferris, Orcherton Absent- Leonard Parents from any school may now apply for funding to attend a conference related to their child’s learning or bring a speaker to their school or family of schools for a special conference event. Soon this application information and process will be on the SD 61 website

June, 2015

1. Naming of Physical Facilities- The new gymnasium at Oak Bay H.S. will be called the Gary Taylor Court.

2. All academies are list on the SD 61 website including the fees.

3. Our Board sent a letter to the Minister of Education requesting an update on the motion that was passed at last year’s BCSTA AGM (2014) to develop a 25 hour course on Residential Schools and the Impact for our First Nations citizens ( and for all Canadians ) as a requirement for graduation. We have not heard back. What we know is that the Ministry is weaving many aspects of First Nations’ history and the Residential School experience through all curriculum areas and all grade levels. While this addition to curriculum content at all grade levels is a very good idea it must not replace the requirement to have every BC high school student take a full term class as a requirent for graduation.

Thank you very much for your support and for your positive influence and involvement in our schools!

Look forward to more discussions on the very important topic of public education.

Deborah Nohr
trustee
deborahnohr51@gmail.com