Trustee Report – November 2012

Trustee Nohr…Report #10  SD 61

First Priority Always…Advocacy for Our Children   

November 19, 2012       Public Board Meeting         Please read Trustee McNally’s blog at ‘Lined Paper McNally’…lots of great information and ideas!

Highlights: Victoria High School Choir

Thank you to students and staff for a beautiful performance! Their song was performed at their Remembrance Day assembly.

                        Wi Fi presentations

Trustee McNally has an extensive review the the wifi issue on her blog, Lined Paper. It is very through and very compelling. Here are a few excerpts to give you a little background.

“That the Board of Education of School District no. 61 (Greater Victoria) establish a moratorium on WiFi installations in elementary schools until the WiFi Committee has completed its work.”

Over two years ago this was the motion and direction from the Board but this did not happen.

  • June 20, 2011 Board Meeting: The Chair declined to allow discussion on the following motions. “Due to discussions on the same topics, there was no action on these motions.”

That the Board of Education of School District no. 61 (Greater Victoria) establish a moratorium on WiFi installations in elementary schools until the WiFi Committee has completed its work.

That the Board […etc…] direct the architects (name of firm) to include the channels for wired technology in the plans for Oak Bay High School to: a) make it possible to accommodate students and staff with electromagnetic sensitivities; b) make it possible to provide wired technology throughout the school should future scientific research make it necessary; and c) to review the European models banning WiFi in schools.

Late note: At the OPPS meeting last night, November 14, VCPAC requested that the WiFi committee report be put on hold until January or February until VCPAC has  further study of the issue (remember the previous request from VCPAC to have the recommendation go to OPPS in June 2011). I voted for this postponement as Duncan Morrison may refile his suit against the Portland Public Schools alleging negative effects of EMF on his child, a student in Portland Schools.

At the Nov.19th Board meeting members of the community provided more current information about the need to understand the impact of electro-magnetic radiation on young children who are more vulnerable.

Walt McGinnis asked if  the Board has the authority to make safety decisions for the District? It is my opinion that this is a very central role for the Board. The mission statement for SD 61 is to ‘ensure a responsive and safe learning environment for every student’ and therefore it is my intention to bring forward or support a motion to have all elementary schools hard wired only at this time following the Precautionary Principle. Mr. McGinnis reminded us that medical authorities do not have expertise in this area and they may evaluate medical data but not neurological impact. He reminded us that we once lived in environment filled with lead, DDT, benzine, asbestos, tobacco and these substances have caused many serious health complications. There is NO research on the impact on children because research is not allowed on children…the catch 22!

Tammy Jeske spoke of her intimate knowledge about the negative effects of EMR on children because she is now home schooling her son who has experienced serious reactions. She expressed concern that the current motion on the agenda that resulted from the wifi committee directions does not go far enough. She requested that teachers remove all unofficial wifi installations. At this time, we have 11 out of 29 elementary schools with unofficial routers. Ms. Jeske reminded us that there is no district over site of official or unofficial wifi router hot spots or strength of  EMR emissions ( DNA mutations, more absorption of radiation and thinner skulls leading to other forms of neurological impact. Ms. Jeske reminded the Board that parents have not been informed or given their consent.

Janice Hoffman spoke about the liability issues the Board may face. In May, 2012, the World Health Organization recommended prudent avoidance. Research has been conducted with induction heat not non- thermal biological effects and that is what is becoming apparent for more and more children and adults. Wi fi is a connection only and our schools can achieve most of the same instructional results using a hard wired installation.

I don’t support school by school decisions for wifi installation. The Board should make a district determination based on health, safety and the precautionary principle.

Motions, Motions, Motions… very relevant to the classroom experience for your children.

wifi motion- Trustee Leonard brought the following new motion to the table and it was accepted for debate by Chair Orcherton.

Moved- Leonard

1) That the Board of Education of School District No. 61 (Greater Victoria) direct the Superintendent to ensure that no new routers be placed in any school until such time as the Board of Education has changed its present direction.

Carried-Leonard, Orcherton, Ferris, Nohr, Alpha, Horsman, McEvoy   Against-Loring-Kuhanga, McNally

* The situation is now very complex because many teachers have brought their own routers into their schools. The district has not been informed about this situation and parents have not been informed either. I don’t believe that most school PACs have had a full discussion about the current neurological impact for children by EMR. Almost all educational instruction can be accomplished using the safer hard wired technology. It is less expensive for our district and I would rather use funding for newer computers to update classrooms and labs. George Jay became our first wireless elementary school almost two years ago.

2)   Moved-Nohr  Seconded- Alpha

That the Board of Education of School District 61 (Greater Victoria) provide the new Minister of Education, Don McRae, with an advocacy letter requesting new targeted funding for students in grades K to 3 who present with significant learning or behavioural challenges. before they become a priority for psycho-educational assessments and Individual Educational Plan support. Additionally, this letter be sent to the Leader of the Opposition, Adrian Dix and to the education critic, Robin Austin.

Carried-Unanimously

3)Moved-Nohr   Seconded- Loring-Kuhanga

That the Board of Education of School District 61 (Greater Victoria) provide the new Minister of Education, Don McRae, with an advocacy letter requesting additional funding to existing funding for  students with designations on the autism spectrum (A.S.D.) or with intensive behaviour. Additionally, this letter be sent to the Leader of the Opposition, Adrian Dix and to the education critic, Robin Austin.

Carried-Unanimously * motions 2 and 3 will be incorporated into one letter to the Minister

Trustee Leonard requested that the next two motions be reviewed at the next Education policy meeting and this would include a presentation to provide a full background on the development of this initiative. FYi…Quebec puts $10.3M into early childhood education and receives $10.6 back into general provincial revenues.

4)-Moved- Nohr    Second- Alpha

That the Board of Education of School District 61 (Greater Victoria) endorse the Community Plan for a Public System of Integrated Early Care and Learning, otherwise known as the $10/Day/Child Care Plan.

Five Strands:

1. Universal fully funded

2. Hub- where services are provided to families

3. Parameters- tied to the Framework for Early Learning

4. Consensus- overall policy for childcare

5. All early learning-no separating of care and learning

4)Moved-Nohr   Seconded-Alpha

That the Board of Education of School District 61 (Greater Victoria) encourage awareness of the $10/Day/Child Care Plan to our partner groups and request that they endorse the program as well.

5)Moved- Nohr   Seconded-

That the Board of Education of School District 61 (Greater Victoria) provide the new Minister of Education, Don McRae, with an advocacy letter requesting the reinstatement of full targeted funding for students with learning disabilities designations. Additionally, this letter be sent to the Leader of the Opposition, Adrian Dix and to the Education Critic, Robin Austin.

Motion defeated: For- Trustees Nohr, Alpha, Loring-Kuhanga and McNally   Against: Trustees Orcherton, Horsman, Leonard and Ferris    Absent: Trustee McEvoy

* I will write my own letter to the Minister of Education about the need for targeted funding for students with learning disability designations. An overwhelming majority of teachers support this position od restoring targeted funding.

Here is my rationale:

1. The landmark decision of the Supreme Court of Canada (Nov.8, 2012) states that school districts have a responsibility to accommodate and provide core academic instruction for students with learning disability designations. It is a fundamental human right.

2.”Adequate special education is not a dispensable luxury,” Judge Abella said in a 9-0 majority. “For those with severe learning disabilities, it is a ramp that provides access to the statutory commitment to education made to ALL children in British Columbia.”

3. Disproportional cuts have been made to special education programs.

4. The serious downward shift in GDP for public education ( 26% to 14.8%) have been the major cause for thousands of students being denied basic access to core instruction.

5. A. Wayne MacKay, a Dalhousie Univerisity law professor, said, “In my opinion, this may be the most important human rights case in the last decade or so.”

The basic human rights of our special education students have been neglected.

 

6) That the Board of Education of School District No. 61(Great Victoria ) develop and implement a stewardship report for all Board meetings to include the action take, person responsible and progress report (which may include a timeline and/or date of progress report).

* This motion was referred to the next available OPPs meeting.

Rationale: I thought that this would provide more easy access for the public since the format would be readable at a glance.

*** Trustee Loring -Kuhanga tried to bring forward a substantively revised motion for Q&A at our Public Board meetings and it was denied by Chair Orcherton.

FYI

*A new Ad Hoc Committee has been established. It is called Culture and Community Committee … We had our first meeting and it was enormously successful. All partner groups had representatives at the meeting. I was so impressed with the insights and skill sets of our educational assistants that interact with our students in the classroom, on the playground, in the hallways and when they are by themselves feeling sad or left out or bullied. We have many, many professionals and para professionals who have extensive skill sets to help and support students through their daily small trials and major social-emotional challenges, including all types of bullying. We will be working to develop a detailed district policy for anti-bullying.

Remember…bullying  can also be looked at as racism, anti-Semitism, and misogyny.

* $15,000 per project is now available. Greater Victoria will be applying for this funding to help eliminate bullying.

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.

• 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

Premier Christy Clark Wants 10 Years Without Any Labour Disruption for BC Teachers

Premier Clark ‘imagined’ students in grade two continuing through to grade 12 without any threat of labour disruption. I would like to assure Premier Clark that all teachers, support staff, families and citizens would also like to see this. However, Premier  Clark has lost sight of the most critical detail necessary to bring this to pass.

In 2002, Minister of Education, Christy Clark passed Bill 28, Public Education Flexibility and Choice Act, which resulted in removing approximately $275 million from public education funding EACH YEAR. This was a devastating blow.

As a trustee and a retired teacher I also, ‘imagine’ ALL students from kindergarten to grade 12 experiencing a highly effective educational experience based on more teachers to meet more needs, less split grades, more learning support teachers to target our bright students with learning disabilities, much more counselling support, full-time educational assistance for full-time students was significant and severe behaviour challenges and proactive educational assessments for high need students who enter the system in kindergarten, grade one and two.

I encourage every citizen in our community to realize and support the necessity of reinstating this very essential funding. The 80%  of our citizens who do not have children in our public education system should understand that public education, the great builder of equality, most definitely has the potential to create literate and competent students who then bring greater employment, higher levels of employment, stability, creativity and vitality to our communities.

Deborah Nohr
SD 61
Victoria
Trustee

 

April ’12 Trustee Report $48 M Shortfall for Victoria Students

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

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