French Immersion, Coastal Kindergarten….and Wifi for Elementary Schools

Trustee Nohr…Report #21      SD 61
November, 2013
Equality for All in  Public Education……Fully Funded and Properly Managed.

Education Policy Meeting… A Few Highlights     November 4, 2013
French immersion at George Jay? Presently, 124students within the George Jay catchment area are attending other schools for French immersion. Bringing these students back to their neighbourhood school is very important. The following motion was passed unanimously: That the Board of Education of School District No. 61(Greater Victoria) approve the addition of a French Immersion program at George Jay Elementary School beginning September 2014, with the introduction of a kindergarten class.
Did you know that the BC curriculum is being revised? Deputy Supt Sherry Bell provided a first look at this new K-9 revised curriculum. There is greater emphasis on student/teacher developed activities and methodologies as well as a reduction in learning outcomes with a focus on core concepts (big ideas). What do you think? Should environmental studies or sustainable living be a stand-alone curriculum area?
 At this time, it appears to be integrated through all other curriculum areas.
OPPs Meeting… A Few Highlights… November 12, 2013
Janis Hoffman, a member of the public, asked that trustees ensure that choices are made available to parents concerned about the health impacts of wireless technology in schools. I, too, see the need for training at the school level to ensure that all staff and students use hard wired and wireless technology in the most safety conscious way. Where are the routers being placed? Can we reduce the EMF frequency levels? This may serve both the safety concerns for children and employees as well as to reduce the district’s energy costs.
Further review was given to the subcommittee on public engagement recommendations. I recommended that trustees should be able to ask a point of clarification to a member of the public presenting at the board.
#1 Motion: That the Board of Education of School District # 61 Greater Victoria revise the wording of item #5, bullet 6 of Bylaw 9360 to add,” trustees, through the chair, many ask presenters questions of clarification”. This motion was defeated. Against-Trustees Leonard, Orcherton, Ferris Abstain- Horsmen  For- Trustees Nohr, McNally, Alpha,hand Loring-Kuhanga  Q&A….15 minutes at our Board meetings!  This will definitely foster greater engagement with the public and help trustees have a better understanding of what is on the minds of our public/parents.
VCPAC, through their president, John Bird, reported out that the majority of parents who participated in the WiFi survey in supported WiFi in our elementary schools. There were a significant percentage of parents who had concerns about the health and safety issues related to WiFi and children.
Two motions were brought forward.
#2 Motion: Moved-Ferris That the Board of Education of School District No. 61 (Greater Victoria) continues to monitor the documentation from the Vancouver Island Health Authority, the Provincial Health Officer, Health Canada and the World Health Organization with regard to the use of WiFi in schools. Further, the WiFi committee recommends that the board reviews on an annual basis, those recommendations and receive updates on any changes…… As I recall, in the past two years, the Board has received only a very brief update on WiFi from the WiFi committee. I have learned more about the growing body of evidence related to WiFi health and safety issues from the many public presentations that cite peer reviewed, independent research findings. I will continue to work on this important issue. It is my opinion that this is not the year to spend more money on WiFi installation when we are facing a significant deficit of $2M, $5M…..  or possibly higher.
#3 Motion  Moved- Ferris That the Board of Education of School District No. 61 (Greater Victoria) allow the use of WiFi in elementary schools subject to the school first obtaining the support of the school community.
Will each school be required to generate the funding for the WiFi installation or will it come out for operating budget or will it be a joint effort?
Motions moved to the Board meeting.
Statement of Financial Information- Trustee Loring-Kuhanga brought forward a series of questions drilling deeper into the district budget. Remember, we do not have a formal budget committee. Responses to these questions were provided to all the trustees and this fostered a more in-depth understanding of some of the major line items in our 2012- 2013 budget. Trustee Loring-Kuhanga stated that she would be bringing forward a notice of motion regarding the budget process.
WorkSafe BC Cost Summary-Our district receives a surcharge, that is additional cost taken from the budget as required by WorkSafe BC based on worker injuries and health issues. Worker safety is paramount and it often has a direct impact on the quality of the learning environment and the learning experience for our students. Trustees have asked for more details related to these surcharges. This will be brought forward at the December board meeting.
Attendance Awareness- Kim Munro, Director of Human Resources, presented Information about the District’s desire to implement in Attendance Awareness Program. Ms. Munro stated that the program will use a relationship based and conversation led approach to ensure that all employees are treated fairly and consistently. Ms Munro advised that a dedicated position will be needed to manage attendance and to implement programs to promote health, wellness and safety in the workplace. Currently, on average, employees use 10.43 sick days. What are the criteria? The district would save $460,444 with a one day reduction in the number of sick days used by all employees.
This is a very complex issue. Employee health and wellness is tied directly to underfunding of public education. When employees are ‘spread very thin’ and the daily demands of the job require a ‘hit the ground running approach’  each and every day serious fatigue, stress and illness will follow. Add into the mix the fact that our employees are working in a germ incubator aka the classroom and it is inevitable that viruses and bacteria will spread throughout the school community. Let’s properly fund and support our staff, especially those supporting learning in the classroom. What is the process to ensure that we do not have classrooms where the teacher and/ or the educational assistant is working in a situation of distress? What is the process to ensure that employees returning to work are supported for a successful re-entry? These are questions that I will ask at the board table.
#3 Motion  Moved-Ferris That the Board of Education of School District No. 61 (Greater Victoria) implement the Attendance Awareness Program and proceed to hire a human resources advisor, wellness and attendance awareness, to coordinate the programme. We have asked for the cost to hire another employee and for feedback from our employee groups. This will be reported out at the December 9 Board meeting.
Now for the Board Meeting     Monday, November 18, 2013
Student Presentation   Cups, Cups and More Cups    Students from Glanford Middle School and principal, Louis Scigliano, provided an amazing challenge for the trustees! Requiring both physical and mental agility we were put to the test. Trying to remember which hand, left or right, cups up or down and changing the pattern constantly was hard. Congratulations to the students for their mastery and for their ability to teacher / mentor the trustees!
Community Presentations 1. Emily Federico- South park PAC, Coastal Kindergarten
                                        2. Tiffany Carlyle- James Bay PAC, Coastal Kindergarten
                                        3. Bonnie Davison- parent, Coastal Kindergarten
                                        4. Peter Milne- parent, wireless technology
                                        5. John Bird- VCPAC, School Culture and Student Services
Chair’s Report- Chair Orcherton reported that as the government is undergoing a core review and we as a district will be undertaking our own core review. Are we to look  eff sciences? Really? Currently, some, a significant number of our students, including our most vulnerable students are not receiving proper support because we do not have adequate funding. We have repeatedly expressed our concern to the Ministry of Education and to the Premier.
#1 Motion– That the Board of Education of  School District No.61 (Greater Victoria)  approve the Program of Choice Application : Coastal Kindergarten Program Proposal  for a two-year pilot located at James Bay Community School and South Park Family School beginning September 2014.   
Motion carried– For: Trustees Nohr, Loring-Kuhanga, Alpha, Orcherton, Leonard, Horsman, Ferris,   Against-Trustee McNally
* What I have been thinking since is… is it really the best idea to be driving kindergarten students across town and away from their own neighbourhood schools….kindergarten? How wise is this? Does this support community sustainability? Would this be in the best interests of the child? Who will be driven across town? Most likely, the child in a family with resources to get outside and explore the coastal habitat. The child  who desperately needs the outdoor experience to support emotional, spiritual and physical well being will not have the opportunity. I will not vote for any more specialized or niche programs for elementary school.
#2 Motion-That the Board of Education of School District No. 61 (Greater Victoria) approve the addition of a French Immersion programme at George Jay Elementary School, beginning September 2014 with the introduction of a kindergarten class. 
Motion carried-unanimously * Let’s bring those families back to the George Jay neighbourhood.
New Motions or…Notice of Motion
#1 Motion- Trustee Ferris:  That the Board of Education of School District No.61 (Greater Victoria) table discussion of trustee remuneration, including the motion referred from the October 21, 2013 Board of Education meeting, until after the municipal/trustee elections of November 2014
* My position is that until our teachers negotiate a wage settlement I have no interest in reviewing and / or increasing trustee remuneration. SD 61 has a significant deficit due in large part to the ‘cooperative gains’ mandate put on public education that lead to the recent CUPE wage settlement. This will take significant funding out of the classroom.
#2 Motion- Trustee Ferris:  That the Board of Education of School District No.61  (Greater Victoria) continues to monitor documentation from the Vancouver Island Health Authority, Provincial Health Officer, Health Canada and the World Health Organization with regard to the use of WiFi in schools. Further, the WiFi committee recommends that the Board reviews, on an annual basis, those recommendations and receives updates on any changes. Motion carried unanimously– For- Trustees Nohr, Loring-Kuhanga, Orcherton, Horsman, Ferris, McNally, Alpha, Leonard
* As I recall, in the past two years, the Board has received only a very brief update on WiFi from the WiFi committee. I have learned more about the growing body of evidence related to WiFi health and safety issues from the many public presentations that cite peer reviewed, independent research findings and my own reading. I will continue to work on this important issue. It is my opinion that this is not the year to spend more money on WiFi installation when we are facing a significant deficit of $2M, $5M…..  or possibly higher. What are we doing to accommodate  students and employees that have a significant sensitivity to EMF? This is a question that I will ask at the Board table. When parents express an unwillingness to provide consent to expose their child to EMF / wifi all day at school, what will we do?

#3 Motion- Trustee Ferris  That the Board of Education of School District No. 61 (Greater Victoria) allow the use of wifi in elementary schools subject to each school first obtaining the support of their school community. Motion carried– For- Trustee Orcherton, Leonard, Horsman, Ferris   Against-Trustee Nohr, Loring-Kuhanga, Alpha, McNally
* As a trustee, I have been given no financial costing of this initiative even though we are in a significant deficit. I will be asking for a report on this and the district’s plan to accommodate students and employees with severe EM sensitivity. I will also ask what plan, if any, does the district have to ensure the safest installation of wifi and regular monitoring of wifi for our youngest children. School was the break from wifi….off the EMF smog grid for 6 or 7 hours each day. Now, most children will have 24 hour exposure to EMF! With the emerging health findings, should we not be concerned? I support the use of hard wired technology in the classroom and I used it regularly when I was teaching.

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog!     Deborah Nohr

September/13 … Cooperative Gains….More Money taken Out of the Budget!

Trustee Nohr…Report #19      SD 61
September, 2013
Equality for All in  Public Education……Fully Funded and Properly Managed…Is the Vision
Education Policy Meeting….A Few Highlights     September 9, 2013
We received 3 outstanding presentations on suicide prevention. These included a presentation by Justine Thomson- Need2- Whole School Approach, William Morris and Bonnie Jones- Gathering Strength Initiative- First Nations  Saanich SD and Rob Paynter-current research / Whole School Approach to suicide prevention. Each presentation provided very valuable information to update the Board and senior administration on current research findings and as well as relevant data for our 12 -18 year age group. The following motion was passed with an amendment:
Moved- Trustee Loring -Kuhanga
That the Board of Education at School District 61(Greater Victoria) adopt* changed to *encourage the use of the ‘Whole School Suicide Prevention Approach’ for all middle and secondary schools and provide annual presentations to students and staff in order to increase in awareness, education and prevention of suicide amongst our youth.  passed unanimously
During our next budget review I will bring forward a suggestion or motion that there be a small funding envelope for school based staff to apply for training in the Whole School Suicide Prevention Approach / ideology. This would better support teacher interest.
OPPs Meeting …….A Few Highlights…….. September 9, 2013
The Public Engagement Committee Report was brought forward for trustee review by Deputy Superintendent Sheri Bell. The report will be discussed at the Oct. 14, 2013 OPPs meeting.
Health and Safety updated policy and regulations were brought forward for trustees to review. Kim Munro, our new Human Resources Director and Amanda Stuyt, our new Health and Safety Officer were 
present and answered questions.
It is very important that updates to policy be made in a timely and proactive manner to ensure that our district aligns policy with current laws, acts and regulations.
Cooperative Gains Savings Plan is a requirement for all school districts now. This is an untenable demand for districts! All funding that comes out of the district budget to support CUPE wage increases will diminish support for students in the classroom because the funding comes from the operational funding budget….and that is the funding for classrooms.
Capital Project Plans were presented. We reviewed and passed motions for work on Cloverdale,Tillicum, George Jay (Seismic Project Identification Reports).
Seamus Howley, Director of Facilities, presented an overview of the Capital Plan 2013-2014. This may be viewed on the district website under Board minutes, Sept. 9, 2013 Ed Policy and OPPs mtg p.26-28
Now, at the Board Meeting….. Monday, September 16, 2013
Student Achievement
Strawberry Vale students presented with a focus on ‘integrating technology into the classroom’ . They demonstrated their skills using iPads and an app for movie making iMovie and Garageband. They have 30 iPads in a trolley for classroom use.
Lots of enthusiasm, team work and confidence in public speaking at the Board meeting!
Community Presentations
*Gifted Children’s Association of BC- Heidi Darroch invited trustees to attend their conference at James Bay Community Center Sat. Oct. 5/13 @ 9AM
*Youth Suicide Prevention- Dr. Jennifer White  from U Vic School of Child and Youth Care… stated that suicide is 2nd cause of death 15-24yr A multi strategy comprehensive plan for schools is best because schools have a key context since adults have long standing relationships with the students; all adults should be trained and informed.
* Heliset Hale Marathon- Kelly Paul ran the length of the Island with her team to bring awareness about suicide 
*Accommodating Children with Special Needs- Peter Milne-  Health accommodations for peanut allergies and anaphylactic responses are now systemic in all our schools. What will be the district plan for EMF hyper sensitivity in a few of our children? This is a good question which must be addressed fairly and inclusively.
*Contracts for Pregnant Temporary Teachers- Natalie Buchmann and Erin Porter spoke about the Human Rights legislation that prohibits discrimination based on pregnancy. They stated that current suggested new hiring policy would be a direct affront to equality and gender rights. I strongly support a practice that is in place in many districts across the province. Pregnant teachers would have the job bookmarked and saved for them until their return to work and in the meantime they could work short temp. contracts or TTOC (substitute) assignments. Yes, the district would have to fund a few (very few) teachers’ additional benefits. This approach would ensure teacher continuity for all our students and hiring equality for pregnant teachers. There are many other variables that result in teachers taking leaves of absence.
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
Motions at the Board
1. Moved- Trustee Loring-Kuhanga Whole School Suicide Prevention Model….to be encouraged through out the district- passed unanimously

2.Capital Amendment Bylaw  $2,931,347- passed unanimously

3.Cloverdale Seismic Project Identification Report   $14,070 – passed unanimously

4. Tillicum Seismic Project Identification Report  $11, 865 – passed unanimously

5.George Jay Seismic Project Identification Report   $34,270 – passed unanimously

6. Capital Plan 2013-2014  passed unanimously

7. That the Board of Education of School District No. 61 (Greater Victoria) approve the revised Policy 4300 – District Health and Safety Committee. Trustee Loring- Kuhnga amended the motion to require the district to report to the Board annually on health and safety matters to ensure that all current and emerging issues as well as costs to the district would be reviewed in detail. The amendment failed 5/4  Against Amendment- Orcherton, Horsman, Leonard, McEvoy and Ferris  Supporting Amendment- Loring-Kuhanga, Nohr, Alpha and McNally

8. That the Board of Education of School District No. 61 (Greater Victoria) approve the new Policy 4300.2 – Site-Based Joint Occupational, Health and Safety Committees Motion passed   This committee has been functioning for the past 5 years.

Superintendent’s Report
1. Temporary Teachers and temp contracts- hope for a common solution, fair for students, teachers and parents  
    Mark Walsh, labour relations specialist,  stated that the district expects teacher availability to be a determining factor when hiring for these positions. Teachers must be available 50% of the contract but each job posting will be evaluated based on the individual teacher’s circumstance and the timing in the year.  He stated that we want to solve it to ensure public confidence, educational impact for students and funding impact. *I would support ‘book marking’ the position for the pregnant teacher who has the most seniority and qualifications and then placing another teacher in that position who is available for the duration of the contract. Then the pregnant teacher could take TTOC calls or very short term contracts until she is able to come back to the position she earned. This way the teacher would be treated fairly and the students would have the teacher continuity they deserve. * I have made a request to get the specific details about the 12 classes Mark Walsh referenced including the costs for benefits and the number of teacher changes due to pregnancy.
Please read the following when considering this issue.

2. Enrolment- Preliminary Enrolment Report     * Sorry for the scatter….
Elementary-8,134                                                        2013  Elementary – 8,233  Difference- +99
                                                                           2012 Middle – 3,889   2013 Middle  – 3,880    Difference -9

High School – 7,260                 2013 High School 7,011   Difference -249    19,19,283

2012 Total – 19,283                           2013  Total – 19,124           Difference -159    * This report does not include international studentsl                                                                                                                                                                                                         * We are hoping for an upward swing in student population starting next year
2012-2013 Audited Financial Statements
The secretary treasurer, Debra Laser, presented a high level overview of the audited financial statements. Then Chair Orcherton stated that if there were any questions about the financial statements trustees could arrange to meet with the secretary treasurer for follow up. I am concerned that since we do not have a formal budget committee and we have been told that we are in the budget cycle year round and therefore can ask questions at any time that we were specifically directed to set up a meeting and not give an opportunity to ask questions publicly. It is my opinion that it is vitally important to ask all budget questions at the public board table. A motion to approve the audited financial statements, 2012/2013 was passed. 7/2 Opposing- Trustees Nohr and Loring-Kuhanga  Questions had not been asked or answered.

Notice of Motions

1. Moved-McNally   Health and Safety Committee
 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.
2. Moved-McNally 
Student Trustee  TBD
Thank you, 
Your trustee,
Deborah Nohr ( 250-380-0888 or 250-896-0808-c )
* Please take a look at Trustee McNally’s blog, Lined Paper:)

Remember……our district budget ($200,000,000 approx.) 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.
And now…..Cooperative Gains Mandate for CUPE wage increases! Where does the money come from….ultimately from the classroom?


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

*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…..
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

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.
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 )
* 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.

More Community Involvement! Lively Debate…wifi

Trustee Nohr…Report #17      SD 61   Greater Victoria
Equality for All in  Public Education
Fully Funded Public Education….. Justice…… Not Charity
May, 2013      What’s Going On At the Board?
First, at our Education Policy Meeting   May 6, 2013
There was no policy work, motions or review of issues related to student achievement.
That is the work of trustees and there is much to be done. Here are some suggestions about what may have been placed on this agenda.
1. Review of LIF effectiveness
 2. Learning Initiatives- What is the refined vision and goals for the next school year?
3. Technology-How are computer labs being used and how are desktop computers being used in classrooms? ( Are they being integrated daily to support learning outcomes and curriculum activities? Do the desktop computers work properly in the classrooms?  Do they need better maintenance? What programs are the teachers using? )

Second, at our Operations, Planning and Policy Meeting   May 13, 2013   Is long term exposure to EMF a health risk, especially for our young children?
As a trustee, I continue to explore the most recent research findings related to this question. Our school district’s mission statement includes the phrase, ‘responsive and safe learning environment’. And so I am encouraging full discussion  of this issue based on the current research of independent scientists and medical researchers, not the research of those affiliated with technology companies or government agencies. The cumulative effect  of non thermal EMF is central to the issue of human health and the international research results are only slowly becoming evident. This evidence is at present not included in the position taken by Canadian and provincial health organizations. Let’s be learn from the past ( nicotine, asbestos, BPA, lead ) and be proactive for our children and the adults working in the system. We have students and employees with EMF hypersensitivity substantiated by their medical doctors. Do we not have a duty to accommodate them as well as protect all our students and employees?
Public Presentations
1. Dr. Kerry Crofton- Doctors for Safer Schools
- EMF causing DNA damage and causing a disruption to DNA repair
- Choose the safest technology- keep all technology hard wired whenever possible and reduce to lower levels of EMF when using wifi (1000 micro watts per square meter…the technology still works)
2. Dr. Martin Blank     Columbia University, USA
- growing numbers of individuals with electro- hypersensitivity/ electro allergic
- recommended that the district develop a ‘safer technology protocol’
- EMF is a new cardiac risk factor; the new asbestos
-again, use the new international biological standards (1,000 micro watts per square meter)
- Health Canada standards- Safety Code 6 is for thermal effects only   Dr. Blank stated that this  safety standard is ‘totally irrelevant’
- WHO/ World Health Organization (2013) categorized EMF as a @B carcinogen
3. Katarina Gustavs    Environmental Consultant      RF meter usage
- it is possible to install wifi more safely (away from students and employees) and save energy
- an attenuation sleeve may be used to reduce EMF
- France – in some areas laws/policy has been passed to keep e-tools wired whenever possible, using the on/off switch
4. Tammy Jeske  parent of child with EMF sensitivity
-strongly encouraged the district to use the precautionary principle
- emphasized the fact that EMF has a cumulative affect
Sub Committee on Public Engagement will be bringing forward some recommendations soon
Oak Bay High School plans are coming along
Motion    Moved- Nohr        Purchase   RF Meter
That the Board of Education of School District No. 61 (Greater Victoria) purchase the RF meter from Gigahertz Solutions to regularly monitor our schools’ RF levels to confirm that all atreas with hotspots (access points, routers, cell phones, iPads) are within limits set to the precautionary level of 1,000 micro watts per square meter. Motion defeated. Against- Orcherton, Horsman, Ferris, Leonard    For- Nohr, McNally, Loring-Kuhanga
My hope was to get a baseline of the EMF in our schools.
Now, at the Board Meeting     Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Student Presentation- Island Ukeleles  Tina Horwood and students from 17 middle and high schools performed a variety of fabulous songs! Thank you to Tina and all teachers in our district that are so dedicated! Awesome job students!
Public Presentations
1.Clint Lalonde   parent  (wifi)  professional work-BCCampus
-spoke in favour of wifi in our elementary schools (wired connections contribute to sedentary lifestyle)
- encouraged the board to consider that Dr. Perry Kendall, the medical officer for BC has stated that wifi poses no all the evidence is not in.”health risks
- Health Canada and other provincial organizations have also stated that there is no health risk to wifi exposure
2. Dr. Valerie Irvine  parent  (wifi)    professional work- UVic  associate professor   Director  TIE Lab  Technology Integration and Evaluation Research lab
- stated that wifi accessibility is essential to 21st century learning
- engagement, personalized learning depends upon having wifi access
- stated that she was very upset that her daughter in kindergarten could not use her iPad for a special project
3. David Leach  parent (wifi)   professional work-   UVic  Director of Techology and Society program
- fully supports wifi use for students in elementary school… inexcusable not to
- Trustee Diane stated the following about David Leach’s presentation, ” Mr. Leach says the precautionary principle is already enshrined: “The fact is, the Precautionary Principle is already implemented in the Wifi guidelines and exposure limits by the World Health Organization, Health Canada, and other public-health bodies”. Nope. The Canadian Environmental Law Association states: ” The precautionary principle denotes a duty to prevent harm, when it is within our power to do so, even when all the evidence is not in.”
4. Karen Weiss   parent  (bullying)
- spoke about her son’s first hand experience with bullying over his EMF sensitivity
- recounted the disrespect and mocking her son had received
- reminded the trustees that a minority position or personal experience must be respected and valued
- bullying has become central to the wifi debate, many hashtag comments were collated and provided to trustees and the public (‘bizarro’, ‘trolls’, ‘nutbars’, ‘They’re uneducated because wifi distracted them from learning’)
- responsible citizenship should be central, not bullying
5. Peter Milne  parent  (conflict of interest)
- conflict of interest in organizations as high up as the World Health Organization
- board accountable to the community and the public
- board must be aware of these conflicts
- Peter Milne will speak at the next board meeting on these conflicts of interest
Results of LIF – Learning Improvement Fund    $1.915M  (2012-2013)
 7 new full-time teachers
- the equivalent of 9 FTE by increasing teaching time for teachers already in the district- increased their contractual time
- 212 top up hours for EAs
- 61 hours for meeting time for EAs
- 284 new hours for EAs already in the system
- $15.649 for professional development related to increasing knowledge relevant to student learning for students with designations
1. Needs Budget-Moved- Ferris
That the Board of Education of School District No. 61, (Greater Victoria) submit the District Needs Budget as well as our balanced budget.
Motion carried – unanimously  * In my heart of hearts, I would rather put all of this funding into direct service for students (counsellors, teachers, speech and language, psychologists etc)
2. Technology Installation- Trustee McNally
That the SD 61 IT department  research and report back to the board on costs for purchase, setup, and maintenance of a live feed camera(s) in the Board room, the objective being live streaming and archiving (archive function to include key-word searchable and RSS function) of  board meetings online. * Referred to public engagement committee This is not the responsibility of this ad hoc committee. Trustees should debate and vote on the motion.
I attended the Special Education Parent Network Day. There were excellent speakers, as well, it was a great support network for parents.  A tremendous amount of current and highly relevant information was provided for attendees. Well done parents of Vic High, Central Middle School and Sir James Douglas and Margaret Jenkins elementary schools.
Thank you,
Your trustee,
Deborah Nohr ( 250-380-0888 or 250-896-0808-c )
* Please take a look at Trustee McNally’s blog, Lined Paper:)

Remember……the new budget has no additional funding for public education! That means we take 2% or $350,000 from our SD 61 budget BEFORE we even start.

Posted in Uncategorized

Wi-Fi Victory for Victor School

I  must respond to the letter written by Mr. McDermott, a parent with a child at Victor School.
I support the use of technology as one important teaching tool. At this time I believe that we should continue to use the hard
wired technology already built into our classrooms, at least, at the elementary level. And the reasons are as follows:
1. It will cost more to install wifi when we already have hard wired technology
2. Laptops and iPads can be charged using hard wired technology and taken from the trolleys and used anywhere in the school
3. The World Health Organization has classified wifi as a B2 carcinogen
4. Wifi is ubiquitous now and we are just beginning to understand the non thermal biological effects especially for children
5.Dr. Martha Herbert PhD M.D Harvard Medical School stated, after reviewing 550 current research findings,
‘EMF/RFR from wifi and cell towers can exert a disorganizing effect on the ability to learn and remember,
and can also be destabilizing to immune and metabolic function.
6. I support the Precautionary Principle- prove that there are no negative effects
7. Our district, like every district, has children and employees experiencing significant sensitivity to EMF/RFR

Deborah Nohr
SD 61

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.

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…..
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”.,24,2818

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:

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

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 or
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
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. (
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:)

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
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Trustee Report December 2012

Trustee Nohr…Report #12  SD 61

First Priority Always…Advocacy for Our Children 

December 31, 2012       What’s Going On At the Board

Trustees Elections for 2013…..No New Trustees Included!
Elections were held by trustees for the following positions:

  • Chair- Peg Orcherton
  • Vice Chair- Bev Horsman
  • Rep for BCPSEA (British Columbia Public School Employers’ Assoc.)- Tom Ferris
  • Rep for BCSTA (British Columbia School Trustees’ Assoc. Provincial Councillor- Bev Horsman
  • Rep for VILRA (Vancouver Island Labour Relations Assoc.)- Tom Ferris
  • Chair- Operations, Policy and Planning Com’t- Elaine Leonard
  • Chair- Education Policy Com’t- Catherine Alpha

Unfortunately, none of the newly elected trustees ( Diane McNally, Edith Loring-Kuhanga, Deborah Nohr ) were elected to any positions.
This is unfortunate because these trustee bring some new ideas, energy and connection with the community to their work.
Question and Answer Debate…goes on and on!

Rachel Franklin, a parent, strongly encouraged the trustees to get on with it and immediately include a Q&A at Board meetings as did all members of the public at that meeting. This request fell on deaf ears and the Q&A issue is now going to a new ad hoc committee (Public Engagement Committee) for review. Interestingly, Michael McEvoy, a trustee, asked why there were no members of the public on this committee? Peg Orcherton and Bev Horsman gave their very weak rationales. Peg Orcherton asked how she could possibly develop a process to include the public? Michael McEvoy stated that it was very important to have the public involved. And thus, Peg took a breath and accepted this position after rejecting our very same request to include the public. We (Trustee McNally and Trustee Nohr) are waiting to hear about the date for the first meeting so we can attend as observers because Peg Orcherton and Bev Horsman were strongly opposed to following the district’s own Bylaw 9140.4 of including trustees/rep. of the public on this committee! Again, trustee McEvoy enthusiastically stated that, of course, trustees could attend this committee! Trustee Orcherton and Trustee Horsman, unfortunately have resisted change that is important and reflects current thinking about public bodies and their connection to their citizens
We have updated our Child Abuse Policy 5140.1.

Coming soon….trustee remuneration! Should trustees have a raise when CUPE and GVTA did not get a raise last year? I say NO! We need to remember the equity principle.

Recommended Motions:

  • i. The Board of Education School District No. 61 (Greater Victoria) from and ad Hoc Committee to review Bylaw 9360 to make recommendations for enhancements for public engagement including a structure for a possible Question and Answer period. The Ad Hoc Committee will include one representative from ASA, CUPE 382, CUPE 947, Exempt, GVTA VCPAC, VPVPA, and the Superintendent of Schools. The committee will report to the Operations, Policy and Planning Committee and will be at no cost to the Board.
  • ii. That the Board of Education of School District No. 61 (Greater Victoria) amend bylaw 9368 ‘Procedure’, Article 107.00 to read: “Any Trustee may challenge the ruling of the Chair, according to Robert’s Rules of Order. The Trustee making the challenge (with a seconder) will be asked by the Chair to state the challenge; debate will occur according to Roberts Rules of Order; a vote to sustain the Chair will follow debate.
  • iii. That the Board of Education of School District No. 61 (Greater Victoria) adopt the revised Policy 5140.1, Child Abuse.

Wi-Fi….What is going on? I’m confused!
The wifi issue is complex in large part due to the fact that issues and motions have not been addressed in a timely manner over the past year and a half. At one point, there was to be a discussion and possible motions brought forward about a moratorium on wifi in K to 5 schools and a district policy on ‘duty to accommodate’ students with sensibilities to EMR. At this time, a year and a half after it was first discussed, there is finally a moratorium and that means no more District installation and no more retail devices installed by teachers. I am concerned that neither the trustees or the wifi committee have addressed the ‘duty to accommodate’ issue. I will be putting this forward to the next OPPs meeting. Apparently, the wifi committee was to have only one meeting. That doesn’t make sense since there are so many important issues that remain unaddressed.

The wifi committee is waiting to hear back from the VCPAC, our parents organization. I have serious concerns about the lack of democratic representation by this organization. They do not represent 50% or more of our school based PACs. I would suggest that the wifi Chair send out an email to the school based PAC presidents and ask them to discuss this important issue at their January meeting using some survey questions and return their responses for the February OPPs meeting. Remember, School Planning Councils provide feedback each year around the budget issues.

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 and keep our elementary schools hard wired.

This Government’s dreadful and persistent cuts to our District’s Budget
In October, the Ministry of Ed. informed our District that we would need to cover the costs of our teachers’ pension increase to the tune of $1.2M. What!!! We have never been responsible for this provincial cost. Then in December, again, the Ministry of Education, under the Cooperative Gains Mandate which they NEVER discussed with us, sent a letter directing our District to find 1.5% savings this year and next from our CUPE budget for a total of $500,000 each year. What!!! You have to be kidding. But, no! Not this government. Remember, large corporations have had their taxes reduced from16.5% to 9% and that equals anywhere from $500,000M to $1B eliminated from general revenue each year and that means PUBLIC EDUCATION is the victim of this fiscal mismanagement! We DO NOT have these funds.
Parents please send a brief but clear directive to your MLA, Premier/ M of Ed and say that this is not acceptable for our children.

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.

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Posted in Uncategorized


VPEC is having it’s AGM

The AGM will be at the Emily Carr Library Meeting Room on Saturday, December 1 at 10:00 am will run until 1:00 pm if necessary.

The Emily Carr Library is located at 3500 Blanshard St., Google Map to help out is here, it is located near Uptown, behind Save-On-Foods and is surround by one way streets and a boulevard.

Hope to see everyone there.

October Board Meeting…New Committee to Address Bullying

Trustee Nohr…Report #9   SD 61
First Priority Always… Advocacy for Our Children   Oct. 2012
October 15, 2012       Public Board Meeting

Highlights: Our Students….. Cops for Cancer

$109,000 was raised by students, staff, parents and community members at Reynolds Secondary School this year to contribute to our fight against cancer! In three years Reynolds raised $370,000! That is truly amazing and a testament to the human spirit! Alanna Charlton, principal who will be retiring in December and will be truly missed, and Dean Norris-Jones, lead teacher for the initiative, along with some student reps explained the heart, soul and personal growth that were central to the experience this year. Thank you to everyone at Reynolds and thank you to all the other high school students who worked hard and contributed to the Cops for Cancer Campaign!

* Please support The United Way…….The United Way supports our students and communities!

* New Ad Hoc Committee has been established. It is called Culture and Community Committee …..What is it about? In general terms, the goal is to create more awareness, effective strategies, processes and connection with community services and clear roles and expectations by all professionals to ensure that our students feel cared for and safe at all times. Every partner group will have an opportunity to provide their ideas.
Motions, Motions, Motions………1)    Oak Bay High School  and  Oak Bay Recreation Center have applied for a grant to expand their TV production equipment and therefore expand their capablility to offer more courses aligned with school curriculum and on an exploratory basis through the Rec Centre. They have asked for $16,741.86. T.his grant offering is in support of Neighbourhood Learning Centres * Motion passed unanimously.

2)   The Board approved he  submission to the Ministry of Education, 2012/2013, of its Five Year Capital Plan that includes 3 seismic upgrade projects (George Jay, Tillicum, and Shoreline), the mechanical/energy upgrade (Vic High), the 3 buildings envelope projects (Lambrick, Esquimalt and Mt. Doug), the 2 replacement schools (Cedar Hill and Frank Hobbs) and the 2 school addition projects(Mt. Doug and Spectrum).

*I will be asking some important questions at the next OPPs  (Nov. 13 @7:30pm) meeting about our budget. I want to have a discussion about ‘capping’ the expenses of our senior staff.

I will put two motions forward to our Board to write letters pertaining to the following two issues. If the motions do NOT pass I will write the letters myself.

  • an advocacy letter to the new Minister of Education requesting that he undertake a review of funding for assessments of our K, gr1, gr2, and gr 3 students who exhibit significant learning needs but get NO funding at this time
  • an advocacy letter to the new Minister of Education requesting a review of funding for students with significant and persistent behavioral challenges. Presently, most of our students with severe autism and oppositional defiant behaviour receive educational support time for less than half the day. This puts students and teachers at risk!

Thank you!
Your trustee,

Deborah Nohr ( 250-380-0888 or 250-896-0808-c )
Please write a quick e-mail…and express you ideas,feedback or concerns, if any.

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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

Posted in Uncategorized

Welcome to the New School Year!

I ask all parents to take the time to go to your child / children’s school and meet their teacher or teachers within the first TWO weeks. This will help ensure that everyone gets off to a great start and there is the important, two way  exchange of information that happens at the BEGINNING of the year…proactive communication, not reactive.

Bill 22 has removed class size limits on all grades from grade 4 to grade 12. Be aware of this and find out what your child / children’s class sizes are. Teachers strongly believe that with the complex needs of so many children these days, smaller class sizes are needed. Also, there are no limits on the number of special education students even though teachers have expressed much concern as they know that this is NOT in the best interests of any of the students.

Please read the following summary of  the concerns and issues with Bill 22

Bill 22 hurts students and attacks teachers’ rights

Bill 22 makes working and learning conditions even worse

  • repeals and reintroduces parts of Bills 27/28 that stripped class-size and composition contract language and were ruled unconstitutional by the BC Supreme Court
  • wipes out virtually all current class-size and composition limits found in the School Act (Bill 33)
  • no limits on number of students with special needs in a class
  • no limit of numbers of students in Grades 4 to 12
  • no consultation with teachers about their classes
  • no public accountability for school boards

Bill 22 means no collective bargaining

  • legislates net zero, no salary or benefit improvement, or anything that has a cost
  • ends free collective bargaining by imposing a government-appointed “mediator” who must operate under a narrow government mandate focused on employer concessions
  • the mediator is bound by net zero
  • concessions regarding seniority, post and fill, layoff and recall, evaluation and dismissal, control of professional development must be part of the new contract
  • makes any strike action an offence subject to heavy fines for members, representatives, and the union
  • attacks fundamental Charter right of freedom of association

Bill 22 ignores the BC Supreme Court ruling

  • BC Supreme Court Justice Griffin found contract stripping legislation regarding class size and composition was unconstitutional
  • Bill 22 repeals Bills 27 and 28 and then legislates them back into effect
  • fails to restore minimum service level guarantees for special education, ESL, teacher-librarians, and other learning specialist teachers
  • fails to restore language supporting the integration of students with special needs.

Thank you for your on-going support!

Trustee Deborah Nohr