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.

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