What Is Your Vision For Society? Mine Starts With Funding For Public Education!

Trustee Nohr…Report #28      SD 61
June, 2014
Equality for All in  Public Education……Fully Funded and Properly Managed.
Education Policy Meeting… A Few Highlights     June 2, 2014
*Social Justice Collaboration Learning Project
….The vice principals from Esquimalt, Tammy Renyard and Barry Janzen, presented the inquiry based project that started with this question, What does social justice mean to you? 120 grade 9 students were involved. This project was integrated into English, Social Studies and Art. Students developed their own conceptualization about social justice. Students used  the ‘Aurasma’ app, an augmented reality app, to link visual and audio reflections to their art. One student stated, “The gala event was surreal, seeing your art piece on the wall it made me thankful that my teachers organized all of this”.
* Culture and Community Committee Draft Statement of Principles….. 
A presentation of the draft principles developed over the past year and a half through an appreciative inquiry approach and discussion from various perspectives was presented. I sat on this committee for over a year and my sense of the draft document is that these values of respectful and thriving relationships, engagement, personal growth, leadership opportunities for all students and community involvement have been and are now central to all of our schools’ philosophies and culture. There is certainly the need for intentional discussion at each school to ensure continued growth BUT equally important is the necessity of funding to support these principles which must come from a base of effective student learning. Thus, students feel successful, happy, identifying with their strengths, engaged in personally relevant projects and lessons at their instructional level. As well much more counsellor and special education supports are needed to contribute to the culture we aspire to in our schools. Neglecting our students through underfunding is incompatible with a fully flourishing school culture. Our teachers (GVTA) and myself left the committee when the majority of committee members determined that a District Code of Conduct ( including specific roles, adherence to provincial and federal regulations and guidelines and an explicit hierarchy of consequences (for repeated behaviour) and the issue of bullying / cyber bullying would not be discussed in this committee. I see that all these initiatives could and should go hand and hand.



*French Immersion
 Registration will occur 2 weeks earlier than regular kindergarten and there will be a ‘draw’ started. This will provide every early immersion registrant an equal opportunity to pursue French Immersion in their catchment area. 80% of BC districts have already gone to this process. SD 61 has the highest French Immersion student population per student enrolment in the province and the demand is growing. Motion passed unanimously in support of the French Immersion committee.

*Community Literacy Plan…. 
We have many initiatives in our community to support student literacy. The district works closely with these organizations.

* Achievement Contract…..
Superintendent Sherri Bell reported that SD 61 has a graduation rate of 84.5% The trustees present voted to receive the 2014-2015 Achievement Contract
. Please note that 22% to 32% of our grade 4 and 7 students do NOT participate in the FSA testing. Our grade 4 and grade 7 achievement rates are not fully representative of our total student population.

* Good News! 
* All secondary schools have received some form of suicide prevention programs and 9 out of 10 schools had the NEED2 presentations in their schools this


* Policies and regulations on cyber bullying are being reviewed by Associate Superintendent Dave Pitre.


* Soon we will have a student trustee at the Board table.

*Public Engagement Committee…

I had hoped that the all trustees would support any member of the public recording any portion of any of our meetings, including our Education Policy Committee and our Operations, Policy, Planning Committee as well as the formal Board meeting…in the name of engagement, transparency, democracy and education! But it was not to be.


* No other recordings will be permitted except media outlets (For: Orcherton, Horsman, Leonard, Ferris)  (Against: Nohr, Loring-Kuhanga, McNally, Alpha)


* In order to support and encourage dialogue that occurs during Board Committee meetings, those meetings will not be recorded. (For: Orcherton, Horsman, Leonard, Ferris)  (Against: Nohr, Loring-Kuhanga, McNally)  Absent due to teachers’ strike- Trustee Alpha
* Youth Detention Centre…. 
All trustees are very concerned that our Island facility has been closed down. It is not in the best interests of the youth, their families and in providing effective support for rehabilitation.
* Motion- Policy and regulation 3450.1 School (Non-Public Funds) reflecting current accounting and reporting procedures  Passed- unanimously
*Motion- Bylaw 9250.2 Notice of Motion
need to revise wording to match wording of Bylaw 9130
* Motion-Keys and Security Locks
Regulation 3517.1 Security-Keys     Regulation 3517.2- Security Locks 
Updates to reflect current practice.
*Green
 Recycling initiatives started in 2008 and we now have all of schools fully recycling with the exception of 2 high schools. Seamus Howley, Director of Facilities, stated that SD 61 has reduced its carbon footprint with an additional 8% reduction in the carbon offset purchase for last year. The district received a grant of $300,000 from the Carbon Neutral Capital Program to upgrade the boilers at George Jay in conjunction with the seismic upgrade.
* Motion-That the Board of Education of School District No. 61 (Greater Victoria) modify its letterhead to include a footer to reflect  the composition of the entire Board.
(For: Nohr, Loring-Kuhanga, McNally, Horsman) (Against: Leonard)   (Abstained: Orcherton, Ferris)   McEvoy- absent

Now At The Board Meeting     Monday, June 16, 2014     Lots of Motions!
Community Presentations 
Vincenza Gruppuso and Audrey Smith made presentations on behalf of VCPAC.

Motions
#1 Motion- That the Board of Education of School District No. 61 (Greater Victoria) support the recommendations of the French Immersion Committee regarding kindergarten registration.  Passed unanimously (Orcherton, Horsman, Leonard, Ferris, Nohr, Loring-Kuhanga, McNally) Absent- Trustees Alpha and McEvoy

#2 Motion- That the Board of Education of School District No. 61 (Greater Victoria) receives the 2014-2015 Achievement Contract    For-(Orcherton, Horsman, Leonard, Ferris, Loring-Kuhanga, McNally) I abstained. While our district is involved in many, many very important and effective efforts to support student learning this report is structured by the Ministry of Education using a particular format that DOES NOT allow for specifically identifying nor documenting the lack of support and the impact of underfunding.

 #3 Motion- That the Board of Education of School District No. 61 (Greater Victoria) approves the revised Policy 3450.1 School (Non-Public) funds. Passed unanimously

#4 Motion- That the Board of Education of School District No. 61 (Greater Victoria) agrees to give all three readings of Bylaw 9250.2, Notice of Motion at the meeting of June, 2014  (three working days notice required for ‘Notice of Motion’)    Passed unanimously

#5 Motion-(McNally) That the Board of Education of School District No. 61 (Greater Victoria) modify its letterhead to reflect the composition of the entire Board.  For- McNally, Nohr, Loring-Kuhanga, Orcherton, Horsman  Opposed- Ferris     Abstained- Leonard     *This is a good idea because it informs the public about who their trustees are in SD 61.

#6 Motion-Academy fees made public on the SD 61 website….    Passed unanimously

#7 Motion- That the Board of Education of School District No. 61 (Greater Victoria) appoint Tom Moore as Chief Elections Officer to conduct the Trustee Elections on November 15, 2014     Passed unanimously

#8  Motion- (McNally) That the Board of Education of School District No. 61 (Greater Victoria)  direct senior administration to consult with school communities to explore the possibility of an elementary school site that could be designated as wifi free so the parents requesting accommodation for their children will have  public school option that meets their needs   For- McNally, Loring-Kuhanga, Nohr   Opposed- Ferris, Orcherton, Horsman, Leonard

#9 Motion- (McNally) That the Board of Education of School District No. 61 (Greater Victoria) provide a written rationale of the Board’s decision regarding designating an elementary school site as wifi free to the parents requesting accommodation for their children after the Board has made that decision…Ruled out of order

#10 Motion-  (Nohr) That the Board of Education of School District No. 61 (Greater Victoria) write another letter to Premier Clark and Minister Fassbender requesting that the Premier demonstrate good faith bargaining by providing the BC Public School Employers’ Association (BCPSEA) with a renewed mandate to bargain class size and composition into the collective agreement; and that the Premier request BCPSEA and the BCTF to use the services of a special mediator with a view to reaching an agreement as soon as possible.   For- Nohr, McNally, Loring-Kuhanga    Opposed- Orcherton, Horsman, Ferris, Leonard    Absent- McEvoy   Due to strike  Trustee Alpha could not attend.   * I support our teachers!  This strike reflects the critical juncture we are at as a society. Would you not agree that as a society we would and should place the highest value on the education of our children and support a fair wage for every worker?  (Our teachers have fallen behind….for example Alberta teachers) Let’s not make it a race to the bottom. I think every trustee in the province should support this motion and every district should be writing a similar letter in support of proper funding for our students and a fair wage for our teachers! Isn’t that why we are sitting as trustees?

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog!
Trustee Deborah Nohr
deborah@deborahnohr.com
deborah@sprome.com

At The Tipping Point… All Students Deserve a Proper Education…this is NOT happening

Trustee Nohr…Report #27      SD 61
May, 2014
Equality for All in  Public Education……Fully Funded and Properly Managed.
Our teachers have decided that job action is necessary…and I agree. Underfunding is a very serious problem impacting many students, families, employees and ultimately our communities. Working and learning conditions are one in the same thing. The government expects to achieve an agreement with the teachers without addressing class size and composition.
We are all waiting to hear the results of the appeal…will the government yet again be directed to re-instate approx. $3B? This issue is central to any agreement with teachers…and necessary for the proper instruction for ALL our children.

Very important to know… BCPSEA (the gov’t bargaining team) sought clarification as to what concerns the BCTF has with the basic principles involved in our proposal (that classrooms are complex, and individual student characteristics cannot be adequately assessed and supported by an inflexible formulaic approach). The BCTF clearly indicated that specific formulae and class size maxima drive funding and that is the goal the union is seeking. Teachers are trained professionals often with advanced degrees especially when teaching students with special education learning designations; they very well know that these students do better with targeted funding. It is my opinion that the government’s position that it is NOT possible to adequately assess needs is a strategy to eliminate designations and even more money from public education and our children’s instructional experience.

I am enclosing a link from a teacher about her perspective on the current job action-http://www.vancouversun.com/news/Letter+from+teacher+Christy+Clark+goes+viral/9876692/story.html
I am also enclosing a letter from a parent expressing her frustration and anger with her personal experience/ children’s experience in a deteriorating public school system
Written by a parent in SD43
The Honorable Peter Fassbender, Min Ed
The Honorable Christy Clark, Premier
Mr Douglas Horne, MLA Coquitlam-Burke Mountain

Dear Sirs and Madam,

I write today to convey my extreme disgust with the manner in which the
education system is being treated by your government. The conduct you
have displayed with regards to the future of our children¹s education is
reprehensible. You claim to put ³Families First² and to hold the needs of
the children above all else, and yet there are children in our system who
have challenges and special needs who are being lost because you won¹t
fund the help that they so desperately need. Your condescension toward
teachers is easily traceable back to 2002 when, as Education Minister,
Premier Clark removed the teacher¹s right to bargain about learning and
working conditions by enacting Bills 27 and 28 – action which has since
been deemed by the Supreme Court of BC to have been a violation of
Charter rights. Undaunted by the illegality of your position, your
government enacted Bill 22, once again removing class composition,
amongst other things, as an issue about which teachers have any say. Your
government is clearly hoping that we are stupid enough to have forgotten
that only 3 months ago Madam Justice Susan Griffin ruled that Bill 22 was
also unconstitutional, found you guilty of bargaining in bad faith, and
accused you of attempting to provoke a strike for political gain. Clearly
the children are merely pawns in your political game of chess, and I am
nauseated by the cynicism and Machiavellian ideals permeating your caucus.

When a government requires a School District to submit a balanced budget,
but makes no budgetary allowance for increases in fuel costs, electricity
costs, or tax increases, that government knows that the only way the
District can possibly submit a balanced budget is by making cuts to our
children¹s education services.
When a government announces new schools, but does not actually provide
capital funding or build them, resulting in the school district having to
use millions of dollars from their operating budget to purchase,
maintain, and service portable classrooms, that government knows that the
only way the District can possibly submit a balanced budget is by making
cuts to our children¹s education services.
When a government knows that enrolment is declining, funds schools on a
³per student² basis, and it costs virtually the same amount in fuel,
electricity, and staffing to have 480 kids in a school vs 500 kids in a
school, that government knows that the only way the District can possibly
submit a balanced budget is by making cuts to our children¹s education
services.
When a government abruptly changes policy for funding of school seismic
upgrading and announces that School Districts will have to pay for up to
half the costs of putting our children in safe structures, that
government knows that the only way the District can possibly submit a
balanced budget is by making cuts to our children¹s education services.

Your government would have us believe that teachers are demanding too
high of a wage increase, and yet in the past dozen years teachers saw a
7.5% increase from their 2002 contract, a 0% increase from their 2005
contract, and a 16% increase from their 2006 contract. In those same
dozen years, the benchmark price of real estate has increased 100-200%
(depending on the region), BCHydro rates have increased by 40% (from an
average of $70/mo to an average of $98/mo, after correction for
inflation), gasoline prices have increased by 80-100% (from fluctuating
around $0.70-0.80/L to fluctuating around $1.35-1.50/L), and the cost of
feeding a family of 4 in BC has gone up 38.7% (from $626 to $868 per
month). Clearly the increases in a teacher¹s pay are not keeping up with
the increases in the cost of living.

The BCPSEA and BCTF have failed to reach an agreement (which is hardly a
surprise considering that Carole Taylor¹s 2006 deal has been the only
freely negotiated contract that the two sides have reached in the 27
years since Mr VanderZalm¹s SoCreds gave teachers the right to strike)
and so the teachers have escalated their action to a rotating strike. The
lockout notice that the government has countered with is shocking and its
logical underpinnings are convoluted, to say the least. While maintaining
that children should not be put in the middle, the government has done
exactly that by ensuring that teachers can not provide before- or
after-school preparation or assistance to children. This does nothing BUT
penalize the children, and once again lays bare the viciousness of this
government¹s intention to provoke action by the teachers for it¹s own
political gain – leaving our children as collateral damage along the way.

Your government claims that LNG industry development will ³build a
prosperous economic future for British Columbia². I disagree. What will
build a prosperous economic future for British Columbia is adequate
funding for the education of our future generation. Provide us with
education for all children, instead of having so many kids in a class
that the teacher can¹t properly assess and supervise everyone. Provide
specialist teachers and education assistants for kids with special needs,
so that they can learn and progress with their peers, rather than
disengaging and becoming lost. Provide School Districts with budget
increases to cover utility rate increases, so that our children won¹t
suffer because the District has to pay BC Hydro and Fortis an extra
$625,000. Currently, between not negotiating in good faith, and not
providing the School Districts with an adequate annual budget, you are
failing us; you are failing our children.

A few weeks ago when the Coquitlam Board of Education was having its last
few public meetings before finalizing what cuts to make, my children
became aware that their library was in jeopardy. My seven-year-old summed
it up with ³Mum, you said that you pay taxes so that the government gives
us hospitals and schools to help us learn, but how can we learn without
books and a LIBRARY? The government doesn¹t care about us; the government
is an asshole² And while I chastised him for using an inappropriate word,
I cannot disagree with his opinion or fail to marvel at how astutely a
child can assess a complicated situation and distill it down to its core.

Kristina Lee, Coquitlam
Post Script:
I am not a teacher. I am not married to a teacher. My parents were not
teachers. I have no direct financial interest in this dispute other than
being a very, very annoyed parent.

Education Policy Meeting… A Few Highlights     May 5, 2014


We met at Monterey Middle School. Two principals, Judy Harrison (Monterey) and Colin Roberts (Esquimalt),  shared some examples of the new emerging methodology called ‘project based learning’. The experiences were very positive and provide growth for students, teachers and community members that participated. Special APPS were used at Esquimalt to enhance engagement in the written language process. The APPS seemed to encourage shy or reluctant students to find their voice and engage much more.



MyEducationBC is the new province wide software program that is coming to all school districts in BC. The use of this program must be reviewed regularly and thoroughly. There is probably no way to calculate the extra dollars that will go into maintaining it, trouble shooting problems and determining wasted employee time when the system is not working. I will ask essential questions at the Board table providing the oversight the public expects.
LIF…extra funding for students with special Education designations..Superintendent Sheri Bell is meeting with the teachers’ union executive to review the teachers’ recommendations for the allocation of some of this funding.
Student Rep. at the trustee board table…Superintendent Bell is meeting with students from all of our high schools to determine the format for this new opportunity.

Operations, Planning and Policy Meeting… Many, Many Important Issues… May 12, 2014…Well Worth the Read!

WIFI and HEALTH CONCERNS
Two parents from Margaret Jenkins, Camille Victoire and Janice Boothman, presented on the issue of the district’s responsibility to support and respond to the minority point of view on health and safety issues. They referenced the Minister of Education’s comment that Boards of Education must continually strive to create and maintain learning and working environments that are responsive to diverse community environments. 
*There are many parents concerned about the 24 hour a day, at home and now at school wifi grid. After leukemia, brain tumors are the second most common type of cancer in young people under 25 years of age. They asked for one elementary school to stay LOW EMF including:
*English/French track, * far from cell towers/antennas, no existing strong wifi signals, close to Victoria city centre.
* LEXNET PROJECT- 17 leading telecommunications institutions  launched this project to develop effective mechanisms to reduce by at least 50% the public’s exposure to EMF, without compromising the quality of service.
* In France, there is a bill being considered to BAN wit from maternity hospitals and childcare facilities, communities will be informed about potential wifi installations and in schools routers or access points will be placed where teachers can reach them to turn them off when NOT in use.
I support having one wifi free school as we do have students and employees with EMF sensitivity. The VCPAC survey (2013)  indicated that 29% of parents expressed concern about EMF and health issues.
A parent from Frank Hobbs, Peter Milne, presented on regulation, accommodation and accountability with respect to wifi. Mr. Milne stated that he had been told that he could not record this meeting. However in an effort to support democracy and transparency he would be recording the meeting. He stated, ‘ This is a public meeting; trustees are public officials who meant to safe guard the public from reasonably foreseeable health issues. 
* Mr. Milne felt that the yes/no vote at his son’s school was NOT an informed consent vote
* Mr Milne stated that the school district no longer has insurance coverage for health problems related to EMF; the insurance industry NOW EXCLUDES electromagnetic radiation and possible health effects from the excessive use of SMART technology.
QUESTIONS?
* How does the district plan to let parents know about no insurance coverage?
* What information have you been provided on this issue? ( 2010- Provincial Health Officer’s Special Report- Investing in prevention, improving health and creating sustainability….’in my mind, preventing cancer, starting in childhood, would certainly be beneficial to our national economy.’
* When can we expect to hear back from the district on this issue?
* How is the district tracking new research findings?
* Where is my non consent letter I provided to the district? Why is there no public posting? Why is there no mechanism to let parents know they can be accommodated to a school without wifi? What kind of accommodation would be provided? Having a child learn in isolation is NOT accommodation?
* Mr. Milne reminded the board that a motion was defeated 5/4 to post the health and safety guidelines for iPads and other technology. This motion should NOT have been required.    It is imperative that trustees be well aware of the employer’s duty to uphold a bare minimum for the health and safety of the district employees. How will this board ensure that employees are provided with this information?
Mr. Milne’s questions were referred to the Director of Human Resources. We will be hearing back soon.
PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT COMMITTEE

The trustees continued to review the recommendations from this committee.
*Board meetings will be (video taped)…changed to digitally recorded by board personnel
*No other recordings will be permitted except by media outlets….this DOES NOT SUPPORT DEMOCRACY, in my opinion. Anyone who is interested and engaged in the issues should be welcome to record and use for the purpose of informing others. (There was much debate and a split of opinion on this issue) …deferred for the next meeting
*Recording will be posted on the district website as soon as possible
* The recording will stay on the district website for 30 days….it was suggested that it should then be archived
* # of site visits will be tracked
* Live streaming may be considered
* Ed. Policy and Operations, Planning and Policy meetings will NOT be recorded…to support and encourage dialogue  (There was much debate and a split of opinion on this issue)….again, these meetings are public and therefore in SUPPORT OF DEMOCRACY AND ENGAGEMENT, if someone in the public wants to record these meetings we should support their efforts.
POLICY UPDATE
SMOKING (Policy 5131.5) …now includes electric cigarettes
ATTENDANCE SUPPORT (healthy culture, learn and review return to work practices)
Katie Dragert (PhD. in neuroscience) has just recently been hired by our district to support employee attendance and other health issues. Katie report that the goal for change will be through environmental design including: wellness (eating, activity, mental wellness), disability support, attendance support
* THERE WILL BE A HAND WASHING CAMPAIGN IN SEPTEMBER…great idea!
* THERE WILL BE QUARTERLY BULLETINS
* NEXT STEP…MEET WITH STAKE HOLDER GROUPS
SEISMIC UPGRADING
* QUADRA will be completed by June
* GEORGE JAY will be the next school to start seismic upgrading…$5M
* TILLICUM is next…$3M ….a partial upgrade is needed
* OAK BAY will have universal washrooms
* $300,000 awarded back to our school district due to our carbon neutral projects…will go to the boilers at George Jay
Motion- Nohr
 That the Board of Education of School District No. 61 (Greater Victoria) request that senior administration provide a detailed summary of the 2013-2014 Class and Composition Report. Motion Defeated Voted Against- Orcherton, Horsman, Leonard, Ferris, McEvoy  Voted For- Nohr, Loring-Kuhanga, McNally, Alpha * I brought this motion forward last year and again this year because I think it is vitally important that as trustees we understand the specific details and patterns that emerge in a school district experiencing a chronic funding reduction.
Motion-McNally
That the Board of Education of school District No. 61 (Greater Victoria) encourage the Ministry of Education to support openStudent and abandon their commitment to MyEducationBC/Aspen.
Motion-McNally
That the Board of Education of School District No. 61 (Greater Victoria) express in a public statement deep concern with the privacy breach and data control implications of MYEducationBC and withdraw from further  integration with this data base. Motion Defeated Voted Against- Nohr, Loring-Kuhanga,????

Now for the Board Meeting     Monday, May 20, 2014
Student Achievement
 Students from Campus View presented on their Earthfest activity. Thank you to all the parents for their participation too.


District presentations
 Congratulations to Mohammed Abousaleh from Oak Bay HS for winning the Shulich Leadership Scholarship – $80,000
Congratulations to Robert Lee from Oak Bay HS for earning the title of National Champion in the Michael Smith Science Challenge

Community Presentations 
Camille Victore and Janice Boothman spoke again about student accommodation regarding wifi. BioInitiative Report..EMF can cause harm to human health…we should reduce exposure to chemicals and toxins


Superintendent’s Report
 Yearly Board meeting schedule was approved.

Motions
#1 Motion- revised smoking policy – passed unanimously
#2 Motion- deleted outdated policy on smoking – passed unanimously
#3 Motion- deleted outdated policy on mandatory retirement- passed unanimously
#4 Motion- That the Board of Education of School district No. 61 (Greater Victoria) express in a public statement deep concern with the privacy and data control implications of MyEducationBC – passed with one abstention ( McEvoy )
#5 Motion-  That the Board of Education of School District No. 61 (Greater Victoria) ask three members of the public to establish an ongoing mechanism for the reimbursement of trustees for the duration of their term and that it be initiated in December for each new board. passed- for Orcherton, Horsman, Leonard, Ferris, McEvoy  opposed- Nohr, Loring-Kuhanga, Alpha, McNally
#6 Motion- That the Board of Education of School District No. 61 (Greater Victoria) encourage the Ministry of Education to support openStudent and abandon their commitment to MyEducationBC/Aspen. failed for- McNally, Alpha, Loring-Kuhanga  opposed- Orcherton, Horsman, Ferris, Leonard   abstentions- Nohr, McEvoy  * This program is well in place and has a momentum. It is not realistic to think that it would be abandoned…the cost would be great…however., it is very important for trustees to ask relevant and probing questions over the course of the next year to determine its effectiveness and additional costs to the district.
#7 Motion-That the Board of Education of School District No. 61 (Greater Victoria) request the Province to reverse its decision to close the Youth Detention Custody Center in View Royal and keep it open for not only young male offenders but to open it up to include female offenders from Vancouver Island Courts passed- unanimously

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog!
Trustee Deborah Nohr
deborah@deborahnohr.com
deborah@sprome.com

Trustee Nohr…Report #26      SD 61
April, 2014
Equality for All in  Public Education……Fully Funded and Properly Managed.

Education Policy Meeting… A Few Highlights     April 7, 2014
Rugby Academy at Esquimalt H.S. Though this motion had been previously defeated in March it was brought back in April again. Some trustees were concerned that there would be a two tier rugby offering at a public high school based on the ability to pay. Students pay for sports academies all over the district. Usually it requires $1000 to be part of the year long program. In this case, there will be the regular intramural rugby program and the academy supported by Rugby Canada and the municipality of Esquimalt.  It will be interesting and informative to evaluate this two tier sports program after the first year.

The Canoe Project at Shoreline M.S. The staff have developed a morning activity program of fun group activities to get the ‘blood circulating and the brain awakened’ as well as a healthy protein snack before students settle down to engage in their academic activities. There is a strong focus on ABL (activity based learning) and in-class learning support.
#1 Motion-McNally…that all personnel under Learning Initiatives be reassigned to appropriate positions in SD 61 and the L.I. program be closed. For: McNally, Alpha  Against: Ferris, Horsman, Leonard, McEvoy, Nohr, Orcherton * I voted against this motion because while I felt that there should be some reduction , perhaps 30%, I did not want to see the entire program closed. To be clear, we have many classes where the students are NOT receiving necessary learning support instruction, counselling, or early intervention and that is where I had hoped the 30% reduction in funding to L.I. would go. So I could not support the full closure of this program at this time as L.I. helps many teachers learn some new methodologies to address the vast range of needs in their classrooms.
#2 Motion-McNally… halt the implementation of wifi routers in elementary schools and apply the savings to the $1.8M deficit For:Alpha, McNally Against:Ferris, Horsman, Leonard, McEvoy, Nohr, Orcherton* I voted against this motion because most elementary schools have already applied for wifi and router installation.

Sundance School- Kira Antinuk, a parent of Sundance students, expressed her desire and the desire of many in the Sundance area to have the school building used for community purposes. The rationale is the keep the building used for positive and purposeful activities and thereby helping to keep the community vibrant.I support this recommendation and see it as vitally important. I also appreciated the time Victoria counsellor, Shelly Gudgeon, took to attend the meeting and hear the discussion that ensued. This will be helpful for any future considerations by the city of Victoria.

Operations, Planning and Policy Meeting… A Few Highlights… April 14, 2014


Bad news from the Minister Fassbender! Truly, I feel that the public education sector is being harshly penalized for managing the public funds well. The Minister stated in a Vancouver interview that boards having a surplus may have to re-direct this money to seismic upgrades!!!….wait a minute there is NO surplus! The $17M in SD 61 are funds committed to buying class sets of text books, more tech /computer equipment and school based projects. The chair and the secretary treasurer will write a letter to the Minister informing him of our concerns with this new possibility of unilaterally reassigning the use of this SD 61 funding.



#1 Motion-McNally….delay budget vote to May, 2014 and convene the Budget Advisory Committee For: Alpha, Loring-Kuhanga, McNally Against:Orcherton, Nohr, Horsman, McEvoy, Ferris, Leonard * I voted against this motion because the secretary treasurer reminded us that we have Collective Agreement considerations regarding ‘lay off’ notices which must be done in early May.



#2 Motion- Nohr …that there be a reduction of $266,000 in the superintendent, associate superintendents and Learning Initiatives department to address the deficit and redress the closure of Sundance….. Chair Leonard ruled my motion out of order because the motion to close Sundance School had already been passed. * I should have brought this motion forward earlier.



#3 Motion-Nohr…maximum cap of $5000 for any expenses including professional development for all exempt staff and associate superintendents. * I withdrew this motion because the secretary-treasurer explained that these line items include mileage and professional membership fees as well. If we had a budget committee, we could review and tease apart the details of these line items and perhaps then look at some appropriate reduction / cap.



#4 Motion-Nohr…That $1000 be available to teachers interested in participating in the Need2 suicide prevention program. Superintendent Bell informed the trustees that there had been a training program in the fall which cost the district $1200 and at this time no further costs would be incurred and so I withdrew my motion

Now for the Board Meeting     Monday, April 22, 2014

Student Achievement
  There was a great presentation from Victoria High students, their teacher, Stu Wheeler, and their principal, Randi Falls, about the experience the students have had this year in the trades programs and also in attending the Skills Canada Competition.Our students did very well. These students also joined with George Jay to give the elementary students an opportunity to learn about and actively participate in trade skills.Thank you to everyone for their amazing effort!

Community Presentations

Petra Eggert, a Learning Initiatives teacher, spoke about the importance of the work of Learning Initiatives within the district. She explained how transformational the training can be for teachers to increase student engagement and learning. She spoke about her own children’s positive experience.
 Cindy Graf, a GVTA rep. spoke about the broad range of professional development opportunities that are available to teachers including many programs from the BCTF. She also reminded trustees that teachers professional development funding has not been increased since 1992.
Superintendent’s Report
  Superintendent Bell reported out on Sundance School. So far, fanilies from Sundance have made the following school choices for September: 20 South Park, 9 Oaklands, 8 Willows, some Hillcrest and Rogers, 7 families have not yet made a decision or made their decision public. As I had anticipated, no families chose to go to Lakehill because it never was a viable possibility to travel all the way across town for a neighbourhood school experience.


Motions
#1 MotionRugby Academy  Esquimalt H.S. For: Orcherton, Horsman, Leonard, Ferris, McEvoy, Alpha  Against: Nohr, Loring-Kuhanga, McNally * See my comments above for Ed. Policy for rationale.
#2 Motion- McNally Rescind motion to relocate Sundance School This motion was not accepted because action had already begun on the relocation process.
#3 Motion-McNally  Closure of Learning Initiatives For: McNally  Against: Nohr, Loring-Kuhanga, Alpha, Orcherton, Horsman, Leonard, Ferris, McEvoy * see Ed policy for my rationale
#4 Motion-McNally   Halt implementation of Wifi Router costs and apply savings to budget deficit For: Nohr, McNally, Loring-Kuhanga  Against: Alpha, Orcherton, Leonard, Horsman, Ferris, McEvoy
#5 Motion- McNally …convene Budget Advisory Committee to further address the deficit  For: Loring-Kuhanga, Mcnally   Against: Nohr, Alpha, Orcherton, Horsman, Leonard, Ferris, McEvoy  * see OPPs for my rationale

Special Budget Meeting        April 23, 2014
#1 Motion…approves carrying forward $6.3M to the 2014-2015 school year to be applied to the deficit For: Nohr, Loring-Kuhanga, Alpha, Orcherton, Leonard, Horsman, Ferris, McEvoy Abstain: McNally
#2 Motion-Horsman…$53,501 surplus to fund learning mentors for Craigflower, George Jay, Victoria West, Tillicum and Quadra For: Nohr, McEvoy, Horsman, Orcherton  Against: Loring-Kuhanga, Alpha, Leonard, Ferris, Orcherton This motion was defeated
#3 Motion-McNally…$53,501 surplus be directed to Craigflower to support the learning of their students    passed unanimously



#4 Motion That the Board of Education of School District No. 61 (Greater Victoria) 2014-2015 Annual Budget Bylaw in the amount of $195,330,769 be:
Read a first time the 23rd day of April, 2014, Read a second time the 23rd day of April, 2014, Read a third time, passed and adopted the 23rd day of April, 2014. And that the Chairperson and secretary-treasurer be authorized to sign, seal and execute this Bylaw on behalf of the Board.
* I have NOT voted for the underfunded budget the past two years and I did NOT intend to vote for the budget this year. This budget forces our district and all other districts to seriously under serve many of our students including those that are most vulnerable and who often have parents who are unable to advocate for them as perhaps you are able to do for your children.

*I did NOT intend to vote for this budget on the third poll vote Tuesday, April 24, 2014. *Please take time to email your MLA, the Premier and the Minister of Education to advocate for fairness in funding for our children.

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog!
Trustee Deborah Nohr
deborah@deborahnohr.com
deborah@sprome.com

Sundance Closure…Cuts Beyond the Marrow and Into the Heart

Trustee Nohr…Report #22      SD 61
March, 2014
Equality for All in  Public Education……Fully Funded and Properly Managed.

Education Policy Meeting… A Few Highlights     March 3, 2014
From time to time teachers will propose a new course of study for high school students. They are referred to as BAA (Board Authority Authorized) courses. I have observed that these courses originate from teachers’ graduate work or in this case from a teacher’s  personal knowledge and passion for the topic. Chris Parker, a teacher at Spectrum, presented his new course, History of Rock and Roll for consideration. The motion was passed unanimously. The students will love it and there will be so much opportunity to cover curriculum goals through this unique content area.

Operations, Planning and Policy Meeting… A Few Highlights… March 3, 2014

SD 61 will soon have a student trustee at the Board table. Superintendent Bell is working closely with the principals and the students to engage in conversation and instruct the students about the role of trustee and to then work together to create a selection process for the student trustee. Will keep you posted!
 The Board finally finished the work of reviewing the recommendations of the Public Engagement Committee. Just as a point of reference, none of the members of the public that have attended Board meetings with some regularity were selected to sit on this committee. The members of the public were selected by Chair Orcherton and this resulted in a retired trustee being selected to be a member of the public. After much debate a process has been put in place for the Q&A. All questions submitted will be included in the minutes but the answers will not. I felt strongly that the answers were equally important for the public to know. The motion to revise our meeting agenda format to now include a Q&A will be brought forward for consideration in April or May.

WorkSafe BC The district has a new Occupational Health and Safety Advisor, Christine Merner. The District will be working with Central Okanagan district staff to monitor all WorkSafeBC claims and WCAT appeals. The Director of Human Resources stated that the district is putting into place plans to support employees and to address areas of increasing claims.

Budget Deficit 2014-2015  Motion-Nohr
That the Board of Education of School District No. 61 ( Greater Victoria ) request the secretary-treasurer to provide a line item summary of each department’s 2013-2014 expenses with a focus on specific projects, initiatives and district activities and excluding staffing as well as basic operational costs to be presented at the March 24, 2014 Board meeting. Motion failed. Voted for: Nohr, Loring-Kuhanga, Alpha, McNally   Voted against: Orcherton, Horsman, Leonard, McEvoy and Ferris  It is my opinion that the trustees need to have more information and be more involved in the decision process to avoid the closing of schools such as Sundance. This is  just one example of how trustees could be more proactive in fulfilling their fiduciary duty.

Now for the Board Meeting     Monday, March 24, 2014  
Lots of Motions…Take a Look!

Student Achievement- 
Students from Spectrum presented a video and explained the how and why for their random acts of kindness activity….leading to responsible citizenry:)
District Presentations- 
Leslie Lee, principal of George Jay, was acknowledged for being selected as principal of the year. Congratulations to Leslie, and the teachers, other staff and parents for their dedication, hard work and love of the students and learning. No one can accomplish their goals without others.
Community Presentations 
No community presentations that evening.


Motions
#1 Motion-  History of Rock and Roll – Motion passed. Voted for: Nohr, Loring-Kuhanga, Alpha, Orcherton, Horsman, Leonard, Ferris, McEvoy   Voted against: McNally

#2 Motion- 2014-2015 School Year Calendar     Motion passed unanimously.

#3 Motion-
  A new boiler and energy study for George Jay school. ( $310,093 ) This is part of the Carbon Neutral Capital Program. Motion passed unanimously.

#4 Motion
- 2014-2915 Annual facilities Grant $3,176,200   This funding will be used to upgrade and maintain our facilities. Motion passed unanimously.

#5 Motion
- McNally     Student Action Plan

That the Board of Education of School District No. 61 ( Greater Victoria ) opt out of the BCSTA Stability for Student Action Plan and announce that decision publicly. Motion failed.
Voted for: Nohr, Loring-Kuhanga, Alpha, McNally   Voted against:  Orcherton, Horsman, Leonard, Ferris, McEvoy   In my opinion, there was a very clear and logical  way to re-instate the funding that had been removed ( Bill 27 and Bill 28 ) from public education. Senior admin. could have worked with the GVTA to create a plan. It could have included more counsellors, learning assistance teachers, educational assistants being hired where the needs are very great and in some cases overwhelming. The majority of the funding would be put in place for September, 2014. The spin of suggesting ‘instability’ by providing more very needed support is completely unfounded.

#6 Motion- McNally   Needs Budget
That the Board of Education of School District No. 61 ( Greater Victoria ) submit to the province only a needs budget that includes remedies as needed to cancel the ongoing structural deficit in SD 61, and costs for implementing the retroactively restored language in the BCTF Collective Agreement. Motion failed. Voted for; McNally, Nohr, Loring-Kuhanga, Alpha   Voted against: Orcherton, Horsman, Leonard, Ferris, McEvoy
*  SD 61 has approx. $9 M structural deficit yearly to meet our current levels of instruction and support. In my opinion, our current level of support, is woefully inadequate and does not meet the needs of many of our students and often they are our most vulnerable students. I urge parents and community members to  send their thoughts on this to their MLA, Minister of Education and the Premier.

#7 Motion-  Orcherton     Providing bus transportation for students to go to Lakehill from Sundance
 Motion failed. Voted for: Orcherton, Horsman, Leonard, Ferris   Voted against: Nohr, Loring-Kuhanga, Alpha, McNally    Abstained; McEvoy  * I voted against the motion because the Sundance community DID NOT want to go to Lakehill. They did not see it a viable to travel across town and far away from their neighbourhood.

#8 Motion- Leonard   Cursive writing be maintained as a skill within the BC curriculum and this is to be presented as a motion at the BCSTA AGM in April, 2014   Motion passed unanimously.

Special Board Meeting to Address the Sundance School Closure ( This is the phrasing the parents requested to be used )
Wednesday, March 27, 2014
Motion- That the Board of Education of School District No. 61 (Greater Victoria) approves the relocation of the Sundance Elementary School program to Lakehill Elementary School and closure of the current facility effective July 1, 2014. Motion passed. Voted for: Orcherton, Horsman, Leonard, Ferris, McEvoy  Voted against: Nohr, Loring-Kuhanga, McNally   Abstained: Alpha
* A very sad day to close a neighbourhood school that supports all its students, faculty, families and community so very well. If we had a well developed strategic plan with a founding principle that neighbourhood schools are our first priority to protect then we as trustees could have made other financial decisions over the past 5 years leading to a very different result.

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog!
Trustee Deborah Nohr
deborah@deborahnohr.com
deborah@sprome.com

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

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

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

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

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


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

Further Erosion of Our Community and School District Culture….Underfunding

Trustee Nohr…Report #21      SD 61
January, 2014
Equality for All in  Public Education……Fully Funded and Properly Managed.
BC Supreme Court Decision Finds in Favour of Our Children!
I am very pleased with this new decision by the BC Supreme Court because I have seen the lack of instructional time for many, many students over the past 12 years and I find it absolutely unacceptable.
CBC NEWS…B.C. Supreme Court Justice, Susan Griffin, has ordered the province to pay $2 million in damages for stripping teachers of their collective bargaining rights and failing to reinstate them when ordered by the court.
The decision follows the court’s ruling in April 2013 that provincial legislation interfering with teachers’ bargaining rights was unconstitutional and a breach of of Section 2 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which guarantees freedom of association.
‘In order to provide an effective remedy in relation to the government’s unlawful action, the government must pay the BCTF damages of $2 million’- B.C. Supreme Court Justice Susan Griffin
At the time, the court found the legislation deleted certain bargaining terms and prohibited bargaining having to do with a wide range of working conditions, including class size and composition and support for special needs students.
“The freedom of workers to associate has long been recognized internationally and in Canada as an important aspect of a fair and democratic society. Collective action by workers helps protect individuals from unfairness in one of the most fundamental aspect of their lives, their employment,” writes B.C. Supreme Court Justice Susan Griffin.
Griffin says usually when legislation is declared unconstitutional by the court, it is struck down. But the court decided to give the government 12 months to address the repercussions of its decision.
Instead, Griffin says, the government brought in Bill 22 — virtually identical legislation involving “the deletion and prohibition of hundreds of collective agreement terms on working conditions.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/b-c-teachers-federation-wins-2m-in-damages-from-province-1.2513211

Wednesday, January 28, 2014…First Consultation with Parents and School Staff at Sundance…7pm
I see great value for our children, families and communities by having schools with smaller student populations that support a closely knit community and also support students that feel overwhelmed, stressed and anxious in larger school settings. This is another aspect to providing personalized learning. There will be another consultation at the school on Tuesday, February 18 at 7pm and then another opportunity for input at the Board meeting on Tuesday, March 4, 2014.
Education Policy Meeting… A Few Highlights     January 6, 2014
The new Oak Bay High School is coming along beautifully….Darryl Johnson, project designer, stated that sustainability is a fundamental component of this project by incorporating leading edge environmental initiatives in relation to Bowker Creek, storm water management, cycling paths and pedestrian walkways. The design includes the ‘arrival plaza’, ‘student plaza’, ‘Aboriginal Space’ and the four pillars of excellence: academics, citizenship, arts and athletics. The Neighbourhood Learning Center will be open to the community and it will contain a daycare and a teen centre. Neighbours, community members, students and staff were major contributors to the consultation process…..ready for September, 2015!
OPP Meeting… A Few Highlights… January 13, 2014
Trustee McNally questioned when the Board would hear about Worksafe BC surcharges and the Attendance Awareness costs.
Rob Paynter asked Trustees to consider developing a policy to include insurance for teachers, if injured, when involved with students during casual activities. Chair Orcherton stated that Worksafe BC defines these policies. But what happens if a teacher is injured during voluntary recreational activities such as lunch time outdoor lacrosse?
Attendance Awareness is a program that is being implemented in many work place sectors. Ms. Kim Munro provide information about what this could look like in SD 61. It would require hiring another senior staff member / $100,000 to analyze trends and work with staff identified as potentially abusing the system.  Teachers, on average take 11 sick days/year while they have negotiated 15 days contractually. Nurses take approximately the same number of sick days. Teachers have a very unique working environment: surrounded by highly concentrated quantities of bacteria and viruses every day, having constant strain to their throat because of the need to communicate to large groups of students hourly, not to mention hitting the ground running with little or no time during the day….this may and often does result in exhaustion and lowered immunity. Currently, principals have the responsibility to monitor their staffs’ attendance and so let’s save money and treat out staff with respect…and if there is a concern let our principals address the issue respectfully.
Debra Laser, our Secretary Treasurer, informed the Board that our last envelope of funding had arrived based on January enrolment and we have an additional …$2,252,936
Trustees were given copies of the Summary of Partner Group Budget Input 2014/2015
We now have a district policy and regulations for employee bullying…but not for our students! Policy and Regulation 4303
There has been an update to the Volunteer Driver regulation 1241 It is my observation that there are so many more parents driving on field trips because we do not have funding for buses. This creates a situation of inequity because some of our schools have a disproportionate number of parents that do not have cars or are unable to take time off work to participate in their children’s activities. ANOTHER UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCE OF UNDERFUNDING.
CUPE 947 has agreed to contractual details with respect to their extended benefits….hopefully it will soon be ratified.
Motion #1  Moved- Trustee Nohr….WiFi Installation
That the Board of Education of School District No. 61 ( Greater Victoria ) request senior administration to provide a review of the new process for elementary schools to request wifiand provide a financial accounting for the installation costs and any other District funding that was available to schools for 2012-2013 and 2013-2014. Motion defeated. For:Trustees Nohr, Alpha, Loring-Kuhanga, McNally  Against: Trustees Orcherton, Horsman, Ferris, Leonard
Superintendent Gaiptman stated that the same process will be used that was used with middle and high school implementation. Principals will work with school staff and the PAC to determine the consultation process for each stakeholder group at the school. Once the consultation process is complete, a proposal will be submitted to the superintendent for approval. There is funding that has been set aside for two access points per school costing $1200. Any additional needs must be funded by the school.
WorksafeBC information with respect to surcharges will be presented at the February 11, 2014 OPP meeting
Motion #2  Moved- Trustee Loring-Kuhanga.Question Focussed Round Table Discussions Re: Budget  Motion Tabled to OPP meeting/February 11, 2014

That the Board of Education of School District No. 61 (Greater Victoria ) structure the public input budget meetings on February 19, April 2, April 9 and March 26 budget presentation as  question -focussed round tables which would provide for greater discussion and dialogue by stakeholders and general public.   For: Trustees Orcherton, Alpha, Horsman, Ferris and Leonard  Against: Trustees McNally, Nohr and Loring-Kuhanga  Fuller and more detailed and specific discussion must start to take place when reviewing the yearly budget. It is my opinion that it is not possible to vote for the budget UNLESS you understand the specific content. I voted against this motion because I feel there should be a series of meetings set up for deep analysis of the budget prior to the public meetings at SJ Willis, especially when the closure / relocation of a school is on the chopping block!
Motion #3 Moved- Trustee Loring-Kuhanga     Motion: Defeated
That the Board of Education of School District No. 61 ( Greater Victoria ) develop a 5 year strategic plan through a process of engagement and discussion with all stakeholder groups by designating a allotment of time at the monthly Operations, Planning and Policy committee meetings throughout 2014. Motion Defeated  For: Trustees Nohr, Alpha, Loring-Kuhanga and McNally   Against: Trustees Orcherton, Horsman, Ferris, Leonard    We are long overdue in reviewing our guiding principles, vision and 2014-2019 goals for our district across all  departments and sectors….a disappointing defeat.
Now for the Board Meeting     Monday, January 20, 2014
Student Achievement
Students from Margaret Jenkins provided a great presentation on the historical research they have undertaken to celebrate the 100th anniversary of their school.
Stakeholder Presentations
GVTA
Lise Tetrault: BC students receive $1000 less per year than other provinces, 46% of classes in BC have > 3 spec. ed. students, teachers on SIP- provincial average 3.45% and 5.64% for SD 61, sandwich generation employees are 5X more likely to access SIP, Worksafe BC claims drive some of the sick day use, let’s look for a fair approach
Kirk Doherty: let’s address systemic factors, let’s support teachers in an effective way, 1/4 of the teachers would have to take one less sick day to cover the costs of hiring additional staff  and this is not likely, some shop classes now have  multiple age groups without EA support for some students, there is no additionnal funding to support teacher attendance…what is the supportive approach?
Motions
#1 Motion- Attendance Awareness * Please review the details from the OPP meeting
Motion: Passed
For: Trustees Orcherton, Horsman, Ferris, Leonard, McEvoy  Against: Trustees Nohr, Alpha, Loring-Kuhanga, McNally
#2 Motion- Superintendent’s Report on Achievement
Motion: Passed
For: Trustees Orcherton, Horsman, Leonard, Ferris, McEvoy, Alpha, McNally, Nohr*    Against:  Trustee Loring-Kuhanga   *I mistakenly voted for the motion. It is my opinion that the report does not include some very important information and  factors about achievement levels. Graduation rates and achievement levels are very separate criteria. Why are our universities and colleges now requiring written language assessments and in some cases requiring math remediation tutorials? An example of the Ministry of Education’s current programming options that may lead to less course mastery is a three week grade 12  English or Math course called Fast Track. This approach to instruction cannot compare to a full term or semester course. There are many other examples and Distance Learning is another. Research shows that students often feel frustrated and do not stay with the DL courses because they are missing the engagement factor with the teacher and other students…..that is often central to the real learning.
#3 Motion- Moved- McNally WiFi Safety Guidelines The motion was very long but the focus of the motion was to ensure that safety guidelines be posted in classroom for tablet and other technology use. Motion: Defeated
For: Trustees McNally, Loring-Kuhanga, Nohr, Alpha   Against:  Trustees Orcherton, Horsman, Leonard, Ferris, McEvoy
Communications
VCPAC sent a letter to Chair Orcherton expressing concern about the FSA statistics I presented in my December, 2013 report which I found on the Ministry of Education website. I am so pleased that  parents are reading my monthly report. The statistical framework for assessing student literacy, written language and numeracy changed significantly in 2008. We will be receiving a presentation at the next Ed.Policy meeting and fully discussing the issues surrounding student achievement. Again, graduation rates and achievement levels are very separate concepts or criteria when analyzing what has happened for our students in a decade of significant underfunding. Think of all the tutoring companies now on the commercial/ educational landscape. Rodney A. Clifton, (McGill-Queen’s University Press), is a co-author of Recent Social Trends in Canada, 1960-2000, when evaluating university students he states, ‘…but there are many more weak students and those who are not well prepared….’ , and ‘ …over the years an increasing percentage of the less able students have enroled in university programs.’Vol. 6, Issue 3, p.15 I believe that some who support the underfunding model, ‘do more with less’, view the top students as being able to prevail and to continue to be on top in this system of underfunding. The problem is the number of students that are being under serviced are achieving less and less and this compounds over the years as more students fall into this category that would not be there if the necessary instructional services were available. Hence, Mr. Clifton’s comment.  * The FSA statistical framework will be reviewed at the February 3 Ed. Policy meeting, 7 pm.
Thank you for taking the time to read my blog!
Trustee Deborah Nohr

Trustee Nohr…Report #21      SD 61 December 31, 2013 Equality for All in  Public Education……Fully Funded and Properly Managed. Education Policy Meeting… A Few Highlights     December 2, 2013 Superintendent Gaiptman presented a summary of the district’s graduation from 2008-2012 showing a consistent improvement. The Superintendent stated that the improvements were due to the hard work of all staff. * Specific details will be referenced in the December 9th Board meeting summary below. OPPs Meeting… A Few Highlights… December 2, 2013 The first order of business was to continue the review of the Public Engagement Committee recommendations. The discussion was focussed on the Q&A which will now occur at the public board meeting. All questions will be directed to the Chair. Now for the Board Meeting     Monday, December 9, 2013 Trustee Elections for 2014-2015 Chair- Peg Orcherton Vice Chair- Bev Horsman Representative for BCPSEA (BC Public Service Employers’ Association) – Tom Ferris Representative for BCSTA ( BC Trustees Association ) – provincial councillor – Bev Horsman Representative Vancouver Island Labour Relations Association – Tom Ferris Chair for Operations, Planning and Policy Committee – Elaine Leonard Chair for Education Policy Development Committee -  Catherine Alpha *None of the new trustees were elected Chair’s Report- Chair Orcherton reported that as the government is undergoing a core review we as a district will be undertaking our own core review. The Chair stated that we do a core review every year through our budget review. I would like to see a specific review of every department with the trustees present in this process. That is not occurring at this time. Motions #1 Motion- That the Board of Education of School District No. 61 ( Greater Victoria ) put forth a media release about its graduation rates. Passed- unanimously Here are some important current stats: female grad. rates up 6.6%, male grad. rates up 7.2%,  ELL learners (English Language Learners) grad rates up 7.2%, grad rates with honours up 5% and students with special needs graduating with Dogwood Certificate up 8.1%  Again, this is the result of enormous efforts by all in our district. While this is great news there is no doubt that students, parents, other professionals, para professionals and teachers face the impact of underfunding each and every day and an increasing sense of being overwhelmed and under serviced in the effort to provide appropriate instruction for all students. Class composition, that is students with specific identified special needs or yet to be identified special needs are not receiving the instruction they need and deserve due to the public education funding policy of the government. If you observe students not receiving the instruction or other support they need or if you hoped for more instructional support, counselling, speech and language support for your own child consider the following data. Foundational Skills Assessment (FSA): 2001- gr. 4 reading-80%, 2012-71% and 2001- gr. 4 writing-91% and 2012- 73%, 2001- gr. 4 numeracy- 86% and 2012 – 67%… 2001- gr. 7 reading-83% and 2012- 61%, 2001- gr.7 writing – 81% and 2012 – 66%, 2001 gr.7 numeracy – 85% and 2012 – 56% * Consider also that the Ministry of Education requires only a class size report from each school district; they have expunged the class composition data requirement. * Teachers would report these same sharp declines from their daily, weekly and summative assessment results. These sharp declines in achievement at the grade 4 and 7 levels is in large part due to insufficient professional staffing. Students need the direct instruction of teachers, the reviewing and reinforcing of skills and concepts from educational aids, the small group and one to one talk time with counsellors, the weekly lessons from speech and language therapists and finally the specialized support of librarians and learning assistance teachers. * How do you think this makes students feel? … frustrated, inadequate, disinterested and more In an October 7, 2012 letter to the Minister of Education, Peter Fassbender, the trustees of SD 61 stated the following: While we understand that most of the public sector has concluded collective agreements under the cooperative gains mandate, it is our view that the education sector is unique. School boards throughout the province have been facing annual provincial shortfalls and additional costs, including for example, the teachers’ pension plan rate increase, MSP premium increases, higher BC Hydro costs and general inflation, which have led to service reductions in the K – 12 sector. #2 Motion- That the Board of Education of School District No. 61 ( Greater Victoria) approve the 2014-2015 Budget Plan. Motion Passed For: Nohr, Orcherton, Horsman, Alpha, McEvoy, Ferris, Leonard. McNally Against: Loring-Kuhanga * Trustee Loring-Kuhanga wanted and more in-depth budget review ( refer to the following motion ) and so did I. I voted for this motion because of the appropriate timeline and general format for discussion with the public. I strongly feel as Trustee Loring-Kuhanga does that SD 61 should have specific Budget Committee for all interested trustees and other stakeholders. #3 Motion- That the Board of Education of School District No. 61 ( Greater Victoria ) hold a series of question-focussed budget meetings constituted as meetings of an Ad Hoc Committee (Bylaw 9140) at no cost to the Board and to include menbers of the current      ( and future Budget Committee), as well as any interested trustees to be among those “selected” by the Board, and any interested stakeholder to discuss questions raised about the budget and the SD 61 expenses. Findings and recommendations from the Ad Hoc Committee to be presented to the Board at public meetings beginning with further examination of the 8 items from the Secretary-Treasurer’s memo of November 12th. The term of the Ad Hoc Committee to be open until two weeks before the final April Board budget debate and vote. Motion Defeated For: Loring-Kuhanga, Nohr   Against: Leonard, Alpha, Horsman, Orcherton, McEvoy, Ferris, McNally * It is my opinion that trustees need more information that can only be attained through deeper discussion, drilling down on the numbers and asking more specific questions. Superintendent’s Report  Superintendent Gaiptman and Associate Superintendent Bell provided the following information on 2012-2013 Dogwood Completion rates: female grad. rates up 6.6%, male grad. rates up 7.2%,  ELL learners (English Language Learners) grad rates up 7.2%, grad rates with honours up 5% and students with special needs graduating with Dogwood Certificate up 8.1% New Motions or…Notice of Motion #1 Motion-Rezoning Application for License Retail Store at Hillside Mall #2 Motion-iPad Safety Public Disclosure of In-Camera Items: The contract for CUPE 382 workers in our district (outside workers, custodians and maintenance workers)  has been ratified. * I support the use of hard wired technology for our youngest learners! Tablets can be charged through hard wire and then used. As a trustee, I have been given no financial costing of this initiative, installing wifi in all our elementary schools. I will be asking for a report on this and the district’s plan to accommodate students and employees with severe EMF sensitivity. I will also ask what plan, if any, does the district have to ensure the safest installation of wifi. Until recently, the hours spent at school  were the ‘break’ from wifi and technology….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, we should be concerned. Thank you for taking the time to read my blog! Trustee Deborah Nohr

French Immersion…George Jay, Coastal Kindergarten and WIFI in Elementary …and a Huge Deficit

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 (in principle) 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 Sherri 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 denoting its importance?
 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, and Horsmen  For- Trustees nor, McNally, Alpha,hand Loring-Kuhanga  McEvoy (absent)
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: #1 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.
#2 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. Moved forward to the Nov. 18th Board meeting. 
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?
Statement of Financial Information- Trustee Loring-Kuhanga brought forward a series of questions drilling deeper into the district budget. This information was provided to all the trustees and provided a much 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.
WorkSafe BC Cost Summary-Our district receives a surcharge, that is additional money from the budget is 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 detail 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. The district would save $460,444 with a one day reduction in the number of sick days used.
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 insure 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 insure that employees returning to work are supported for a successful re-entry? These are questions that I will ask that 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 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.
Motions
#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 one contributing factor is the ‘cooperative gains’ mandate put on public education which lead to the recent CUPE wage settlement (approx. $500,000- 2013/2014 and $1.2M- 2014/2015 ) 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- For- Trustees Loring-Kuhanga, Orcherton, Horsman, Ferris, Alpha, Leonard, McEvoy  Against- Trustee McNally, Nohr * We need  reports at the board  table providing additional information from other credible sources such as Citizens for Safe Technology. Cutting edge results from studies comes last to government agencies.
* 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- Moved 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, Alpha   Against-Trustee Nohr, Loring-Kuhanga, McNally
* I support the use of hard wired technology for our youngest learners! Tablets can be charged through hard wire and then used. As a trustee, I have been given no financial costing of this initiative. 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. Until recently, the hours spent at school  were 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, we should be concerned.
Thank you for taking the time to read my blog!
Trustee Deborah Nohr

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.
Motions
#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.
PRESENTATIONS TO THE BOARD….. FYI
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 http://www.sd61.bc.ca/super/pdf/PublicMeetingProcess/GVSD_Public_Meeting_Process.pdf
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. http://thetyee.ca/Blogs/TheHook/2013/09/24/Pregnant-Teachers-Victoria-Contracts/

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 )   deborahnohr.ca
* 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?