Welcome to the New School Year!

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

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

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

Bill 22 hurts students and attacks teachers’ rights

Bill 22 makes working and learning conditions even worse

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

Bill 22 means no collective bargaining

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

Bill 22 ignores the BC Supreme Court ruling

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

Thank you for your on-going support!

Trustee Deborah Nohr

Essay: Trustees should be able to focus on their jobs

Here is Starla Anderson’s essay in the Times-Colonist. She’s given VPEC permission to reprint it:

A Nanaimo Daily News editorial reprinted in the Times Colonist on July 4 asks readers a pertinent question about the recent firing of the Cowichan Valley School Board by the minister of education: “If boards cannot do what they were elected to do, why do we go through the charade of an election every three years to vote for a new board?”

Most citizens assume that school board trustees are elected to mediate the schooling needs and interests of their communities within the mandates of the provincial government. It doesn’t occur to us that a school board’s primary task is to manage school district finances within constraints over which they have little say.

The preamble in the 2012 School Act states that “it is the goal of a democratic society to ensure that all its members receive an education that enables them to become literate, personally fulfilled and publicly useful, thereby increasing the strength and contributions to the health and stability of that society.”

The idealism in this statement provides inspiration to all who are committed to public school education, including those who choose to run the gauntlet of candidacy to become a trustee. And yet, if our 2012 School Act is compared with B.C.’s first School Act of 1872, we find the primary task of school boards to manage finances has not changed since, despite the addition of more than 170 pages of directives. In contrast to our current School Act’s preamble, the 1872 Act’s preamble is more honest in its limited vision:

“Whereas it is expedient that provision should be made for the establishment, maintenance, and management of Public Schools throughout the Province of British Columbia -“

Egerton Ryerson’s influence on the writing of the Ontario School Act of 1871 shaped a centralized public school system that provided a model for B.C.’s School Act of 1872. This model has been pretty much intact since: Provincial governments delegate management powers to locally elected trustees and it is rare for trustees to attempt to negotiate finances with the minister of education. The three school boards that have made this attempt in the past 35 years have all been fired and replaced by “official trustees.”

Idealism motivates most citizens who want to participate in shaping public education and anyone who has not read the School Act is unaware that fundraising has in recent years become part of a trustee’s job description. The 2012 School Act outlines protocols for renting and selling buildings and property, holding local referendums requesting that citizens pay extra taxes for special projects and starting companies such as the one Saanich trustees have decided to organize to make up funding shortfalls by selling online courses overseas.

The nation-builders of the late 1800s would be baffled that the foundation that they laid enabled subsequent politicians and educators to build a complex public-school system that they couldn’t have imagined, and then, in a decade of neglect, the system unnecessarily declined. The consequences of tax cuts made to corporations, small businesses and individuals since 2001 have not only created havoc in school districts, but have given us a shakeup that forces us not to take for granted the world-class public school infrastructure that took more than 100 years to develop.

The Cowichan school trustees who would no longer co-operate with the dismantling of their school district have awakened us all. Their words and actions honour the legacy of social reformer Amos de Cosmos and those 19th-century citizens whose campaign to bring schools to the colony of Vancouver Island was successful. After the opening of Victoria’s Central School under the 1865 Common School Act, de Cosmos wrote in the British Colonist:

“The blessing of education has been presented to the poorest as well as to the richest child – We hope that rumour is falsifying – that the education appropriation will have to be reduced $32,000.”

In this 21st century, it is up to all of us to communicate to government that we expect elected officials to keep our schools moving towards fulfilling the goals stated in their own 2012 School Act. And trustees should not have to concern themselves with raising funds for the viability of their school districts – that is the job of government.

Starla Anderson is a retired teacher and education consultant who lives in Victoria.

First Priority Always……. Advocacy for the Children

A New Trustee’s Point of View April 16, 2012

Greater Victoria School District 61 Report #5

Important Motions………. April 16, 2012 Board Meeting Repeal Bill 22 Why? This motion had been tabled and therefore it was brought forward to the April Board meeting. 1) Motion- Repeal of Bill 22 That the Board of Education SD 61 write a letter to the Minister of Education calling on the government to repeal Bill 22 and instead, have an independent mediator appointed through the Labour Relations Board. (no net zero mandate….. why? As I told you last month, we just received our 2012-2013 budget-$171,000,000. With this net zero mandate and not even a CPI adjustment (2-3%), we are looking at a starting deficit of approx. $3.4M for our students. The motion was defeated 5-4. ( Trustees Orcherton, Horsman, Leonard, McEvoy and Ferris voted against the motion; Trustees Nohr, Loring-Kuhanga, McNally and Alpha voted for the motion. )

Here’s how our teachers feel. Remember, teachers are advocating for full restoration of funding for our most vulnerable learners, those students with special education designations. As well, teachers want their salaries to stay commensurate with the cost of living index. Please read the letter from our teachers.

Greater Victoria Teachers’ Association

Dear Trustees, RE: Bill 22 We are writing to express our disappointment that the Greater Victoria Board of Education has not taken a position opposed to Bill 22. This Bill is an infringement on the right of teachers to free collective bargaining. This is an affront to our rights as citizens in a democracy. This Bill imposes a mediation process that guarantees an outcome that favours the employer representative – BCPSEA. This again is contrary to the basic democratic principles of free and fair collective bargaining. We cannot imagine how the Board could not oppose a piece of legislation that denies teachers such basic democratic rights. This Bill removes class size averages and class composition limits. We believe this will result in larger and more complex classrooms, as funding continues to deteriorate. Class size and composition restrictions were the single best mechanism to ensuring long term stable funding for teaching staff, as the years prior to 2001 demonstrate. We anticipate a significant deterioration of classroom conditions resulting from this Bill. Finally we need you to know that your decision will impact the relationships between teachers and the District at both the school and District level. Never have teachers felt more demoralized and less respected.

Yours truly, Tara Ehrcke President, GVTA

• This letter reflects the position of most if not all teachers in our district. The union speaks for the teachers reflecting their position.

I’d like to thank the three teachers ( Tara Erhcke, Keely Roden ( Esquimalt) and Barbara Macaulay ( Northridge ) who spoke at the Board meeting about their concerns with Bill 22. All three gave a very personal and compelling perspective about what our students may face in the coming years.

2) Motion-Needs Budget Proposal – Trustee McNally brought this motion forward and it was an especially important motion given the fact that trustees had just received an estimate of $48M as the current GAP in funding for our students!

That the Board of Education of SD 61 ( Greater Victoria ) submit only a needs budget reflecting remedies for the on-going structural deficit and reflecting costs for restoration of all services to the levels of service that existed in 2001.

The motion was defeated 5-4. ( Trustees Orcherton, Horsman, Leonard, McEvoy and Ferris voted against the motion; Trustees Nohr, Loring-Kuhanga, McNally and Alpha voted for the motion. )

3) We had a small surplus that we reviewed carefully in light of the input from our partner groups. There was some good debate at the Board table as we pointed out that students need teachers in many cases for instruction rather than educational assistants for support. The following motion was passed unanimously.

That the Board of Education of School District No. 61 (Greater Victoria apply the $349,541 projected surplus in the following manner, for the 2012-2013 budget year, upon passing of the budget bylaw. $95,563 to add 1 FTE psychologist to help deal with the backlog of psychometric assessments for students in grades K-3 in School District No. 61. $50,000 to be added for support services to psychologists and speech and language pathologists so that more time is made available for therapy with special needs students. $203,978 will be used for the hiring of Educational assistants or teachers for support for classrooms, students and students that are hearing impaired. Motion Carried Unanimously

3) Motion- Annual Budget Bylaw That the Board of Education of SD 61 ( Greater Victoria ) 2012/2013 Annual Budget Bylaw in the amount of $194,366,227 be: read for the first, second and third time, passed and adopted on April 16, 2012.

The motion was passed 5-4. ( Trustees Orcherton, Horsman, Leonard, McEvoy and Ferris voted for the motion; Trustees Nohr, Loring-Kuhanga, McNally and Alpha voted against the motion. )

*I could not vote for this budget when I know that many, many of our students are being seriously neglected and they are not receiving an educational experience appropriate for their needs. This situation affects everyone else in the class as well. Also, with respect to the principle of equity, this unacceptable situation is most pervasive in our schools located in lower socio-economic areas thus contributing to the perpetuation of more students in this demographic not graduating from high school.

PACs please consider making a letter writing initiative on behalf of public education one of your activities in the month of May.

You could write to your MLA, Minister of Education and/or the Premier and express your expectation that schools in SD 61 should be fully funded, at least back to the 2001-2002 levels thus adding approximately $ 48M.

• premier@gov.bc.ca

• *minister.educ@gov.bc.ca

• MLA Finder- drop down menu / easy to use

• robin.austin.mla@leg.bc.ca education critic

Thank you for taking the time to read this April report. I apologize for its tardiness. I would also ask you to please send this on to al

Your advocate for public education and trustee,

Deborah Nohr

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

First Priority Always……. Advocacy for the Children

A New Trustee’s Point of View April 16, 2012

Greater Victoria School District 61 Report #5

Important Motions………. April 16, 2012 Board Meeting Repeal Bill 22 Why? This motion had been tabled and therefore it was brought forward to the April Board meeting. 1) Motion- Repeal of Bill 22 That the Board of Education SD 61 write a letter to the Minister of Education calling on the government to repeal Bill 22 and instead, have an independent mediator appointed through the Labour Relations Board. (no net zero mandate….. why? As I told you last month, we just received our 2012-2013 budget-$171,000,000. With this net zero mandate and not even a CPI adjustment (2-3%), we are looking at a starting deficit of approx. $3.4M for our students. The motion was defeated 5-4. ( Trustees Orcherton, Horsman, Leonard, McEvoy and Ferris voted against the motion; Trustees Nohr, Loring-Kuhanga, McNally and Alpha voted for the motion. )

Here’s how our teachers feel. Remember, teachers are advocating for full restoration of funding for our most vulnerable learners, those students with special education designations. As well, teachers want their salaries to stay commensurate with the cost of living index. Please read the letter from our teachers.

Greater Victoria Teachers’ Association

Dear Trustees, RE: Bill 22 We are writing to express our disappointment that the Greater Victoria Board of Education has not taken a position opposed to Bill 22. This Bill is an infringement on the right of teachers to free collective bargaining. This is an affront to our rights as citizens in a democracy. This Bill imposes a mediation process that guarantees an outcome that favours the employer representative – BCPSEA. This again is contrary to the basic democratic principles of free and fair collective bargaining. We cannot imagine how the Board could not oppose a piece of legislation that denies teachers such basic democratic rights. This Bill removes class size averages and class composition limits. We believe this will result in larger and more complex classrooms, as funding continues to deteriorate. Class size and composition restrictions were the single best mechanism to ensuring long term stable funding for teaching staff, as the years prior to 2001 demonstrate. We anticipate a significant deterioration of classroom conditions resulting from this Bill. Finally we need you to know that your decision will impact the relationships between teachers and the District at both the school and District level. Never have teachers felt more demoralized and less respected.

Yours truly, Tara Ehrcke President, GVTA

• This letter reflects the position of most if not all teachers in our district. The union speaks for the teachers reflecting their position.

I’d like to thank the three teachers ( Tara Erhcke, Keely Roden ( Esquimalt) and Barbara Macaulay ( Northridge ) who spoke at the Board meeting about their concerns with Bill 22. All three gave a very personal and compelling perspective about what our students may face in the coming years.

2) Motion-Needs Budget Proposal – Trustee McNally brought this motion forward and it was an especially important motion given the fact that trustees had just received an estimate of $48M as the current GAP in funding for our students!

That the Board of Education of SD 61 ( Greater Victoria ) submit only a needs budget reflecting remedies for the on-going structural deficit and reflecting costs for restoration of all services to the levels of service that existed in 2001.

The motion was defeated 5-4. ( Trustees Orcherton, Horsman, Leonard, McEvoy and Ferris voted against the motion; Trustees Nohr, Loring-Kuhanga, McNally and Alpha voted for the motion. )

3) We had a small surplus that we reviewed carefully in light of the input from our partner groups. There was some good debate at the Board table as we pointed out that students need teachers in many cases for instruction rather than educational assistants for support. The following motion was passed unanimously.

That the Board of Education of School District No. 61 (Greater Victoria apply the $349,541 projected surplus in the following manner, for the 2012-2013 budget year, upon passing of the budget bylaw. $95,563 to add 1 FTE psychologist to help deal with the backlog of psychometric assessments for students in grades K-3 in School District No. 61. $50,000 to be added for support services to psychologists and speech and language pathologists so that more time is made available for therapy with special needs students. $203,978 will be used for the hiring of Educational assistants or teachers for support for classrooms, students and students that are hearing impaired. Motion Carried Unanimously

3) Motion- Annual Budget Bylaw That the Board of Education of SD 61 ( Greater Victoria ) 2012/2013 Annual Budget Bylaw in the amount of $194,366,227 be: read for the first, second and third time, passed and adopted on April 16, 2012.

The motion was passed 5-4. ( Trustees Orcherton, Horsman, Leonard, McEvoy and Ferris voted for the motion; Trustees Nohr, Loring-Kuhanga, McNally and Alpha voted against the motion. )

*I could not vote for this budget when I know that many, many of our students are being seriously neglected and they are not receiving an educational experience appropriate for their needs. This situation affects everyone else in the class as well. Also, with respect to the principle of equity, this unacceptable situation is most pervasive in our schools located in lower socio-economic areas thus contributing to the perpetuation of more students in this demographic not graduating from high school.

PACs please consider making a letter writing initiative on behalf of public education one of your activities in the month of May.

You could write to your MLA, Minister of Education and/or the Premier and express your expectation that schools in SD 61 should be fully funded, at least back to the 2001-2002 levels thus adding approximately $ 48M.

• premier@gov.bc.ca

• *minister.educ@gov.bc.ca

• MLA Finder- drop down menu / easy to use

• robin.austin.mla@leg.bc.ca education critic

Thank you for taking the time to read this April report. I apologize for its tardiness. I would also ask you to please send this on to al

Your advocate for public education and trustee,

Deborah Nohr

Posted in Uncategorized

MARCH TRUSTEE REPORT- 2012

First Priority Always……. Advocacy for the Children

A New Trustee’s Point of View               MARCH, 2012

Greater Victoria School District 61

 Report #4

Important Motions….from the March 26, 2012 Board Meeting

Repeal Bill 22    Why?

1)    That the Board of Education SD 61 write a letter to the Minister of Education calling on the government to repeal Bill 22 and instead, have an independent mediator appointed through the Labour Relations Board. (no net zero mandate….. why? We just received our 2012-2013 budget-$171,000,000. With this net zero mandate and not even a CPI adjustment (2-3%), we are looking at a starting deficit of approx. $3.4M for our students.

Rationale:

Bill 22 is in violation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It parallels the same law that this BC government put in place for health care workers  (2001) and the Supreme Court of Canada ruled as unconstitutional (2007).

Bill 22 is undemocratic as it eliminates workers rights to bargain collectively for their working conditions. Free collective bargaining is a fundamental principle for all  Canadian workers within a union.* Remember teachers’ working conditions almost always reflect student learning conditions. Teachers know what makes a classroom work,

Bill 22 is invalid because it is in contravention of the BC Supreme Court decision (April, 2011) that ruled Bill 28 prohibited teachers’ right to bargain working conditions.

It is also unconstitutional because it imposes conditions on the mediator rather than allowing the mediator to be truly independent and ‘serve as a trusted neutral influence on the two parties. A mediator who represents the government…… would be perverse’. ( SD 46)

Motion-Tabled until April ( gather more information ) We don’t need more information to see that it is unconstitutional and not in the best interests of children.

Good faith bargaining is not possible when one side sets in place pre-conditions.

Please consider this commentary.

Joel Bakan  Vancouver Sun    March 16, 2012

The B.C. Liberal government is poised, once again, to violate the legal rights of workers, this time with Bill 22, which, if it becomes law, will prohibit teachers from striking and limit their collective bargaining rights.

In 2007, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the government had violated the Canadian Charter by imposing legislative restrictions on the rights of health workers to bargain collectively. In April 2011, the British Columbia Supreme Court followed that decision to rule that legislation concerning teachers was unconstitutional, and thereby invalid, because it prohibited bargaining on class size, class composition and the ratios of teachers to students.

It is those very same restrictions that the government now seeks to reinstate with Bill 22, a disturbing disregard for such a recent judicial declaration that they are constitutionally invalid.

Bill 22 also flies in the face of Canada’s international treaty obligations. On no fewer than 10 occasions — half of which concerned teachers — the Freedom of Association Committee of the United Nations International Labour Organization has found the B.C. Liberal government to be in breach of labour treaties. In a recent report, concerning legislation similar to Bill 22, the committee noted as particularly problematic the tendency of this government to legislatively prohibit strikes, impose rates and working conditions, circumscribe the scope of collective bargaining, and restructure the bargaining process.

The proposed Bill 22 does all of those things and more. As such, it almost certainly violates international law as well as constitutional law.

Governments are obliged to govern according to law. That is what distinguishes democracies from tyrannies. As a fundamental democratic principle, the rule of law is seriously jeopardized when governments play fast and loose with constitutional and international laws, as this government is now doing with Bill 22.

If Bill 22 becomes law, the government will demand that teachers respect its provisions (including those making strikes illegal). It will condemn those who defy the act as lawbreakers and punish them with severe fines ($475 per day for a teacher; $2,500 per day for a union officer; $1.3 million per day for the BCTF).

In short, the government will demand that the rule of its law be respected, while, at the same time, its actions dangerously encroach upon the rule of law.

Joel Bakan teaches in the faculty of law at the University of British Columbia.

© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

The Learning Improvement Fund, a response to the BC Supreme Court decision-April, 2011, has been set at $30M. This would look like .6 educational aide or .2 speech and language specialist/teacher  at each Victoria school. In the BC Supreme Court decision, April, 2011, the judge referenced the removal of $275M back in 2001/2002 and that would be at least $300M in 2012. Basic math calculations indicate that the LIF should provide ten times the funds. Our public education system is being STARVED…and that translates into unacceptable neglect of our children. At our March Board meeting Trustee Horsman brought forward the following motion.

Trustee Horsman – Class Organization and Behaviour Management Fund

That the Board of Education of School District No. 61 (Greater Victoria) write to the Minister of Education asking that the government double the amount of money offered for the Learning Improvement Fund (in the first, second and third years).

If…and that is a big if, the government responded, the fund would be 2X30M-60M in the first year, 2X$65M-$130M in the second year and 2X$75M-$150M in the third year. It may sound like a lot, but it isn’t. I argued that we must not become inured  to a ‘scarcity’ paradigm  for our children’s education…..we must not let this happen. I recommended that we ask for the full $300M. The motion passed without an amendment to ask for the full amount taken out and that is why you see Trustee Loring-Kuhanga and Trustee Nohr opposing the motion.

FYI…We have received the budget for 2012-2013 and the LIF is $30M.That means Victoria will receive $961,762 or .6 EA per school.

Motion-Carried

Voting Record- 7 in favour (Alpha, Orcherton, Horsman, Ferris, Leonard, McEvoy, McNally), 2 opposed (Nohr, Loring- Kuhanga) Motion carried

 Trustee Nohr – Additional Budget Input

That the Board of Education of School District No. 61 (Greater Victoria) schedule working meetings with the Superintendent and Secretary-Treasurer including all interested trustees to develop the 2012-2013 budget based on meeting District goals and input from parents, school staff and any other affected partner group.

I wanted to know how, when and who would be reviewing the SPC input, the public input at the round table budget meetings and other partner group ideas/issues. There was NO interest by the majority of trustees to establish a series of meetings for this purpose. At this time I still have not received any specific information about meetings, participants and date times to consider this information and make small but important changes considering  ‘partner input’ to the budget for 2012-2013. I am meeting with the Superintendent to review much of the partner groups’ input for consideration.

2 in favour ( Loring-Kuhanga, Nohr) and 7 against (Alpha, McNally, Orcherton, Horsman, Ferris, Leonard, McEvoy)

Motion Defeated

C. Trustee McNally – Budget Advisory Committee

That the Board of Education of School District No. 61 (Greater Victoria) instruct Budget Advisory (Ad Hoc) Committee Chair immediately restructure the Budget Advisory Committee (presently made up of Trustees Orcherton, Horsman, Ferris and Alpha) to include all Trustees on an ex-officio basis, and members of the public and partner groups who wish to attend on a non-voting, observer basis. (motion withdrawn)

This was a great motion because it would have included all trustees in the discussions about the budget. Unfortunately, Trustee McNally withdrew the motion. We need to have all trustees involved. At this time there is not the open governance model I would want to see.

On April 16th, the Board will be voting on a budget that seriously and significantly underfunds public education for our children. Sadly, the greatest impact of underfunding falls on the already weakened shoulders of our poorest students.Let us watch out for our most vulnerable students. Let us all work toward equity in the system.

Please read the following very thoughtful perspective on this issue.

I take exception with Geoff Johnson’s March 21st perspective regarding the response of some school boards to what they determine to be inadequate education funding allocations.  Further I am offended by Mr. Johnson’s implication that the ethically bankrupt behaviour of the corporate elite is somehow equivalent to the principled decisions that some boards arrive at in their efforts to meet the needs of their student body.  It seems hardly legitimate to compare the self-serving greed and disdain for others exemplified by the executives of Enron, Wall Street investment banks and, for a Canadian example, Nortel, with reasoned, researched and public debate in response to what is generally conceded to be a broken funding formula.

Mr. Johnson appears to equate ethical behaviour with unquestioning obedience.  We all know how well “I was only following orders” stands up to scrutiny.  The very essence of ethical behaviour is to look beyond laws and regulations and consider one’s own moral compass.  While I can agree that taking an oath one has no intention of upholding raises questions of ethical behaviour, I must also question the morality of a situation in which the institution that allocates budgets simultaneously writes the legislation to bar deficit financing and extract commitments of acquiescence as a condition of public office.

If legislation was entirely consistent with morality, then there may be no need for such discussion at all; one could simply follow directions and rest easily at night.  Life is not so clear cut however and the issue of trustee adherence to the School Act provides a perfect example.  While Section 111 does require boards to submit a budget in which expenditures do not exceed revenue; the School Act is not without ambiguity.  Consider Section 65 (1): A board is responsible for the improvement of student achievement in the school district.

At a time when budget allocations for school boards will only support a portion of the services needed by special needs students, when per student allocations don’t keep pace with inflation, when the $30 million identified for Year 1 of the much heralded Learning Improvement Fund equates to slightly more than one half of one percent of the annual operating grant allocation (or slightly less than 8% of annual special needs funding), one might wonder whether submissive acceptance of provincial budget allocations is truly the mark of ethical conduct.

This past year Saanich School Board was successful in its quest for additional provincial funding beyond their original budget allocation.  Their presentations on the issue amply demonstrate that their decision to take this stand was not only well researched, it was critical to their efforts to achieve their fundamental purpose of improving student achievement (http://alturl.com/jrzsp).

Ultimately the Province also holds the power to dismiss School Boards that choose not to submit balanced budgets.  Trustees make their decisions knowledge in full knowledge of this possible outcome.  To risk one’s position in an effort to better provide for our children is, in my mind, the very measure of ethical behaviour.

Rob Paynter is a parent of children in School District 61 and a past candidate for school board trustee. He previously served ethically as an officer in the Canadian Forces in Canada and overseas on peacekeeping operations.

Sincerely,

Deborah Nohn

trustee SD 61

 

 

Rally to support teachers!

There is a mass rally tomorrow, March 6th, in support of BC teachers. It starts at 11am at Centennial Square in Victoria (beside City Hall). A very large group will then march to the lawn of the Legislature. Please see this web site for the latest details.

Rally to support teachers!

There is a mass rally tomorrow, March 6th, in support of BC teachers. It starts at 11am at Centennial Square in Victoria (beside City Hall). A very large group will then march to the lawn of the Legislature. Please see this web site for the latest details.

First Priority Always……. Advocacy for the Children

A New Trustee’s Point of View               FEBRUARY, 2012

Greater Victoria School District 61

 Report #3

 And the Good News is……

The school year is going along very well with teachers and students engaged in a grand variety of amazing and engaging learning activities. I am so excited to hear from students who are happy and see their time at school as being educationally and socially relevant. I am also very grateful to hear from parents who have a good connection with their child’s teacher and they are receiving regular information about their child’s experience in the classroom. These days it often means that teachers are communicating through their e-mail to parents on a daily or weekly basis. Remember, that you can get your child’s teacher’s e-mail address at the school office or generally use their first initial and last name @sd61.bc.ca. Remember also that you can write in your child’s planner to inform the teacher about any issue or concern, ask any question that might be on your mind or suggest a meeting date and time. The most successful school experience is when there is a respectful and ongoing relationship between the teacher, the student and the parents. Teachers often appreciate a parent taking the time to come in and start a conversation. I always think of it this way: parents have one, two or three children  (approximately) while teachers have 25 or more students.  Did you know that some exploratory teachers teach 120 students each week (4 classes X 30 students)? Respectful communication and a positive relationship is everything in the school experience.

On the Ground and At the Schools

I had the opportunity to attend the Willows’ PAC meeting with my colleague Michael McEvoy. It was tremendous to see so many parents in attendance. I would like to thank the Willows’ parents for all the time they set aside for discussion with trustees. The focus of our conversation was on the role of the trustees, an update on the new Oak Bay High School  (ground breaking has been delayed and is not specifically set at this time) and funding for public education. As a point of clarification, it is important for parents to understand that when they hear that there is a Learning Improvement Fund of $165 M. That is not the money set aside for the next school year. Instead this money will be distributed over three years. In the school year 2012-2013, starting in September, the Ministry of Education has set aside $30 million. This is considerably less than the calculations of $300M per year based on the BCTF assessments.  Over three years this would amount to $900M. In the second year there will be $60 million and in the third year $75 million, again for a total of  $165 million over three years

Public services can only be funded through a strong and equitable tax base. If the government minimally raised corporate taxes by 2% it would provide  approximately an additional $2 billion per year. If the government reinstated taxes on banks it would provide approximately an additional $200 million per year (Royal Bank 2011- 1st quarter profit $1.8 B…23% increase). So you see if we based our economic policies on fair and equitable taxation we would have sufficient funding for all the public services that we use and rely on every day of our lives, including public education.

Another great event for the month of February was the Valentine’s Day concert performance at Oak Bay High School. The many talented students in grades 9 to 12 performed a series musical numbers featuring many brave soloists. I’d like to thank all of the music teachers, students, music parents and administration for their time and dedication. It was a wonderful event and very well attended by people in the community as well as family members.

At the Board Table

Great news! A new committee, led by VCPAC has been established to work on positive school culture and anti-bullying behaviour. All partner groups will have an opportunity to provide input and that includes school based PACs as well.

Craigflower School is going to be in the midst of new road building starting soon. Part of plans includes a new and much safer lighted crosswalk for the students. There will be more parking and one of the playgrounds will be moved and installed (costs paid for by Saanich). The Board will write a letter to Saanich specifying the preferred mode of transportation for students during the construction…and that means there needs to be a floating bridge of some sort so students may walk home.

Presently, the Amended Budget 2011-12 has a surplus of $350,000! Don’t you think that’s great?  I do! I think it is very important to put this money into our highest need classes. This is what I will be working on over the next two weeks. I hope to work with other trustees who would support this and make it happen quickly.

Budget Time

Finally, the ‘needs budget’ committee is working very hard to develop a specific budget that details the gap between what the government will provide and what we think is needed to have ALL classes ‘appropriate for learning’.

I ran on a platform of ‘fully funded and properly managed’ public education. Right now I am trying to set some meetings to review the budget for next year. Currently, that is not the precedent or process of this Board. However, I feel this is vitally important and I do think that the public would expect this of the SD 61 trustees.

We are still hoping to have a parent email campaign to contact the Premier and Minister of Education about making public education funding the first priority for our kids. As the ‘needs budget’ is completed by our district’s trustees, we will share it with our parents, teachers, other partner groups and the community. Parents are the central force and voice in this issue of funding for our students, your kids!

Respectfully,

Deborah Nohr  SD 61 Trustee