Greater Victoria Trustees Get Things Done This Year!

Here’s a brief summary of some of the policies, committees and actions taken this past school year, 2014-2015, in support of student learning.

Thought you may be interested.

Just to let you know that we have a new superintendent starting in August, 2015. The Board passed a motion to undertake a full candidate search and ultimately the Board hired Mr. Pieter Langstraat. Piet is currently the superintendent of the Red Deer school district. I look forward to working with this transformational leader!

January, 2015

1. Through the hard work of a small ad hoc committee our district now has a Concussion Awareness and Care Protocol- Policy 5141.22 ( If you have further input go to and submit your comment or question through our NEW Q & A portal ) Here is the * You should know that a concussion may only be diagnosed by a physician.

2. Our Information Technology department provided a first summary of the initiatives in our elementary, middle and high schools. ( As we undertake our strategic plan I expect that I.T. will develop goals / targets and timelines as well as more detail about the costs to our district ). I will bring forward a motion to have this document available on the SD 61 website for your reference.

3. Strategic Plan– Finally we had enough trustees in support of this very necessary process to get this started. Trustees that voted for a strategic plan are: Chair- Edith Loring-Kuhanga, Vice Chair- Diane McNally, Deborah Nohr, Rob Paynter, Jordan Watters, Ann Whiteaker and Peg Orcherton * We received over 1000 responses from parents and the public and we will be starting the discussions and visioning process in August, 2015.

4. The Ministry of Education has required all districts to submit a yearly Achievement Contract. Our summary document outlines all the significant and substantive programs supporting student learning. However, it does not identify the serious lack of supports for some students that need and are not receiving counselling, speech and language therapy, learning support/ small group instruction and ELL . For this reason I did not vote in support of the report as it is my responsibility to speak out about this very serious issue. I would expect more balanced and accurate reporting in this document. FYI- This past September principals and teachers did an assessment of needs in our district as a requirement for the disbursement of funds from the Education Fund ( approx. $2M ) and there was consensus that SD 61 minimally needed 49 more teachers to meet the basic needs of your children and our students. This funding gap and the specific lack of supports for some students should be noted in the Achievement Contract. Going forward we are unsure of the Ministry’s requirements and the form this will take.

5. We now have an Aboriginal Employment Equity Agreement in place again. Our goal is to have many more First Nations teachers in classrooms throughout our district. At this time we need First Nations teachers to apply to our district. This is an issue that we need to address to encourage and improve the number of First Nations’ teacher applicants.

6. Starting in January, 2016 – FSA Parent Document– Parents with children in grades 4, 7 and 10 will be receiving an e-document/hard copy document with a summary of various points of view regarding the FSA. Hopefully, you will find this informative. Soon after you will be given details about the testing times and you will be provided with a form to decline participation in the FSA testing. The choice is yours.

February, 2015

1. Passed the Budget Bylaw for 2014-2015 $212,943,661

2.School Calendar – school starts on Tuesday, September 8th this year

3. Trustees voted against a motion to allow for corporate naming rights of physical assets in the District. This would preclude naming/ branding a theatre or gymnasium or school computer lab with corporate logos/names as an expectation when making a financial contribution.

March, 2015

1. The Board passed a motion to meet with our local MLAs and education critic, Rob Fleming, to discuss the need for consistent, predictable and proper funding for public education.

2. Our Needs Budget Committee ( Trustees Paynter, Nohr, McNally ) met with the secretary treasurer and the superintendent to develop a document that would more closely indicate the necessary funding to support student learning. It was estimated that SD 61 needed at aminimum at least $5M more for proper student learning.This did not include an analysis of capital needs; SD 61 needs a significant funding increase to address infrastructure updates.

3. I brought forward a motion to provide a public review of our class sizes and class composition numbers. It is my opinion that public information should be made public thus empowering everyone to address this issue collectively. Sadly the motion failed. I was very shocked that some trustees would block this essential process. Trustees for- Nohr, McNally, Paynter, Watters Trustees against- Loring-Kuhanga, Orcherton, Leonard, Ferris, Whiteaker

4. The government is still making cuts to public education. This year the Board needed to find $1M in administrative cuts. This is creating a house of cards.

April, 2015

1. SD 61 made available a survey form for input by all interested citizens, partner groups and employees for our strategic plan process.

2.I brought forward a motion which passed to strike an Ad Hoc committee, Technology Stewardship, to review all practices related to the use of technology by our students and our staff. We hope to have this committee underway early in the fall. Anyone may attend the meetings.

3. Our Capital Facilities Grant 2014-2015 is $3.3M These funds generally go to upgrading furnaces, windows and other projects that focus on sustainability.

May, 2015

1. Trustee Watters brought forward the following motion: That the Board of Education of School District No. 61 (Greater Victoria) direct the Chair to task the District Gay Straight Alliance Advisory Committee with developing a draft policy on Gender Identity and Gender Expression (in accordance with Bylaw 9210 The development of Policy; and Policy 1163 Consultation) to ensure the safety and support of transgender and gender variant students and their families, and present it to the Education Policy Development Committee with recommendations for implementation. Motion Carried Unanimously

2. Trustee Advocacy Raised to a Much Higher Level in the Community! We placed a letter in our local newspapers that we sent to the Minister of Education, Peter Fassbender, detailing the specific unmet needs in our schools as identified by principals and teachers in September, 2014. Again, this totalled $5M ( at a minimum ). The letter was signed by all partner groups with the exception of the principal and vice principals’ association.

3. Trustee Whiteaker’s motion to establish a Parent Education Fund ( $7000 ) was passed. Trustees for- Nohr, Paynter, McNally, Watters, Whiteaker Trustees Against- Loring-Kuhanga, Ferris, Orcherton Absent- Leonard Parents from any school may now apply for funding to attend a conference related to their child’s learning or bring a speaker to their school or family of schools for a special conference event. Soon this application information and process will be on the SD 61 website

June, 2015

1. Naming of Physical Facilities- The new gymnasium at Oak Bay H.S. will be called the Gary Taylor Court.

2. All academies are list on the SD 61 website including the fees.

3. Our Board sent a letter to the Minister of Education requesting an update on the motion that was passed at last year’s BCSTA AGM (2014) to develop a 25 hour course on Residential Schools and the Impact for our First Nations citizens ( and for all Canadians ) as a requirement for graduation. We have not heard back. What we know is that the Ministry is weaving many aspects of First Nations’ history and the Residential School experience through all curriculum areas and all grade levels. While this addition to curriculum content at all grade levels is a very good idea it must not replace the requirement to have every BC high school student take a full term class as a requirent for graduation.

Thank you very much for your support and for your positive influence and involvement in our schools!

Look forward to more discussions on the very important topic of public education.

Deborah Nohr

Welcome Back To School 2014-2015

Trustee Nohr…Report #28 SD 61
September, 2014
Equality for All in Public Education……Fully Funded and Properly Managed

Welcome Back to School!
We are now two weeks into the school year and I hope that you and your children are well settled.

The strike was a difficult time for everyone. Thank you to parents for your accommodation and support of the teachers who in part were striking to bring back essential funding for students with special needs. Without this funding most students are negatively impacted in the classroom.
In summary, the teachers’ contract includes: 7.25% over 6years, some improvements to extended health benefits, increase to TOC ( teachers on call ) pay, $1,200 signing bonus, $400 Education Fund* for hiring teacher specialists and classroom teachers. * This fund replaces the LIF and so this fund contains very little new money. The big difference is that this funding goes exclusively to hiring teachers. The unacceptable underfunding of our students still continues. Meeting all the necessary costs for public education would require only 1% more of the provincial gov’t budget. I think our students and teachers are worth it. Please read the following quotes for a relevant context to the underfunding issue.

Mr. Iker says the education fund will amount to “several hundred new teaching positions each year” – but some school districts have already indicated it won’t bring classrooms back to the pre-2002 levels the union has long been calling for. * For SD 61, it may mean 5-10 additional teachers only. This is so marginal.
Patti Bacchus, chair of the Vancouver School Board, said it would cost nearly $60-million just to restore what has been lost in the past dozen years in her school district. * For SD 61, it would be about $30M.
“If we were to have the equivalent level of services and staffing as we did in 2002, adjusted for enrolment, adjusted for inflation, it would take about $60-million to restore the equivalent level,” she said.
Here’s something else to think about…?
WE Support BC Teachers shared a link-
September 23
“I should not be subsidizing my child’s school. My child’s teachers should not be subsidizing their school. Teachers shouldn’t pay for the supplies they need to do their job. They shouldn’t take a pay cut so their schools can be properly staffed.”

Jordan Watters for Trustee in SD61 / Facebook
September 25
A report from the VCPAC meeting. Parent action needed to counter dangerous narrative Bird is putting forward.

BC voters supporting BC teachers and public education

I am a parent of a high school student is school district 61, Victoria. I am writing to express my concern with the information given to parents at the recent meeting held by the Victoria Confederation of Parent Advisory Council (VCPAC, the district PAC for school dist…* great discussion on special education designations… is it help with a separate supportive and appropriate learning environment for some of the day…or is it discrimination? read more…/

So at this time I believe it is essential that we as a community including parents, grandparents, teachers, educational assistants, community members, administration, trustees and students must keep this dialogue alive; informing and extending our knowledge with one another and sharing our personal narratives within this vortex of underfunding.

Education Policy Meeting… A Few Highlights
September, 2014 
*Combined with OPPs for September.

Operations, Planning and Policy Meeting… A Few Highlights September, 2014

Special Event…our first student trustee attended this meeting. Welcome Kelsey Hoi! ( Mt. Doug HS )

Trustee Loring-Kuhanga tried to bring forward a motion to be put on the agenda about Clause E.80 of the Framework Agreement Between the BC Public School Employers’ Association (BCPSEA) and the BC Teachers’ Association. Trustee Leonard, the Chair, refused to allow the motion stating that is is a labour relations bargaining issue that was discussed at a special in-camera board meeting and therefore not a topic for a public committee meeting. * I disagree. This issue was in the news and it was important that the lively debate be witnessed in public. We are an advocacy group and therefore we should state our perspective on issues effecting our funding and our students’ learning. We are not a bargaining committee bringing forward details to negotiations. Rather this would be a debate on the concepts within E. 80* (eliminate adherence to collective agreement language for class size and composition ) and the impact for our district…a much more open and transparent process and culture.
“*So when E80 is drafted to supersede all previous articles, the B.C. Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) says the government is trying to pull a fast one and nullify the Griffin ruling and the effect of any subsequent legislation. The government protests that the union is just being paranoid, it would never try such a low-down dirty trick (good idea though).”
Motion – Moved: (Secretary Treasurer)
That the Board of Education of School District No. 61 ( Greater Victoria ) agrees to cancel regularly scheduled meetings at the call of the Board Chair in consultation with the respecttive Standing Committee Chair in the event that the strike continues unless there are agenda items that require immediate action. For: Horsman Against: McNally, Loring-Kuhanga, Nohr, Alpha, MeEvoy, Orcherton, Leonard and Ferris

Facilities Report

Randi Falls, principal of Vic. HS gave an update on the Multi-Purpose Sports Facility project. Then total estimated cost is approx. $5.5M and the City of Victoria has approved a matching grant of $250,00. Currently, the fund raising total is $179,000.

Capital Projects
Director of Facilities, Seamus Howley, gave an update on the following projects:
- Quadra Elem. $9M seismic upgrade almost done…at the time of this blog it is now completed
- Tillicum Elem. $3M seismic upgrade was completed this summer
- George Jay Elem. $5M seismic upgrade will be completed for Sept. 2015 ( Students are at Richmond for this year )
- New Oak Bay HS project is ahead of schedule and will be open for Sept. 2015

Public Disclosure Of In Camera Items 
Chair Leonard reported out the following:
That the Board of Education of School District No. 61 (Greater Victoria) publicly calls upon BCPSEA to agree to binding arbitration without pre conditions in the current labour dispute between BCPSEA and the BCTF. And, further that any costs associated with an arbitrated settlement be borne in totality by the BC provincial government and that no costs be downloaded to BC Boards of Education. ( trustees votes could not be reported out ) Chair Leonard stated that there would be an Open Letter sent to the community regarding the current labour dispute.

Now for the Board Meeting

Monday, September 15, 2014 
Special Event… our first student trustee attended this meeting Welcome Kelsey Hoi! ( Mt. Doug HS )

Community Presentations
Carolina Tudela, a parent at Vic. HS spoke about her position that the trustees that voted for the transfer / closing of Sundance School ( Orcherton, Horsman, Leonard, McEvoy and Ferris ) were callous and unwilling to genuinely work with parents to explore options to keep Sundance open.

Ross Gilbert, a teacher at Central MS, spoke about the serious lack of respectful engagement with the public at public Board meetings

Carolyn Howe, a kindergarten/music teacher at South Park vividly described the neglectful impact of underfunding in her K class last year

David Futter reminded the Board about the constitutional rights of teachers through the Charter of Rights and Freedoms ( 1982 ) to freely associate and bargain ALL their working conditions

Bev Bacon, a teacher and special education teacher, presented a historic review of the cycle of funding and not funding of special education students

Trustee Report
 Trustee Nohr- I spoke about my willingness to hear from the public and employee groups on any issue at any time and to engage meaningfully especially at our Board meetings. I thanked the teachers for their sacrifice during the strike and commended the teachers for their courage to speak out and inform the public and parents about what is really happening in some of our classrooms.


#1 Motion– . 2013-2014 Audited Financial Reports
That the internally restricted surplus funds appropriation of $14,305,021 be held for school level funds $4,966,701, unspent project budgets of $2,507,438, purchase order commitments of $530,882 and previously approved budgeted surplus $6.3M be approved. Passed unanimously (Orcherton, Horsman, Leonard, Ferris, Nohr, Loring-Kuhanga, McNally) Absent- Trustees Alpha and McEvoy

That the June 30, 2014 unrestricted operating surplus of $4,250,959 be carried forward to be applied towards the 2015-2016 projected deficit. ( projected forecast to be in excess of $6.3M Passed unanimously (Orcherton, Horsman, Leonard, Ferris, Nohr, Loring-Kuhanga, McNally) Absent- Trustees Alpha and McEvoy

That the audited financial statements for the year ending June, 2014 be approved. 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 ) approves the schedules as required by the Financial Information Act for the period July1, 2013 to June 30, 2014
#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

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog!
Trustee Deborah Nohr
Have a look at Trustee Diane McNally’s blog- Lined Paper

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.
 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.

#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