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?

 

Health, Safety and Transparency……..June, 2013

Trustee Nohr…Report #18      SD 61
Equality for All in  Public Education……Fully Funded Public Education………
The First Priority for Our Tax Dollars!

Did You Know?  
The # of special education teachers in BC has decreased by 19% (750 teachers) from 2001-2012 while the numbers of students needing support has increased significantly. * The total decline in enrolment has been about 50,000 students or approximately 9%.
If BC was at the provincial average, there would be approximately an additional 6,800 teachers.
June, 2013      What’s Going On At the Board?
First, at our Education Policy Meeting   June 10, 2013
*Teachers received $3500 in grant funding this year, matched with funds from GVSD/GVTA pro-d monies, to facilitate their professional teacher -led inquiries. Teachers analyzed: multi grade cohorts in secondary school, student use of technology (accessing web-based info, use of social media, books vs. computers), students’ rationale for distributed learning, scaffolding to improve student writing and visiting other school districts to see how writing is supported.

*The George Jay school community is considering starting french immersion. It will be the topic of exploration over the next year. Students would be able to stay at their school and not transfer to Sir James Douglas.

*Community Literacy Plan  2006-2013 In 2007 BC school districts were mandated by the Ministry of Education to create a community literacy plan. The goals are to provide literacy support for persons with disabilities, vulnerable persons( poverty, justice system, mental health, women in shelters and person who are homeless), youth  15-18 who have dropped out if school, young adults  (19-24) who have graduated but are unemployed or not involved in continuing education). The work has been tremendously successful. The greatest challenge is sustainable funding. Please consider making  a donation to one of the community organizations supporting literacy.

Second, at our Operations, Planning and Policy Meeting   June 10, 2013

* A community member, Rob Paynter, presented an overview of the importance of tracking, recording and setting per diems for senior administration and exempt staff’s expenses. This information could be placed on the district website thereby providing the community with greater transparency of public funding use. I requested that the secretary-treasurer provide some data and information on this topic and report out in September at our first OPPs meeting.
* Motion to accept the  Achievement Contract  2013-2014  Carried- unanimously  * I subsequently changed my mind on this motion and voted against it at the June 17 Board meeting after much consideration. This document is required by the Ministry of Education and while it reflects the tremendous efforts of many teachers, EAs, school based administration, senior staff and parents….it does not reflect the reality for many students in our district and all districts around the province who do not receive  sufficient academic support, counselling, speech&language therapy or OT/PT. The Ministry sets up the template so that the district does not have to address this issue even though families and students face the frustration, anxiety, sense of poor self esteem and overall sense of loss in that school ‘just isn’t fun…and I don’t feel like I can learn’. It’s great to talk about the successes in our schools but it is vitally important to be the voice for those children who are receiving inadequate services…because they cannot speak for themselves. And therefore, I could not vote for the report.
*Motion  Moved- Nohr     Develop a Protocol and Process to Measure Classroom Radiation Exposure Levels  Defeated- Orcherton, Horsman, Leonard, Ferris, McEvoy  For- Nohr, Loring-Kuhanga, McNally and Alpha 
I wanted a joint technology and facilities effort to develop a protocol to determine what the ER levels are in our schools with wifi. We already measure air quality and assess asbestos safety…so why not find out what is happening with ER? Some places in Europe now have municipal workers that will come to your home, if you are concerned, and measure the ER levels. Remember, there are some places in Europe where the level of ER has been dramatically reduced to new international biological standards (1,000 micro watts per square meter)… and here in Canada, our acceptable levels are 10,000,000 micro watts per m2 which relates to thermal effects on the human body.
* Motion  Moved- McNally    Trustee Representatives to Outside Organization
Trustee McNally wanted to revise the Board’s public agenda format to include a list of all the outside organizations that have assigned trustee representatives. Trustee Ferris moved that this motion be referred to the Public Engagement Committee. Motion to refer-carried  6/3  I voted against referral. This is a decision that should be made by the trustees, not the public.
Now, at the Board Meeting     Tuesday, June 17, 2013
Student Achievement
*We were delighted to hear the drumming and singing from Kolette Cristante’s kindergarten class (Rogers School) There is a strong commitment to weave the thread of Aboriginal culture and knowledge through every aspect of curriculum at all grade levels at Rogers Elementary School. Well done!
District Presentations
.

*Aboriginal Education Enhancement Agreement: The Spirit of Alliances….A journey of good hearts and good minds   2013-2018 
Through monthly meetings, focus groups,reflections on students’ experiences, the right goals and going deeper to the most effective strategies and using ‘integral theory’ to support attitudinal change and positive/ meaningful emotional experiences for students, the Enhancement Agreement was strengthened and extended for the next 5 years. The integral approach will start with ‘aboriginal world views to inform Aboriginal learning, which is relational, experiential, cooperative, affirmative and holistic. Thank you to Janice Simcoe and Nella Nelson for the presentation at the Board meeting and thank you to all the members of the committee. It is an especially exciting time because the chiefs of both the Esquimalt and Songhees nations signed the agreement.
*Margaret Dow, an educational assistant at Frank Hobbs, was acknowledged for receiving the National Inclusive Education Award. Thank you.
*Jack Jeffrey, a volunteer at George Jay, was also recognized for his influential work with students at George Jay. Two young adults spoke of the very important role Jack had played in their lives. With gratitude,  thank you.
Community Presentations
*Sooke PAC president spoke about the Vancouver Island Parents Conference and the growing success that they have had over the past years.
*Vicki White, VCPAC, also spoke about the increase in the number of parents and teachers that are now attending the conference.
* Wendy Joyce, VCPAC vice chair presented the 2013-2014 Initiatives and Priorities which includes more connection with school PACs. 
*John Bird, VCPAC president stated that the organization would Advocate for all students and develop capacity in PACs and VCPAC.
As a point of clarification, I wanted to know if the Initiatives and Priorities had been passed by the general membership or if this had been developed at the Executive level only. Chair Orcherton refused to allow this point of clarification…..
PRESENTATIONS TO THE BOARD
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

As a district we give $14,000-$16,000 to VCPAC yearly. I believe that we have a responsibility to be informed about their process as well as how they use the funding.  I believe that John Bird stated that VCPAC still had $3,000-$4,000 from the district that was to used for the middle school inquiry…that was approximately 3years ago. The board has still not received a final report on the middle school appreciative inquiry process.
*Peter Milne, a member of the public and parent in the district presented a detailed position on the importance of understanding the origins and ties to industry when reading research findings about wifi and health issues. He also expressed concern about the individuals sitting on the VCPAC wifi committee who have work directly associated with wifi technology.
Motions
1. That the Board of Education of School District (Greater Victoria) receives the 2013-2014 Achievement Contract 
Carried-Orcherton, Horsman, Leonard, Ferris, McNally, McEvoy, Loring-Kuhanga   Against- Alpha, Nohr
**As I said earlier in my blog, the voices of approx. 25% of our students (those who do not receive the support they need) are not heard, acknowledged, nor advocated for in this report. Therefore, I could not support such a flawed report.
2. A motion was passed to approve the dates for all the standing committee meetings for the next school year, 2013-2014. Carried-unanimously You can reference this information on the SD 61 website.
3. A motion was passed to make available on the school district website all the academy fees for the specialty programs. Carried-unanimously
4. That the Board of Education of School District No. 61 (Greater Victoria) receive the Aboriginal Education Enhancement Agreement (2013-2018). Carried- unanimously   You can reference this information on the SD 61 website.
Notice of Motions
Trustee Loring-Kuhanga (September) Whole School Approach to educate students and staff about suicide prevention (Need2)
Trustee Ferris (September) trustee remuneration
Trustee Nohr (September) revision/update to Health and Safety Policy 4300 (1994)*given as direction to the secretary treasurer
Trustee McNally included the following in her June blog…..F.1 McNally: Health and Safety Committee Notice of Motion: September 2013 Board meeting
‘Moved McNally / : That the Board establish ongoing Trustee representation to the District Health and Safety Committee, assignment to be made by the Board Chair from amongst trustees who express interest, assignment by the Chair to be for a one year term, assigned Trustee to report to the Board regularly in In Camera or public meetings as appropriate; the District Health and Safety Committee to be open to attendance from any Trustee.
•    Rationale: Safety of employees and students is major concern and objective of any employer (Policy 4300.1, Health and Safety, and associated Regulation). Trustees need to know the status of health and safety concerns (recognizing privacy legislation in relation to individuals) and planned actions in SD61, as Trustees are ultimately accountable in the eyes of the public. Health and Safety action plans and reviews and plans to address WorkSafeBC workplace or whole District citations, along with consideration and discussion of employee and parent concerns, need to be a regular duty of elected officials, notwithstanding the delegation of day to day operations. Several other BC school districts have trustees as members of their District Health and Safety Committees, Gulf Islands SD64 being an example .
A similar motion from McNally was defeated at the combined Education Policy Development / Operations Policy and Planning meeting June 10, 2013. (Against: Alpha, Ferris, Horsman, Leonard, Loring-Kuhanga, McEvoy, *Nohr For: McNally )

Arguments against included:
•    Ferris: It’s not appropriate for Trustees to influence the Committee’s thoughts. It’s frustrating when people want to do staff jobs.
•    Leonard: We are responsible for Policy development. Regulations are the purview of the District Leadership Team [senior administration]. This isn’t policy. It’s information.
•    Orcherton: Health and Safety is a bargaining issue. Our role is to set policy. [This Board is not active in Policy generation, though some Boards do see their role as being involved at the generative level of policy development. To be involved or not is simply a matter of District culture, enshrined in District Policy and practice.] We are a Governance Board. This would be interference.
A motion that was defeated at a Standing Committee may come forward to the Board, but will not appear as a “recommended” motion. (Recent motions have appeared as “recommended” without having been discussed at a Standing Committee.) “If a main motion was rejected at an earlier meeting or convention, it may be renewed by being introduced as a main motion at a subsequent meeting or convention.” (p 25 American Institute of Parliamentarians Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure, 2012)
Currently the SD61 Health and Safety Committee is made up of the Chair of the Committee, the President of CUPE 382 (outside workers), a representative from CUPE 947 (inside workers), a representative from the Victoria Principals and Vice Principals Association, a rep from Allied Specialists (psychologists, hearing / vision specialists, and others) a teacher rep from the GVTA, and on occasion additional members of partner groups represented. Trustee representation is  notably absent. In June 2013, when two SD61 Trustees attended, the meeting was cancelled by the Director of Human Resources.
Trustee McNally and I attended as observers only,  as the motion failed to have a trustee sit on the committee. * I had planned to vote in support of the motion to have a trustee on the Health and Safety Committee but during the debate I thought that it was stated by some trustees that there couldn’t be any trustees because issues come forward that may eventually be brought to the table for local bargaining. As I found out later, that statement was just an opinion expressed by some trustees, not based in law. There are districts that have trustees sit on their Health and Safety Committee….Qualicum and Gilf Islands. When this motion comes forward again in September, I will vote to have a trustee on the committee because a trustee could provide valuable direction and also a trustee could better understand the potential costs to the board if issues are not effectively and efficiently addressed.

Thank you,
Your trustee,
Deborah Nohr ( 250-380-0888 or 250-896-0808-c )   deborahnohr.ca
* Please take a look at Trustee McNally’s blog, Lined Paper:)

Remember……our district budget ($200,000,000) has no inflationary factor built in and that means we take at least 2% or $350,000 from our SD 61 budget BEFORE we even start every year…and that is before unexpected downloaded costs from the province.

Wi-Fi Victory for Victor School

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

Deborah Nohr
trustee
SD 61
Victoria

Freedom of Speech Leads To Dialogue

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms ( April 17, 1982 )
Parents’ Perspectives and Presentations
Fundamental freedoms (section 2), namely freedom of conscience, freedom of religion, freedom of thought, freedom of belief, freedom of expression, freedom of the press and of other media of communication, freedom of peaceful assembly, and freedom of association.

Meaningful engagement leads to informed citizens and this comes from supporting, encouraging and living the fundamental value of freedom of speech. I stand by my comments that all parents must be heard. I would also suggest that as an elected trustee
I must undertake the necessary ‘due diligence’ to understand the context of presentations at the Board. In other words, ask questions and get a real sense for the who and what behind the presentations. I plan to do this more effectively at the board table in the future.

Please read and consider this editorial piece.

 http://www.timescolonist.com/opinion/editorials/editorial-school-board-muzzles-debate-1.78951

Government Claws Back Funds for the Classroom!

Trustee Nohr…Report #13      SD 61
Fairness and Equity for All in Public Education
January, 2013      What’s Going On At the Board?

60 Districts Write to the Minister of Education About Their Concerns Over Funding Clawback!
Districts around the province are reeling from the requests by the government to find funding that doesn’t exist. Originally, we were to find the following funding from our district budget:
Teacher pension increases– 1.3% approx $2.4 M / $1.2M for each of the next 2 years for SD 61
CUPE Cooperative Gains Mandate– 1.5%  approx $500,000/yr for SD 61
BCPSEA fees-$2-$3M to be taken out of holdback funds
And Now……Holdback Funding– provincially $26.3M and that would be approx $750,000/yr for SD 61
Every district in the province wrote a letter to the Minister of Education expressing concern about these funding expectations which would result in funding cuts to every district. I am very concerned, as trustees around the province are, that the $26.3M in holdback funds may be redirected elsewhere in the government or to future budget years rather than for this year when we were expecting and needing this funding. At this time we are uncertain about whether the Minister and government are going to respond to the clear concerns and expectations of trustees around the province.

Two Important Motions Passed to Support Students’ Needs-Letter Sent to Minister of Education
Two motions were passed identifying the need for greater funding support for:
1)K-3 students presenting with very significant learning/behavioural challenges (these students do not have designations with any funding at this early point in their schooling)
2) students with an ASD designation needing full-time Educational Aide support
These areas of concern will be brought forward to The Technical Review Committee/Ministry of Education for consideration.
New….Oak Bay High School
Long overdue…..still in the planning stages.
Cloverdale Elementary School
High Risk Priority for seismic upgrading
* If your school is slated for seismic upgrading, phone Central MS and ask to take a tour so you can see what is possible.
…..wifi, wifi, wifi……..
Just trying to understand……While there was a motion on the agenda (June, 2011) for a ‘moratorium’ on wifi in our elementary schools it was tabled at this meeting. At some point, the Chair directed the Superintendent to explain to the principals that there would be no district installation. However, I cannot find any motion to this effect. I thought, as did members of the public, that a ‘moratorium’ was a ‘moratorium’…meaning that the action was completely forbidden. That is not how the Chair explained the motion/situation. Then, early in this school year, the trustees were informed that some teachers were bringing retail routers into their classrooms. At that time, the Superintendent was directed to inform the principals and teachers that there could be NO additional wifi installation.Presently, the trustees are waiting to hear back from VCPAC and other parents who have a position on this issue. Again, I follow the precautionary principle that wifi be proven harmless and until that time I think we should have our elementary schools remain hard wired.
This is for your consideration…..
BYOD
Bring Your Own Device Demise

“The differences in bone density and the amount of fluid in a child’s brain compared to an adult’s brain could allow children to absorb greater quantities of RF (radiofrequency) energy deeper into their brains than adults… the current exposure limits may not reflect the latest research on RF energy”.

http://citizensforsafetechnology.org/Letter-from-the-American-Academy-of-Pediatrics-to-US-Congress,24,2818
http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/ahc-asc/media/advisories-avis/_2011/2011_131-eng.php

Why BYOD Is A Disaster Waiting To Happen For Schools

“having worked in educational IT (with both public and private schools), I have to say that the idea of launching BYOD at the K-12 level makes me shudder. There are several serious concerns that should be forefront in the minds of school IT staff, administrators, teachers, and parents about BYOD in schools.”

Read more: http://www.cultofmac.com/176277/why-byod-is-a-disaster-waiting-to-happen-for-schools/#cYzqtKs0JMCllqoF.99

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

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kmcAXZ-o1K4&feature=share&list=FLI_8xq3QcBTrnb4665kpsNA

New Committee- Public Engagement Committee
Should we have a Q&A? Should we video or audio tape the meeting? Of Course! It is a public meeting and the public is entitled to access.
This committee will review these issues and many others. Do you have any thoughts? Please let me know or send you ideas to porcherton@sd61.bc.ca or sbell@sd61.bc.ca.
Members of the committee include:
ASA – Melanie Houston
GVTA- Gill Miller
CUPE 947 – Brad Hall
VCPAC – John Bird
CUPE 382 – not participating
Public – Donna Jones and Rebecca Pearson ( Donna is a former Trustee and Chair of the Board from a number of years back and Rebecca is a Manager in a Credit Union with a keen interest in Public Education). A former trustee is not my ideal candidate for a member of the public. The criteria for choosing the Public members was to find people from within the Community that are not currently engaged in the District but have some experience/interest in Public Education and are familiar with Chairing/participating in meetings.
Staff to support the Committee will be;
Deb Whitten, Principal
Mark Walsh, Exempt
Sherri Bell, Deputy Superintendent

Richmond Elementary School….our jewel!
The Catholic Diocese of Victoria made a request to buy Richmond Elementary School. There is a unanimous position by the Board of Trustees that Richmond will NOT be sold. Currently, it is being used by other schools during seismic upgrading. I have spoken to a number of parents that would like to see their children attending Richmond, their neighbourhood school. Unfortunately, at this time, it cannot be done.
I voted NO for the Superintendent’s Report on Student Achievement  2012-2013
Why?
The report is very selective in the information it presents and it does not have a consistent statistical formula for analyzing student achievement. The report contains the following statement: This year we exceeded the provincial FSA results for all students in reading, writing, and numeracy in grade 4 and grade 7. However, for some cohorts there a was a 4 year analysis used while in other cohorts there was a one, two or three year time frame. This is not a sound statistical framework. So the previous statement is questionable. In summary, in my opinion, it was not sufficiently accurate in reporting the overall achievement results or comprehensive in reporting graduation rates over time.
Our First Nations’ students are making great progress. Graduation rates are as follows: 2008- 32.9%, 2009-36.5%, 2010-40.6, 2011-48.8% and 2012-52.8%. Congratulations to our students and staff and families who support them!
Tara Ehrcke, President of the GVTA, stated the following:
Greater Victoria also was in the news after this report was brought to a Board Meeting. Kudos to Lindsay Kines, who reported that the graduation rates increased from 76%, the previous high, in 04/05, to 78%, the current number. The provincial average is 80%. This is a very different way of describing the data than the chart showing the changes beginning from the low point in 2008. (http://www.timescolonist.com/news/local/graduation-rate-reaches-new-high-in-greater-victoria-school-district-1.51362)
Why? Because this government pulled approximately $275M per year out of public education each year since 2002. Students that  graduated in 2005 had been in the system when there was greater funding for teachers and counsellors and learning support. Specialist teachers like learning support teachers, librarians and counsellors have been hit the hardest. They provide essential support to our most vulnerable students. As a public trustee, it is my responsibility to inform the parents and community about the big picture. While there is tremendous dedication and hard work being done every day by our staff, the fact remains that our children deserve to be the first priority. Funding must be returned to the 2001 levels.

* Please take a look at Trustee McNally’s blog, Lined Paper:)

Highlights:
Spectrum Community School Lacrosse Academy- Students shared their positive experiences as members of the team and explained that their sports focus helped them stay positive about their academic commitments.Thanks to the staff, coaches and students.
Lansdowne Middle School- Mitchel du Plessi, a Youth and family worker received an excellence award for her dedication to supporting students. Thank you to ALL our counsellors and YFC workers who have such a vital roll in our schools.

Thank you,
Your trustee,
Deborah Nohr ( 250-380-0888 or 250-896-0808-c )
Please write a quick e-mail…and express your ideas and feedback to the Premier and Minister of Education, Don McRae
• 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

Trustee Report – November 2012

Trustee Nohr…Report #10  SD 61

First Priority Always…Advocacy for Our Children   

November 19, 2012       Public Board Meeting         Please read Trustee McNally’s blog at ‘Lined Paper McNally’…lots of great information and ideas!

Highlights: Victoria High School Choir

Thank you to students and staff for a beautiful performance! Their song was performed at their Remembrance Day assembly.

                        Wi Fi presentations

Trustee McNally has an extensive review the the wifi issue on her blog, Lined Paper. It is very through and very compelling. Here are a few excerpts to give you a little background.

“That the Board of Education of School District no. 61 (Greater Victoria) establish a moratorium on WiFi installations in elementary schools until the WiFi Committee has completed its work.”

Over two years ago this was the motion and direction from the Board but this did not happen.

  • June 20, 2011 Board Meeting: The Chair declined to allow discussion on the following motions. “Due to discussions on the same topics, there was no action on these motions.”

That the Board of Education of School District no. 61 (Greater Victoria) establish a moratorium on WiFi installations in elementary schools until the WiFi Committee has completed its work.

That the Board […etc…] direct the architects (name of firm) to include the channels for wired technology in the plans for Oak Bay High School to: a) make it possible to accommodate students and staff with electromagnetic sensitivities; b) make it possible to provide wired technology throughout the school should future scientific research make it necessary; and c) to review the European models banning WiFi in schools.

Late note: At the OPPS meeting last night, November 14, VCPAC requested that the WiFi committee report be put on hold until January or February until VCPAC has  further study of the issue (remember the previous request from VCPAC to have the recommendation go to OPPS in June 2011). I voted for this postponement as Duncan Morrison may refile his suit against the Portland Public Schools alleging negative effects of EMF on his child, a student in Portland Schools.

At the Nov.19th Board meeting members of the community provided more current information about the need to understand the impact of electro-magnetic radiation on young children who are more vulnerable.

Walt McGinnis asked if  the Board has the authority to make safety decisions for the District? It is my opinion that this is a very central role for the Board. The mission statement for SD 61 is to ‘ensure a responsive and safe learning environment for every student’ and therefore it is my intention to bring forward or support a motion to have all elementary schools hard wired only at this time following the Precautionary Principle. Mr. McGinnis reminded us that medical authorities do not have expertise in this area and they may evaluate medical data but not neurological impact. He reminded us that we once lived in environment filled with lead, DDT, benzine, asbestos, tobacco and these substances have caused many serious health complications. There is NO research on the impact on children because research is not allowed on children…the catch 22!

Tammy Jeske spoke of her intimate knowledge about the negative effects of EMR on children because she is now home schooling her son who has experienced serious reactions. She expressed concern that the current motion on the agenda that resulted from the wifi committee directions does not go far enough. She requested that teachers remove all unofficial wifi installations. At this time, we have 11 out of 29 elementary schools with unofficial routers. Ms. Jeske reminded us that there is no district over site of official or unofficial wifi router hot spots or strength of  EMR emissions ( DNA mutations, more absorption of radiation and thinner skulls leading to other forms of neurological impact. Ms. Jeske reminded the Board that parents have not been informed or given their consent.

Janice Hoffman spoke about the liability issues the Board may face. In May, 2012, the World Health Organization recommended prudent avoidance. Research has been conducted with induction heat not non- thermal biological effects and that is what is becoming apparent for more and more children and adults. Wi fi is a connection only and our schools can achieve most of the same instructional results using a hard wired installation.

I don’t support school by school decisions for wifi installation. The Board should make a district determination based on health, safety and the precautionary principle.

Motions, Motions, Motions… very relevant to the classroom experience for your children.

wifi motion- Trustee Leonard brought the following new motion to the table and it was accepted for debate by Chair Orcherton.

Moved- Leonard

1) That the Board of Education of School District No. 61 (Greater Victoria) direct the Superintendent to ensure that no new routers be placed in any school until such time as the Board of Education has changed its present direction.

Carried-Leonard, Orcherton, Ferris, Nohr, Alpha, Horsman, McEvoy   Against-Loring-Kuhanga, McNally

* The situation is now very complex because many teachers have brought their own routers into their schools. The district has not been informed about this situation and parents have not been informed either. I don’t believe that most school PACs have had a full discussion about the current neurological impact for children by EMR. Almost all educational instruction can be accomplished using the safer hard wired technology. It is less expensive for our district and I would rather use funding for newer computers to update classrooms and labs. George Jay became our first wireless elementary school almost two years ago.

2)   Moved-Nohr  Seconded- Alpha

That the Board of Education of School District 61 (Greater Victoria) provide the new Minister of Education, Don McRae, with an advocacy letter requesting new targeted funding for students in grades K to 3 who present with significant learning or behavioural challenges. before they become a priority for psycho-educational assessments and Individual Educational Plan support. Additionally, this letter be sent to the Leader of the Opposition, Adrian Dix and to the education critic, Robin Austin.

Carried-Unanimously

3)Moved-Nohr   Seconded- Loring-Kuhanga

That the Board of Education of School District 61 (Greater Victoria) provide the new Minister of Education, Don McRae, with an advocacy letter requesting additional funding to existing funding for  students with designations on the autism spectrum (A.S.D.) or with intensive behaviour. Additionally, this letter be sent to the Leader of the Opposition, Adrian Dix and to the education critic, Robin Austin.

Carried-Unanimously * motions 2 and 3 will be incorporated into one letter to the Minister

Trustee Leonard requested that the next two motions be reviewed at the next Education policy meeting and this would include a presentation to provide a full background on the development of this initiative. FYi…Quebec puts $10.3M into early childhood education and receives $10.6 back into general provincial revenues.

4)-Moved- Nohr    Second- Alpha

That the Board of Education of School District 61 (Greater Victoria) endorse the Community Plan for a Public System of Integrated Early Care and Learning, otherwise known as the $10/Day/Child Care Plan.

Five Strands:

1. Universal fully funded

2. Hub- where services are provided to families

3. Parameters- tied to the Framework for Early Learning

4. Consensus- overall policy for childcare

5. All early learning-no separating of care and learning

4)Moved-Nohr   Seconded-Alpha

That the Board of Education of School District 61 (Greater Victoria) encourage awareness of the $10/Day/Child Care Plan to our partner groups and request that they endorse the program as well.

5)Moved- Nohr   Seconded-

That the Board of Education of School District 61 (Greater Victoria) provide the new Minister of Education, Don McRae, with an advocacy letter requesting the reinstatement of full targeted funding for students with learning disabilities designations. Additionally, this letter be sent to the Leader of the Opposition, Adrian Dix and to the Education Critic, Robin Austin.

Motion defeated: For- Trustees Nohr, Alpha, Loring-Kuhanga and McNally   Against: Trustees Orcherton, Horsman, Leonard and Ferris    Absent: Trustee McEvoy

* I will write my own letter to the Minister of Education about the need for targeted funding for students with learning disability designations. An overwhelming majority of teachers support this position od restoring targeted funding.

Here is my rationale:

1. The landmark decision of the Supreme Court of Canada (Nov.8, 2012) states that school districts have a responsibility to accommodate and provide core academic instruction for students with learning disability designations. It is a fundamental human right.

2.”Adequate special education is not a dispensable luxury,” Judge Abella said in a 9-0 majority. “For those with severe learning disabilities, it is a ramp that provides access to the statutory commitment to education made to ALL children in British Columbia.”

3. Disproportional cuts have been made to special education programs.

4. The serious downward shift in GDP for public education ( 26% to 14.8%) have been the major cause for thousands of students being denied basic access to core instruction.

5. A. Wayne MacKay, a Dalhousie Univerisity law professor, said, “In my opinion, this may be the most important human rights case in the last decade or so.”

The basic human rights of our special education students have been neglected.

 

6) That the Board of Education of School District No. 61(Great Victoria ) develop and implement a stewardship report for all Board meetings to include the action take, person responsible and progress report (which may include a timeline and/or date of progress report).

* This motion was referred to the next available OPPs meeting.

Rationale: I thought that this would provide more easy access for the public since the format would be readable at a glance.

*** Trustee Loring -Kuhanga tried to bring forward a substantively revised motion for Q&A at our Public Board meetings and it was denied by Chair Orcherton.

FYI

*A new Ad Hoc Committee has been established. It is called Culture and Community Committee … We had our first meeting and it was enormously successful. All partner groups had representatives at the meeting. I was so impressed with the insights and skill sets of our educational assistants that interact with our students in the classroom, on the playground, in the hallways and when they are by themselves feeling sad or left out or bullied. We have many, many professionals and para professionals who have extensive skill sets to help and support students through their daily small trials and major social-emotional challenges, including all types of bullying. We will be working to develop a detailed district policy for anti-bullying.

Remember…bullying  can also be looked at as racism, anti-Semitism, and misogyny.

* $15,000 per project is now available. Greater Victoria will be applying for this funding to help eliminate bullying.

Thank you,

Your trustee,

Deborah Nohr ( 250-380-0888 or 250-896-0808-c )

Please write a quick e-mail…and express your ideas and feedback to the Premier and Minister of Education.

• 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

Premier Christy Clark Wants 10 Years Without Any Labour Disruption for BC Teachers

Premier Clark ‘imagined’ students in grade two continuing through to grade 12 without any threat of labour disruption. I would like to assure Premier Clark that all teachers, support staff, families and citizens would also like to see this. However, Premier  Clark has lost sight of the most critical detail necessary to bring this to pass.

In 2002, Minister of Education, Christy Clark passed Bill 28, Public Education Flexibility and Choice Act, which resulted in removing approximately $275 million from public education funding EACH YEAR. This was a devastating blow.

As a trustee and a retired teacher I also, ‘imagine’ ALL students from kindergarten to grade 12 experiencing a highly effective educational experience based on more teachers to meet more needs, less split grades, more learning support teachers to target our bright students with learning disabilities, much more counselling support, full-time educational assistance for full-time students was significant and severe behaviour challenges and proactive educational assessments for high need students who enter the system in kindergarten, grade one and two.

I encourage every citizen in our community to realize and support the necessity of reinstating this very essential funding. The 80%  of our citizens who do not have children in our public education system should understand that public education, the great builder of equality, most definitely has the potential to create literate and competent students who then bring greater employment, higher levels of employment, stability, creativity and vitality to our communities.

Deborah Nohr
SD 61
Victoria
Trustee

 

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

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

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

 

 

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