New Westminster School Board (May 21, 2018)

It has been a very busy month since I last wrote about the School Board.

In that time we have hired at exceptional individual as Superintendent. Karim Hachlaf will be an excellent Superintendent. I look forward to working with Karim. Although we cannot actually discuss the process I can say that it was extremely competitive with a number of strong individuals applying.

We have adopted the beginnings of a restoration Budget, that includes $1.2 million of extra spending from our accumulated surpluses. That is in additional to the $300,000 that the Board put into additional resources for our schools this year, for a total of $1.5 million additional spending.

It breaks down as,

  • The budget includes an additional $400,000 to provide the opportunity to support the acquisition of the resources for our schools, and that is in addition to the extra $300,000 that was provide this school year, totalling and extra $700,000 for resources.
  • The budget includes additional $160,000 to continue to support our educators towards increasing student achievement through inquiry and project-based learning.
  • Teacher Coaches = direct support to teachers at the school level in developing the skills and strategies to differentiate instruction and personalize learning designed to support student understanding of core competencies (skills) over knowledge acquisition (facts). The budget includes $300,000 (3.0 teaching FTE) to increase targeted supports for our teachers as they continue to transition to concept-based curriculum and instruction.
  • The budget includes $50,000 to pilot a new teacher mentorship program.
  • Implementation of effective physical learning environments.
  • The budget includes  $100,000 to acquire new classroom furniture for our schools to implement of effective physical learning environments.
  • The budget includes $25,000 to implement a 0.2 District SOGI lead teacher and provide additional school resources.
  • The budget includes $100,000 to implement an additional Transition teacher/coach for support Aboriginal students transitioning at elementary and middle schools.
  • The budget includes $15,000 to implement a non-enrolling block to support student voice from our secondary school and alternate programs.
  • The budget includes $50,000 to support the start-up costs for the successful implementation of a District wide school nourishment program.

That should translate into a direct improvement in our staffs ability to provide additional resources for our students.

It was very exciting to finally be able to put back into our classrooms after a number of years or cutbacks both self and provincially imposed. We are at a time now when we should be able to yearly put money back into our schools and programs either in September after the Budget surplus is announced, or for the next school year. I believe that a comfortable surplus of $1,000,000 is reasonable, given the funding uncertainty that has existed over the past couple of decades. I still believe that we should be spending every dollar every year on our students, and not having sizeable surplus, just in case. But the past 2 decades have taught me that we need to have some money set aside in case staff or the provincial government makes mistakes or changes funding mid year.

We have also seen the movement of a number of other senior staff. Our Director of Learning Services has moved on to become an Assistant-Superintendent in another school District, our Director of Programs and Planning is taking a Leave and our Secretary-Treasurer is changing districts. I certainly wish them all well, and a particular thanks to Kevin Lorenz, while we didn’t always agree I did enjoy your professionalism and willingness to give the Board your opinion, particularly on difficult or uncomfortable issues. I wish Kevin all the best in his new district.

We have hired Kim Morris the Secretary Treasurer at Kootenay Lake School District as our new Secretary Treasurer. Much like Karim she is a highly collaborative individual who, I am sure, will help the Board to continue to move forward.

Over the past month we have continued to move forward on the Board’s Food security initiative. One of the interesting issues that has arisen during discussions is the need to ensure that the people who are providing the lunch/food services are all covered by either a Living Wage Policy or as members of CUPE. My preference is as members of CUPE and I will be bringing that forward to the Board this month.

For the New Westminster School Board it is finally time to dream big again.

New Westminster School Board 2018-19 Annual Budget Priorities

An exciting night at the New Westminster School board last night (Tuesday, March 6). At the Boards prompting, and I had suggested that our new Senior Admin team should dream big at a Education Committee meeting at McBride in January, and dream big they did. If the Board approves it in the 2018 – 2019 School District Budget we are taking $1.2 million out of our accumulated surplus to put into a variety of classroom  enhancements and supports. This includes an additional $290,000 for K – 12 resources, that is in addition to the $300,000 that we just put in last month (for a total of $590,000 for additional K – 12 resources), and this is all in addition to the regular amounts for Supplies in the 2018 – 2019 budgets. 

I have attached the 9 priorities as outlined by Senior Admin.

2018-19 Annual Budget Priorities – March 6 Operations Committee Meeting

The public consultation process for input into budget priorities with our Partner Groups took place during February with all feedback being compiled and shared with the Board. As part of this consultation process, the Board has requested the Senior Management Team to identify and present budget recommendations. In doing so, the following recommendations are situated using our Teaching and Learning in Diverse Classrooms A District Blueprint for Learner Success (March 2017). Additionally, the recommendations take into account our Accountability Report on student achievement as presented at the January 9, 2018 Education Policy and Planning Committee meeting.

1. Engagement and Personalized Learning

a. Priority 1: Ongoing focus on supporting educators with implementing re-designed curriculum with a targeted goal on literacy and numeracy.

i. Resources for K-12

  • Levelled Literacy Resources
  • Numeracy Resources
  • Aboriginal Education Resources
  • Google Read & Write ($10,000)
  • Discovery Education ($ 100,000)

The recommended budget will include $400,000 to provide the opportunity to support the acquisition of the above resources for our schools.

b. Priority 2: Create opportunities for professional collaboration.

i. School Innovation Grants (in addition to the current $80,000)

ii. Dinner Series

  • Focused on Numeracy, Literacy, Mental Health and Zones of Regulation initiatives.

iii. EA District Training

iv. Curriculum Implementation (Sept 2018) and District Wide Professional Days (Feb 2019)

  • These two days for educators will include keynote speakers and workshop presenters.

The recommended budget will include $80,000 to continue to support our educators towards increasing student achievement through inquiry and project-based learning.

c. Priority 3: Build Capacity.

i. Teacher Coaches (30)

  • Direct support to teachers at the school level in developing the skills and strategies to differentiate instruction and personalize learning designed to support student understanding of core competencies (skills) over knowledge acquisition (facts).

The recommended budget will include $300,000 (3.0 teaching FTE) to increase targeted supports for our teachers as they continue to transition to concept-based curriculum and instruction.

d. Priority 4: Create a sustainable teacher mentorship program.

i. Support new teachers, in collaboration with the NWTU, as they enter our school district with a mentor/protégé system as part of a full day of orientation.

The recommended budget will include $50,000 to pilot a new teacher mentorship program.

e. Priority 5: Implementation of effective physical learning environments.

i. Ongoing improvements with our physical spaces to meet the divers sand flexible needs of our students. ($100,000)

ii. Exterior Emergency Containers for schools. ($100,000)

The recommended budget will include $200,000 to acquire new classroom furniture for our schools.

2. Social Emotional Well-Being and Healthy Lifestyles

a. Priority 1 & 2: Nurture caring, compassionate and positive relationships and promote social emotional learning.

i. Resources for K-12

  • SOGI 123 – District 0.2 FTE

The recommended budget will include $25,000 to implement a 0.2 District SOGI lead teacher and provide additional school resources.

b. Priority 3: Nurture positive classroom and school communities.

i. Continue to improve transition planning and academic success for Aboriginal students.

  • Expand current Graduation Coach to include an additional Transition teacher/coach at elementary and middle schools. (to make 3 transition coaches)

The recommended budget will include $100,000 to implement an additional Transition teacher/coach.

c. Priority 4: Encourage student empowerment and self-advocacy.

i. Staffing Support for Representative Student Advisory Group.

The recommended budget will include $20,000 to implement a non-enrolling block to support student voice from our secondary school and alternate programs.

d. Priority 6: Promote healthy lifestyles.

i. Implementation of District wide school nourishment program.

In addition to the Community LINK funding to support a district wide school nourishment program, the recommended budget will include $50,000 to support the start-up costs for the successful implementation of the program.

Operations Policy and Planning Committee (January 16, 2018)

A very full Operations Committee Meeting

3 a. Financial Update

We start off with the usual Operations Financial update.

And then we review the Budget Planning process for the 2018 – 2019 budget.

3b. 2018 – 2019 Budget Planning Process

Student projections

January 26th  Initial projections submitted by principals

Feb 2nd  Revised projections to Secretary-Treasurer

Feb 15th Final Projections Submitted to the ministry

These projections will form the Basis of the revenue projections for the District’s upcoming Fiscal year.

Staff Consultation and Planning

January 26th Review of current programming by Sr. Management

Feb 23rd Revised budget estimates provided to Secretary-Treasurer

February  Feedback through an online survey throughout February

District’s employee groups will be asked to provide any priorities and feedback.

Public Consultation and Adoption

March and April  Public Feedback at Board and/or Committee Meetings – after Draft Budget prepared

April  24th Adoption of Budget


I’m not sure in this process when the Board actually gets to discuss the Budget and propose areas to enhance, reduce or change.

Once again I would like to see the District look into different ways to engage and consult with our community and our employees. We have essentially a sit and wait approach to consultation and no approach to engagement, putting information out and waiting for people to react. In November 2016 I  proposed that we review what the City did in it’s public engagement review from December 2016 and establish a board based education partner and community Task Force to review the current School Board public engagement and make recommendations to the Board on how to improve our engagement with the public. That motion has not been brought forward yet.


3b. We have the usual report on our Capital projects and Planning,

McBride Elementary

In December 2017 The Ministry made a request for an update to the McBride Project Definition Report using the latest enrolment projections available. Staff have been working with a consultant to revise the PDR and anticipate having the revised version into the ministry by the end of January. We expect that the revised enrolment numbers will result in the addition of 3 classrooms to the proposed replacement option outlined in the PDR.

Long Range Facility Plan

The Long range plan is expected to be completed in time to inform the 5 year Capital plan that we will be submitting to the ministry in June.13

3c. School Nourishment Programs

We have the Food Security and Healthy Eating report that was proposed by Trustee Campbell on her motion back in June 2017,

Motion 2017 – 099
THAT the Board of Education for School District No. 40 (New Westminster) direct staff to provide a report by January 2018 on the steps to be taken and costs associated with a district-wide plan to address food security and healthy eating, that will make available food programs to all of our schools so that no child is hungry and every child eats healthy.

School Nourishment Programs

What a great and comprehensive report. This is how reports to the Board should be. I look forward to the presentation and the discussion at the Board table on how best to move forward supporting our students.

Under New Business (item 5 on the Agenda) we have 3 of my proposals,

5a. Duty to Document

Duty to Document is the concept of providing and preserving the full reasons for decisions that are made by public bodies.

For decades public bodies have relied on minutes of meetings to keep track of what was done and “institutional memory” to remember the why it was done.  We need to move beyond that. We need to set up a system that retains the information in an easily accessible way for both the elected officials and for the public.

I think that we, the New Westminster School Board, need a dual process both a Duty to Document and a Duty to Inform. In the past we tried to not allow items to be placed on an agenda without a Backgrounder explaining the what and why for the item.  Items appear all too frequently on our Agendas these past few years without any information.

In November 2016 I sent a proposal to the Board for both a Duty to Document and a Duty to Inform,

Policy 7
BOARD OPERATIONS
6. Notice and Agendas
6.3 (1) Duty to Inform
All items on the Board agenda must be accompanied by a Backgrounder
(1) outlining what the purpose of the agenda item is,
(2) outlining options for the Board consideration, and
(3) making a recommendation for the Board
All presentations must be attached to the Board agenda when it is distributed. If presentations are not attached, the presentation will be postponed.
No decisions can be made by the Board without proper and full written documentation. The Board Chair and Vice-Chair are responsible for ensuring that the proper documentation is attached to Board meeting agendas when they are distributed.
No verbal reports, material or items may be added to Board meeting agendas without the unanimous consent of the Board.

As well,

THAT the Operations Policy and Planning Committee recommend to the Board of Education for School District No. 40 (New Westminster) that the Board develop a Duty to Document Policy on the retention of School District records.

5b. Audit Committee (this has no information or recommendations attached)

While we are clearly on the right track financially after a couple of major missteps, I don’t feel confident that any of us Trustees really have the ability to analyze the budget and financial statements that we are regularly given, beyond checking the numbers. I think that it is critically important that we have an Audit Committee with external financial expertise that can help the Board review the work of our Finance Department and ensure that the District is on the right track.

In November 2016 I proposed,

Recommendation:
THAT the Operations Policy and Planning Committee recommend to the Board of Education for School District No. 40 (New Westminster) that the Board of Education establish an Audit Committee, Chaired by a Trustee, of external experts to provide recommendations on various strategies, financial situations, risk management scenarios, and other complex issues.

After the BC Deputy Minister of Education directed that all School Boards were to establish Audit Committees, in April 2107 I proposed and the Board unanimously passed,

Recommendation:
THAT the Board of Education for School District No. 40 (New Westminster) direct that the Superintendent report to the May Operations Committee on a proposed process, including timelines and composition for the establishment of an Audit Committee.

5c. District Resources

And finally we have my motion on resources,

Background:
• For the past couple of years I have been hearing anecdotal stories about the lack of teaching resource in the New Westminster School District.
  • In November 2017, as an individual trustee, I met with the NWTU executive and they claimed that many of the anecdotal stories that I was hearing were true. We have a surplus of funds in the District and I see no need for our students and staff to do without materials.
Recommendation:
• THAT the Operations Policy and Planning Committee recommend to the Board of Education for School District No. 40 (New Westminster) that the Board of Education direct the Superintendent to survey all staff regarding what resources and material are needed in classrooms and schools in the District.
• I further move that we direct the Superintendent to, in collaboration with both teaching and administrative staff, establish a list of expected materials that every classroom should have to support learning.
• And further that the Superintendent bring forward these lists to the Board, so that the Board can decide on the allocation of funds to support the purchase of these resources and materials.

NWSB Education Committee (January 9, 2018)

Held at Richard McBrideDTKDEChU8AUMA7C

 

  • Richard McBride School-Wide Charter & Student Performance

        • We had a wonderful presentation from the McBride Choir the High Notes. What a wonderful and dedicated group of teachers over the years to consistently produce an extraordinarily high calibre of singing. This tradition of choral excellence stretches back decades and decades, back to even before I was a student at McBride in the Choir 50 years ago. Thanks to Jonina Campbell for the photo.
        • And it turns out that a School-Wide Charter is a collective vision of how the students and staff  want and expect to behaviour and be treated. The school Kindness Captains talked to us about these expectations. What a great idea. Students whose job it is to watch for acts of kindeness around the school. and report on them. Inspiring.

     

    • McBride Seismic Update

        • Chair Gifford brought forward a letter urging the provincial government to move forward quickly on replacing McBride, noting that it is our number 1 capital request. The Committee passed it unanimously.

    Confirm Value Statements

      • Board adopted our Value statements, rejecting my motion to send the information out for consultation to make sure that the Board’s Value statements match the community and our employees.

    Mission Statement

    To enable each student to learn in a safe, engaging and inclusive environment.

    Vision Statement

    A place where students love to learn.

    Values

      • Collaboration – We value purposeful relationships where we choose to cooperate in order to achieve shared goals and consider each other in our decisions and actions.
      • Engagement – We value meaningful, purposeful, and relevant learning.
      • Equity – We value fair treatment and the removal of barriers to learning, achievement, and the pursuit of excellence for all.
      • Inclusion – We value learning where all people are welcomed, respected, and supported.
      • Innovation – We value curiosity, inquiry and creativity.
      • Integrity – We value being ethical, principled and honest in our words and actions.

 

  • And we had a great presentation and discussion on our Student Achievement Report for 2016/2017. More on that later.

 

 

And we are back at it. Education Committee meeting going up this Tuesday at 7:30 pm at McBride.

We start off with a Richard McBride School-Wide Charter & Student Performance, and I must admit I’m not sure what that actually means, so I am looking forward to the surprise.

We are also going to be receiving an update on the McBride Seismic upgrade Capital Project. Chairperson Gifford has penned a great letter to the Minister of Education urging Education Minister Fleming to move this project forward as quickly as possible.

We are also confirming our District Foundational Statements. I am hoping that we can actually send these out for consultation and review by the public. I have said before that I believe that we need to change the ways that we consult and work with our public. Most of this process of developing our new Mission, Vision and Values statements has been done in open Board meetings, with almost no public in attendance. We need to change what we are doing and find ways to include the public more, even if they don’t want to come out and attend our Board meetings. In November 2016 I  proposed that the Board establish a board based education partner and community Task Force to review the current School Board public engagement and make recommendations to the Board on how to improve our engagement with the public.” Unfortunately that motion has not been brought forward yet, but I am hoping it will make it to an agenda in the next month or so.

Other then the McBride presentation the most exciting part of this agenda is the Student Achievement/Accountability Report. New Westminster Schools are doing great jobs in so many areas. We have outstanding programs in Music and Performing Arts, Alternate learning environments, French Immersion, IB, Trades and Apprenticeships, Montessori and in every classroom in this district we have teachers creating miraculous and delightful learning situations that are helping our students, our children grow and develop.

We have an interesting district,

Student Statistics
Factor New Westminster All Public Schools
Non Residents 4.8% 2.8%
English Language Learners 13.8% 11.3%
Aboriginal 4.9% 11.5%
French Immersion 13% 9.5%
Top 3 languages English (64%)  Mandarin (5.1%)   Tagalog (4%)  English (64%)     Punjabi (5.1%)         Mandarin (5.1%)    

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EDI is a measurement process to help us understand the levels ofvulnerability amongst our students entering our school system.  The EDI is a 103-item questionnaire completed by kindergarten teachers in the second half of the school year that measures children’s ability to meet age-appropriate developmental expectations in five general domains:

Physical Health and Well-Being
Social Competence
Emotional Maturity
Language and Cognitive Development
Communication Skills and General Knowledge

Objective of the EDI

Reliably assess the developmental health (skills and behaviour) of children at the age of developmental transition from early development to school age in a holistic manner. The EDI is a holistic assessment because it encompasses five major areas of child development.

The EDI is a reliable and valid measurement tool of developmental status completed on individual children between 3.5 and 6.5 years of age. After teachers complete the EDI on each individual child in their class, the results are grouped together to give a snap shot of how children are doing across schools, neighbourhoods, cities, or even provinces and countries.

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The EDI gives educators a look in to the levels of vulnerability in our youngest school age children and helps us to look for ways that we can provide support for them in these critical early developmental years. While we have seen some improvement over the past few years there is always more that we can do. I will report more after the meeting on the specifics of what the district does with the information and what sorts of programs we have developed to help our vulnerable children.

We also have the academic achievement information for Reading, Writing and Numeracy. Unfortunately we are still using the FSA (Provincial Foundation Skills Assessments) as the sole source of data. In the past we used our locally developed Reading and Writing Assessments, but that has stopped due to the cost of assessment and giving teachers time out of the classroom to complete and assess the results.  The FSAs have become so politically tainted over the years, particularly with the great variation in the participation rates, with students being excluded for a variety of reasons, including parental requests, that they have questionable value. That being said in both grades (4 and 7) in all 3 categories (Reading, Writing & Numeracy) New Westminster is above provincial averages with the exception of Grade 7 Numeracy where we are slightly below the provincial average. 

I believe that we need to go back to a locally developed assessment tool that can include all of our students.

Our 6 year high school completion rates (meaning the number of students who complete high school within 6 years of starting) of 83.4% is also at or close to the provincial average of 83.6% for 2015/2016.

Where we have some challenges is in the Special Education completion Rate in 2015/2016 in was 60.9% for New Westminster and 67% for the provincial average.

We also have some significant challenges in serving our Aboriginal students where our FSA scores for Numeracy are disturbing. In Grade 4 our Aboriginal students had a success rate of slightly over 40% compared with a Provincial average of about 55%, and for Grade 7 Numeracy our Aboriginal students had a success rate of slightly over 20% compared with a Provincial average of about 48%.  As well our 6 year high school completion rates for Aboriginal students was of 52.6% compared to the provincial average of 63.8% for 2015/2016. While the rate shows an improvement for 2016/17, an increase to about 58%, it is still far below the provincial average and over the 4 years we have seen uneven results.

We have excellent staff dedicated to working with our Aboriginal students, but clearly we need to do more, the School Board needs  to come to the table with financial support in this next budget for some new and different ideas on how we can support our Aboriginal students.

Finally we are expecting an administrative response to the concerns raised by the Canadian Parents for French of their perception of the lack of bilingual Resource Teachers and bilingual Education Assistants at NWSS.

New Westminster School District Resources and Supplies

  • For the past couple of years I have been hearing anecdotal stories about the lack of teaching resources in the New Westminster School District- across the District and at all grade levels.
  • Last month, as an individual trustee, I met with the NWTU executive and they claimed that many of the anecdotal stories that I was hearing were true. We have a surplus of funds in the District and I see no need for our students and staff to do without materials.
  • Last week Chair of the Board Slade-Kerr raised concerns about the lack of Math textbooks in her in reaction to the suggestion that the Superintendent would be bring someone to co-ordinate May Day.
  • A couple of months ago Trustee Campbell raised a concern about teachers being forced to pay for their students supplies for new classrooms.
  • Trustees can raise all the concerns that they like but they need to actually move motions to accomplish something at the Board table. This led me to propose these 2 motions for the January Operations Committee meeting.

My Recommendation:

  • THAT the Operations Policy and Planning Committee recommend to the Board of Education for School District No. 40 (New Westminster) that the Board of Education direct the Superintendent to survey all staff regarding resources in the District.
  • I further move that we direct the Superintendent to, in collaboration with both teaching and administrative staff, establish a list of expected materials that every classroom should have to support learning.

December is a time of renewal and looking forward to the year ahead, for a School Board.

We have 11 months until a new School Board is sworn in, October elections in 2018. Over the next 11 months I believe that we need to look into a number of issues. We need to set some real, achievable Strategic Directions.

(1) we need to work at improving our Aboriginal success rates, ours are slightly below the Provincial average and that really isn’t good enough,

(2) we have reports coming back in the new year on food security for our students and student trustees and both are very important issues,

(3) I have been hearing anecdotal stories, which I have reported to the School Board, and believe that we have a huge issue of a lack of resources in our schools and will be bringing forward a motion for January to look into that issue,

(4) I believe that we have a Public Engagement problem/issue. The way that the District attempts to engage the public is both reactive and what I call a “sit and wait” approach, we need to review what could be done and change our structures (I brought forward a motion to that effect in November 2016 and it has not been brought forward yet),

(5) we need to establish an Audit Committee (again one of my November 2016 motions that was never brought forward), but it is also now a requirement of the Ministry of Education. I believe that we want and need outside expertise on that Audit Committee to help the Board review both it’s financial obligations and risks that we might be facing,

(6) I believe the we need both a Duty to Document policy that sets out how and what we need to document on our decision making, so that we are not relying on the memories of trustees, and we need a Duty to Inform policy that requires our Administration to put everything in writing so that the Board, and the community, can make fully informed and reflective decisions based on having the information in writing before us.

As we move forward electing Chair and ViceChair to lead the Board we need to be aware of our duty to represent the students and the community in providing guidance and direction to the Superintendent and District Senior Staff.