Consistency Needed – September Board Meetings

You know if I plan to Blog about the New Westminster School Board I need to be more consistent.

Since my last Blog post the New Westminster School Board has met 3 times (Education Committee (Sept 12), Operations Policy and Planning Committee (Sept 19) and a full Board meeting – which I missed(Sept 26)).

My goal is to be reporting before and after every Board and Committee meeting and I will endeavour to better meet that goal.  I am reminded with the Duty to Document and Duty to Inform concepts that it is information that the public needs to have before decisions are made to help inform the public of what might happen and allow them time to influence those decisions. We who are elected to public office can never lose sight of the public’s right to know since we serve on their behalf, in their name, spending their money.

I will report on all 3 of the meetings here and will work on separate Blogs for each in future, starting with this Tuesday’s Education Committee.

Education Policy and Planning Committee (Sept 12)

We have started a process of travelling around to the difference schools for the Education Committee meetings. This is a beginning attempt to re-engage with our public.

We had a delightful presentation from the Tweedsmuir staff regarding their Outdoor Learning Space. The story about developing the space was incredibly inspirational. A true collaborative effort between the students, the school staff, our CUPE support staff and the community (who kept it alive and growing over a very long and hot summer).

We also discussed our Board annual work plan. The Board work plan is to give staff directions around what information the Board wants and when it should arrive.

We also approved Trustee School Liaison Assignments and Committee Assignments, leaving assignments virtually unchanged for the upcoming year with a couple of minor changes acknowledging that Trustees should not be the liaison at their child’s school, although I must admit that I can’t recall who changed, and unfortunately I cannot find it in the minutes.

Operations Policy and Planning Committee (Sept 19)

Most of the September Operations Committee meeting is always taken up with the Board receiving the audited Financial statements. The Board finished the 2016/2017 Financial Year with a surplus of about $254,000, giving us a total of an unrestricted accumulated surplus of $1,619,557, plus a Board Restricted Surplus account for $500,000. According to our Policy 19 (RESTRICTED AND NON-RESTRICTED SURPLUS FUNDS) expenditure of such funds is restricted to the following items on a 2/3 vote of the Board;


2.5.1 The incurring of new cost pressures in a fiscal year that were not known at the time of budget development that are in excess of$150,000;
2.5.2 The payment of severance (wages and benefits) in excess of $75,000 upon termination of a non- union employee without cause;
2.5.3 The settlement of any legal action that is not covered by the School Protection Program;
2.5.4 Initial one-time cost outlays for new educational programs;
2.5.5 Extraordinary unknown utilities cost-pressures;
2.5.6 To cover monies owed as identified by the Deficit EliminationPlan.

This was in response to BC governments who made budget changes to School Boards mid-year and didn’t fund them. Since it was established in 2014 we have never had to use the funds.

We also confirmed that Richard McBride and Lord Tweedsmuir were 1 and 2 on our Seismic Mitigation list.

Board Meeting (Sept 26)

I was unable to attend the Board meeting so the following are from both the Board Agenda Package  and comments from other Trustees and staff.

The Board approved the Education Committee recommendation to establish both Mission and Vision statements.

Mission Statement “To enable each student to learn in a safe, engaging and inclusive environment.”

Vision Statement “A place where students love to learn.”

The Board approved 5 Year Capital Plan, Financial Statements and the District Work Plan as presented.

The Board also agreed to send out a second Queensborough Bussing Survey, this time in a variety of languages. Some Trustees felt that the previous survey as not able to reach the Queensborough parent community due to it being in English only.

And of course Superintendent Pat Duncan announced his plans to retire from the District December 31 of this year. I certainly wish Pat well and I have enjoyed working with him.

Author: Michael Ewen

Husband, Parent, Grandparent, Dog Owner, Public School Teacher, Public School Trustee

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