New Westminster School Board Meeting October 24, 2017

This week’s Board meeting is has a number of important issues coming forward.

The closure and final end of the School District Business Company.

The Business Company was an attempt by the School Board to develop off-shore schools in China, principally, to provide the district with additional funds to support the students of New Westminster. It quickly became mired in the politics of the day and it really isn’t worth the time or the energy to review what did and did not really happen. Suffice it to say that in the end just as the Business Company was turning a profit (bringing over $250,000 to the students of New Westminster) the Liberal Government decided about 4 years ago that public school boards could no longer have Business Companies (which they had enabled and encouraged) and that they must immediately be run only by private companies. This meeting should be the final nail in that issue with the formal process of dissolving the Company.

The Duty to Document Policy.

I have talked about this a lot. This is an opportunity for the public to see and understand the choices for the decisions that the School Board makes and have those choices and decisions recorded, rather then just a motion or notation in the Board minutes. Real information. I met with the Deputy Commissioner – Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner back in August 2016 on my own and have reported back to the Board that while the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner would be interested in helping us, that this is breaking new ground and I am not aware of any other School Boards that are moving forward on this policy at this time. Unless something has changed in the past 14 months then I think that we will get the same information back that I reported in late 2016.

The May Day Task Force Report.

I will write more about the May Day Task Force, it’s recommendations and my thoughts later. At this point the Task Force has crafted 3 recommendations for the School Board, and the recommendation is to take these recommendations out to the community for their reaction.

The May Day Task Force Committee respectfully submits the following recommendations to the Board of Education:

  1. For the 2018 and 2019 May Day, celebrations be school‐based celebrations and further recommend that on the 150th anniversary of May Day in 2020, the School District support the May Day Celebration Ceremony at Queen’s Park.
  1. The District should discontinue the practice of selecting a Royal Suite. The Board should support the transferring of responsibility for the Royal Suite to a community organization.
  1. The Board should endeavour to transfer responsibility for organizing the May Day celebrations in Queen’s Park outside of school hours to a community organization who could then decide how best to continue the tradition. In this way, for example, those community members who are particularly keen to keep alive the institutions of the May Queen and Royal Suite could formulate their own selection methods, costume requirements and ceremonial “duties”.

Student Trustee.

While I support the concept of a Student Trustee I am not sure exactly how Trustee Lalji sees this happening. In other districts that have Student Trustees policies were developed that indicated what the Student Trustee would be doing, what the eligibility and qualifications were and how they were elected to that position.  In New Westminster schools we have many students providing many levels and different types of leadership, principally through school based clubs. Unfortunately there does not exist, and has not for some years, an elected school leadership council at NWSS or better yet a New Westminster School  District student leadership council. While the School Board could direct that such a leadership group be established my experience tells me that things that are imposed on people are short lived.

Author: Michael Ewen

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

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