New Westminster School Board Meeting Report (Nov 28, 2017)

School Board meeting Report from Tuesday, November 28 Board meeting.

May Day

The Board received a letter from City Council asking the Board to maintain May Day as is for 2018 and further “given the timing of the May Day Task Force report, City Council does not believe there is enough time to engage the community in the changes being proposed before the 2018 May Day Celebration. We recommend that for continuity and clarity, the School District continue with May Day in the same format undertaken in 2017. This will provide more time for a thorough community engagement process and allow for opportunities to explore all options to address the School District’s operational challenges surrounding this event.”

The Board received Trustee Cook’s motion from the Education Committee,

THAT the Education Policy and Planning Committee recommend to the Board of Education that the school board invite the city to partner in a public consultation to determine the future observation of May Day and the recommendation from the School board May Day Task Force be forwarded to this process.

and my amendment,

and that the School District retain the current format for May Day in 2018 while we work with the City Council and the Community to more fully explore issues and options for the continuation of May Day.

Both motions were passed.

I look forward to receiving the Task Force recommendations consultation report on Tuesday, December 5 at the Committee meeting and then forwarding that report, plus the report we received from the internal staff consultation, to this the City and exploring hopefully a School Board/City consultation process. I have written previously about my lack of faith in what I characterize as the School Board’s “sit and wait” consultative process.

The Consultation Report is included as part of the Open Committee Agenda, I have included the main statistics table from the Report here,

Screen Shot 2017-12-03 at 6.29.05 PM.png

Student Trustee

The question of a Student Trustee has been referred to staff for comment, there was some discussion about the timing of that comment, but it will be coming early in the new year. I personally am hoping that this will lead to a formal process in the School District that will have student involvement and engagement in issues that concern them throughout the District.

Queensborough Busing

There was some confusion about the Queensborough Middle School/Queen Elizabeth PACs developing their own petition on the request for the School District to provide busing for Queensborough NWSS students.  The School District’s  second survey received 50 responses slightly more then the 47 we received in our first survey. There was some discussion about the need to take the printed file into a school, and this was clarified that had been the Board direction. This has still left some Trustees unhappy that we are not providing busing service for Queensborough NWSS students. For me this presents a dilemma that we would be providing a service to one part of the School District that we are not prepared to provide throughout the district. Over the years I have proposed the School District get involved in providing busing to students, but the Board has never been interested. I am told that busing tends to be a costly, and other trustees around he province tell me, a controversial issue. None the less I would be happy if we simply tried a pilot project busing students from Queensborough to NWSS on a cost recovery basis. Perhaps in the new year we can set up a system for for a couple of months to test out the real interest. But it would have to be at a cost recovery basis, and I have no idea what single trips might cost. Staff would have to (1) come up with a solid proposal to bus students from Queensborough to NWSS, (2) cost out that proposal and (3) then see if the parents from Queensborough would really be interested in paying for this service.

Portable at the Board Office

The Board Office is already too crowded and not able to accommodate all of our District Staff. The decision was made that there would be a Portable placed behind the Board Office to accommodate the movement of staff from other locations and provide meeting rooms.

I was not supportive of that decision, since I was informed by staff at Fraser River Middle School, it would take away play space that is at an extreme premium at Fraser River Middle School.  I was also concerned that the School Board lacked a long term facilities plan that included finding permanent homes for our District staff not housed at the Board office. We were told that such a plan is in the works.

The Board supported the placement of the Portable.

Author: Michael Ewen

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

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