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
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,

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,

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,

• 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.
• 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.

Author: Michael Ewen

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

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