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.

Author: Michael Ewen

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

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