Peace and Joy

Wishing everyone peace and joy this holiday season and throughout the coming year.

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Long Range Facilities Plan – Dec 2015

The Vancouver School Board (VSB) is developing a long-range facilities plan (LRFP) to guide and inform our management of schools and other facilities, and the timing of this plan is driven in part by the Ministry of Education.

In August 2014 the previous VSB board signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of Education to set up a Project Office to facilitate and accelerate VSB seismic projects.  One section requires that the VSB develop and submit to the Province for approval a LRFP that includes projected enrolment, use of existing capacity as seismic swing space, and a determination of how to achieve 95% capacity utilization.  This plan was to be complete by June 30, 2015.

For a number of reasons, which I believe include the burden of the EY special advisor, a majority of new trustees, and changes in senior management, our board requested an extension of the deadline until June 30, 2016.  The Minister’s reply was to ask for a LRFP by January 31, 2016.
At our December 14 board meeting there was unanimous approval to prepare an Interim LRFP for board approval to submit by January 31, 2016.  There was also unanimous approval to develop a revised consultation agenda and timeline for a broader public consultation on issues raised in the LRFP, so as to complete a more detailed plan by June 2016.

The Interim LRFP would consider:

  • Which schools have a long-term place in our inventory
  • Acknowledgement that there is surplus space in our district
  • Strategies and approaches to achieve 95% capacity utilization over a 15 year seismic plan
  • Prioritizing schools for seismic upgrading
  • Temporary accommodation for schools that need to move off-site for seismic construction

The broader public consultation would include all facilities issues not covered in the Interim LRFP – for example, alternative uses of excess land, options for repurposing buildings, and heritage preservation – as well as feedback on the Interim LRFP.​  The complete LRFP will be reviewed annually and will evolve with student population changes.

With 110 school sites, before-and-after school daycares, 0-4 childcares, Strong Start centres, preschools, urban farms, sports facilities, and several non-school sites I believe it is essential for our district to have a cohesive plan for all these facilities.  I look forward to listening to and working with all our stakeholders and the general public in developing a LRFP that will effectively support student learning.

VSB Chair Election – December 2015

Yesterday, December 14, 2015, the Vancouver School Board (VSB) elected a new Chair.

In the past year’s Chair elections I voted for NPA nominees, Trustees Richardson and Ballantyne, to reflect the change voters brought to our board. This year I voted for the Vision nominee, Trustee Lombardi, to reflect that the trustees on our board are four Vision, four NPA and one Green.

VSB trustees are elected for a four-year term but there is an annual election for Chair in which the board must vote for a trustee who has been nominated and accepted the nomination. The Chair is still one of nine trustees who each have a single, equal vote in board decisions.

Our board is in the process of developing and approving a policy on the Chair and Vice Chair roles and responsibilities. I anticipate this process will bring clarity and focus to these positions and assist our board in governing effectively.

I thank Trustees Richardson and Ballantyne for their work as Chair in the past year.  I look forward to working respectfully and collaboratively with Chair Lombardi and all our trustees in the coming year. Last year I was the board Vice Chair and Chair of the Finance & Legal Committee (V) and I will request of Chair Lombardi that I continue in these roles.

As always, I will consider our students’ best interests in every decision as a VSB trustee.

Dec 2 Committee I meeting update

Key issues from Wednesday’s (December 2) Committee I meeting.

1.  Role Chair and Vice Chair

At our last board meeting I was one of three trustees who raised this issue. At this committee there was consensus that VSB staff should carry out research, for example reviewing other school districts’ policies and BCSTA materials, to prepare a draft policy to come back to this committee for discussion.
Report:  http://www.vsb.bc.ca/sites/default/files/15Dec02_op_commI_item2.pdf

2.  Strategic Plan Update

The strategic plan will shape and guide direction for our VSB learners for the next five years with the intent of improving student achievement and well-being. Key stakeholders and members of the learning community will be engaged in a consultative and broad based process. I am very pleased we will work together to focus on improving student learning.
The four phases are: Preparation (Nov – Dec 2015), Exploring the Issues (Jan – Feb 2016), Setting Direction, Making Choices (Mar –Apr 2016) and Creating the Plan (Apr – Jun 2016).
Report: http://www.vsb.bc.ca/sites/default/files/15Dec02_op_commI_item3.pdf

3.  Adult Education (AE) – Youth Enrolment

In the VSB 2015/16 budget $8.5M in cuts/savings were made in many areas, including $505,017 in adult education. This committee report compares youth (under 19) enrolment in AE programs in fall 2015/16 to 2014/15, and shows a 22% decrease. This concerns me – factors could be a general decrease in AE enrolment, lower numbers of secondary students, more youth staying in their home schools, as well as program changes.  The report also compares the prior year’s South Hill Youth AE Program with this year’s South Hill Regular AE Program.
Staff will report back on the financial outcomes of all of last year’s budget changes.  I look forward to having this information as I believe trustees should review all the changes and continue to assess how we can best meet out students’ needs within our mandated budget.
Report: http://www.vsb.bc.ca/sites/default/files/15Dec02_op_commI_item5.pdf

4.  Recommendations from the Advocacy Committee

The first is to write a letter to the Minister of Education to express our board’s concern about receiving none of the recent $35M capital maintenance funding, and to ask for the decision to be reconsidered.  I support this recommendation although it did not receive majority support from Committee I members.
The second is to write a letter to the Minister of Finance to express our board’s support for the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services recommendations.  These came from public consultation on the 2016 provincial budget and include adequate funding for K-12 education and restoration of Adult Basic Education funding.  There was consensus among trustees to support this recommendation.
Verbal report.