Interim Long Range Facilities Plan – Planning & Facilities Committee (II) – Jan 20

The Interim Long Range Facilities Plan (LRFP) was the only item on the agenda and by the end of the meeting the five trustees on this committee had supported all 11 recommendations with only minor changes.  I thank all our VSB stakeholders who attended and the members of the public, including former VSB trustee Al Blakey and MLAs Shane Simpson & George Heyman.
I am not a Committee II trustee but I also support all 11 recommendations because seismically safe schools for our students and staff are my top priority and cannot be delayed.
I do not believe 95% capacity utilization will give our district, or any large urban district, the ability to provide optimal learning spaces for our students but the 95% target is required by the Ministry of Education to move forward our seismic projects.

At this meeting it was confirmed that the following are not enrolling spaces and so do not count as “empty spaces” in calculating the 95% capacity.:

  • The 19 Strong Start programs in 19 schools
  • Childcare 0-5 programs
  • Before and after school care programs
  • Offices at Moberly
  • Vancouver Learning Network (VLN) offices

However, these spaces are enrolling spaces and would be considered as “empty spaces” in the 95% calculation:

  • Classrooms used for preschool programs, 7 rooms in 6 schools
  • Classrooms leased for other uses, 4 to Green Thumb Theatre and 1 to Citizenship and Immigration Canada
  • Classrooms used as VSB office space in 4 schools
  • Classrooms used for Fine Arts (e.g. music, band, art, strings), 36 rooms at 32 schools – the majority of these 32 schools also have a multi-purpose room which could be used for Fine Arts, or these rooms could continue to be accommodated at 95% capacity utilization

The most important committee supported changes to the recommendations are:

  • Add Hudson, Livingstone and False Creek to #4 because their capacity utilizations are >95%
  • Add Macdonald to #4 in line with a previous board motion
  • Add public consultation to #6, #7 and #8.
  • Remove “recommend any amendments to the current School Closure Policy” from #7.

These recommendations will be voted on by the whole board at our January 25 board meeting.

Staff report with recommendations:

Background report:

Possible LRFP timeline:×17.pdf

Finance and Legal Committee (V) – Jan 13

Highlights from this meeting:

  1. 2016/17 Budget Process
    The report gives the proposed dates for board decisions and stakeholder & public input so that the 2016/17 budget can be adopted by the end of April 2015. Input for the budget proposals will be on April 11 and 12 (and 14 if necessary), and for the revised budget proposals on April 19 and 25.
    This committee recommends that the board adopt the proposed process/timeline at our next board meeting.

  2. Estimated 2016/17 Budget Shortfall
    The shortfall is how much additional money our district would need to provide the same services to our students next year.  The 2016/17 (next school year) budget shortfall was first presented in April 2015 (with the 2015/16 budget) and with information available since then is now projected to be between $19.14 and 19.61M.  However this is still a very preliminary number as key factors such as the 2016/17 student enrolment (due in February) and the 2016/17 Ministry of Education funding levels (due in March) are not yet available.
    I hope the shortfall is lower with this information as any cut to our budget is very difficult, and the higher the shortfall the greater the impact on our students.
    This report was for information and budget proposals will be presented following the timeline in the previous item.

  3. Draft Privacy Breach Policy
    The VSB and its agents are obligated to uphold privacy protection under two legal statutes, the School Act and the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. The board has a number of privacy policies in place and this proposed policy was developed to ensure explicit protocols for both the protection of personal information held by VSB and the VSB’s response to incidents where personal privacy may be breached.
    There was discussion about the proposed policy and revisions to the draft policy will be considered in response to the questions raised.


Education and Student Services Committee (III) – Jan 13

Highlights from our meeting:

  1. Secondary School Technology Programs
    Technology education is referred to by different names in different schools but includes: technology, woodwork, fabrication, automotive, mechanics, electronics, robotics, metalwork, engineering and jewellery.
    Technology education has changed significantly over the last 30 years with fewer students enrolled in “traditional” woodwork and metalwork courses, but the percentage of students in all technology classes is relatively steady at 33% in 2011 and 30% in 2015.
    An example of change is the seismic upgrade at Kitsilano Secondary which originally had 3 wood shops, 2 metal shops, a drafting studio, an electronics lab and an automotive lab. The new technology space is designed for maximum flexibility – the building area has tools and machinery from woodwork, metalwork, electronics and automotive, and there are finishing and display areas.
    There is capacity across the district to offer a range of technology courses to meet student demand and support the provincial direction in applied design, skill and technologies, and this will be further explored as the new five-year strategic plan is created.


  2. Psychologist Internships
    In BC the position of school psychologist is considered difficult to fill so if the VSB were to host internships, as some other districts have done, this may encourage interns to remain in our district as full time employees. However there are both Collective Agreement and financial implications, an estimated additional cost of $170,000 a year, if psychologist internships are to be considered.


  3. Elementary Band and Strings
    This optional program operates in 50 of Vancouver’s 92 elementary schools and is in addition to the music curriculum. Last year program changes were made to save $325,000.   Band is now for Grades 6 & 7 (instead of 5-7), Strings for Grades 5 –7 (instead of 4–7) and the fee was increased from $25 to $50/year.  In addition in a pilot program 6 schools now offer non-optional Band or Strings during class preparation time with no user fee.
    This optional program costs approximately $500,000 each year.  The report outlines concerns and suggestions based on last year’s changes and any decisions about this program would likely come through this year’s budget process.


Committee I – Jan 6

Highlights from our VSB Committee I meeting of January 6.

  1. Strategic Plan Update
    The Strategic Plan stakeholder committee has representation from teachers, support staff, administrators and district staff. Two district staff, Julie Pearce and Paul Godfrey, are the Co-Chairs, Vince Verlaan is the external facilitator and three trustees will also join the committee.
    Consultation will begin in February and the plan will be finished by the end of June.Report:
  2. Board Chair/Vice Chair Policy
    I am pleased that the VSB is working on policies for the roles and responsibilities of the Chair and Vice Chair. The draft policies were discussed and questions, comments and concerns will be addressed in a revised draft.    Questions were raised around:

    • Ensuring all issues before the Board are well stated and clearly expressed
    • District staff roles in Board meeting preparation
    • Whether the definition of voting includes abstentions – yes, we have policy on this
    • Any differences between a signing officer/an officer authorized to witness the use of the Board’s corporate seal/signing authority.
    • The Chair’s role in trustee orientation and trustee appointments

The Vice Chair’s role in Board meeting preparation


Planning & Facilities Committee (II) – Dec 16

A post-Christmas update of key issues from the December 16 Planning and Facilities Committee (II) meeting.

  1. Kingsford-Smith Elementary Seismic Project
    This school in southeast Vancouver has 300+ students and is rated H1, the highest seismic risk category. The Project Definition Report (PDR), which considers options for the seismic work, is underway (and has been for 27 months!) as is development of a temporary accommodation plan.
    This is the first seismic project I am involved with as a trustee and there is a lot (including many more acronyms) to learn.PDR:  The three options are (1) seismic upgrade full building retention, (2) partial replacement, and (3) full replacement.  Construction cost estimates were made in March 2015 but due to cost increases on other projects these figures were reviewed by an independent quantity surveyor.  The current costs are:Seismic upgrade  $9.1M (previously $10.1M)
    Partial replacement  $18.2M (previously $15.4M)
    Full replacement  $17.3M (previously $14.3M)

    Based on Ministry criteria, which now include maintenance life cycle costs over 40 years, the most cost effective option is the seismic upgrade.

    Temporary Accommodation:  Students cannot safely remain at Kingsford-Smith during a seismic upgrade.  Two options for temporary accommodation are MacCorkindale with portables (VSB would have to fund) or MacCorkindale & Champlain Heights, as neither host school has enough space for all the Kingsford-Smith students.  All three school communities are being consulted.

    PAC Presentation:  I am pleased the Kingsford-Smith PAC Co-Chairs Eric & Johnny shared their priorities and concerns – the top priority is to have a seismically safe school as soon as possible and the top concern is that the school could be split to two temporary sites.

    Moving forward, district staff will finalise the PDR and temporary accommodation plan and bring recommendations to the board in early 2016.

PAC presentation:

  1. Consultation for the Long Range Facilities Plan (LRFP)
    The VSB is developing a LRFP to guide and inform decision making on the long term management of our district facilities, including our 110 schools.
    All VSB stakeholder groups were invited to give input and feedback on the Draft Terms of Reference (TOR) for this consultation and overall there was a high level of support for outreach to the public.  A summary of stakeholder feedback is Attachment A in the report, and the Draft TOR are Attachment B.
    The Minister of Education expects our LRFP to be submitted by January 31, 2016 and our VSB board unanimously approved submitting an Interim LRFP by this date.  An updated LRFP, covering additional issues such as heritage preservation, will be completed by June 30, 2016.  As such a two phase consultation is proposed:
    Phase One:  Engage VSB stakeholders in focused workshops to inform development of the Interim LRFP.
    Phase Two:  Provide opportunities for public feedback on the Interim LRFP and inform, seek feedback and promote constructive conversations on the broader issues in the updated LRFP.There was general agreement that the Terms of Reference for the LRFP were appropriate and that they go before the board for adoption.