Board meeting – Nov 21

It was very strange to be at the one-trustee board meeting as a member of the public but I have had many such adjustments since all nine former trustees were dismissed last month.  My hope and expectation is that no matter who is on the board student success in safe schools will be the focus in our district.

As this was the first board meeting with the Official Trustee Dianne Turner she talked about her background in education, and in particular her time as a teacher, vice principal and principal in Vancouver.  Acting Superintendent John Lewis also spoke to his educational background as well as his temporary role in assisting the district and supporting the superintendent to return.

Student trustee Isabella Preite introduced Roger Wang, the Vancouver District Student Council (VDSC) Student Issues Officer.  Roger’s role is to bring specific issues occurring in schools to Isabella’s attention and they will work together to raise them at the board.  Isabella also reported on her attendance at the Ontario student trustee conference and the annual secondary school CANley cup competition for non-perishable food donations.

Acting Superintendent John Lewis spoke in detail about the recently approved five-year strategic plan – the vision statement, objectives, priorities, actions and performance targets that will be implemented and reported on.  I appreciate that this board is embracing the new strategic plan as it was developed with input from all VSB stakeholders through a careful and deliberate process.
He also reported that this year’s FTE student enrolment is about 250 lower than last year, in line with the projected enrolment.  The decline in enrolment is slowing, from about 900 and 600 in the previous two years, but as the Grade 11 and 12 cohorts are bigger than the quite consistent K-Grade 10 cohorts the next two years might also have declining enrolment.

The 2016/17 budget, as proposed and implemented in June, was passed.  The Interim Secretary-Treasurer Guy Bonnefoy said a broader five-year budget plan was being developed and that the 2017/18 budget process will continue to include consultation.  The Official Trustee Dianne Turner spoke to the need for predictable provincial funding, especially when planning a five-year budget, and the challenge of provincial funds being released late in the budget process as happened twice last year.

The Official Trustee Dianne Turner had requested that the City of Vancouver allow VSB staff to take on the liaison roles previously held by trustees at City advisory councils, but Council voted to allow former trustees to continue as non-voting members. The VSB will ask the City to reconsider as the former trustees no longer represent the VSB.  I think it would be helpful to have both former trustees and VSB staff liaisons attend these meetings.
I will continue to try to attend (there is often conflict with VSB meetings) my three City advisory committees, ATPC, UAPAC and VFPC .

Questions were submitted and it appeared that all those with a submitter’s name were answered:
How many secondary classes are over the maximum class size? This information was not available at the meeting but can be sent to the questioner.
Are the enrolment numbers for headcount or FTE?  For K-Grade 9 headcount is the same as FTE.  For Grades 10-12 funding is by course count and data is FTE.
Will a letter be sent to parents this year about the FSA?  No decision yet.
The Strategic Plan talks about strong community connections – will Britannia be used as a role model?  No details on community connections yet.
Is seismic mitigation funding available from the federal government? The VSB will work with the province to see if more funding is available.
Will the VSB rejoin BCSTA? The cost, about $80,000, and benefits will be considered in the 2017/18 budget but funding is very tight.
Process for naming the new elementary school at International Village? There will be another naming committee meeting that will consider any new input before the next Planning & Facilities Committee (II) meeting.
Advocate for adequate funding?  First priority is for predictable funding so can plan for 5 years.
Can changes to the board meetings be made without going through committee?  Yes, within bylaws and policies.
Can the notices of motion be dismissed?  Yes as there was no one to speak to them.

This meeting had a large audience and I appreciate the interest in how our district is moving forward.  The next board meeting is on December 12.

For full agenda and minutes (when posted) see:

Naming of the new school at International Village – Nov 14

The Planning & Facilities Committee (II) meeting of November 14 was the first VSB committee meeting held by the Official Trustee Dianne Turner.

A new elementary school is being built at International Village (on Expo Boulevard between Carrall and Abbott, next to Andy Livingstone Park) as more students are living downtown.  To foster this new school’s community and culture, from September 2014 classes were enrolled and temporarily located at Seymour Elementary.  It is expected that students and staff will move into the new school buildings after the March 2017 spring break.

The new school’s naming committee met several times during 2016 and after considering names submitted by the public brought forward two for consideration, Arthur Erickson and Crosstown, and recommended Crosstown.  Arthur Erickson was a notable Vancouver resident, internationally known as one of Canada’s greatest architects and Crosstown is the geographical area of the new school. Both names meet Board policy for a new school.

While I appreciate the naming committee’s work and their forward-looking recommendation I am concerned that the Crosstown neighbourhood name is not well established and may never catch on.  Given the long historical and cultural/ethnic history in this area that many consider to be part of Vancouver’s Chinatown it may be more appropriate to build on this history in naming the new school.

Several stakeholder representatives raised the concern that given the short meeting notice they had not been able to consider the recommended name with their groups.  The Official Trustee confirmed that their next meetings would be before the next Planning & Facilities meeting on December 14, so I presume their input will be considered as the recommended name was not forwarded to the VSB board meeting.
In addition former trustee Allan Wong suggests reaching out to organizations around the new school and of naming the school to honour Alexander Won Cumyow, the only Chinese person registered to vote in the election before (1890) and after (1949) the Chinese were disenfranchised.

Finally there were three inquires and responses.
The school closure process for Henderson and Laurier Annexes (both with no students) is delayed and there are no immediate lease opportunities.
Staff continue to have discussions with the City of Vancouver about revisions to the Britannia Tri-Party agreement.
For the Gordon Yellow School house staff are discussing a potential lease with an applicant.

Naming of New School at International Village Report:

For full agenda and minutes (when posted) see: