Board meeting – Jan 23

Highlights from the January 23 board meeting – there were no decisions but information was provided.

Don Fiddler, the District Principal of Aboriginal Education, presented “Shared Success” a review of the Aboriginal Education Enhancement Agreement 2016-21.

The superintendent’s update included:

  • The additional $4.4 million resulting from the Supreme Court case will fund 96 FTE positions.  Allocations of staff will be communicated to schools this Friday, part-time staff can apply, then any remaining positions will be posted by mid-February.
  • BC Hydro has proposed to build a new electricity substation under the VSB school site at Lord Roberts Annex downtown.  The VSB has not made any decisions on this proposal and will closely follow the BC Hydro consultation, a district staff person will attend each public event to observe and listen.  An independent sub-contractor will prepare a safety report.
  • Van Horne students learned about Coast Salish culture and traditions as they helped carve a post featuring two salmon swimming upstream.  The master carvers, Splash and Harry, taught how they reveal what’s inside the wood through carving.
  • The new downtown Crosstown Elementary has started registering students and priority will be given to in-catchment students.

Isabella Preite, the student trustee, reported on VDSC activities:

  • High school students will be surveyed about school start times.
  • The VDSC is exploring ways to get students (especially those who are 18  by the provincial election date) excited about voting.
  • An Arts Gala is being planned for the spring, tentatively on May 10 at Magee.
  • A march against discrimination is being planned for the spring, tentatively in March.

The three committee reports had no decision recommendations and the only update was that the VSB has met with the Kingsford-Smith Elementary PAC about their seismic upgrade timing. Work will start on the school’s exterior after spring break but students will stay on site until the end of the school year. In September 2017 the school will move to temporary accommodation at MacCorkindale and Champlain Heights for one year while the seismic work is completed.

Questions/answers included:

  • Advocacy for adult education funding:  Communication will continue as in the past.
  • Special Advisor’s report:  The VSB is communicating with the Ministry about their expectations for a response – this will come to a standing committee.
  • Budget:  The amended 2016/17 budget will be presented at the February Finance & Legal Committee V meeting. The 2017/18 budget will tie in to the strategic plan and look forward five years – this is a more complex process and the process (which will include opportunities for public input)/timeline may come to a special Committee V meeting.
  • Adequate funding for the SCC court case:  The VSB has given input through BCPSEA.
  • Two motions regarding VSB properties reported from private session:  No further information can be given.
  • 2014 VSB report on possible impacts of BCTF Supreme Court case:  This report was provided in camera and cannot be made public.
  • VSB investigation into unsafe workplace allegations:  The report is delayed and now expected in February due to the sudden death of the investigator’s husband.
  • Sustainability Action Plan:  A report will be presented at the March Committee I meeting.
  • Safety of BC Hydro proposal:  It is anticipated that the name of the independent sub-contractor can be put on the VSB website.
  • Advocacy:  There is ongoing communication between the official trustee and the Ministry, for example a meeting with the deputy ministers for capital and finance.
  • Renaming Macdonald Elementary:  This process was temporarily suspended but will restart.
  • General Gordon Yellow Schoolhouse:  The VSB has ongoing lease discussions but nothing is resolved including any additional costs for retaining the building.
  • Maquinna Annex:  The VSB is considering potential uses and is in discussion with potential lease candidates.
  • Long Range Facilities Plan: The “Appendix P: Possible Timeframe for Implementation” that covers competing seismic upgrades by 2030 is being revised.
  • Mitchell Island fire:  Quick and appropriate action was taken immediately – schools were advised and actions included closing ventilation systems and windows.


Support for School Success Partnership, reporting/communicating student learning, early Mandarin bilingual program

Highlights of the January 4 Education & Student Services Committee include:

Support for School Success
This partnership program operates at the Ray-Cam Co-operative Centre and supports a smooth transition to Kindergarten and improves access to healthcare.  Referred vulnerable students/families take part in assessment and reporting before they enter Kindergarten so supports can be in place when they start school in the fall.  Families are invited to sessions at Ray-Cam and the healthcare and education professionals co-ordinate their meetings at this one location.
In 2016 there were 37 referrals, most from the local daycare or preschool staff, and all the children had at least one follow up, for example dental, vision, speech language, public health nurse, speech language pathologist, or pediatrician. For the VSB 10 students were assigned MoE designations before the end of September funding deadline and all students will be monitored by their school based teams.
In 2017 another set of students will be referred, VCH and RICHER are considering expanding this model in our area and in 2016 the Provincial Office of the Early Years identified this program as a promising practice.
I’m very pleased to learn more about this partnership program that supports some of the VSB’s most vulnerable students entering Kindergarten in Tier 1 schools.


Reporting and Communicating Student Learning
The report details the Ministry requirements and the VSB’s preparations to implement new practices.  For most students parents will continue to have a minimum of five reports, three formal written reports and two informal, such as conferences, emails, or phone calls.  Some schools have already moved towards new practices and here parents must be consulted/informed of changes and the school must provide information from current report cards (letter grades, etc) if requested.
A steering committee and working groups will be set up to revise VSB policy and implement changes for K-9 students, changes for 10-12 students will follow, with implementation in the first term of the 2017/18 school year.


Early Mandarin Bilingual (EMB) Program Transition to Secondary
This Norquay Elementary program has 173 students in K-6 and the first students will move to secondary school in September 2018.  A survey of EMB families showed that continuing a Mandarin bilingual program is their most important factor in choosing a secondary school.  The VSB will need to decide on a suitable secondary school location, the secondary course content and the percentage of instruction in Mandarin.  An EMB secondary transition committee will be formed to look closely at these factors.


Stakeholders asked questions about the programs and the structure of the proposed committees.

K-12 and adult education enrolment

Enrolment was on the agenda for the January 4 Committee I meeting.

The report gives updated enrolment and projected enrolment up to 2031.  A slow decline in the number of students is anticipated until 2030 and, based on my neighbourhood experience, lack of affordable housing for families with young children is a huge factor.  We have seen, and continue to see, many families move to Richmond, Burnaby and Surrey, and this is true for both renters and buyers.
The percent of students attending public school has remained stable for the last 10 years, at about 83%.
Elementary and Secondary District Choice Programs are listed by enrolment and by far the most students are in French Immersion.
Numbers are given for Out of Catchment enrolments from 2012-16, including the number of students, and the percentage of students by regular (not including district choice programs) and total enrolment.  More students are attending their catchment schools in 2016 than 2012, 77% compared to 75%, and so the numbers of out of catchment students are declining.
I believe that every catchment school can provide an excellent education for most students (there are district programs for students with special learning needs) and would like to ensure that all families know that their neighbourhood school is a good option for student learning.


Adult education
Once again the numbers of adult education students are disappointing and in particular the number of graduated adult students dropped sharply in 2015/16, to a third of the level in the previous two years.


This two-thirds reduction, about 2,000 students, can be tied directly to the May 2015 removal of provincial funding for academic courses and the introduction of a $550 course fee.  The provincial government has put in place a financial barrier for students wanting to upgrade their high school academic courses to access post-secondary education/improve their employment prospects and this barrier should be removed.


Committee stakeholders asked about the distribution of K-12 international students by grade and the number of courses students take in Grades 10-12.  Data was not immediately available but will be provided.
Questions were also asked about the financial viability of adult education with the new graduated adult fees, and how capacity is calculated.  Some stakeholders also expressed their dismay at the province’s lack of support for adult education and called for advocacy to reverse the cuts.
A stakeholder also requested an update on the Living Wage report that came to Committee I in 2016.

Seeking to represent Vancouver-Langara as a Green MLA

I am seeking the nomination to become a Green Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) in my home riding of Vancouver-Langara.

Here’s the media release that captures my motivation to run:

The lone Green elected to the Vancouver School Board (VSB) in 2014 – serving as the swing vote on School Board – and one of nine trustees dismissed by the Minister of Education in October last year, Janet Fraser is seeking the BC Green Party nomination in her home riding of Vancouver-Langara.

After the recent dismissal of the locally elected VSB Trustees by the BC Liberal Minister of Education, Fraser is running to champion public education amongst other pressing provincial issues. Says Fraser: “In 2014, I ran to become a VSB Trustee because I care deeply about Vancouver’s students and our public education system. As a trustee I always based my decisions on what is best for our students and believe that my hard work, evidence-based and considered decision making, building of respectful relationships and effective advocacy have served them well. Now that all nine locally-elected VSB trustees have been dismissed by the Minister of Education, I am taking this opportunity to champion public education, good governance, meaningful climate leadership and an inclusive 21st-century green economy in my campaign to become the next MLA in my home riding of Vancouver-Langara.”

Janet was born in the UK and completed all her schooling there, earning B.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees in Chemistry from the University of Bristol. She moved to Vancouver in 1993 and worked as a research chemist, project manager and at-home parent for her three children before being elected in 2014. Janet has lived in Marpole for 15 years and is active in her community, with ten years’ of experience in elementary school PAC leadership, engagement in the City’s Marpole planning process, and volunteering for her children’s hockey, soccer and baseball teams.

Janet hopes to become the BC Green candidate and, ultimately, MLA for Vancouver-Langara and is looking forward to campaigning. She notes: “I am excited to be seeking the BC Green Party nomination for Vancouver-Langara and appreciate the support of both my family (this will be more experiential social studies learning for my school-aged children), friends and Green supporters as I undertake this journey. I look forward to meeting and learning from Vancouver-Langara constituents as I work to become the next MLA for this riding.”