Gordon Yellow Schoolhouse

Highlights from the February 22 Planning & Facilities Committee (II) meeting.

I would like to think that an appropriate, fully funded use for the Gordon Yellow Schoolhouse is possible.  However, given the current poor state of public education funding, I could not support spending any VSB funds on this, or any building, not required for student education.

In March 2016 the elected board passed a motion that directed that the VSB seek proposals for retaining and restoring the Gordon Yellow Schoolhouse that included (1) the VSB be reimbursed for any incremental costs incurred, and (2) that the proponent assumes responsibility for all costs of planning, restoring, and future maintenance of the building in accordance with uses approved by the VSB and the City of Vancouver.
A second motion was that the board authorized the demolition of the Schoolhouse if no acceptable proposals are received by May 20.

At this meeting there were seven delegations.  Six delegations, local residents, a residents’ association and heritage groups, supported saving the building. The Gordon PAC said that the space should be used to the benefit of the Gordon community – the building should either be demolished to increase playground space or be used to benefit the school community, for example as daycare, pre-school or after-school community space.

The Official Trustee said that because the VSB heritage liaison committee has not discussed this issue any decision will come after the committee has met.

VSB staff, in answer to a question, said this space is not suitable for teaching students.  A teacher representative said any board money must go to students and is concerned about the amount of resources the VSB is committing to this building.

Finally, a stakeholder requested updates on the Kingsford-Smith, Jamieson and Carleton seismic and repair projects.


Health & safety policy, shortlisting of On-Call teachers

Highlights from February 22 Personnel & Student Services Committee (IV).

WorkSafeBC requires that an organization’s occupational health and safety program be supported in the form of a policy.  The new draft policy and regulation were developed by the District Health and Safety Committee and are recommended by the District and Union partners.


VSB district staff is piloting an online assessment called the Educator’s Professional Inventory (EPI) to help shortlist On-Call teachers.  This is one of the tools to shortlist candidates including recent reaching evaluations and/or final practicum reports, education and references.  Only external candidates are required to do the assessment and all data is stored in Canada.  District staff are currently analyzing whether the EPI scores align with hiring decisions – which I assume will be reported back to this committee.

Teacher representatives raised a number of concerns including using a quantitative tool to assess people, how the test was developed, whether it would be useful for the VSB, whether the test is mandatory, timing out during the assessment, and the validity of the questions.  District staff will have further conversations with teacher representatives.

EPI information:

For full agenda and minutes (when posted) see: http://www.vsb.bc.ca/board-committees

2016/17 budget update, proposed 2017/18 budget process/timeline & shortfall estimate

Highlights from the February 22 Finance & Legal Committee (V).

The 2016/17 budget has been updated with actual spending and revised projections to year end (June 30, 2017) with an estimated $1.04 million surplus, about one-fifth of 1% of the annual budget.  With budgeting to average, close forecasting and small contingencies there are no longer large in-year surpluses.  It is anticipated that any surplus would be carried forward to 2017/18 to address the estimated $12 million shortfall.

The SCC interim funding of $4.45M is not yet in the budget.
Legal expenses are more than double last year’s, primarily due to increased freedom of information requests.
Utilities budgets have been amended to reflect the cold weather.
Examples of non-cyclical items for sale and leaseback are furniture & instructional materials.
There are fewer International student refunds and this can be addressed further at the Education and Student Services Committee (III).


The proposed 2017/18 budget process/timeline is similar to last year’s with the addition of an online survey for public and stakeholder input.  The budget will be presented on April 6.  What is different is that a five-year financial plan will be presented, to match the five-year strategic plan.
The Official Trustee will be asking the Ministry for clarity on district funding, as it needs to be dependable, adequate and stable for a five-year plan, and in the past it has been a moving target.
Staff commented that three years of education funding was announced in the provincial budget, and that they are assuming the amount announced only covers class size and composition funding resulting from the SCC court case, not any additional monies.

The estimated 2017/18 $12 million shortfall is made up from $9 million carried forward from previous one-time cuts and $3 million due to inflation and enrolment decline.

There could be news in the next couple of weeks about how the Ministry will move forward with the fire-damaged Carleton Elementary.


For full agenda and minutes (when posted) see: http://www.vsb.bc.ca/board-committees

School calendar 2017/18

Highlights from the single item Education & Student Services Committee (III) meeting of February 1.

The committee stakeholders agreed with the two recommendations, the proposed 2017/18 non-instructional dates and changing the winter break dates to align with neighbouring districts, and the Official Trustee will approve the recommendations at the February 27 board meeting.

The non-instructional days are five ProD days, two with flexible dates, and two curriculum implementation days.  commiii_2017_02

The dates for the 2017/18 winter break, Dec 18 – Jan 1, were set in March 2016 but other districts’ dates were not fully confirmed.  Neighbouring districts have now confirmed Dec 25 – Jan 5 (last day of school will be Dec 22, first day Jan 8) and the primary reason to align dates is that many VSB staff are parents of school-age children and live in other school districts.

Some staff and parents have already committed to travel plans or vacation days based on the original dates and the Official Trustee acknowledged that changing the dates will impact these families.  VSB staff will sympathetically address such situations on a case-by-case basis for both employees or students.

Thank you to all the stakeholder representatives on the calendar committee, and for the student input, for your thoughtful consideration which resulted in a consensus on these recommendations.


For full agenda and minutes (when posted) see: http://www.vsb.bc.ca/board-committees

Strategic plan and enrolment projections

Highlights from the February 1 Committee I meeting:

“Why does the VSB need a Strategic Plan?” – to define priorities, assist decision making, to communicate with stakeholders, and to have a framework to support student achievement and well being.  Ten communication actions are underway and an action plan for the first year was presented.  A yearly update will be given at the June Committee I meeting and committee reports can address specific issues.

Stakeholders commented that they are very pleased to see the action plan to have focus and accountability. They also commented that advocacy is in the strategic plan – the Official Trustee envisions advocating for goals identified in the strategic plan that cannot be achieved, for example because of lack of funding. She will be writing to the Minister about the funding for adult education academic courses citing examples of graduated adult students who cannot access specific courses they need to get into post-secondary programs.

There was also a question about the seismic status of Macdonald Elementary – this is being looked at with the parents/school staff/ principal in the context of Ministry funding for a new school and/or another building – with the need to keep the integrity and excitement that’s currently at the school.

Strategic Plan:  http://www.vsb.bc.ca/vsb2021

The VSB is submitting its three year enrolment estimate to the Ministry this month.  For the past 5 years the estimates were within 0.3% of the actual enrolment for the next year.  K-12 enrolment is based on estimates from Baragar Systems while supplemental (IEP, ELL, Aboriginal, Summer Learning, Distributed Learning and Adult Education) enrolment is estimated by the VSB.  Funding impacts will be considered separately.

For the 2017/18 school year enrolment is estimated to drop by 227 K-12 students, with an increase of 52 elementary students but a decrease of 385 secondary students.  The number of Kindergarten students entering the VSB is several hundred lower than the number of graduating Grade 12s – this has been the case for many years and will continue next year, after which the decrease is expected to be smaller for several years.

There was discussion about special needs designations – last year’s audit ensures accurate numbers of current designations, there could be changes to designations, and the Ministry could be looking to review the whole designation system.
The discussion also considered the Supreme Court ruling – there is no news yet about September’s implementation but the VSB is communicating with the Ministry about the need to know as soon as possible as secondary students are choosing courses and placements are underway for both elementary and secondary district choice programs.


For full agenda and minutes (when posted) see: http://www.vsb.bc.ca/board-committees