New board, new opportunities, new relationships

Vancouver voters elected nine VSB trustees last Saturday and I thank everyone who participated as well as the new provincial government for calling the by-election.  I also thank all the candidates who took on this very public role as your voices enriched our forums and debates and I hope you stay involved with Vancouver’s public education.

I look forward to working with all the trustees elected to the new VSB Board.  We represent a range of voters’ views but are all committed to putting students first, working collaboratively, and creating a respectful workplace.

Our first decisions are to nominate trustees and then elect a Chair at our first board meeting on October 30.  The Chair is still a single vote among the nine trustees but they have additional leadership and representation responsibilities, including presiding over board meetings that must be orderly and fair, working closely with the Superintendent, and representing the board

I believe our most immediate concerns are the recruitment and retention of teachers and the appointment of a Superintendent.
An October 10 update showed 113 full and part time job postings (84 FTE), an increase from 72 (53 FTE) in the September 15 report.  The most difficult areas to fill are French immersion, special education, math, sciences, counselling, tech studies, and Mandarin.  Resource teachers have been placed as classroom teachers to give consistency and district teaching staff have been deployed to schools. There are 677 teachers on the Teachers on Call (TOC) list but administrators and support teachers also have to cover classes.  Our new board will have to review all the actions taken to date and ensure our district is doing all that it can to support both recruitment and retention of new teachers.
Superintendent interviews and selection (for all stakeholders) is scheduled for November 15 and the appointee’s start date is anticipated to be by the end of February.

During our one-year term our board will also have to work closely with the new Minister of Education, Rob Fleming.  As for all school districts we have to prepare a balanced budget for next year – a budget that will meet the needs of all our students.  We also have to address many school buildings and space issues such as seismic upgrades, poor maintenance, new schools where there are not enough classrooms for neighbourhood students, the reduction in French Immersion classrooms, sufficient space for adult education students, and appropriate learning spaces for music and art.  The province provides the funding and sets the rules for capital funding and we must work together to meet our common goals of safe schools with adequate space for all our students.

And finally our board must continue to work towards Reconciliation.  We must continue to work so that Aboriginal students have a sense of belonging in our schools, increased academic success, and that all students have knowledge and appreciation of Aboriginal cultures and contributions.  I was honoured to be a witness to the eight people signing the Second Aboriginal Education Enhancement Agreement and acknowledge our collective responsibilities for the success of all Aboriginal learners.

Our district cares for and educates more than 50,000 students every school day and I’m proud that Vancouver voters have allowed me the responsibility of being a trustee for the coming year.  I will serve our students and always put their needs first.

VSB Policy: The Role of the Board Chairperson and Vice Chairperson
http://www.vsb.bc.ca/district-policy/bl-role-board-chairperson-and-vice-chairperson  

October 10, 2017 Staffing and recruitment update:
http://www.vsb.bc.ca/sites/default/files/17Sept11_commIV_Ppt.pdf  

Superintendent Interviews:
http://www.vsb.bc.ca/sites/default/files/17_09Sept13_op_commi_agenda_optimized.pdf#page=78  

Second Aboriginal Education Enhancement Agreement:
http://www.vsb.bc.ca/sites/default/files/publications/aeea-june8.pdf

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