Permission slips revised

A synopsis of the October 8th school board meeting.

School trustees held their October meeting at the Boundary Learning Centre above the bus barn in Midway last week.

School District 51 (SD51) has received approval from the BC School Trustees Association (BCSTA) legal department on a revised photo permission slip that will be sent home for parents to consider signing.

Superintendent Kevin Argue said that a form provided by BCSTA that went out at the beginning of the year wasn’t working.

Sources at Boundary Central Secondary School reported that the original permission form was overly complicated and that less than half of the parents were willing to allow their children’s photos to be used, even for such things as a school yearbook.

***

Prior to the meeting of SD51 board of education on Oct. 8, a group of five BCSS students came with aboriginal education teacher Marilyn Hanson to share with the trustees their reflections after an overnight trip to Vancouver to attend the Truth and Reconciliation Commission into Indian residential schools.

Some students said that prior to attending Education Day, they had no recollection of ever having heard the term.

Hanson explained that the trip was meant to be less teaching and more experience. “We are hoping that Socials 11 this year will go a little more in-depth,” she added.

Boundary District Teachers’ Association president Norm Sabourin asked what the students could suggest as a possible reconciliation. He was told positive steps to make it better are needed—like teaching proper education—without hiding that it happened.

Director of Instruction Doug Lacey also attended. “I came away feeling a lot richer for it and a lot more understanding of the intergenerational dysfunction that has happened through our aboriginal families in many ways over multi-generations,” he said. “I am looking at the difficulties of aboriginal life in Canada in a different way.”

Board chair Teresa Rezansoff, who also sits as chair of the BCSTA, said that a number of recommendations on the subject had been passed at their last annual general meeting. “It’s not like you can read those recommendations and not argue that they are a good thing to do; they are the right and just thing to do,” said Rezansoff.

***

A report on class sizes revealed that all kindergarten classes are under the maximum number of 22 students and all grade 1-3 classes are under their limit of 24.

Two classes in the district from grades 4 – 12 are over their threshold of 30: one with 31 at Christina Lake Elementary and one of 33 students at GFSS. Argue reported there are conversations going on as to how they are going to be supported.

Student enrollment is down 28 students from the previous school year, which is 17 more than had been projected. The full-time equivalent number, which is used by the education ministry to set funding for the year is down 28.1875 from the 2012-2013 year—13 more than had been projected.

***

On Sept. 27 the district held a professional development day for support staff with different sessions for bus drivers, custodians and supervisors. Secretary-Treasurer Jeanette Hanlon said that district administration would like to make this an annual professional development day.

***

Lacey told the board that an in-service for noon hour and after-school supervisors was held. He said they are motivated and had some great questions.

***

The board voted to send a letter to Prime Minister Harper calling for work on the First Nations Education Act to be slowed down in order to incorporate full consultations with the aboriginal communities.

The federal government released a blueprint of its proposed legislation during the summer and the proposed act is expected to be tabled in Parliament this week.

Assembly of First Nations leaders have criticized the act for failing to address long-standing issues between the government and Canada’s aboriginals and for insufficient consultation.

***

Trustee Vicki Gee reported that the policy committee continues to work on a gender identification and sexual orientation policy. She said they had a long session on Monday, Oct 7 and have scheduled another meeting for Oct. 21. “We decided to pull in some front-line workers— child and youth workers and councilors—to help work through some of the next stages,” said Gee.

***

Several motions that are to be considered at a BCSTA Provincial Council meeting later this month were considered by the board. Trustee Cathy Riddle, who represents SD51 at Provincial Council, asked the board for their views. Local trustees will vote in favour of:

  • Requesting the government lift a freeze on staff compensation for non-union staff, managers and executives.
  • Urgently request the government to fully commit to all costs that result from negotiated settlements in all public education sectors.
  • That when BCSTA establishes a committee or task force related to provincial bargaining matters, that BCSTA branch members, representatives to the committee or task force be elected by branch members.

They voted to oppose an increase in trustee terms from three to four years.

 

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