With members of school communities and stakeholder group representatives in attendance, the Vancouver School Board held its last regularly meeting of the 2018-2019 school year on the evening of June 24, 2019.
Watch the recording of the meeting.
Board Meeting Summary
The agenda for the June meeting of the Vancouver School Board included a number of important motions for deliberation including policy matters, facilities' considerations, school-based items and financial decisions.
Prior to the matters arising and motions for consideration, the Board of Education and audience members honoured award recipients from the Youth Train and Trades Programs. Board Chair Fraser handed out certificates in recognition of their achievements.
A regular standing item at all Board meetings is the Superintendent's update. Throughout the year, Superintendent Suzanne Hoffman's updates provided continuous discussion about student success and what it means for the Vancouver School District. Hoffman's June update focused on the progress District staff made on the 2021 Strategic Plan, noting many of the ongoing work to fulfill the objectives of the Plan. Hoffman also indicated that next year, work will begin on the next reiteration of a strategic plan as the District continues its work in service of students and the public education in Vancouver.
Student Trustee Report
Keeping a focus on the students, Student Trustee Hazel Pangilinan provided her regular report to the board. This report, her last in her role as Student Trustee, focused on the inclusion of the student voice in the Board's work throughout the 2018-2019 school year. With gratitude, she noted a number of important initiatives on which the Board considered and incorporated the input of students including the Student Forum, the Long Range Facilities Plan and the Budget development process – especially the dedicated funding to improvements for upgrades to student washrooms, improved technology and more support for mental health and well-being. Hazel also introduced the new Student Trustee, Joshua Harris, who will serve throughout the 2019-2020 school year. The Student Trustee role provides the Board with a direct connection to students' learning journeys and an opportunity to further reflect on the student experience as it carries out its duties.
Decisions by the Board
A number of key items were before the Board for consideration and approval. The Board considered several matters arising from the Policy and Governance Committee, including approval of updates to the Board Work Plan with updates to the Long Range Facilities Plan; amended Policy 2 relating to naming and renaming facilities (place-based names will be the only considerations of names of new school facilities); and the Board unanimously adopted a new Anti-Racism Policy.
As the Board moved onto matters arising from the Facilities Planning Committee, it unanimously approved a motion to "…remove the Cecil Rhodes sign from the primary playground area of L'Ecole Bilingue…". Following concerns raised by some members of the school community, the Chair asked staff to cover the sign to enable the school and broader community time to consider how the historical wrongs should be recognized. During the June 19 Facilities Planning Committee meeting, representatives of the school's Parent Advisory Committee (PAC) shared its motion to request the Board remove the sign. Trustees also heard from other community members, including the Black community and the former school's alumni. The Board adopted the motion to remove the sign as we determine historical and racial wrongs by Cecil Rhodes are not reflective of the diverse and welcoming learning environment fostered by the District and L'Ecole Bilingue school. As per the Board motion, the District staff will remove the sign during the summer months.
The Board also unanimously approved the Five-Year Capital Plan, a bylaw for the lease for a Childcare Facility on the 3rd floor of the Eric Hamber seismic replacement school (the City of Vancouver will contract the service provider) as well as a bylaw pertaining to utility right-of-way at the Shannon Park Annex. In addition, the Board also unanimously adopted a motion on an addition of an Indigenous name for Crosstown Elementary: šxʷwəq̓ʷəθət. The entire school community was engaged about this decision. Larry Grant, respected Musqueam Elder and member of the Musqueam Language Department received input from the Crosstown Elementary school community. One suggestion for naming the school being "where the land meets the water" and through his research of the area, he proposed the following: šxʷwəq̓ʷəθət, which references a mode of transportation used by Musqueam people whereby they caught the tide as a shortcut from False Creek to Burrard Inlet. The meaning of this name is generally translated as 'the place from which one can catch the tide.'
The Board then moved onto matters arising of the Student Learning and Well-Being Committee including approval of the 2019-2020 school fees as well as school plans.
As the agenda proceeded to the business of the Finance Committee, the third reading of the 2019-2020 Budget bylaw was read and adopted unanimously by the Board. Learn more about the Budget development process.
The Board also considered two motions from the Audit Committee: transferring the responsibility for the section of the District's bankers to the Finance Committee (from responsibilities of the Policy and Governance Committee) and that two members of the public be appointed as resource person on the Audit Committee. Those two members will have criteria to help advise the committee, and the opportunity will be advertised through the Chartered Professional Accountants of BC.
Several notices of motion were raised and referred to standing committees for stakeholder input and further consideration pertaining to the City of Vancouver's Climate Emergency, development of a holistic food framework, process regarding amendments to the approved budget, and a comprehensive Colonial Audit to support Reconciliation and anti-racism.
Two additional motions were raised for the Board's consideration. The first, which was amended and divided in two, pertained to Windsor House. The Gulf Islands School District recently decided to close the program. Many of its students hail from Vancouver. Discussion by the Board noted understanding for students and their families wishing to maintain the program however, a motion to accommodate the program within the District for September was defeated at the Board table. The timing of that school's needs does not along with the District's commitment to engage with potential receiving school communities about any changes that may affect them. Nor, trustees noted, does the timing align with the Board's consideration of the Long Range Facilities Plan. However, a motion to undertake a feasibility study exploring the possibility in the future of having the program within the District was approved.
The Board welcomes questions from the public and works to provide an avenue to those wishing to ask questions to do so at every Board meeting. Written questions are submitted and addressed by the Board. Two questions were asked by members of the audience. The first related to a request that the District enable secondary students of Windsor House to enrol in the program in conjunction with West Coast Secondary. Staff are following up to gather details and will respond. The second question raised requested the District enable a personal safety survey to students next school year. That request was referred to staff for follow up and Student Trustee Pangilinan offered the assistance for the Vancouver District Students' Council.
Keep up-to-date with all of the District's committee and Board meetings; see the calendar for meeting dates, agendas and livestream links. All recordings of past meetings are housed on the District's YouTube channel.