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Highlights: Public Board meeting of October 28, 2019

| Categories: Board of Trustees

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With members of school communities and stakeholder group representatives in attendance, the Vancouver School Board held its regular meeting on the evening of October 28, 2019.

Watch the recording of the meeting.

Board Meeting Summary

The agenda for the October meeting of the Vancouver School Board included a number of important matters - a recommendation proceed to public consultation about the proposed closure of Queen Elizabeth Annex, bylaws for adoption and several motions, including an emergent one pertaining to future Climate Action Strikes.

Each Board meeting begins with program highlights from schools, programs and services in place at Vancouver schools. The second Board meeting of this school year included an overview of Student Voice initiatives by three secondary students from Kitsilano Secondary, Charles Tupper Secondary and Churchill Secondary. The presentation to trustees included details about recent facilitator training, led by students for students, enabling secondary schools to host similar student engagements as the District Student Forum. The student representatives expressed the immense value and impact of this capacity training for students throughout the District and how they are more able to collaborate with school administration teams to move forward matters of interest by students.

Superintendent Update

A regular standing item at all Board meetings is the Superintendent's update. Superintendent Suzanne Hoffman's updates provide ongoing discussion about student success and what it means for the Vancouver School District. Hoffman's October update focused on Deeper Learning Dozen, a Harvard-led study to create more access to deeper learning experiences for all students and adults. The District is part of this three-year study involving 12 school districts across Canada and the US. This update highlighted how the District considers equity in advancing student success and outcomes. It also noted several findings from the Student Learning Survey, which provides valuable insights into what students feel and think about their school experiences and learning journeys.

Student Trustee Report

Student trustee, Joshua Harris, provided his first report to the Board. He shared feedback about the recent leadership training retreat held for members of the Vancouver District Students' Council (VDSC); informing the trustees and senior staff of the fantastic experience it was for all involved. Harris's report also noted the ongoing efforts of students throughout the District in advocating for actions to address climate change, including the recent Climate Action Strikes. Harris also reported on his experience attending the Ontario Student Trustee Association (OSTA-AECO) Fall General Meeting, where he worked alongside former and current student trustees from across Ontario, gaining valuable perspective and advise. A few of these working groups dealt with topics such as Indigenous relations and student mental health and well-being. He noted similar matters are under consideration by the Vancouver District Student Council.

Decisions by the Board

A number of important motions were before the Board for consideration and approval. The Board approved two motions advancing collaboration on track and field facilities with the Park Board. In addition, two lease bylaw motions were passed.

Following a staff presentation providing information to a number of questions raised by trustees, stakeholder group representatives and members of school communities, the Board considered a motion to proceed to public consultation regarding the proposal to close Queen Elizabeth Annex (QEA). Board decided not to enter into consultation with the broader school community on a proposal to close QEA.

The proposal would have meant that the students enrolled in the shared Early French Immersion program that runs at QEA and L'Ecole Jules Quesnel (JQ) would have been accommodated at one site, JQ. A number of factors were considered by trustees since the proposal was first raised at the September 23, 2019 Board meeting. These included the educational benefits and impacts for students, our commitment to French-language education, alignment with the District's Long Range Facilities Plan, as well as capital funding considerations impacting the District as a whole.

The Board also considered several notices of motion. A motion was passed directing staff to investigate how other boards of education manage questions and answers at public board meetings, and to report back findings in January. A motion to create a strategic plan addressing racism and discrimination was referred to the Student Learning and Well-Being Committee, as was a motion to address the issue of vaping and signage in and on Board facilities.

A motion to support lowering the voting age to 16 was also referred to the Student Learning and Well-Being Committee. A motion that the Board affirm the application of the United Nations Declaration of Rights for Indigenous Peoples in its policies, procedures and decision making, and work to implement the Declaration was referred to the Policy and Governance Committee. An emergent motion was passed that the District supports participation in the Climate Strike on November 29 and in subsequent strikes so that staff can voluntarily support/participate, consulting with union locals as necessary, and excusing student absences with parental permission per usual school procedures.

Question Period

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 by people in attendance are submitted and addressed by the Board.Several questions raised including capital considerations, the District's capital reserve funds and capital projects.

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.

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