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Highlights: Public Board meeting of January 29

| Categories: Board of Trustees

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The public meeting of the Vancouver School Board held the evening of January 29, 2019 was well attended by parents and school community members. Committee and Board meetings are streamed live and available for viewing following adjournment.

Watch the meeting.

Board Meeting Summary

Ever focused on student learning, all public Board meetings begin with a program highlight by students. Presentations by students about their learning journey provide trustees with a direct connection to students outside of the classroom and school events they attend throughout the year.

At this meeting, three students from Killarney Secondary spoke about what they learned through a partnership program with CISCO, during which they learned to build computers, install software and gain experience in networking systems. Upon completion of the program, students earn 18 credits of Level One toward a two-year Computer Information Systems Administration Diploma through BCIT. The students then demonstrated their coding skills gained through the Technology Education and Literacy in Schools (TEALS) program. The program currently runs at Killarney and John Oliver secondary schools through a partnership with Microsoft. Trustees were significantly impressed with the quality of games students created.

Following the program highlight portion of the agenda, District Superintendent, Suzanne Hoffman, provided her regular update to the Board, outlining upcoming work on understanding and advancing student success at the District. Focusing on student outcomes, the primary objective of the elected Board, Superintendent Hoffman detailed the District's intended process that is collaborative, interactive and inclusive. See the full update to the Board in the meeting agenda.

Student Trustee Report

Keeping a focus on the student experience, each Board meeting includes a report by the Student Trustee. This provides another avenue to ensure the student voice is thorough as the Board carries out its mandate.

Following up on an action item from the December meeting of the Board, Student Trustee Hazel Pangilinan detailed her consultation with members of the Vancouver District Student Council (VDSC) about their thoughts on how the District can continue to build inclusive learning environments. The results, as shared with the Board, noted that students feel information addressing issues of racism is most effective when the messaging comes from students themselves. The VDSC members provided examples of student-led strategies already present within some schools. She also explained that when an issue arises in a school community, students voiced support for restorative processes. She said her fellow VDSC members note that students want to work in partnership with adults to plan and implement restorative processes. In addition, School Trustee Panglilnan noted that students value having anti-racism education integrated into the daily curriculum.

Motions and business arising

Several motions were made at the Board, including:

A motion passed noting the Board appreciates the efforts of the Edith Cavell Elementary community's advocacy regarding the seismic upgrade and their desire for replacement school and expansion project as recommended in the District's 2018-2019 Five Year Capital Plan.

A motion was passed regarding the draft budget process and summary timeline for the development of the 2019-2020 budget. During a discussion about the motion, District Secretary-Treasurer, David Green, noted that the budget development process last year included meetings with individual stakeholder groups to ensure staff have an appreciation for the preferred priorities. He also noted District staff are planning a robust public consultation program in an effort to engage a wider portion of school communities. Secretary-Treasurer Green also noted that the District's budget development process is "focused on equity for students."

Matters arising from the Facilities Planning Committee

Staff were asked for an update regarding the Eric Hamber Secondary seismic project and public consultation. The Board was informed about consultation with the school community thus far. That process began on October 2 with the forming of the Eric Hamber Secondary Seismic Project School Advisory Committee (SPSAC) which has met with the District and the Vancouver Project Office five times, including to seek input into the public information and feedback plan. In addition, six consultation meetings have been held with school staff including teachers and department heads as well as the school's administration team. Meetings included two all-day sessions which resulted in a functional program based on the feedback from the group. The public information session was held on January 11 for members of the school community to learn about the project and provide their input. In parallel to that session, information was made available online with the same feedback form, to gain feedback from the wider community. The feedback period was open for two weeks (closing January 25). A summary report will be made available in future, and trustees will have access to all feedback forms for review and consideration.

An urgent motion was moved and passed directing the sending of a letter noting the importance of making ineligible clients (students and their families) eligible for settlement services. The motion was moved following a meeting of the English Language Learner (ELL) Consortium meeting held January 9. During discussion to the motion, it was noted that approximately 60 per cent of applicants through Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada are deemed ineligible.

Question Period

The Board of Education welcomes questions from the public and wishes to ensure that those wishing to ask questions can do so. Written questions are submitted and addressed by the Board Chair, who may request staff to provide additional comment and information. Several questions were submitted at the meeting dealing with the Eric Hamber Secondary seismic project and how the District plans to support Black History Month.

The Chair addressed questions regarding the Eric Hamber Secondary seismic project, noting that several meetings with the Ministry of Education and City of Vancouver (regarding child care space) have been held, during which the school community's concerns were raised. Meetings continue and as information becomes available, it will be shared with the school community. The Chair also noted that the District has clearly stated its concerns with the area standards for schools set out by the Ministry. See the Advocacy Correspondence section of the District's website for details.

Details about curriculum supports focusing on Black History were provided in response to questions raised, including plans to profile events commemorating the Month on the District website and social media channels, focusing on student learning. The Board was informed about curriculum resources at the elementary and secondary level that support lesson planning honouring the legacy of Black Canadians and planning will also take place at the committee meetings, including the Student Learning and Well-Being committee. The Board confirmed it does not support "Slave Days" as events in District schools.

Keep up-to-date with all of the District's committee and Board meetings; see our calendar for meeting dates, agendas and livestream links.

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