With members of school communities and stakeholder group representatives in attendance, the Vancouver School Board held its regular monthly public Board meeting on the evening of December 16, 2019.
Watch the recording of the meeting.
Board Meeting Summary
The agenda for the December meeting of the Vancouver School Board included a number of important motions for discussion regarding race-related incidents, the District's food programs and regular staffing updates.
The Board meeting began with a performance from the Killarney Vocal Jazz Choir.
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 December update focused on emergence, which occurs when systems begin to mature and grow stale. According to the theory, new perspectives and practices emerge as a result, keeping systems current and relevant. She later noted examples of emergence related to education and the District. Hoffman also provided the recently published 2018-2019 student completion rates in the province in comparison to the District. She also answered previously asked trustee questions regarding student outcomes.
Student Trustee Report
Student trustee, Joshua Harris, provided his report to the Board. Continuing from the last meeting, Harris elaborated on the Student Issues Box. Students have voiced their concerns around the proficiency grading scale recently introduced by the Ministry. Although no actions are required at this point, Harris wanted to relay students' concerns to the Board. Harris also spoke about the success of the CANley Cup - a student-led initiative that aims to raise donations for the Greater Vancouver Food Bank. Final results on how much money was raised will be shared at the January Board meeting.
Decisions by the Board
A number of important motions were before the Board for consideration.
A motion was passed for staff to create a strategic plan to address racism and discrimination in Vancouver schools. An interim report will be presented at the June 3, 2020 Policy and Governance Committee meeting. In addition to this, the Board passed another motion to hire a field expert to advise the Board on policy and procedures, particularly in response to discriminatory student conduct. On the same topic, the Board approved to draft a new policy called Policy 21: Non-discrimination and Elimination of Racism.
The Board also passed two motions regarding its operations. The first was related to the timing of the annual public meeting, now to be held in November and second was to update trustee renumeration to the current consumer price index.
The Board decided to withdraw a motion relating to the consultation process on food programs - recognizing there was another motion passed at the September Board meeting in which it encompassed the desired engagement work. Therefore, the Board decided to withdraw this recent motion because it became redundant.
In terms of new business, the Board passed a lease bylaw for Focus Education, located on the first floor at the Education Centre.
Board Chair's Annual Report
Board Chair Janet Fraser presented her annual report, detailing the work of the Board since November 2018 and how that has impacted student learning. Fraser spoke about the District's reconciliation work, seismic mitigation program, Long Range Facilities Plan and various partnerships such as Oceanwise, Food Bank and Fresh Roots. In addition to this, the Board has made policy changes in support of the Climate Action Strike and anti-racism education. Fraser also highlighted the many decisions made based on student voice, such as the 2019-2020 budget, where funding was allocated for improvements to school washrooms and better technology. The Board takes pride in the accomplishments of this year and looks forward to 2020, as they continue in their work to reflect the values and aspirations of schools and students in Vancouver.
Election of Board Chair and Vice-Chair
As trustees complete their first term as a Board, the Board Chair and Vice-Chair positions were up for reelection. Trustee Janet Fraser was nominated for Chair and accepted and resumed her role of Chair again. Trustee Carmen Cho was nominated for Vice-Chair and accepted the role for the 2020 term.
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. One question was asked by an audience member inquiring what strategies the Board will use to ensure systemic change takes places in regard to the anti-racism motion. Board Chair Fraser responded and confirmed the commitment to listening to the community, stakeholders and parents to ensure their input is incorporated and systemic change occurs. The first step has been taken by approving a field expert to work on this matter.
The meeting ended with holiday wishes to everyone as it was the last Board meeting of 2019 and as the decade concludes.
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.