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Highlights: Public Board Meeting of June 22 

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The Vancouver School Board held its last monthly public meeting of the 2019-2020 school year on June 22, 2020. Members of the public were able to tune in via livestream. 

Watch the full proceedings. 

Board Meeting Summary 

Keeping health and safety top of mind, Board Chair, Janet Fraser was joined by Vice Chair Carmen Cho, Superintendent Suzanne Hoffman, and Secretary-Treasurer J. David Green in the Education Centre Board Room. All other trustees attended remotely.

The meeting's agenda included two matters arising from June’s Facilities Planning committee meeting, reading of the 2020-2021 Annual Budget Bylaw and a number of notices of motion related to tackling racism. 

Superintendent’s Update

The Superintendent’s update focused on support for students and families during the voluntary, part-time return to in-class instruction in June, as well as plans for the start of the 2020-2021 school year in September. Superintendent Hoffman reviewed the numbers of elementary and secondary students who attended between June 1 and June 18, noting that attendance varied school-by-school, and class-by-class. The Superintendent added all health and safety protocols outlined by the Provincial Health Officer were in place, like handwashing stations, hand sanitizer, and extra cleaning. She acknowledged the wide range of emotions for students returning to their classrooms, noting educators were provided with resources to assist in supporting students.

Hoffman also noted planning is well underway for the 2020-2021 school year, pointing to planning for all 5 stages in the Ministry of Education’s Restart Plan. She emphasized provincial protocols would continue to be followed -- as well as the need to be flexible and adaptable. She said the District would reach out to families for feedback on what has gone well over the last month, and what areas need to be worked on as plans continue to be finalized for responding to a changing educational landscape in the coming school year. 

Student Trustee Report

2019/20 student trustee, Josh Harris, provided his final report to the Board, reviewing the initial goals of student leadership, and summarizing accomplishments in moving these initiatives forward. He highlighted growth in the number of students in the District connected with the Vancouver District Students’ Council.

He also noted training that came out of conferences and retreats provided by the District was critical to tackling issues faced by students this school year. He highlighted the involvement of students in climate activism in the fall, and the collaboration between the VSB and the Greater Vancouver Food Bank in the annual Canley Cup Food Drive. He also noted the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, saying the District and students were quick to respond and share information. 

Magee Secondary student Ricky Huang, was introduced as the new student trustee for the 2020-2021 school year.

Committee Reports 

Two matters arising from a recent Facilities Planning Committee meeting were raised at the Board meeting. This included a motion to engage with Musqueam (xʷməθkʷəy̓əm), Squamish (Sḵwx̱ wu7mesh Uxwumixw), and Tsleil-Waututh (səl̓ ilw̓ ətaʔɬ) Nations in the development of the VSB’s Land and Asset Strategy plan; which was passed. 

The Board also considered and passed the proposed Five-Year Capital Plan. 

The Board considered several motions to amend the draft budget to add funding to several budget lines. The first increased the funding allocation for full-time employees in Adult Education. A second change to the draft budget provided for additional funding for cafeteria equipment and funds were added to support the anti-racism strategic plan. These three changes were approved by the Board as the funds were taken from reduction of other budget lines. The 2020-2021 budget bylaw underwent three readings and was passed unanimously.

New Business

The Board discussed a number of notices of motion connected to addressing racism. A notice of motion was adopted to request the Ministry of Education work to develop curriculum, learning resources and professional development related to Canadian Black History and inform the ministry that the District would be willing to pilot the curriculum. In addition, a motion to present a resolution to the BC School Trustees Association to request the Ministry of Education develop a database to track incidents of racism in schools was supported. 

In addition, a motion to include adding anti-racism principles to the District’s strategic plan to address racism and that Policy 21, Anti-Discrimination be amended to include “Anti-Racism” were referred to committees for input. 

A motion to review the School Liaison Officer (SLO) program in schools of the District was also raised and discussed. That motion also calls for broad engagement with students, communities of colour and equity-seeking groups as well as students, parents, staff, policing partners and the police forces. An amended motion, excluding the suspension of the program while a review is undertaken, passed unanimously. A clause to the motion, to suspend the SLO program pending the completion of a review, was debated separately. After a thorough discussion by trustees, the Board voted not to pass the motion via a 6 to 3 vote. 

The final motion of the evening was referred to the Personnel Committee meeting in the fall to develop resources and training with a focus on anti-Black, anti-Indigenous and anti-Asian racism. In addition, the motion calls for that training to be mandatory for all staff in the 2020-2021 school year. 

Question Period 

Each Board meeting includes a question period that allows members of the public to submit questions to be addressed by the Board. With meetings of the Board held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a question form is made available when the meeting is called to order and closed following the reports from the District’s standing committees. Board Chair Fraser answered questions submitted regarding timing of public engagement for a Long Range Facilities Plan, how anti-racism is advanced through policies and procedures, the Vancouver Project Office and seismic projects, First Nations engagement to ensure adequate school space in light of the pending development on the Squamish lands, and, about the SLO program. 

Watch the full proceedings. 

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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