Engaging with the community is highly valued in the Vancouver School District. Active and engaged school communities and stakeholders help inform decisions with the ultimate goal of improving student outcomes. Follow us for the month of January as we look into the engagement initiatives in the District.
What is public engagement?
Public engagement is a way of bringing the community together with decision makers where both sides can understand problems, opportunities and available options to advance outcomes.
The Vancouver School District engages with the public to foster transparency and accountablability while gathering the school community’s input to enable informed decision-making. In most instances, decisions that go through public engagement can significantly impact school communities, and going through an engagement process helps senior leadership and/or the Board make decisions that are responsive to the community’s values and concerns.
Types of engagement
Public engagement consists of a wide array of activities that range from informing the public about a decision to collaborating or empowering the public to make a decision. Each engagement will differ based on the needs and challenges of situations as well as the communities involved.
Public engagement in the District is guided by Board policy and District’s administrative procedures. Engagement activities are designed based on best practices from the International Association of Public Participation.
Engaging the public rarely falls neatly into a single category. Instead, typical engagements
involve a hybrid of the activities for different groups at different stages. This includes, but is not limited to online surveys, information sessions, facilitated workshops, advisory groups, focused conversations, open houses, newsletters and public meetings.
Engagement in the District
The District values listening to and learning from members of every school community. There are various levels and types of engagements available to Vancouver students and families throughout the year.
Regular engagement opportunities include:
- Board meeting delegations: an opportunity for individuals or delegations to formally speak to the Board.
- Parent advisory councils (PAC): a group of students’ parents/caregivers which are ****officially recognized as the collective voice of families to provide feedback to their school administration.
- Vancouver District Student Council (VDSC): a group of student representatives from across the District that provide student input in the planning and decision-making of the District. VDSC has a formal seat at Board meetings to ensure student voice is heard by decision makers.
There are also program and policy focused engagements opportunities, where students, families and staff can provide their input on initiatives such as:
- District-Wide Student Forum: Workshops where student representatives discuss issues that matter to them most and provide their input to senior management.
As we continually evolve in these every-changing times, the District recognizes student learning is also changing, and as such, programs and policies should also change. When that does occur, the District is committed to engaging with school communities to help inform the decisions. Stay tuned for the month of January to learn more about the variety of ways the District will engage with school communities and the broader public to continue advancing outcomes for students it serves.
Visit the District’s website for more information about public engagements.