What do BC school trustees want?April 28, 2014
The B.C. School Trustees’ Association (BCSTA) held its annual general meeting in Vancouver over the weekend. Since I’ve not seen any media reports or releases about the event, I’ve assembled the following overview based largely on BCSTA tweets:
Here’s what trustees want the provincial government to do:
– Develop a course about Canadian residential schools and make it mandatory for graduation. (Similar to a 25-hour course in NWT and Nunavut.)
– Amend the School Act to allow student trustees on boards of education (such as those already installed in Vancouver and on the Sunshine Coast). “Student trustees would be able to provide valuable perspective into discussions and decision-making, which impacts the BC education system,” the resolution says. “In addition, the concept of student trustees further empowers students to express their opinions and ideas regarding their learning experiences.”
– Review the Daily Physical Activity requirement for Grades 10-12 and consider whether it has value, given that schools have difficulty tracking whether students fulfil the requirement of 150 minutes of physical activity per week for Grades 10-12.
– Consult education stakeholders about whether School Planning Councils are worthwhile, since teachers and support staff are not involved. Consultations would allow the government to make meaningful changes “to ensure effective school-level decision-making and board compliance with the (B.C. School) Act, which for many years has been questionable if not impossible.”
– Work with education faculties to introduce mandatory courses in social and emotional learning so that new teachers will be better able to support students.
– Make youth mental health a priority for all provincial ministries that work with young people, and provide sufficient funding to address the issue.
– Provide sustainable funding for school district initiatives that support resilience, self worth and social connectedness for young people experiencing mental health challenges.
– Return the governance of the B.C. Public School Employers’ Association (BCPSEA) to school trustees. (The BCPSEA is the bargaining arm for school trustees but it’s been controlled by government since July.)
– Provide full funding for boards of education to cover costs that are out of their control. (Examples include staff pay raises, increases in MSP premiums and any changes to class size/composition rules.)
– Provide full funding for approved capital projects, including seismic upgrades.
– Increase investment in the infrastructure and expertise needed to provide skills training to secondary students.
– Provide the money necessary to modernize schools and encourage students to enrol in trades and technology programs.
– Develop a child poverty reduction plan.
– Expedite improvements to bandwidth and connectivity throughout BC.
– Fund the Rural Education Partners Council, an advocacy forum to address student needs.
– Review the Public Education Equity Program to ensure equity across the province.
Here’s what trustees instructed the BCSTA to do:
– Gather examples of school districts that are sharing services (in response to the government’s suggestion that boards would have an easier time balancing their budgets if they shared more services).
– Strengthen ties with the Union of B.C. Municipalities.
– Continue to advocate for additional special education funding, including for “grey area” students (which refers to students who are struggling but haven’t been designated as special needs).
Here are the motions that were defeated:
– Thompson-Okanagan’s call for an action plan to address the achievement gap between boys and girls. Male students have lower grades and are less likely to graduate than female students.
– The Northern Interior Branch’s recommendation that trustees be required to have a criminal record check. “Trustees hold a position of trust and authority and should be held to the same standard that is required for anyone working with our students,” the resolution said.
– Sunshine Coast’s request for professional development to help boards of education align governance practices with a model recommended by the Auditor General.
– The Northern Interior Branch’s call for support for capital plans in northern and rural school districts that are proportional to the economic activity in those regions.
– The Northern Interior Branch’s request for provincial funding to deliver services that have been downloaded from other provincial ministries (such as health) to boards of education.
Only one motion was tabled and it was the most controversial of all. It was a call from the Abbotsford board of education for the BCSTA to support the provincial appeal of a B.C. Supreme Court ruling on class size and composition. If unchallenged, that ruling would have “a significant financial impact, and in some cases, a devastating educational impact on students,” the resolution stated.
A resolution from Thompson Okanagan board called on government to lift the compensation freeze for management and executive staff. It was passed as amended, but I don’t yet know how it was amended.
The meeting also saw the re-election, by acclamation, of president Teresa Rezansoff and vice-president Gordon Swan.
All 60 boards of education belong to the BCSTA but one – Vancouver – is planning to withdraw, saying it can no longer afford the $80,000 membership fee.
Find the full program for the 110th BCSTA AGM here.
I am a guest blogger for BCCPAC and information presented here does not represent the views of the organization.