With discussion about each one, a number of policies regarding board governance were given first reading at the School District No. 83 (North Okanagan-Shuswap) Board of Education meeting at the District Education Support Centre (DESC) on Tuesday.
These policies already exist, but are being fine tuned with revisions and updates currently taking place to the Board’s policy manual.
The Roles and Responsibilities of the Board, Roles and Responsibilities of the Board Chairperson, Roles and Responsibilities of Individual Trustees, Trustee Code of Conduct, Trustee Conflict of Interest, Trustee Attendance, and Delegation of Authority all received first reading.
These policies will now go out to stakeholders for comments before going back to the policy committee and then on to the Board for second and final reading.
During the discussion, it was decided that a policy on the role of the vice chairperson should be developed as current vice-chairperson Quentin Bruns pointed out, as there is additional remuneration there should be additional expectations.
Trustee Marty Gibbons also noted that the Watson Report recommended the Board post attendance records of trustees, which staff will work on and come back with recommendations on how to best do that. “I think it is important and goes with us being transparent and accountable,” commented Superintendent/CEO Peter Jory.
The only policy which did not receive first reading was one on trustee remuneration. Trustees generally felt the policy needed to be more clearly detailed, more aligned with employees, and equitable as some trustees had much more distance to cover than others. “It needs to be clear, detailed and transparent,” commented Gibbons.
For example, asked Trustee Tennile Lachmuth, if trustees do school visits is that a mileage claim? What about public consultations and education sessions?
Trustee Amanda Krebs noted that this tied in nicely with the discussions about the Board’s working plan, which will set out the work of the Board for each month for the next school year. “We can set out just what expectations are. Is it one Board meeting, one education session and one school visit each month or whatever we determine.”
Jory commented there wasn’t a rush to get the policy passed. “It’s more important to get it right.”
The Board also gave second and final reading to the District Code of Conduct.
Later in the meeting North Okanagan-Shuswap Teachers’ Association (NOSTA) vice-president George Richard said many teachers he spoke with are very happy to see the policy on the code of conduct and especially the regulation which said discussions will be held at the school level to establish school-level codes of conduct.
He questioned how the Board would be aware if this was taking place and Jory noted that, if it wasn’t already (and he assured trustees he would check), it will be part of the yearly planning documents which principals receive and follow.
The Board also passed the Terms of Reference for the policy committee. Jory noted that there was policy that guides process but the committee felt that they could also use terms of reference.
Lachmuth, who chairs the policy committee, comments she is very impressed. “The policy committee is a very thoughtful group. There is a lot of really good work going on.”
Board Chairperson Marianne VanBuskirk thanked the policy committee for all of its hard work.