Using Technology to share between schools: At the November Board of Education meeting, Trustee Quentin Bruns asked if it would be possible to use technology to expand the course offerings at some of the school district’s smaller high schools.Superintendent/CEO Peter Jory followed up on this by contacting a number of school districts where he knew it had been attempted. He said at previous school districts the project was not pursued. However, in Kamloops it is working and has been for over 15 years. He explained they would get together and determine who could offer what so that they could expand the options at all the schools. Jory pointed out that it will take work as timetables need to be aligned but he added, technology is much more accessible than even a few years ago and, because of the pandemic, the skills to use it have also increased. “Principals are certainly open to doing it again . . . if it gives students more options in those rural schools it has the opportunity to gain some traction.”Jory suggested that he could contact Kamloops school district and see if a team of SD83 educators could visit Chase or Barriere and see what the program looks like “on the ground”.
Superintendent’s Report : Jory announced that schools have added 19 more Brain Bikes into our classrooms with the help of Shuswap Rotary! For those who haven’t seen them, brain bikes help in numerous ways to get the brain primed for learning and teacher and student feedback on the bikes has been overwhelmingly positive! Since 2015, Shuswap Rotary has cost-shared with schools to bring over one hundred brain bikes into SD83 schools. Thanks to Shuswap Rotary for the support.He also congratulated Bastion Elementary students and music teacher Shannon MacLachlan for their entries in the Canadian Music Class Challenge. One entry, Seed in the Ground, which was performed by seven socially-distances classes from grades 3-5 at Bastion, was chosen a national finalist!Speaking of music, he noted that this is typically the time of concerts at many of our schools. This year some schools have deferred until Spring for hopefully an outdoor concert, some are doing cohort classes, and some have other plans altogether. Many are posting their concerts online.Jory also noted that as part of SD83’s precautionary plan, recommended but not mandated by Health Canada, schools are routinely tested for radon gas. He added that radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas. It’s produced when uranium [thorium, and radium] break down in soil, rock, and water. It’s then released into the air and can accumulate in some areas where there isn’t much ventilation. Operations staff placed testing “pucks” in certain areas for 90 days. One puck came back with a positive reading in a storage area at Hillcrest Elementary. Jory noted that at the level the radon gas is at it is recommended that it be remediated sometime in the next two years. He said the staff and parents at Hillcrest are all being notified about the detection. Operations plans on remediating it in the next few months.Jory updated the trustees on staff and student attendance at school, commenting that it is better than last year. “We are running at about 25 replacement teachers per day, which is about half of typical. CUPE replacement is down about 10 percent and student absenteeism is lower than last year.” He added that some students have moved to online learning and some have moved back. “Every time we see an increase in cases in the province we see parents sign their children up for EOP.” At this time there are 850 students in the Education Outreach Program that are doing some or all of their learning online, 163 from out-of-district, and 545 in-district. He added that students don’t always thrive in an online environment. “Learning in a bricks and mortar classroom is much more robust. We are doing our best to keep schools as safe as possible so students migrate back.”To wrap up his report, Jory commented that so far the district has only heard back from two education stakeholders about taking part in a proposed SD83 Environmental Committee. “We hope to commence meetings in January.”
EDPlan Insight: District Principal Jen Findlay updated the Board on the district’s use of EDPlan Insight, which is an intuitive technology platform designed to encourage and support a district-wide culture of data use, from the classroom teacher to the office of the Superintendent. The system incorporates information and data from MyEd, FSA, provincial data and local assessments. “Historically, many of our teachers have been collecting meaningful student data, but our district didn’t have an efficient way to track this information and pass it along to the next teacher.” Findlay explains now teachers can use it for formative assessment by helping to determine where an individual student or their class might need additional support. The added bonus is that the platform is very intuitive and easy for staff to use.She explained colour coding highlights specific skills that are strengths or “stretches” for students. For example, in the SNACC numeracy data, the data might reflect that a student is proficient in addition and subtraction skills at their grade level however, they may benefit from additional support with problem solving. She also gave examples of how it provides principals and the district staff with school-specific and district-wide data. “It enables district staff to ask complex questions about student performance, both individual and aggregate, and get answers to those questions immediately, in real time.” The benefits include enhanced performance monitoring and formative assessment, student and class focus on learning objectives, improved student outcomes, extensive reporting and analysis capabilities, and streamlined district-wide assessment management.”I love this program,” commented Jory. He added that it provides much needed, well-organized data which helps everyone at all levels help students achieve.
SEE SLIDE SHOW HERE
Mental Health Update: Director of Instruction Carol-Ann Leidloff reported COVID has definitely had an impact on mental health. She added Safer Schools, which works with provincial and national governments to keep schools safe, reported social media monitoring showed an upward provincial trend of mental health concerns over the summer (including racist behaviour, self-harm, and substance abuse). These incidences significantly declined in September, with schools being a protective factor, reported Leidloff. She outlined some of the mental health supports available in the school district for both students and staff as well as provincial resources. She added that an increase in provincial funding for mental health has allowed the district to increase time for a mental health literacy program teacher and pilot a program called Open Parachute, which focuses on practical mental health strategies.
VIEW SLIDE SHOW HERE
Committee Chairs: Trustee Marty Gibbons will chair the budget committee with Quentin Bruns serving as the alternate. It was also decided trustee Marianne VanBuskirk would be the First Nations Education Council representative with Tennile Lachmuth the alternative.
SOFI Report Supplemental Information:After a request was made for more information around the Statement of Financial Information (SOFI) report at the previous Board meeting, Secretary-Treasurer Cameron explained the background of the report, how the provincial and federal governments’ ensure school boards fully account for how they manage and spend the government’s education funding, what constitutes an allowable employment expense, the checks and balances that are in place, and what regulations the school district currently has in place, how employee expenses compare with similar-sized districts, and trends of employee expenses.”Trustees and the public should feel assured that appropriate checks and balances are in place and that we are not at risk,” she noted. It was noted that over the last several years spending in the employee expenses category, once corrected for inflation, has been reduced by 50 per cent.After discussion, it was suggested by Board Chair Amanda Krebs that this more in-depth look at the SOFI report be done each time there is a new board. She also suggested that every summer at its working session when the Board is looking at processes in general that they determine how much detail they want to receive as a Board in terms of expenses. Trustee Marty Gibbons also initiated a policy request to have the policy committee recommend whether there should be a Board policy to enhance the regulations.
READ MORE HERE
Regulation – Travel and Related Expenses
Whistle Blower Protection
Regulations – Purchasing Cards & Reconciliation, Payment and Record Retention
Revived Transportation Committee: The Board received information on possible terms of reference for a Transportation Committee, which , if re-established, would advise the Board on the matters related to student transportation. At the meeting there was discussion about who would sit on the committee, with some trustees suggesting the committee should have representatives from all stakeholder groups, some suggesting it might be good to have a core committee with other representatives as optional members, and some suggesting that a smaller committee with representatives more directly affected by transportation might be more efficient. It was decided to do some more research and table the motion to approve the formation of the committee until the January 2021 meeting.
READ DRAFT TERMS OF REFERENCE HERE
Personal Information Directory: Cameron also reported to trustees that the district’s Personal Information Directory is now complete and posted on the district’s website, in accordance with the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIPPA). She added that as a public body the Board is obligated to give explicit notice of how personal information will be collected, used, and disclosed. She noted the PID already needs to be updated as with the new public health order the school district must track the information of people visiting schools and district buildings, as well as when the Board makes a decision on how long it will be archiving recordings of Board meetings. “It is ongoing work but the bulk is done.”
Draft 2021/22 Preliminary Budget Timeline and Process: The Board of Education adopted version two of the 2021-22 annual budget development timeline and process as presented.
READ TIMELINE HERE
Labour Relations: Bruns reported the latest meeting was brief. “We went through the HR guidelines and then went through the issues which the Board was apprised of during the in-camera meeting,” he summarized.
Partner Group: Gibbons reported the most recent Partner Group meeting was well attended with free flowing discussion around the budget, work being done by DPAC’s diverse learning committee and COVID.
Policy Committee: Lachmuth commented the Policy Committee held a virtual meeting and worked on a group of items including the livestreaming policy, which she added will be discussed by trustees at the next Committee of the Whole meeting.
BCSTA Update: VanBuskirk and several other trustees commented on the very valuable online BCSTA Trustee Academy which they attended. “The quality of speakers was very strong and I was so appreciative I was able to attend.” In particular VanBuskirk mentioned Michael Fullan, a worldwide authority on educational reform with a mandate of helping to achieve the moral purpose of all children learning.
Report on BCSTA Trustee Academy
DPAC Request: DPAC formally requested consideration of a regular place on each Board agenda. After considerable discussion trustees agreed that they would like to seek more information and clarification from DPAC about what isn’t working for them. This change would also mean a change to the Board’s procedural bylaws.
Announcements and Reports:
rustee Gibbons reported that he recently acquired a book about the pioneering families of White Lake which he will be donating to Carlin Elementary Middle School Library.
Trustee VanBuskirk reported that she went on a tour of Sullivan in preparation for further Long Range Facility Plan discussions. She met with the principal to see what a grade(s) change at the school might look like. They also discussed the school improvement plan and the safety protocols in place.
She also gave a shout out to staff in the SD83 tech department who have helped with all the meetings that all of a sudden needed to be online and with helping all the staff who found themselves suddenly having to work online. “I’d like to give a huge shout out. I’d like to express my appreciation.”
The recording of the Board meeting can be found on the SD83 website. Click here and then scroll down to Meeting Recordings.