Livestreaming and Electronic Board Meetings, next steps for the SD83 Long Range Facilities Plan, the 2021-22 Board governance budget, and employee support while self-isolating were all on the agenda for the Committee of the Whole meeting held virtually by the School District No. 83 Board of Education on Wednesday, March 31.
Livestreaming and Electronic Meetings/Recordings Policy
At the Committee of the Whole meeting Secretary-Treasurer Alanna Cameron provided a summary of the work done so far on the livestreaming and electronic meeting/recording policy. She shared policy drafts from the policy committee, another draft with revisions from herself and feedback from BCSTA legal counsel Audrey Ackah, and then a third draft for the trustees’ consideration.
Discussion mainly focussed on the length of time meeting recordings should be made available to balance accountability with Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy concerns. It was suggested that perhaps the BCSTA legal counsel could join the Board’s next in-camera session so that trustees could ask some clarifying questions around her suggestions. Cameron will be contacting Ms. Ackah to see if this is possible, and if she is unavailable at that time, will collect questions from trustees to send to her. This policy will be coming to the Board of Education for consideration in April or May.
Next Steps for Long Range Facilities Plan
Trustees also spent considerable time discussing the next steps for the SD83 Long Range Facilities Plan, focussing on the Salmon Arm area. It was mentioned that with no “perfect option” they need to decide what they feel is the better solution, make a decision and move forward so that staff could begin planning.
Board Chair Amanda Krebs pointed out that no matter what option they pick they know they are going to need funds, so they should start putting funds aside. Trustees focussed on two options E4 (two middle schools, one high school) and E5 (two high schools). They discussed the advantages and disadvantages of each. They also discussed whether a decision should wait until the new leadership positions (Superintendent and Secretary-Treasurer) were filled so that they had the opportunity for input or whether it would be better to go ahead and have the governance decision made so that the new leadership people could focus on implementing the plan.
Trustees also noted they were in agreement with asking for capital funding for a downtown elementary school and a high school in the Sorrento area, as part of the plan. A motion for next steps for the Long Range Facilities Plan will be brought forward to either the April or May Board of Education meeting.
“We did a good job in consulting,” commented Vice Chair Tennile Lachmuth. “Now I think we need to make a decision.”
2021-22 Governance Budget Proposal
Trustees also looked at their proposed governance budget for the upcoming year to give Cameron some guidance on what they would like to see. One area was the trustees professional development travel budget and trustees discussed lowering this from the yearly rate of $7,000 for trustees, $7,500 for vice-chair and $8,000 for the chair to $4,000 for trustees, $4,500 for the vice-chair, and $5,000 for the chair. This will be reflected in the upcoming budget discussions.
COVID exposure requiring Self-Isolation – employee support
Assistant Superintendent Ryan Brennan introduced the topic stating that at the January Board of Education meeting NOSTA inquired about the availability of additional sick leave for their members who are required to self-isolate due to close contact or infection from COVID-19.
However since that time, school districts were provided advice from BCPSEA and the Ministry of Education regarding how to respond where an employee is directed by a public health official to self-isolate due to potential exposure to COVID-19 and is asymptomatic. He summarized by saying the document directed school districts to explore work from home options, redeploy, or offer a general paid leave. “With this advice in place, District employees are no longer required to use their sick day entitlement when ordered to self-isolate.”
He noted this advice was not meant to be used retroactively, so prior to February 1, 2021 the district followed what was set out in NOSTA and CUPE’s collective agreements. When NOSTA members exhaust their leave, they may be eligible for the BCTF managed salary indemnification program (SIP). “In order to qualify for this program, teachers must be sick and therefore self-isolation does not qualify them.” Brennan explained CUPE members receive six days of sick leave in one year (full pay) and up to 120 days at 66 2/3 percent. From there, they become eligible for Long Term Disability Benefits (120 days after their disability).
Brennan noted that in the 2019-20 year, 19 teachers exhausted their sick day entitlement. As of March 30, 2021, 16 teachers have exhausted their sick day entitlement. In the 2019-20 year, CUPE members accessed 13,746.67 hours at full pay and 11,354.70 hours at 66 2/3 per cent pay. As of March 30, 2021, CUPE members have accessed 7,989.76 hours at full pay and 7,846.05 hours at 66 2/3 per cent pay. Extrapolated over a full school year he comments the full day leave will be at about 76 per cent of the previous year while the 66 2/3 percent will be at about 90 per cent of the previous year.
Board Chair Amanda Krebs thanked him for the information, particularly the yearly comparisons.