Board elects Chairperson

Board elects Chairperson

Amanda Krebs was re-elected chairperson and Tennile Lachmuth as vice-chairperson, after the School District No. 83 (North Okanagan-Shuswap) Board Elections at a Special Board of Education meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 19.

Chairperson Amanda Krebs and Vice Chairperson Tennile Lachmuth

Trustees also elected a representative and alternate for the B.C. School Trustees’ Association (BCSTA) Provincial Council and the B.C. Public Sector Employers’ Association (BCPSEA).

BCSTA Provincial Council rep will also be Lachmuth with the alternate being Marianne VanBuskirk. The B.C. Public Sector Employers’ Association (BCPSEA) will be Quentin Bruns with the alternate being Lachmuth.

Framework for Enhancing Student Learning Report (FESL)
Earlier that evening, during its regular meeting, the Board accepted SD83’s Framework for Enhancing Student Learning (FESL) report as presented by Superintendent Donna Kriger.

Kriger reported that the FESL report brings a formalized approach to the planning and reporting expectations for schools with a focus on enhancing student learning and success. “It combines accountability with evidence-informed decisions making and system-wide continuous improvement to support equity of outcomes for all students in the provincial K-12 public system.”

READ REPORT HERE

Kriger, who joined SD83 in August, said, being new, it was a little tricky pulling together the report. “The benefit of doing the report was that it familiarized me with the work in the district, who is doing that work, and all the different people involved.” She thanked all those who assisted her in putting together this detailed and data-filled report. She added the report reflects the good work of board, including the project to renovate and update the Board’s policy and procedures, which is crucial.

She noted the report also shows the value of assessment. “Sometimes assessment is a really scary topic, people feel it is like an accountability piece. Sometimes it can be seen as a stick, however that should never be the case. I love to make the analogy of assessment in schools to a medical diagnostic.” She added diagnostics along the way measure how we are doing, and allow us to inform our practice, and to course correct as necessary.

Some of the trends she pointed out is that SD83 has a very high level of participation in the Foundation Skills Assessments, with very few students excused from taking part. She noted Indigenous students are performing higher than the provincial average, as are learners with diverse abilities. She noted an area of concern is that many of the Indigenous students are graduating, but not with a Dogwood, so not as many doors are open to them, added Kriger. “Graduation status is one that we need to continue to work on.”

An important aspect of the report is when you put faces to those numbers. “Every one of those numbers is one of our students. One of the things I have been most impressed by is how well our staff know their students. It is a real strength within the district.”

She also said the district is near the end of its strategic plan and it that is going to necessitate trustees to begin looking forward, including what is the hope for the school district and what would be key goals. “We need to examine what/who we are as a school district, what is our motto, mission, what is it that we value?”

She noted that the district will continue to refine its goals around student learning as it moves into establishing a new Strategic Plan for 2022 and beyond. “This planning will include a complete district scan which will include engagement from the Board of Education, partner groups, Indigenous Rightsholders, PVPs, and district staff. System wide processes will be examined and renovated where necessary. Moving forward in the spirit of transparency, complete alignment between the Ministry goals, school district goals and school plans will be the goal to improve student learning outcomes. This work will be challenging however it will allow SD83 to meet improvement targets for the reporting areas contained within the Framework for Enhancing Student Learning.” 

Mandatory Vaccinations for Staff
The Board directed staff to develop a briefing note for next steps involved for mandatory employee vaccination in SD83 at its meeting on Tuesday.

Over the past number of weeks the topic of mandatory vaccinations for school district employees has come up, said Secretary Treasurer Dale Culler to trustees. He noted that there have been some directed questions towards the government that they should make the decision province wide. However, recently Premier John Horgan announced the decision would be made by local school boards.

Culler explained this raised some additional questions and concerns by the BCSTA on behalf of school boards. In response to this Minister of Education Jennifer Whiteside has put together an ad hoc committee to take a look at what they might look like for school boards. Also, he added, BCPSEA is working on getting legal opinions and a possible framework.

Culler noted that at a recent meeting attended by board chairs, superintendents, and secretary treasurers they had the opportunity to hear from the Ministry and the people on the ad hoc committee working on these matters and putting together the framework. “They are asking boards to be patient but united. Hopefully the information will be available for Boards to consider soon.”

Krebs, who also attended the meeting, said that it was stressed by Minister Whiteside that nothing should be done without consulting the local health officer, and that the Board shouldn’t even debate it until they had received the legal advice about which trustees can vote on it. “Minister Whiteside asked us not to make a decision until we had the framework and guidelines in front of us. She would like to see a united front. With that in mind I do think we should not enter into any debate until we have that information.”

Lachmuth agreed that waiting for the information was the right choice but felt local preparation should be done as well so that by the next board meeting trustees would be prepared to have the conversation. She made a motion that the Board direct staff to begin policy development on mandatory vaccinations for staff. However after discussions, this was amended to be a briefing note.

Superintendent’s ReportOutbreak at Sorrento, FSA, Wellness Project and more

In her report to the Board, Superintendent Donna Kriger commented that last week she penned a message to staff and families suggesting that she could hardly believe it was already October and yet it many ways, it felt like it could already be May, “I suppose I will begin my Superintendent Report by acknowledging that the pandemic certainly adds an additional layer of complexity and work to a sector that has always required staff to work at an optimal level of competency and effort.”

“As you know, we worked closely with our health partners in transitioning to a functional closure at Sorrento Elementary School last week. I trust that those impacted by COVID are recovering. I certainly heard from parents first hand, regarding their concerns around student and staff safety. I want to thank them for the diplomacy and respect they demonstrated during a difficult time,” she added.

After she completed her report, Trustee Marty Gibbons extended his thanks to Kriger, Sorrento Principal Jodi Garries and to the Sorrento Parent Advisory Council (PAC) for their handling of the situation at the school, and the eventual decision for a functional closure of the school. He noted all of them worked very hard to reassure and calm some very scared parents.

In her report Kriger noted that this is a very challenging time for many. “Having spent 30 years in the field of education as a teacher, school administrator and district leader, I can’t recall another time when I’ve felt the level of anger, frustration, and division that staff and communities are currently experiencing. Masks, no mask, vaccines, no vaccines – it really is a climate that is politically and emotionally charged.”

“Though our landscape has changed, one thing has not! That is that students in our K-12 system are counting on us to get it right. Their futures and in many ways, their lives depend upon the adults around them to find common ground so that we are not distracted from this important work. I don’t want to minimize the fact that we are living through a global pandemic. None of us can take that lightly but what we can do is be kind to one another, be grateful for all that we have and work together because behind the clouds there remains a blue sky.”

Kriger then went on to share some of her “blue sky” moments, which can be read below.

Superintendent’s Report Wellness Challenge
Len Wood Middle School in Armstrong is currently carrying out a wellness challenge that has staff and students focussing on nutrition. The challenge is part of the school’s improvement plan that has a goal around student engagement. This is one of three challenges the students at Len Wood will be involved in throughout the year. “I’d like to acknowledge the wonderful work that Principal Denise Moore and Vice-Principal Duncan Hazlewood are doing in their school out in Armstrong,” she said.

Superintendent’s ReportCentennial Celebration
Armstrong Elementary held a recognition celebration for the amazing gift ($100,000) that long time educator Helen Sidney donated to the school. “I was able to meet Helen and her daughter Marge during that celebration and it was an absolute privilege to watch Helen engaging with the children. She is a wonderful example of someone with a “teacher’s heart.” On behalf of SD83, I want to thank Helen for her monetary gift and for the deposits she made in the lives of many children throughout her career. I have heard many teachers and stakeholders within the district share their own accounts of the tremendous impact she had on their lives,” commented Kriger.

Superintendent’s ReportNational Day of Truth and Reconciliation
On September 29th, the traditional drum group students from A.L. Fortune in Enderby along with Indigenous Education Worker (IEW) Dodie Jones joined the staff from the District Office and Storefront School, Knowledge Keepers, Band Members, First Nations Education Council members, trustees, and community dignitaries to share in a remembrance ceremony for those who attended Residential School. “It was a powerful reminder of the truth that every Canadian needs to acknowledge and come to terms with. SD83 remains committed to listening to the voices of the survivors to ensure the barriers that exist because of colonialism are broken down so that Indigenous students can experience success and a sense of belonging within the schools they attend,” she said.

Superintendent’s Report – Buddy Bench
Bastion Elementary in Salmon Arm has a new Buddy Bench on its playground. The purpose of the bench is to encourage students to look out for one another and ensure that all students feel they belong. The Buddy Bench Project is a legacy project carried out by the family of the late Anita Pieper. Anita was a well-respected CEA in the district who passed away in 2018. To honour Anita’s kind and inclusive nature, the project encourages students to be a “good friend” just as Anita was. The bench at Bastion honours a former SD83 student, Paul Whyte who passed away in 2020. “On behalf of the SD83 family, I would like to express our gratitude to the Pieper and Whyte families and renew the commitment of inclusion within our school district.”

Superintendent’s ReportSchool Bus Safety Week
Kriger also reported this week is School Bus Safety Week and the theme is “We Stop-You Stop.” This is a reminder to all drivers that when a school bus is loading and unloading children, it is important that they stop. Of course, at the centre of school bus safety are our drivers. They are often our unsung heroes – the difference makers during the school day for many children. Their the first face that the greets the kids in the morning and the last face that reassures them when they head home. I want to acknowledge their difficult work and express my appreciation to them for ensuring the safety of our students as they travel to and from school.

Superintendent’s ReportStrongStart
SD83 is currently running a total of seven StrongStart Programs across the district. Five of the seven are full time with two others shared between Falkland and North Shuswap. For those who may be unaware, StrongStart provides rich learning environments designed for early learning development – language, physical, cognitive, social and emotional. Providing opportunities for children to engage in this type of programming increases their likelihood of being Kindergarten ready. We know that families are the first educators of children and the StrongStart program acknowledges this with invitations for families to collaborate with educators in creating conditions where children can invent, investigate and learn, she explained.

Superintendent’s ReportFSA
Kriger noted that currently, students in grades 4 & 7 are engaged in the Foundational Skills Assessments (FSA’s). These are provincial standardized assessments for districts to compare how the district is doing against its previous results as well as how we are doing against the province in literacy and numeracy. The assessments are based on the provincial curriculum and are developed by classroom teachers from across the province. The main purpose of the assessment is to help the Ministry of Education, school districts and schools track how well students are learning core academic skills. The information is used by the Ministry, the district and by schools in planning for improvement as well as reporting under the Framework for Enhancing Student Learning (FESL). “I want to assure everyone that these assessments are in no way a means to measure teacher effectiveness or to sort and rank students.”

Superintendent’s ReportProfessional Development
Teachers, principals and vice principals will be actively involved with Pro-D events this Friday. “We recognize the importance of life-long learning for both students and staff, so it gives me great pleasure to know our staff will be spending time learning new things which will ultimately help them get better at their craft,” she added.

Superintendent’s ReportCentre of Work
“I also like to extend a thank you to our NOSTA and CUPE executives for their collaborative efforts to work along side our Senior Leadership Team. It is refreshing to have these positive relationships because ultimately, we all have kids at the centre of our work. That seems like a great thought to close with, “Kids need to continue to be the centre of work” now during a pandemic and this will remain our focus when this pandemic is a mere memory,” she concluded.

2021-22 Board Annual Work Plan
The Board adopted its annual work plan as amended. This plan helps inform the agenda for regular meetings and ensures that the board covers all necessary areas of its work over the year. Key dates are also noted in the plan.

READ DRAFT WORK PLAN HERE

Sexual Orientation Gender Identity (SOGI) Report

Amy Witt, the Sexual Health Support Teacher for SD83, discussed a survey of SOGI leads/champions in SD83 schools. She said the survey was aimed to gather feedback on the delivery of the SOGI curriculum in schools and to provide benchmarking data to compare to previous years. The feedback will also be used to shape and inform district initiatives to support SOGI-inclusive schools, and a team of SOGI School Leads, including offering training and buying more resources.

SOGI REPORT
12 EVIDENCE FACT SHEET

The program is set up with Witt as the district lead, and in turn she supports school leads. She said the SOGI 123 curriculum is “the loveliest curriculum of acceptance” designed to make all children, no matter how they identify or what their family looks like, feel welcome.

Witt said if you take a read of the 12 Evidence Facts it is the why, the why that we look at. “Having a marginalized gender identity or sexuality that doesn’t fit the binary or the straight sort of work in a tidy way, that is not anything that is pathologized. When you read about the self harm that happens it is because of the system that these marginalized kids are in is not supportive enough and so that’s on us, to make sure we are doing a better job of that. It also speaks to the fact that we make a significant difference. We are in the business of saving lives.”

SD83 Hub
Trustee Marianne VanBuskirk and Assistant Superintendent Ryan Brennan gave trustees a brief tour of the SD83 Hub, which helps SD83 meet its strategic goal for organizational efficiency. It is described as a “one stop shop” as it brings important links, forms and resources from multiple places to one easy to use location.

VanBuskirk congratulated the strong team that put this together and introduced it to the district. “Congrats to all of you, you’ve done a great job of this.” She encouraged trustees to check it out and start using it.

2021-22 Internal Administrative Calendar
The Board adopted a couple of changes to the 2021-22 Internal Administrative Calendar which included changing the date of the November Board meeting to the 23rd (from the 16th) and the dates of several meetings in June, including the Board meeting moving to the June 21st (from the 14th).

Labour Relations
Committee Chair Quentin Bruns reported the committee met on Monday, Oct. 18. He added the committee discussed staff demographics. He noted that one area of concern was in the area of teachers teaching on call (TTOCs), as their demographic was older. He also updated the Board on the district’s exit survey template, developed by Brennan, which Bruns feels will give the district valuable information. There was also an update on teacher bargaining.

Partner Group
Committee Chair Marty Gibbons reported at the previous meeting of the Board, it had been requested the partner group have a look at the terms of reference for the reconfiguration working group. Gibbons said after the discussion at Partner Group concerns were raised about the composition of the group. He added Partner Group would request the Board revisit the make up of the committee, particularly for the Salmon Arm area. He noted they’d like to expanded representation from groups including students, DPAC, CUPE, and NOSTA.

He then moved that an additional student be added to the working committee as there was interest from a Gr. 12 student to also be on the committee. After discussion by trustees it was decided that at the first meeting of the working group, which is November 1, one of the items on the agenda would be if the number of students on the committee should be expanded.

WORKING GROUP TERMS OF REFERENCE

Policy Committee
Committee Chairperson Tennile Lachmuth updated the Board on a friendly amendment to regulation 1070.01R Animals on School Property, which has been in effect since June 12, 2007 and was amended in May 2020. A request to consider the development of a policy specific to service dogs. The Policy Committee reviewed the regulation and using information from the the Guide and Service Dog Association through the Security Programs Division, Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General, made a friendly amendment which states: Certified guide/service dogs are exempt from this regulation as under the BC Human Rights Code individuals are protected from discrimination on the basis of a disability. 

READ POLICY 1070.01R
READ REGULATION 1070.01R

Lachmuth also reported the committee had a very good discussion with SD83 Health and Safety Coordinator Kevin Waldal about the background information on the policy around naloxone kits and how supply challenges will be handled.

Committee of the Whole
Krebs noted there will be a committee of the whole meeting in November, although the date has not yet to be determined. At this meeting the Board will go through the Prince George Board of Education’s Special Report with the lens of how SD83 district is doing.

BCSTA Provincial Council
Lachmuth reported to trustees that there were three motions coming up to vote on at the next provincial council meeting including one around the provincial teacher shortage, the second on the opioid crisis, and the third around the need for increased funding for annual facilities grant. She said her intention was to vote yes to all three motions, and any trustees with a differing opinion should get in touch with her.

BCSTA Branch Meeting
The SD83 Board hosted a successful BCSTA Branch Meeting Oct. 8-9, attended virtually by trustees from throughout the region. Highlights included guest speaker and author Elaine Alec, Minister of Education Jennifer Whiteside, Jackie Tegart, and MLA Greg Kyllo. Doing welcomes were Ethel Thomas of the Splatsin Band, and Joyce Kenoras of the Adams Lake Indian Band.

Another highlight was a presentation by the A.L. Fortune Drumline.

BCPSEA Update
Trustee Quentin Bruns reported over last couple of weeks BCPSEA has been sharing trial procedures for teacher bargaining, with both BCPSEA and the B.C. Teachers’ Federation walking them through what bargaining would look like. “The two of them did a great job of showing us how it would work and it was nice to see both partners working together on this. It was interesting and there was good participation.”

FNEC Update
Trustee Marianne VanBuskirk attended a FNEC meeting on Oct. 13 for a special meeting regarding the budget, however she said the round table discussion beforehand was how everyone was very touched with the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation ceremony at the DESC on Sept. 29. She noted during the budget discussion there were suggestions about how to streamline the FNEC budget to make it more user-friendly, and add information so that FNEC can see how it compares from year to year.

Trustee Reports
Gibbons reported it was an honour to attend and be part of the ceremony on the 29th. He also reported on attending DPAC and the PAC meetings at Sorrento and North Shuswap.

VanBuskirk reported that it is such a pleasure to see students and coaches’ faces at extra curricular sports and activities that are back up and running safely. “Accolades to everyone making those opportunities available and safe.”

Upcoming Dates
Oct. 22 – Non-Instructional Day
Nov. 11 – Remembrance Day (stat holiday)
Nov. 12 – Non-Instructional Day (Ministry designated)
Nov. 23 – Board of Education meeting 6 p.m. via Teams