My Platform

Charting a strategic course for the School District

  

The development of a Strategic Plan was one of the more significant achievements of this past term.  With a plan in place to guide our longer term efforts, SD61 has shifted from waiting to react to each new government announcement to a proactive stance in which we are moving productively towards a more positive future for our entire school community.  Implementation plans have been developed by nearly all District departments, providing specific and measurable goals that can be tracked to assess progress. The Strategic Plan is not a static one-time solution however.  It will need to be monitored, re-evaluated and updated to reflect changing realities.


Objectives

  • Review and update the Strategic Plan to reflect new information and circumstances.
  • Continue the process of assessing funding decisions in light of strategic priorities and our commitment to equity.
  • Review and revise existing policies and regulations to ensure that direction continues to be relevant and appropriate.
  • Ensure that land use decisions are made with consideration for a longer term vision rather than to address short term expediencies. Collaborate with municipalities to ensure that community interests are considered. 
  • Work to develop positive relationships with other levels of government and community organizations to develop long term solutions to pressing issues including child care and low cost housing.

Addressing accountability and transparency in Board decision-making and District oversight

Over the past four years, the Board's approach to decision-making has been largely transformed from a closeted process where decisions were made beyond the view of the public to one where efforts are actively made to involve staff and the community in developing options and preferences.  The use of in camera meetings has been reduced to matters involving active negotiations, legal advice or privacy concerns.  The public is now encouraged to raise questions of the Board during meetings and student trustees and staff representatives are invited to provide their perspectives on matters prior to trustee deliberations.  Decisions on specific Board motions are now tracked separately for easier public review.



Objectives

  • Continue the work of the trustee chaired Finance and Audit committee in reviewing detailed budget allocations and spending, and providing recommendations to the Board respecting opportunities and challenges throughout the year.
  • Review contracting policies and procedures to ensure that postings and awards are determined in a consistent and open manner.  Contracts, including the leasing of District buildings and lands, should be available for review once concluded.
  • Direct all sub-committees of the Board to produce minutes identifying the parties present, a summary of discussions and any actions determined.  Minutes will be available publicly on the District website. 


Actively engaging students, parents, teachers, administrators and the community

In addition to addressing a critical need for transparency in decision making, engaging students, staff and the community also opens doors for greater involvement in determining the direction our School Board takes.  There is still considerable work to be done to actively promote the participation of all parties, and to dispel the "black box" notion of district bureaucracy.  To achieve this, trustees and the district must make ongoing efforts to build connections and provide useful information.


​Objectives


  • Trustees should be assigned to schools from all communities across the district to ensure that they are aware of conditions district wide.  Currently trustees are assigned to families of schools which limits their exposure to specific catchment areas only.
  • Meet with the PACs of assigned schools regularly; opportunities to meet with teachers, administrators and staff should be pursued.  Trustees need to understand school conditions firsthand. 
  • Where PACs, staff or the public are invited to participate in specific topics or processes, for example, submitting budget recommendations, adequate supporting information must be provided in advance to enable the development of meaningful input.
  • Hold regular town hall meetings with students at secondary and middle schools; explore parent town halls for families of schools.
  • Make regular use of surveys and other tools to support community feedback both on specific programs and projects and on more general issues (for example, school culture, satisfaction surveys).
  • Explore annual school plans and other similar mechanisms that invite parent and teacher input into school direction and culture.
  • Invite PACs to present to Boards on the same days that administrators are scheduled to introduce their schools.

Focusing on Classrooms and Learning Supports

  

The BCTF's Supreme Court victory fundamentally changed the landscape of school classrooms.  Shortfalls in funding, particularly special education resourcing, however,  continue to create challenges for students and teachers alike.  Although limited by available funds, Districts do have the capacity to make meaningful changes in staffing, as demonstrated by SD61's new "Base +" model that has ensured a minimum of 0.5 counseling  FTEs in all elementary schools regardless of student population.  What is required now is an innovative mindset and an appreciation of where the needs and benefits are greatest.

 

Objectives

  • Review current funding allocations with the goal of putting more resources into classrooms.
  • Advocate for additional resources to meet identified shortfalls.
  • Provide the resources necessary to deliver quality professional development opportunities that will inform and inspire educators.
  • Address the continuing shortage of special education teachers, educational assistants and learning support teachers, particularly within the French Immersion environment.
  • Seek to reduce special education assessment wait times to no more than 6 months; allocate necessary resources to meet this timeline.
  • Identify obstacles to graduation and develop strategies to overcome them.
  • Recognise the challenges that mental wellbeing pose to students and staff alike.  Work collaboratively with local representatives to ensure that supports are in place for staff.  Encourage the adoption of mental wellness programs for students at all grade levels.