Submitted by Vice-Chair Leech: April was a busy month for SD46 trustees with our regular meetings, the District Student Leadership Team forum and the BC School Trustees Association AGM. Trustees are also attending the SCTA and the CUPE collective agreement bargaining meetings. Chair Ruth was also in attendance at the Industry Training Authority Gala on April 9th to acknowledge the work of increasing the numbers of students in these training programs.
Trustees, Superintendent Bocking, Secretary-Treasurer Weswick & Student Trustee Davis attended the District Student Leadership Team Forum on April 18th.
Sitting at assigned tables with a principal, a member of the leadership team and students we listened to their responses to a series of questions on social media, making connections, health and wellness and physical activity.
The student’s responses were thoughtful and enlightening. For example, technology and social media are their methods of choice for communication and learning – there is no turning the clock back on that one. They also had great awareness of the challenges associated with technology and social media – such as isolation and depression and the rising cost of staying current. Many, many grade 11 & 12 students are working after school and on the weekends in part to pay for their phones and plans. They also see technology as a huge asset in political activism
Another popular topic was the need for ‘real’ life skills. How to file tax returns, pay bills, buy a house, get a mortgage, budgeting. How to apply for university, jobs, and apartments. They called it ‘adulting 101’. We have been hearing about this need from parents and students during the strategic plan surveys and focus groups. The new plan will reflect what we have heard in our goals (draft v. 2 April 2019: Our students will graduate with specific skills to navigate through life – or similar wording).
At our April Committee of the Whole meeting we went through the next iteration of the 2019/2024 Strategic plan. Reviewing and refining the mission and goals of the plan. The board is excited to see the next (and possibly final) draft at the May Committee of the Whole.
SD46 Trustees, Superintendent Bocking and Secretary-Treasurer Weswick attended all or part of the BC School Trustees Association AGM, April 25th – 28th. It was an inspiring few days and a great opportunity for SD46 trustees to see how school boards fit into the provincial picture. At the event we were reminded that school boards are at risk of becoming an endangered species! Nova Scotia dissolved their democratically elected school boards last year and appointed an advisory council. Quebec has introduced legislation that will abolish school boards in 2019. And Manitoba has retained a consultant to review their school board model, this is the same consultant who recommended abolishing school boards in Nova Scotia so the outcome may be a forgone conclusion. The Canadian School Board Association has chosen May 7th as school trustee advocacy day.
This sobering news makes us more aware than ever of the need to maintain, healthy, strong, accountable boards focused on our communities and also keeping our eye on the bigger picture as stewards of public education. The relationship between BC’s Boards of Education and the BC Ministry of Education is currently as healthy as it has ever been and the Memorandum of Understanding recognizing the co-governance responsibilities for BC Public Education system was renewed in December 2018.
We heard from a couple of inspiring women – Gabrielle Scrimshaw and Monique Gray-Smith. Both women are from indigenous backgrounds and shared the trials and joys of their journey’s as well as some fascinating statistics. By 2026 Canada’s indigenous population is projected to account for 19.9 percent of the labour force growth, there are seventy thousand indigenous students in BC schools today and in 2026 forty thousand of those students will enter the workforce.
At the AGM we also had the opportunity to meet our fellow trustees in the South Coast Branch of the BCSTA (SD47 Powell River & SD48 Sea to Sky). Trustee Ruth was elected professional learning representative for the branch and Trustee Amaral is the new branch secretary. All three districts committed to strengthening our links and to meeting at least once per year to focus on possible joint initiatives and share our learning