2013-2014 a new board and a new beginning.

This is our first post since the 2013 trustee election. So a little review might be in order?

October 2013 started with great hope. It was hoped three new trustees would add a fresh perspective and after a campaign largely discussing added transparency, I know I was certainly hopeful.

Then November hit and word of an agreement surfaced that would have trustees only speak to the media through the Chair. Three trustees announced their intent publicly to take their names off the agreement shortly after signing it and to date all but one has been quoted in the media.

A short time later there was a failed motion to review board procedures through the lens of transparency.

Many observers were disappointed by these two in-actions.  At the same time, parents were starting to organize in various neighborhoods where school program movement and bulging populations at existing schools were coming to a head.  Parents were also asking their elected trustees to get involved in a proposed new system-wide report card and were frustrated about the lack of community engagement and information available.

In December, news broke of a scheduled meeting of the Calgary Association of Parents and School Councils where a presentation on the new report card model was to be discussed in January.

As we rang in 2014, the trustees voted to tear down and build a new school on the flooded Elbow Park school.  This was promised by the Premier and Education Minister.   While some parents wanting new schools in their area saw this as a waste of money which could be directed to their area for a new school, trustees argued this decision was not linked to new school builds as insurance dollars combined with provincial flood relief dollars could not be redirected. The motion passed 6-1. Shortly after this the CBE administration cancelled their planned presentation at the January CAPSC meeting 2 days prior to the scheduled date.

Now to tonight’s meeting, February 4th, 2014. The agenda included information on the impact of a possible change in policy when lotteries are employed to determine who gets into an “at capacity “school. Trustees asked many good questions of administration and the report was accepted 7-0 by trustees. Trustee Hurdman then made a motion arising to change the policy so young siblings had priority over new students who lived within the walk zone. Those with children already in school with younger children were in support, while those with young children who lived in the walk zone were not and two parents spoke against the change at the meeting. It was a tough decision with some winning and some losing. Questions were good, debate was strong on both sides and transparency and responsiveness won the day in, my humble estimation. The motion was defeated 3-4. Regardless of what side you were on, parents were heard and the issue was well debated.

The most interesting item on the agenda was a letter tucked into the consent agenda to the Minister of Education and Minister of Infrastructure asking the provincial government to transfer responsibility of building new schools to the Calgary Board of Education in order to get them built in a more timely fashion.

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