Notes from April 5 Public Board Meeting

Notes and thoughts from the CBE Board meeting of April 5.

Please note: I arrived at 5:30, at the end of public statements, and left as debated started on Item 6.5. (Which means I didn’t hear the debate on Annual Monitoring of Ends 3 Citizenship.)

For the record:
Questions: Bowen-Eyre, 7, King, 1, Bazinet, 8, Taylor 12, Ferguson 3, Cochrane 0. Trustee George Lane was absent.
Motions: Taylor, Bazinet and Bowen-Eyre: One each.

Item 6.1: Debate on closure of Montgomery School
Very predictable as far as school closure discussions go. Can’t call this a debate, as there was none. All trustees lamented the school’s declining enrolment and extolled the virtues of the other schooling opportunities for students. Four parents wrote in with concerns. Interesting that two trustees broke down into tears relating stories about their own experiences at Montgomery.
The vote was unanimous. Trustee Taylor did argue that there was a problem with the provincial closure regulations because they don’t allow the parents or the school community any opportunity to boost enrolment or market the school because of the tight timelines.

Item 6:2 Three Year Capital Plan
Parents should be sure to read the report.

There were many questions about the formula for determining the rankings for new schools. It was reported that the formula was designed to be as scientific as possible and considered factors such as the size of community, number of pre-school age children, how far children were currently bussed and what kind of school continuum they had (two or three schools for K-9). Saddle Ridge topped the list, followed by Royal Oak Middle School and an expansion of Centennial High School. These were simply ranked by the points they generated in the formula. (Except for high schools, which aren’t part of the formula . . .)

More interesting was the list for school modernization. There is no real formula used. Rather, the top seven items on the list didn’t have points attached, including Chinook Learning Services, Christine Meikle School, Piitoayis Family School and four projects for Career and Technology facilities in Area I, II, V and III. The points come in for projects 8-23. These points are calculated based on the age of the school building and the maintenance needs.

Trustee Taylor made a motion to move items 2-5 down to the bottom of the list. She argued that spending $100 million (of the $265 million on the list) on new career and technology facilities might be nice to have, but she didn’t think they should come ahead of roofs, windows, boilers and handicap accessibility in schools that desperately need them. She also asked what public consultation was done on the capital plan. She was told there was a meeting that was advertised in the paper.

Other trustees argued that they’d already made CTS studies a priority, so they needed to follow through . . .and no one wanted to “mess around” with the list.

Her motion was defeated 5-1 and the capital plan was passed as written.

Items 6-3 to 6-5:
These were three motions, brought by Trustees Taylor, Bazinet and Bowen-Eyre and were basically housekeeping items to clean up policies.

Taylor’s would have eliminate the requirement for the CBE to publish a “Report to the Community.” She argued it’s a waste of time and money and ditching it would save “at least $20,000 in printing and staff costs.” Her motion was deferred until February 2012 so trustees could discuss it at the same time as the monitoring report. (Trustee Taylor pointed out that the next one is due out in Dec, 2011, so we still have to pay for another one.)

Bazinet’s motion was to standardize the monitoring of board performance by moving the Board-Chief Superintendent Linkages policy to the board governance policies and have it all dealt with by the Board Evaluation Committee. The board voted to have the newly-formed governance committee look at the issue, with trustees arguing that policy changes should not be adopted in a piecemeal fashion.

Trustee Bowen-Eyre’s motion made minor changes to the role description of trustees. It was passed, even though trustees agreed it was also a “piecemeal” approach to looking at policy.

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