D.P.A.C. MEETING NOTES
Burnaby Central Secondary School
6011 Deer Lake Parkway
DATE: September 29, 2014
TIME: 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm
Brentwood North: Alpha, Gilmore, Kitchener, Burnaby North, Aubrey, Capitol Hill, Lochdale, Montecito
Cariboo Lougheed: Burnaby Mountain, Cameron, Seaforth, Stoney Creek, University Highlands, Cariboo Hill, Armstrong, Twelfth Avenue
Central West: Burnaby Central, Douglas Road, Gilpin, Lakeview, Moscrop, Cascade Heights, Marlborough
Kingsway South: Burnaby South, Maywood, Suncrest, Taylor Park
Kevin Kaardal, Superintendent of Schools; Gina Niccoli-Moen, Deputy Superintendent; Heather Hart, Assistant Superintendent; Roberto Bombelli, Assistant Superintendent
Board of Education Trustees and their zones:
Baljinder Narang, Chair (Kingsway South); Meiling Chia (Kingsway South); Larry Hayes (Cariboo Lougheed); Harman Pandher (Central West); James Wang (Brentwood North)
Jen Mezei, Chair (Cariboo Lougheed); Herman Louie, Treasurer (Central West); Kristin Schnider, Secretary (Cariboo Lougheed); Jocelyn Schonekess, Vice Chair (Brentwood North); Victoria Brenden, Member at Large (Brentwood North)
Regrets: Dave Dye, Member at Large (Cariboo Lougheed)
1. Welcome and Introductions
The Chair called the meeting to order at 7:06 PM and welcomed everyone to the first DPAC General meeting of the 2014-2015 school year. Jen then introduced the District Staff and Board of Education Trustees in attendance.
Jen announced the new 2014-2015 DPAC Executive as follows:
Jen Mezei, Chair
Jocelyn Schonekess, Vice Chair
Herman Louie Treasurer
Kristin Schnider Secretary
Victoria Brenden Member at Large
Dave Dye Member at Large
Before proceeding with the agenda, a door prize was drawn for those school representatives present.
A round of introductions was then conducted for all parents present. Parents were asked what schools they represented and were also asked to provide some information on what they want DPAC to advocate for or what they hope to learn by participating with Burnaby DPAC.
Several parents advised that they are first-time attendees. General themes among the returning parents were that they were here to share best practices between PACs within the District and also to continue the communications lines between PACs, District staff and the Burnaby Board of Education. Another recurring comment from parents was a desire to address concerns regarding the delayed start to the school year and the recent labour dispute between the BCTF and the BCPSEA.
Jen then voiced her aims for the year, noting that she was really glad to see so many new faces in attendance. As well, it’s good to see several schools represented this evening that have not attended DPAC meetings in some time. Jen added that she believes this will be a really positive year: it will be a year where we’ll all have to work on building relationships and continue to work on the sense of community that already exists within the Burnaby School District.
2. Board Chair Message
The Chair then invited the Board of Education Chair Baljinder Narang to address the DPAC representatives.
Baljinder Narang began by welcoming everyone to the start of the new school year. Board Chair Narang continued by thanking parents not only for attending this evening, but also more generally for their patience with the long and drawn out labour dispute. She acknowledged that the dispute was very difficult for all who were impacted: teachers, support staff, students, parents, and community partners.
Board Chair Narang went on to say the Board is delighted that students are back in school. Moreover, the Board is thrilled that it was a negotiated settlement that brought an end to dispute. Having a negotiated settlements means that both sides worked extremely hard, both for their own gains achieved through the negotiations, but also to compromise with the other Party. Chair Narang commented that the resolution to this labour dispute brings with it many lessons that we can learn from. However, it should also be viewed as a celebration of democracy and a lesson on how democracy plays out.
Baljinder then commented that the DPAC Executive worked hard over summer to keep abreast of the labour dispute and to keep parents informed. Chair Narang also recognized the work of the Board Trustees in advocating for Burnaby parents. She then thanked the Superintendent and the School District staff for their efforts over the last number of months to have the schools reopen as quickly and as seamlessly as possible.
Chair Narang concluded her comments by acknowledging that there is a lot of work ahead, but it will be a great year. She wished everyone great learning opportunities in Burnaby for the year to come.
3. Superintendent Report
Jen then invited Superintendent Kevin Kaardal to provide his report.
Superintendent Kaardal began by echoing Chair Narang words of welcome. He also extended a huge thanks to parents for their patience, advocacy, understanding as well as the questions they raised during and following the labour dispute.
a. School Start Up
Superintendent Kaardal went on to address the school start up. He noted that moving forward, we have an opportunity to refocus, recover and look to a renewed vision for the Burnaby School District. While we are still trying to understand what the new Collective Agreement means, District staff have been working hard to kick-start a new school year. This quick start has been, and is, a real challenge. Kevin added that principals worked extremely hard while teachers were trying to negotiate a new agreement, and all staff continue to work extremely hard. What is required now is patience on part of parents.
b. Building a Common Focus
Kevin Kaardal then moved into his presentation on building a common focus. Before proceeding he first wanted to acknowledge and thank the Coast Salish Peoples on whose land we live and where we learn.
Superintendent Kaardal then went on to address our common focus, who are our young learners. It is our young learner who we strive to mold into lifelong learners and who we teach to engage the world and understand their place in the larger picture.
Now that we are past collective bargaining and can look forward to five years of labour peace, and we can use this time as an opportunity as a learning community supporting our students. That learning community includes parents, trustees, profession staff, teacher, CUPE, safe school teams, community partners and community organizations who are contributing to the Burnaby School District. Superintendent Kaardal then asserted that this large learning community is one of the things that makes Burnaby unique. Many school districts have some of these partners; however, Burnaby has more connections and more effective relationships than anywhere else in Western Canada.
Superintendent Kaardal then spoke to another unique quality within Burnaby: also present Burnaby is an attitude of “We Care.” Burnaby students are socially engaged and socially active. This attitude of “We Care” speaks not only to students’ engagement but also to the participation of parents and other stakeholders within the community. The work of these latter groups is done with the goal of supporting students in their activism but also with graduation or with transitioning. And when students leave the Burnaby School District the aim is to have them enter the world as inclusive, positively-contributing citizens with the potential to achieve great things.
Superintendent Kaardal then addressed the recent attention that has been given to public education, which has included some criticisms. As a result of the recent labour dispute within public education, real hardships have been suffered by all partners within the learning community. He added that there are a number of responses that we have as possibilities going forward from this situation.
One option is to go back to the way things were (subject to requirements of the new Collective Agreement). Another option – the Superintendent’s favour option – is to focus on co-developing a preferred future based on a foundation of respectful relationships that exist in Burnaby and a foundation of common goals and moral purposes. Superintendent Kaardal asserted that this preferred future cannot exist within a vacuum; it must still follow the BC Education Plan, existing frameworks, and the Board of Education’s strategic plan.
Superintendent Kaardal continued by saying that while we have these frames to work within, we have an opportunity to be innovative using David Albury’s disciplined innovation model. Through this model we will address challenges and find solutions that introduce new ideas, but may also rely upon existing, classic structures or ideas that work well. One of the challenges that Burnaby needs to look at going forward is per pupil funding. Kevin Kaardal reported that Burnaby has lowest per pupil funding in the province at just $7,843 per student based on the current Ministry funding model.
After some closing statements for the presentation, Kevin Kaardal then called on parents to participate in an appreciative inquiry: parents were asked to write down what they value most in public education in Burnaby, in our community and in our schools. Ideas were then shared amongst to group. Some of the common themes expressed were the sense of community inclusion and engagement with community partners, engagement with parents in learning (e.g. SPCs, PACs, etc.), and communication between staff and parents.
c. What will be affected by the shortened year?
Superintendent Kaardal then reviewed a PowerPoint presentation, outlining some of the questions received from parents regarding the impact of the labour dispute and their answers:
Are we going to add days to the school year to make up the lost time?
The short answer is no. Apart from fiscal restraint issues, the District would have to to reenter locally negotiated agreements to add additional days to the school year. Adjusting and/or changing additional school closure days in the 2014-2015 school year that were approved by the Board of Education last year would also require the District to reopen the discussion and negotiations with local unions. Moreover, the Ministry of Education’s deadline for adjusting and submitting school calendars has already passed. Finally, planning for many school and families has already taken placed based on the school calendar that was established last spring.
Notwithstanding the foregoing, BC curricula are outcomes based, not time dependent: no major outcomes will be lost as a result of the lost time.
What happens with Kindergarten Gradual Entry?
Against established best practices, the Burnaby School District decided to reduce the kindergarten gradual entry process by one week to ease any additional hardship on families and to accommodate the delayed start to the year. That said, some families and schools are still carrying out individualized entry plans where a longer gradual entry was requested.
Will there be changes to semester starts and end dates?
Yes, there will be a change to balance to two semesters with the delayed start to the school years. The revised end dates are now January 20 and June 14. In addition, November exam re-write date has been added for students who wrote exams last spring (written portion only).
When will my we receive completed student timetables?
Timetable changes are still occurring. We also have an issue with class loading – assessing the number of students that have left the District. Due to the strike, year closing information was not completed in June. This has resulted in some school having to reorganize this fall, which has impact student timetables. Admin and school counsellors are working as quickly as possible to finalize student timetables. Thanks to parents and students for their patience.
When will ELL testing begin at the Language Centre?
Testing is almost complete. The District is moving as quickly as possible and has brought in outside testers to expedite the process.
Will my child (Grades 4-9) receive final marks from last year?
You did receive final marks in the best way that the School District could provide. The BC Labour Relations Board determined that final marks for grades 10-12 were essential. However, this was not the case for grades 4-9. If a modified report was not available, third terms marks were used as a best indicators for students’ final marks.
To tabulate final marks now would be exceedingly challenging: in some cases teachers no longer work for the School District (maternity leaves, term contract staff, have moved on to other districts, etc) and cannot be asked now, and a lot of student work was returned to students at the end of the school year and is no longer available to assist with evaluation. Where marks are critical for students, parents should speak with their principal and work with the District to meet the need. (e.g. in the case of scholarship applications). Going forward, students will receive full assessments.
When will school athletics begin?
Athletics have already started. There are 60 teams up and running within the Burnaby School District. At the elementary level, athletics are beginning as well with volleyball.
Will Grade 7 and Grade 8 retreats that were missed go ahead/be rescheduled?
Principals will work with PACs to determine next steps. Many schools have already taken efforts for rescheduling.
d. LIF/Education Fund Update
Superintendent Kaardal then went on to address the changes Learning Improvement Fund (LIF) in light of the new Collective Agreement. He noted that the new model is now effective now with the ratification of the agreement.
The LIF is divided into two parts: one part is the education fund made up of teaching staff (80%) and the other is the support fund made up of CUPE BC or EA staff (20%). The support fund is further divided into two parts: $300K for contractual time lift, which was negotiated in the CUPE agreement. Another $460K is allocated for learning supports, which fall under the old rules (as he understands it). Kevin Kaardal then advised that the District is still receiving technical clarification on the new system and they are receiving more information as they ask further questions.
The result is that there will be different supports offered for student: consultation will occur at the school and District levels. With this, PAC presidents will be consulted with any solutions that are brought forward. Superintendent Kaardal then commented if there’s a major change to the support your child is receiving, your principal or the team should be talking to you as well. Changes may be required as a result of the new required 80:20 rule.
As a result of the new model, Burnaby is oversubscribed under the new 80:20 balance. Therefore the District will be working through this challenge over the next few weeks, and asks for patience from parents. Parents with questions or concerns should communicate with their school principals. Regardless of the adjustments that will be made, the District is committed to meeting the needs of all learners.
Before taking questions, Superintendent Kaardal reiterated that the District intends to conduct a conversation and consultation process as it adjusts to meet the new requirements for the LIF.
A parent asked for clarification on the strike savings that the Ministry of Education was requiring all School Districts to return and what impact that will have on the Burnaby School District. Superintendent Kaardal answered that the calculation has not been completed yet and the impact cannot be fully assessed. However, the Burnaby School District will be returning 100% of the strike savings to the Province. Those savings include money that would have been spent on staff salaries, etc.
Another parent then asked if the LIF would be the same amount in light of the new agreement. Superintendent Kaardal answered that he understands there may be a marginal increase to the LIF now. However, this increase does not cover the costs of Burnaby’s current needs.
A parent then asked if the 80:20 ratio within the LIF model was fixed. Superintendent Kaardal confirmed that it was.
A parent then commented that he heard it reported the superintendents have the final say on the allocation of LIF funds. Superintendent Kaardal provided that under the new LIF process staff reps are involved at the school level. If there isn’t an agreement at that level is can be taken to the BTA and the Superintendent to agree upon. If no agreement can be reached at that point, the Superintendent will have the final say. That said, Kevin asserted that superintendents shouldn’t have to issue a final say; an agreement will likely be found before that would be necessary.
Jen Mezei commented that with the old LIF funding model, each school provided the School District with a list of priorities. The District then distributed the LIF funds based on need. Under the new model will the disbursement of funds be driven more by schools? And if, so will needy schools receive more of the funds or will the funds be distributed to schools based on per capita? Superintendent Kaardal answered that it will be the same process: priorities will be submitted to the School District and the School District will work with the Union to prioritize funds. It may mean that we have to combine some funding requests, but the process will ensure that supports are in place for students who need them. Superintendent Kaardal went on to explain that the move is from an EA-focused model to a Teacher-focused model.
Another parent then asked if the spring report card deadlines were individually decided by each school. Superintendent Kaardal confirmed that each school made the deadline decisions and all dates were within a couple days.
The parent then went on to say it was very disappointing for parents to see some schools issuing full reports while others within the same District provided very little. Superintendent Kaardal encouraged parents to go back to last year’s teacher to seek additional information if required. If there is a specific need for a report, parents can work with the District on a case-by-case basis to accommodate the need.
The parent then asked why report card deadlines were not moved when the threat of a strike was imminent. Superintendent Kaardal reminded all parents that teachers were already in job action prior to the strike, and the District was limited to the dates that were already in place. The Union decided through its collective voice that it would keep the established dates: if the deadline fell before the strike commencement teachers were able to issue reports; if the school’s report deadline fell after the start of the strike teachers would not be providing reports.
Herman Louie asked what impact the labour dispute had on enrollment numbers for International Students and whether or not the strike will negatively impact that funding stream.
Superintendent Kaardal answered that efforts were taken to mitigate any potential impacts to that group. Preliminary enrollment numbers show little impact resulting from the labour dispute.
A parent asked if we can anticipate more teachers/resources teachers in the classroom now under the new LIF funding model versus EAs. Superintendent Kaardal answered that this would likely be the case. However, at this point we don’t know what it will look like exactly. Superintendent Kaardal asserted that while there will be fewer teachers vs. EAs relative to cost alone that is not indicative of a better or worse model.
A parent raised a concern regarding the consultation process that was already conducted with parents last year for LIF funds. He expressed that felt as those this had been taken away from parents. Superintendent Kaardal answered that there will be moments of uncertainty now with the new Collective Agreement. He added that some of the items that parents were consulted upon may still remain after the new model is implemented; however, there will likely be some changes in light of the new agreement.
4. Table-top Activity
Superintendent Kaardal led a table-top activity and invited all parents to participate. The activity called on parents to anonymously express their hopes and frustrations with the new negotiated settlement.
After the activity, Superintendent Kaardal thanked all for participation. He then concluded by reminding parents that we’re all learners first. We need to share our ideas and our learning through DPAC, through parents, PIEs, PAC meetings, with phone calls and communication with staff. It is the idea that matters and it will help us meet our goals. We need to be at our best right now because our best is needed right now so that we can achieve our preferred future.
5. Chair Report
The Chair provided a brief update on the Executive’s activities, including the media release that was issued upon the conclusion of the labour dispute. Jen noted that one thing that both the BCCPAC and Burnaby DPAC have voiced, which was outlined in the release, is our commitment to continue advocating for classrooms in BC. Presently, Burnaby DPAC is looking at how we can support some of the things that teachers were advocating for during the labour dispute. The Executive has been in touch with the Burnaby Teacher’s Association and is setting up a meeting in the next couple of weeks to discuss what parents can do to support our students.
Another priority of the Executive is to bring in new speakers for DPAC general meetings and PIEs. Jen then called on parents to submit any suggestions for potential speakers. She added that the Executive has already booked the BC Teacher Regulation Board to present at the January DPAC general meeting.
6. DPAC Updates
a. DPAC PIE
Jen advised that work has already been started on organizing this year’s Parent Information Evenings (PIEs). While details are still tentative Jen provided that the first PIE will be the School District sponsored presentation from Dr. Ross Greene on Thursday, October 23. Dr. Ross Greene’s talk will look at teaching students skills to be successful in the classroom.
On Wednesday, October 29 DPAC and the District are co-sponsoring the annual offering of PAC 101, SPC Training and the Treasurer’s Workshop.
The November PIE will focus on social-emotional learning.
In January the Executive is planning to have a Response to Intervention workshop. The timing of this PIE will provide parents with a good opportunity after the first report cards to see where we are going as a School District to ensure that all students are successful in their learning journeys.
Confirmed dates, further PIE details and registration will be available soon on the Burnaby DPAC website at https://dpac.burnabyschools.ca/
b. BCCPAC Conference
The Chair reminded parents that the BCCPAC Fall Leadership Conference takes place this November. The conference is scheduled for November 21-23 at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre in Nanaimo, BC. Early bird registration is now open.
Additional details and online registration are available on the BCCPAC website at http://www.bccpac.bc.ca/events/bccpac-fall-leadership-conference-2014
c. All Candidates forum
The Chair conducted a quick poll with respect to parents’ preference for having a separate evening for an all candidates meeting versus integrating a Q/A session during a DPAC general meeting. The majority of the group was in favour of having a separate evening in advance of the municipal elections where all candidates for School Board Trustees would be invited.
7. Meeting Adjournment
Before adjourning the meeting, the Chair advised that there are still a few vacancies on the DPAC executive: two positions are still vacant for the Kingsway South Zone and one position for the Central West Zone. Interested DPAC representatives are asked to contact email@example.com for more information.
The Chair then adjourned the meeting at 8:53 PM and thanked all for attending.