All posts by Sarah

DPAC & Springwood

DPAC has two reactions regarding the district’s decision to re-open Springwood Elementary:

  • We support this decision, we look forward to this school opening, and we look to work with parents and parent advisory councils to support this happening in the best way possible for our students. Springwood Elementary will be a great school. We also certainly hope that the district receives funding for the province for the costs of the re-opening.
  • We have real concerns about how the district handled this situation in particular, and previous situations in general. We had anxious parents when the long range facilities plan was released, angry and upset parents when the board began considering recommendations regarding Duchess Park, McBride and Mackenzie and now shell-shocked parents regarding the Springwood decision. There has to be a better way of doing business, there must be a better way to communicate with the people affected by these decisions, and the district must respect and work cooperatively with parents and school communities.

The district’s strategic plan states: “we will actively engage in open communication with our education community. Transparency will enable us to establish trust and support from our communities and will provide clarity in our processes”. We have not seen that engagement, communication, or transparency in this process, and we encourage the district to live up to those words in the future.

Presentation to School Board – April 4th

At the public input section of the school board meeting of April 4th, the DPAC chair gave the following presentation:

Good evening. I’m Gillian Burnett representing the District Parent Advisory Council. I sit before you tonight, knowing that our organization has failed – we have been ineffective in influencing change that we have spent years advocating for. The release of the recommendation to reopen Springwood Elementary- what should be a good news story-, and the subsequent response from many families, has followed our anticipated, predicted and feared path.

For many years we have kept vigilante watch on enrollments, projections and capacities. We have written reports, delivered presentations and had numerous conversations about the need to plan in advance for a better response to ever changing demographics and emergent issues.

Let’s look at two examples. The declining enrollment and under-capacity of our buildings that resulted in the 2010 closures had been evident for quite some time, and it was the loss of the Annual Facilities Grant which made the problem critical. Compare that to today. The increasing enrollment and subsequent capacity challenges in the Hart area have been evident for quite some time, with class size changes now making them critical.

The very nature of a crisis implies restrictions on the length of time we have to plan and act and results in what DPAC has called “unnecessarily disruptive processes “. We have repeatedly called upon the board and administration to develop a process that allows time for fulsome consultation, communication, planning and implementation. Our recommendation is the same today as it was in March, in January, or 5 years ago:

We recommend that a standing committee with full partner group representation be created. That the committee meet annually to review the district’s enrollments, capacities and projections in order to identify trends, challenges and emergent issues. That partner groups be engaged in providing input on proposed solutions and implementation plans.

If you approve Item 7.1 later this evening, there is a lot of work to be done in order to make this successful for our affected communities.

We know transitions can create stress for those affected. We know that stress is a contributing factor to vulnerability in childhood development. We know that the Hart area has seen an increase in the number of kids vulnerable on 1 or more scales of the EDI. And good news, we know that strong relational communities that provide nurturing and enriching environments are most effective in mitigating the negative outcomes for vulnerable children.

Some of the processes necessary to implement this plan have been predetermined and are outlined in the recommendation already, but more is needed. We need a process that can begin to build a sense of community. We need to ensure that from this point forward, communication with affected parties is improved and that those affected are engaged in developing an effective implementation plan. We need a process that identifies the supports and resources necessary to ensure Springwood becomes the very best environment we can provide.

I hope my presentation has helped identify constructive solutions to improve the outcomes for our students, their families and communities. Thank you.

Text of Memorandum of Understanding,%20FINAL%20MoA%20for%20Signature,%20V.2.pdf

Summary: Tentative Memorandum of Agreement (between British Columbia Public School Employers’ Association (“BCPSEA”) and The British Columbia Ministry of Education (“Ministry of Education”) and British Columbia Teachers’ Federation (“BCTF”)

  • The key components of the Memorandum of Agreement are as follows:
    Acknowledges restoration of the deleted language as required by the Supreme Court of Canada decision and provides a final solution to the matter;
  • Acknowledges that students are entitled to equitable access to learning and that students with special needs are entitled to an inclusive learning environment — the parties agree that implementation of the collective agreement language will not be a barrier to these principles;
  • The processes described in the Memorandum of Agreement will be implemented for the 2017-18 school year and the Education Fund and Priority Measures agreement will stay in place for the remainder of the 2016-17 school year;
  • There are committees and dispute mechanisms in place to address the complexities of implementation, update out of date terminology, address definitions in the current context to help reduce grievances and arbitrations and to provide assistance to the parties;
  • Non Enrolling Teacher Ratios are restored with the ability to combine three of the five categories for posting purposes. This combining of the three categories is more reflective of the current context;
  • Process and Ancillary language will be restored with a transition period to have full
    implementation by the second semester of the 2017-18 school year and start of the 2018-19 school year. The local parties will also be able to recommend to the provincial parties that they keep their existing processes and modify the agreement to reflect that local agreement;
  • Class size provisions will be restored;
  • Composition language will be restored with a transition period and committees to deal with the changing nature of how we address students with special needs. An arbitration process is built in, in the event we don’t agree before the start of the 2019-20 school year.

Guide to SD57 Board Meetings

The school board meeting is held at 7pm, Tuesday, April 4th. Full agenda:

The school board office is located at 2100 Ferry Avenue, Prince George, BC (opposite corner across from Superstore).

The meeting road is immediately to the right after you walk in.

If you wish to sign up for a 5 minute maximum (they mean this) speaking slot, there will be a place to write down your name on a table to the right, along with copies of the agenda packages.

You do not have to speak if you do not wish to.

If you do put your name down, they will call names, and you will move to a table at the front with a microphone.

After the public speaks, the partner group representatives have an opportunity to speak. DPAC Chair, Gillian Burnett, is planning to discuss the process used for the potential move of Springwood Elementary during her time slot.

I’ll also be there (Sarah Holland) – would be happy to answer any questions at that time you may have. I’ll probably be in the corner, near a power outlet, with a red laptop.

Please keep in mind that no decision has been made as yet.

However, also keep in mind that there is a very real need for additional space in the Hart. Hart area elementary schools had enrollment of 1,258 in 2012/13, increasing each year to 1,287, 1,319, 1,327, and to 1,363 in 2016/17. The capacity of each school has now shrunk, due to the Supreme court of Canada finding that the government bargained in bad faith with the BCTF – the maximum kindergarten size has decreased from 22 to 20, grade 1 to 3 from 24 to 22, and grades 4 to 7 from 30 to 29.

Some background on the court case –    (decision reached November 2016)

We have the two very real issues of increasing enrollment and decreasing space meeting, although this certainly should not be a surprise to the district.

If you prefer to watch online, there will be a link provided on the website.

As a technical note, SD57 makes two methods avaible to view board meetings – a link for Windows, and a link to Mac. The link for Windows doesn’t seem to work on current versions of Windows, but people can use the Mac link to view –  mmsh://  (this was a previous IP address, no idea if this will be valid for this meeting as yet). Copy that text to the clipboard, open up VLC player (possibly downloading it first – it’s a very good media player though), and then Media, Open Location from Clipboard.


Agenda – April 3rd DPAC meeting

Attend by video conference:

DPAC Minutes for March 6 2017
Reopening Springwood (from school board agenda package)

Posted in November 2016:


Agenda – DPAC General Meeting
Monday, April 3, 2017, 7:00 p.m., Van Bien Training Centre
1. Call to order
2. Adoption of agenda and Adoption of Minutes
3. PAC Networking and discussion (To increase the effectiveness of this section of the agenda, we suggest that people report on ideas that may be of interest to other PACs, or concerns that other PACs could help with.)

7:30pm – Partner groups enter
4. Partner Group Presentations (five minutes each – questions may be taken about general topics, detailed and specific questions are best kept to the break)
a) District Student Advisory Council ( )
b) CUPE Report (Karen Wong)
c) Prince George District Teachers Association Report (Richard Giroday)
d) Prince George Principal and Vice Principals Association Report (Kelly Johansen)
e) Senior Administration Report ( )
f) Trustee Report (Bob Harris)
(5 – 10 minute snack break, opportunity for further partner group discussions)
5. Officer and Committee Reports
a) Executive Board Report (Gillian Burnett)
b) Treasurer’s Report (Sarah Holland)
c) BCCPAC Report
6. PAC and Parent Assistance
a) Foodsafe – October
b) White Hatter – April 12th
7. Advising School District
a) Education Services Committee Report (Steve Shannon)
b) Education Programs and Planning Committee Report ( )
c) Policy and Governance (Mike Gagel)
d) Expanded Committee of the Whole – School District Budget
e) Lunch “hour” – next steps
f) Draft Policy 4112.5 Administrative Appointments
g) Suggestions for School Board Report
8. Elections
a) Nominee Committee
9. Other Business
a) Springwood Elementary re-opening?
b) BCCPAC AGM Delegates

10. Agenda items for next meeting
11. Adjournment – Next meeting is scheduled for Monday, May ___, at 7:00 pm, Van Bien.

Reopening Springwood Elementary?

On the school board agenda for April 4th, there is a recommendation to re-open Springwood Elementary for September 2017, and revise the catchment areas for Heather Park Elementary school and Glenview Elementary.

It’s important to note that this motion has not passed at this point, and it will be very interesting to hear the discussion at the board meeting. 

The motion as written states that “students currently enrolled in Grade 6 in the proposed new catchment area for Springwood Elementary School be permitted to remain at their current school for Grade 7”. It is possible that this would mean that students currently enrolled in kindergarten to grade 5 would not be permitted to remain at their current school.

The motion as written also states that a transfer process will take place from April 9 to 21, 2017.

The background given is that currently Heather Park, Hart Highlands, and Glenview are projected to be near or at operating and nominal capacity for September 2017. With the November 2016 Supreme Court of Canada decision, and negotiations between the provincial government and the BC Teachers’ Federation, class sizes are being decreased.

The organization of Heather Park, Hart Highlands, and Glenview is estimated to require ten additional classrooms. They note that reopening Springwood, and revising catchments, will provided the additional classrooms required in this area.

Reopening Springwood (section of Board agenda package dealing with this issued).

The Board of Education will hold their regular public meeting on Tuesday, April 4th at 7 p.m. at the Central Administration Office located at 2100 Ferry Avenue. School board meetings are open to the public. There is a 30 minute public input session at the beginning, at which anyone who puts their name down may speak for 5 minutes at most.

It’s possible that people may be interested in a DPAC report from 2012 about future capacity issues in the district:

As we noted then, “There should be time built in for dialogue, discussion, collaboration, and consensus building to take place about options for dealing with capacity issues, and this discussion should not take place in the eleventh hour.”

Journey from Secondary School to Post Secondary

The Journey from Secondary School to Post Secondary: Making an informed decision

The Prince George DPAC invites you to this workshop with the Service Design team for Ministry of Advanced Education,  to help the Ministry understand the needs of parents in looking at post secondary education.

Any and all interested parents are invited to attend Wednesday, March 29th, 7PM at Van Bien Training and Development Centre.

Come help the ministry:

  • Understand the needs of students and their supports(parents & guardians) in exploring potential career paths and post secondary opportunities
  • Understand how students apply to post secondary institutions and ways to improve the process.

Through activities designed to:

  • Review how students use the EducationPlannerBC tool(, its strengths and weaknesses.
  • Exploring what online tools and supports students use to inform their decisions and how they locate those tools and supports.

Please register here, to allow planning for the number of participants
Eventbrite - The Journey from Secondary School to Post Secondary: Making an informed decision