Category Archives: Uncategorized

BCCPAC Spring Conference – are you interested in attending?

The conference and AGM will be held in Kelowna, April 28th to May 1st. More information on the conference available here: http://bccpac2016.weebly.com/

If you are interested in attending, DPAC has some funding that can be used to send people. We would ask that you put your reasons for wanting to attend in writing, email to exec@sd57dpac.ca, and then a decision will be made at the March 6th general meeting. We would also ask that you attend the Resolutions workshop, which will be held early April.

 

BCCPAC and Proxies

Is your PAC a voting member of BCCPAC? If you are, and if you’re not sending a delegate to the BCCPAC AGM, DPAC will act as your proxy in order to cast your vote. In exchange, DPAC will pay your PAC 100% of the BCCPAC registration of $75.

DPAC provides this funding to give our school district, and the North, a larger voice at the  BCCPAC AGM.

DPAC will be sending delegates to the AGM. These delegates have not been chosen yet – please leave the proxy form blank for delegate names.

Your PAC can give specific voting instructions, or there will also a DPAC meeting held to discuss how our delegates should be casting their votes – you don’t need to specify how you would like your vote cast, if you don’t have a particular opinion on a topic.

Once you have filled out the 2016_proxy_form, it will need to be sent to DPAC. Please send to DPAC by April 26th, in order to ensure that it gets taken to the AGM. 

Please either scan/email the form to info@sd57dpac.ca, or fax it to (250) 561-6801 (attention DPAC mailbox).

This document is the proxy form: 2016_proxy_form

BCCPAC Members as of December 31, 2015:

Beaverly Elementary
Buckhorn Elementary
College Heights Elementary
DPAC SD#57 Prince George
Duchess Park Secondary
Edgewood Elementary
Heather Park Elementary
Heritage Elementary
Hixon Elementary School
Kelly Road Secondary
Lac des Bois (Ecole)
Malaspina Elementary
Morfee Elementary
Nukko Lake Elementary
Nusdeh Yoh
Peden Hill Elementary
Pineview Elementary
Polaris Montessori Elementary
Prince George Secondary
Quinson Elementary
Southridge Elementary
Spruceland Traditional
Vanway Elementary

Rural Education Committee Report

2016.01.18 Report, Ad Hoc Committee on Rural Education, FINAL

From the background, first page:

In 2015, an ad hoc committee on rural education in SD No. 57 was developed. The committee was designed to gather information from a broad spectrum of rural citizens and provide feedback and recommendations to the Management and Finance Committee.

Specifically, the scope of this work was to receive:
1. Information about successful rural education practices.
2. Information about the challenges of rural eduation [note – spelling error in original] programming for students.
3. Input on operational challenges and efficiencies to be considered in delivery of  centralized services.
4. Input on operational challenges and efficiences to be considered for school organization purposes.
5. Input on revenue and expenditures specific to the rural context of the school district.
6. Information that is of particular concern to rural secondary school programming.

IMAGINE Community Grant funding now available to community groups, schools, and organizations

As discussed at Monday’s DPAC meeting:

IMAGINE Community Grant funding now available to community groups, schools, and organizations!

Do you have an idea for a project that promotes staying healthy? Northern Health is looking for community partners with ideas for projects that will improve the health of those living, working, learning, and playing in northern B.C.

Community groups and partners can apply for IMAGINE funding of up to $5,000. Grant information and applications are available on Northern Health’s Imagine Grants website. Information can also be obtained via e-mail at imagine.grants@northernhealth.ca or by phone at 1-855-645-6555 or 250-645-6407.

Applications are being accepted from January 25, 2016, to February 29, 2016. Successful applicants will be notified in March and a list of successful applicants will be posted on the IMAGINE Community Grants website at that time.

The IMAGINE grants will provide two opportunities to obtain funding in 2016, with another cycle in early fall.

February DPAC General Meeting – February 1st

The February general meeting for DPAC will be held Monday, February 1, at 7pm, at the Van Bien Training Centre.

All PACs in the district are members, and their representatives may vote. Others may attend as well.


Apologies, but the Van Bien WiFi is being very flaky, causing connection problems!

Webconferencing made available through LearnBCNow and Collaborate:

https://ca-sas.bbcollab.com/m.jnlp?sid=7345&password=M.9F5EBA097081CD6BAC71D84A54D84D

First Time Collaborate Users

  • You may be prompted to download some software which may take anywhere from 2 to 20 minutes depending on your Internet connection speed. Join your meeting early if you can.
  • A microphone and headphones or speakers will allow you to participate fully in the meeting.
  • Visit the Configuration Room and use the Audio Setup Wizard before the session to make sure your computer’s audio is configured correctly.

 


Agenda – DPAC General Meeting
Monday, February 1st, 2016, 7:00 p.m., Van Bien Training Centre
1. Call to order
2. Adoption of agenda and Adoption of Minutes
3. Transportation Update
4. 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
5. Partner Group Presentations (five minutes each – questions may be taken about general topics, detailed and specific questions are best kept to the break)
a) DSAC Report ( )
b) CUPE Report (Karen Wong)
c) Prince George District Teachers Association Report (Richard Giroday)
d) Prince George Principal and Vice Principals Association Report (Dan Watt)
e) Superintendent Report (Sharon Cairns)
f) Trustee Report (Brenda Hooker)
(5 – 10 minute snack break, opportunity for further partner group discussions)

6. Acceptance of resignation – Rob Woods
7. Elections –Vacant Secretary position

8. Officer and Committee Reports
a) Executive Board Report (Sarah Holland)
b) Treasurer’s Report (Gillian Burnett)
c) BCCPAC Report

9. PAC and Parent Assistance
a) Grant requests
b) PAC Cafe – looking at weekend of March 5-6th, lunch session
c) FoodSafe update
d) Look at digital and online safety workshop – target first two weeks of March? – requires planning

10. Advising School District
a) School District Budget Consultation
b) Calendar Committee – February 11th, at 3:30pm, and March 31st, and 3:30pm
c) Recommendations from Rural Consultation Committee
d) Education Services Committee Report (Steve Shannon)
e) Education Programs and Planning Committee Report ( Mike Gagel)
f) Policy and Governance (Sarah Holland)
g) Suggestions for School Board Report

11. Other Business
a) BCCPAC Resolutions – workshop and proxies – target beginning of April, proxies can be sent in now
b) BCCPAC Conference – April 28th to May 1st, Kelowna – Delegate selection committee, and expressions of interest
c)
12. Agenda items for next meeting
13. Adjournment – Next meeting is scheduled for Monday, March 7th at 7:00 pm, Van Bien.

Update on potential busing fees

At the January 26th board meeting, the board debated the merits of referring a motion to charge for busing to the Budget Consultation Expanded Committee of the Whole, and by a 4/3 vote sent it to the committee. This debate took place from 9:26pm to 9:56pm.

Some key points:

  • They have not implemented busing fees, simply referred to to another committee to consider.
  • The Budget Consultation Expanded Committee of the Whole typically includes board members, senior admin, and two representatives from each partner group. DPAC is a partner group, and would plan to attend these committee meetings. These appear to currently be planned for April.
  • The board also discussed public consultation on this matter, and with the budget in general. It is unclear what this may look like.
  • Board members were not generally in favour of implementing busing fees (this was very clear in the discussion). They were not pleased about possibly downloading additional costs onto families.
  • Board members were concerned about the administrative savings that the provincial government is requiring districts to find and submit.  At this point, it is unclear what cuts or other fees might replace the $263K this fee would be anticipated to bring in.
  • It was also noted that the Ministry of Education is very clear that they don’t pay for transportation. There were comments that they would like to see more data – student location, costs, how much the district is subsidizing parents, how many students do not / can not take the bus.

 

DPAC will continue to keep parents informed on this matter.

 

More information: http://sd57dpac.ca/2016/01/district-to-consider-charging-for-busing/

DPAC Chair – presentation to school board, January 26th

At each public board meeting, there is a public input session. Anyone can put their name down to speak for 5 minutes.

After the public input session, partner group presidents are given an opportunity to speak. This was the DPAC presentation for January 26th:

I’m Sarah Holland, representing DPAC, the district parent advisory council. I have two major items to address tonight.

1 – You’re going to be talking about a motion to implement a $100 rider fee for busing students.

The goal of this motion is to bring in additional revenue – presumably after the cost of collection – of $263,000. On a total budget of about $140 million dollars, that’s 0.2% of your total budget. For the district, that’s kind of the equivalent of checking the sofa cushions for spare change. However, for families, an additional $100 to $300 a year for school expenses is sizeable. This fee would have a much greater impact on individual families, than it will on the school district budget. It would also likely further promote the inequities between our rural and urban populations, by making more costly for our remote and rural families to access public education.

DPAC cannot support this fee.

We suspect, however, that you are already aware of this, and that bringing in an additional $263,000 is important enough to the district this year to implement this, even with the multiple issues inherent in such a fee.

And that concerns us greatly, for what this may mean for the rest of the budget. When communicating with parents, we’ve noted that in large part, this fee would be a result of provincially mandated reductions. You may well be faced with not making a “good” choice, when it comes to this fee, but making a “least bad” choice. If this fee does eventually pass, DPAC would like to see some “least bad” guidelines – to start with, that consideration be given to payment plans, that the language in the hardship policy of “The process must always…respect an individual’s privacy and dignity and adhere to strict principles of confidentiality and fairness.” be strictly followed, and that individual schools and/or their PACs not have to fund hardship fees, but rather that be covered by the transportation department. We’d also like to see more public consultation for the budgeting cycle, which we have requested for a couple of years now.

And consultation brings us to item #2. Going back to the November board meeting, the board did pass a motion to add DPAC to the rural consultation committee, after the first meetings had already been held. I’m pleased that we were considered an actual partner group in that respect. At that meeting, some board members tried to combine having rural representation with having parent representation, by mandating that DPAC could only send a rural parent to the committee. As an independent partner group, we have internal processes for external committee representation. Please trust us to send appropriate representation. Your goal of trying to have rural representation was laudable, but the attempted implementation was the issue – please respect your partner group internal processes.

You have your own processes for governance, and the board’s governance job is critical. It entails setting policies, budgets, strategic planning (& making strategic plans public in a timely manner!), hiring senior staff, approving administrative objectives, monitoring performance, and consultation.

It’s critical that consultation be done well – it’s rather pointless else wise, except for amusement value, or an evening out. We would suggest that some guidelines or policies be set for the consultation process. Publicize consultations with multiple methods. Publicize it enough in advance to be able to find childcare, if required. Allow enough time for schools to get out information without additional workload – many have scheduled monthly newsletters, for example. Tell people what it’s about. Times of day and locations need to be convenient for as many people as possible. If you find that something has not been adequately publicized, reschedule it. Setting guidelines for how public input is sought would be useful, to ensure this input is valid and worth all our time, expense, and energy. Implementation of this isn’t your job, but it is your responsibility to ensure that it’s done.

Lastly, our district is fortunate to have many special and dedicated people working with our children. We have lost a very special one, with Matt Pearce’s untimely death. Our DPAC, this district, our community, and his family and friends will all feel this loss, and miss him very much.

Foundation Skills Assessment (FSAs) in 2016

The Foundation Skills Assessment (FSA) – tests of reading, writing and math delivered province-wide every year in Grades 4 and 7 – are currently being conducted.

The B.C. Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils (BCCPAC) has  developed an FSA information kit for parents. Click here to see more information from BCCPAC: http://www.bccpac.bc.ca/resources/fsa-information-kit-parents

The B.C. Education Ministry has prepared a brochure advising parents why it thinks the tests are important. In summary, it says the tests help determine whether students are learning vital skills and improving over time, if there are any significant trends in schools, districts or across the province and how certain groups of students (such as aboriginals) are doing. Click here for more Ministry information: http://www.bced.gov.bc.ca/assessment/fsa/info/welcome.htm

The BCTF does not support the foundation skills assessments, and says: “The provincial government has been administering the Foundation Skills Assessment tests to all students in Grades 4 and 7 since 2000. This test does not help students learn or teachers teach. It takes valuable time and much needed resources away from the classroom learning and undermines the ability to provide meaningful learning experiences for all students.” Click here for more information on the BCTF position on FSAs: https://bctf.ca/parents.aspx

 

Note: a new assessment method is currently being cooperatively worked on, to replace the FSAs.

 

Taken from another school district’s letter to parents:

Parents should be aware that School Districts are required by legislation to administer the FSA assessments for grade 4 and 7 students. A Ministerial Order M60/94 states …a teacher, administrative officer or other person designated by the minister or board….must ensure that assessments are administered and completed and that the data collected from assessments will be transmitted to the minister….”

According to the Ministry of Education Guidelines,

“All Grade 4 and 7 students are expected to participate in the Foundation Skills Assessment. The only exceptions are:

  1. Students who have Individual Education Plans (IEPs) documenting a learning disability directly related to reading, writing or numeracy.
  2. Students with IEPs who would need adaptations with which they are not familiar, e.g. readers or scribes, or who would need such an extended period of time to complete the FSA as to create a hardship for the individual student.
  3. Those students who are reported and funded as receiving English as a Second Language (ESL) support who have not yet reached a level of proficiency for them to provide meaningful responses to the reading, writing or numeracy sections of the FSA.

 

Parents may request that the Principal excuse a student in the event of a family emergency, a lengthy illness or an extenuating circumstance.

Principals determine which student, if any, are excused from one, two or all three components of the FSA.”

 

District to consider charging for busing

The agenda package for the SD57 school board meeting for January 26th has been made public, and in it is a recommendation being made to the board from their Education Services Committee to implement a $100 rider fee for all student riders.

This has not passed as yet, and if passed on Tuesday night, would not be immediately implemented, but would be referred to the Budget Consultation Committee.

At the moment, the tentative plan would be to charge a $100 rider fee for all regular and custom student riders, including courtesy riders, for use of the existing student transportation program, that maximum of $300 be collected per family, and that the financial hardship policy apply (if a family can’t afford the fee, the district will cover the cost).

The board spends about $4.5 million on transportation, on a total budget of over $140 million. They are estimating that this fee would bring in about $263,000, to help cover this cost.

The provincial government is requiring that all school districts make cuts to “administrative” expenses:

“For heaven’s sakes, if the health-care system can do it, if the advanced-education system can do it, so can local school governments,” Clark said. “And taxpayers deserve that savings. It’s low-hanging fruit and I know that they’ll be able to find it.” – See more at: http://www.timescolonist.com/news/local/clark-rankles-school-trustees-labelling-cuts-low-hanging-fruit-1.1774950#sthash.tbyY0ANI.dpuf

Here is the board agenda package: http://www.sd57.bc.ca/Board/BoardMeetings/Agendas/Documents/2016.01.26%20Board%20agenda.pdf

Here’s a link to only this particular motion: admin savings – student transportation

Some frequently asked questions:

Can I attend the board meeting?

Of course! Public board meetings are public, and there is a gallery section. Chairs and wifi are provided (ask at the front desk for the wifi). Before the meeting starts at 7pm, people can sign up for a public input session, and speak for 5 minutes (maximum 30 minutes public input). From a glance at the agenda, it may be a longer board meeting, so be prepared. More information: http://www.sd57.bc.ca/Board/BoardMeetings/Pages/default.aspx

You can also watch the board meeting through a video link (don’t use the Microsoft Edge browser, though).

Don’t the school taxes I pay with my property taxes cover this?

There is not a direct link between school taxes and the amount of money a district get, or what a district charges students.

My child doesn’t currently qualify for busing, as we live within the walk limits – does this mean we can get busing?

At the moment, it doesn’t look as if the rules around who gets bused would change. This is not to expand the program, but to recoup some costs.

What do other districts do?

Page 3 of this document shows a number of other districts: admin savings – student transportation

Of districts listed, only Qualicum charges less than $100 a year. Maple Ridge is planning to completely drop providing busing to students. More here: http://globalnews.ca/news/1970132/with-b-c-school-districts-strapped-for-cash-buses-are-a-common-chopping-block/

Would it be cheaper to drive my kids?

You may wish to check the math, as it appears it would be more expensive to pay for gas.

What is the financial hardship policy?

This is a policy “to facilitate participation by students of school age ordinarily resident in British Columbia who would otherwise be excluded from the course, class or program because of financial hardship.”

https://www.sd57.bc.ca/Policies/Documents/5101.pdf

According to this policy, “All communication with students and/or parents regarding fees and deposits must include a statement that explains that fees will not be a barrier to student participation in school activities. ” Note: If this is not being done at your school, please bring it to your principal’s attention.

Why would the district be doing this for a measly $263,000 savings?

The district is facing some very real financial pressures from the provincial government. DPAC is anticipating more serious cuts, possibly to come in the upcoming budgeting process. People are encouraged to talk to their local MLA regarding these cuts to administrative spending – there is no “low-hanging fruit” left, in this district.

What will the District Parent Advisory Council be doing about this?

As a DPAC, we represent the voice of parents to the district, and continue our work with various school district committees to bring forward that parent voice.

We are concerned about this fee, the impact it may have on parents, and how it may be implemented – and we are also very concerned about the district’s financial position.

Parents are always welcome to attend DPAC meetings – the next one scheduled is for Monday, February 1st (check this website for more details). Let us know what you think!

 

New Curriculum Professional Development Days

To add to the recent story on CKPG news:

http://www.ckpg.com/2016/01/06/more-pro-d-days-scheduled/

 

There is an amazing amount of information available about what our K to 9 kids will be learning next year online:

https://curriculum.gov.bc.ca/

such as a What’s New document:

https://curriculum.gov.bc.ca/sites/curriculum.gov.bc.ca/files/pdf/whatsnew_ela.pdf

 

and much, much, more.

 

More information on the two additional pro-D days:

Change to district calendar – two more non-instructional days