BC redirecting “administrative savings” back to students

“The Government of British Columbia is redirecting $25 million in administrative savings from school districts back into frontline services for students.

Education Minister Mike Bernier said districts can use the funding any way they see fit – for hiring new teachers, for programs, or for maintaining schools despite falling enrolment in certain regions.”

There was a great deal of public lobbying towards restoration of these funds, from a variety of groups, including the BC Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils.

BC New School Curriculum

Changes are being made to provincial exams, classroom assessment, report cards and career education to better connect students with the skills they need to succeed.

Letter to Parents – Deputy Minister of Education (1)

Designed by teachers, B.C.’s new curriculum will teach students the basics of reading, writing and arithmetic in a way that connects them to collaboration, communication, and critical thinking skills they will need to succeed after high school. New curriculum will be fully implemented in the K-to-9 years this fall, and will be available in draft for teachers to use for grades 10 to 12 at the same time.

With redesigned curriculum being implemented, we need to ensure how we measure student success keeps pace. That’s why changes are starting this coming school year to our assessment practices, reporting and graduation program. Key changes include:

  • Provincial exams: Previous five exams replaced with assessments of the core math and literacy skills that are the foundation for all subjects. During their graduation program years, students will write provincial exams of both math skills and literacy.
  • Classroom assessment: Student progress in subjects like science, social studies, and language arts will be assessed in the classroom.
  • Report cards: From late June to October, parents will be consulted on what they want to know about their child’s progress and how they want to get that information.
  • Career Education: Starting in the 2017-18 school year, students will take this course to graduate. What they learn will show them the link between the classroom and their opportunities in life.

As well, post-secondary institutions in B.C. and outside the province have been consulted about the new curriculum – and the changes will improve the seamless path for students headed to university, college and trades training.

As British Columbia enters Year Two of the three-year transition to new curriculum, B.C. is building on some of the best student outcomes in the world to make them better. The new curriculum fits in with the key goals of B.C.’s Skills for Jobs Blueprint to re-engineer education to ensure young people have the skills they need for in-demand careers.

Parents, grandparents and guardians can check out the entire new curriculum – by grade, by subject, as well as assessment and graduation – online: https://curriculum.gov.bc.ca/


Mike Bernier, Minister of Education –

“We owe it to parents and to the next generation to make sure we are setting up a clear path for kids to follow their dreams and succeed. Whether they want to design computer programs, build skyscrapers, or start a business, our new curriculum and our incredible teachers will help students build the foundation they need to make that happen.”

Teresa Rezansoff, president, BC School Trustees Association –

“Today’s announcement from the Ministry of Education is another positive step toward ensuring B.C.’s education system is reframed to meet the needs of students over the next 40 years, not the last 40 years. We are encouraged that parents, educators and school trustees will continue to have a major role in shaping the final product. Continued consultation is required to ensure there is confidence in what is recognized as one of the world’s best K-12 education systems.”

Sherry Elwood, president, British Columbia School Superintendents Association

“The redesigned curriculum will support our learners today as we help them become ready for a future which will demand different skills and contributions. We will focus on providing our students with every opportunity to find their strengths, to be creative and to master their challenges. Working together with our partners, we can provide world class future ready education for all of the students in our province!”

Doug Lauson, president, Federation Independent School Associations –

“Students in school today have the challenge of developing their skills to face the rapidly changing world of tomorrow. The new curriculum is designed to provide students with choice over the way they learn, developing and expanding their skill sets without abandoning the fundamental pillars of the 3Rs. The personalized learning model uses technologies as tools to build and supplement the foundational content with creativity and innovation. Both teachers and students will be able to pursue new ways of teaching and learning.”

Learn More:

B.C.’s new curriculum: https://curriculum.gov.bc.ca/

New Curriculum Announced: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2015EDUC0057-001418

Training support for new curriculum: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2015EDUC0063-001605


Handing Transition and Change

At this time of year, many PACs are looking at electing new executive members. Some executive members are looking at stepping down, or moving on, some people are looking at moving into new positions, and sometimes this can create stress.

Here are some very useful articles in dealing with this (they come from a US website, where PACs are called PTOs):


“Parent groups often develop a communication gap between new volunteers and the veterans who have seen it all. But what if we could bridge that gap and say what we’re really thinking? After all, true unity starts with a little understanding.”

Dear Grizzled PTO Veteran,
I’m writing to you because deep down, I know you have a lot to teach me, an enthusiastic new volunteer. I know that you’ve put in years of volunteer time and that you’ve seen many different ideas tried (some without success) and that you have the best interests of the school at heart. But sometimes it seems that the PTO is all about you and your other experienced friends.”

“Dear Enthusiastic PTO Newbie,
I’m writing to you because deep down, I know that our group needs new blood and new ideas and that you and your fellow younger parents can help me, a grizzled PTO veteran. I know growing parent involvement in our school is essential. But sometimes it seems like you think everything we’ve been doing for so many years has been colossally dumb or that we’ve been wasting our time.”



“There are different reasons you would leave the executive board, and the circumstances can influence your future impact on the group, for better or worse. If you really love your position but term limits require you to pass the baton, then you might become the officer who Can’t Let Go. Sometimes, a contentious election puts you on the outside. If you are leaving the board with bitterness, you might become the Thorn in the Side. Perhaps your child is moving from elementary to middle school or your family is relocating out of the district. Maybe you’re just looking for a change. Or maybe you’re on the verge of volunteer burnout. You might be the officer who Fled the Scene.

None of these characterizations is particularly flattering or advantageous to the mission of the PTO. So what is the ideal situation for an ex-officer or the former chair of a major committee? With some advance planning and restraint, you can be the Resource On Call who has positive influence on the organization even after your name is off the door.”



“No one likes to be confronted with criticism, but unfortunately it’s inevitable when you take on a leadership role. No matter how good you are, there will be people who disagree with how you handle a situation or make a decision. An important and often underappreciated element of being a good leader is dealing with criticism of your group or of you personally in a professional and appropriate way.”



“As your term draws to a close and new officers are being elected, how will you as a current parent group leader make sure that the new officers are ready? Why is a smooth leadership transition important? How do you prepare new officers for the transition into their new roles?

Transition means more than simply replacing one able body with another. It also means the transfer of the organization’s mission and vision from leader to leader, and the assurance that the tools necessary for carrying out that mission and vision are transferred as well.”



“Whether you won by a landslide or one vote—with three recounts and a dispute over hanging chads—you face many challenges ahead. Getting off to a strong start can make all the difference. Here are some ways to do just that.”


“Although most PTOs install a new officer each and every year and many make the transition smoothly, the process is often fraught with struggles. Weary leaders find themselves spending more time sorting out power clashes and personality conflicts than planning fundraisers and family events. Veteran PTO presidents have learned, however, that there are steps PTOs can take to minimize the turmoil that sometimes accompanies the annual changing of the guard. Although every PTO president probably believes at some point that her struggle is unique, there are similar patterns of problems—and common types of solutions—that surface in PTOs from coast to coast.”



“There’s a lot to do to prepare for the new school year. Where do you start? How can you build on the great work the previous leaders did without feeling pressured to follow in their footsteps? Follow these proven tips and advice from seasoned PTO board members to help you get ready for what’s ahead.”


Amending Bylaws for PACs

Further to the post on The Importance of Bylaws for PACs, there are some specific ways to change your bylaws.

Your bylaws should specify the requirements for their amendment. According to Robert’s Rules, you should at least require a two-thirds vote and previous notice to make any change at all in your bylaws.

Making small revisions to the bylaws is just done as amending a motion:

  • Example: In the sentence “The business of the PAC shall be unbiased towards race, religion, gender, or politics “, add the words “sexual orientation” after “gender”.
  • Example: In the  sentence “No person may hold the same executive position for more than two consecutive years.”, strike the word “two” and add the word “three”.

If you are making amendments in this manner, your amendments made in the meeting can’t exceed the scope of the notice. You can’t send notice of a change to change “All money spent up to $300.00 may be voted on by the PAC executive” to $500, and then at the meeting change it to $1000. You would able to amend only up to the $500 amount, as that is what the notice was given for.

However, you may choose to make larger revisions to your bylaws, a more extensive rewrite. By considering a revision of your bylaws, you’re proposing to amend the bylwas by substituting a new set of bylaws for the existing ones. The rules regarding scope of notice would not apply. Your PAC is free to amend anything in the proposed revision before it’s adopted, as if the bylaws were being considered and adopted for the first time.

New Superintendent of Schools

Board Chair Tony Cable is pleased to announced that the Board of Education has appointed Marilyn Marquis-Forster as Superintendent of Schools. Ms. Marquis-Forster will begin her position early in the 2016-2017 school year.

Ms. Marquis-Forster has experience as a Superintendent in the Swan Valley School Division in northwest Manitoba, and previous teaching and administrative experience in the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board in Ontario.

We wish Ms. Marquis-Forster all the best in her new position.

Importance of Bylaws for PACs

There was a recent question from a PAC about the importance of bylaws – are bylaws actually important? Don’t they just add trouble, and rules, and weird things to a meeting?

Bylaws are useful, and bylaws are essential.

The school act requires your PAC to have bylaws. The school district policy on PACs requires your PAC to have bylaws, and further holds your principal responsible for ensuring that the PAC has bylaws (in addition to making decisions consistent to other district policies, processes, and established procedures). These bylaws need to be available to your members.

Bylaws are the fundamental rules that define your organization – basically a contract between the members, defining their rights and duties. Bylaws set up your purpose, who can vote, who can go to meetings, who can run for a position, what positions you have, who can’t vote or hold office, how long someone can hold office, and who can make decisions between meetings. Bylaws are meant to be changeable, and should be reviewed every several years.

Each PAC can decide for themselves what rules they want, as long as it is in keeping with the school act (all parents/guardians are members of the PAC). Some PACs have restrictions on parents who are also school district employees, for example – this may or may not work for your own PAC, but is under your control.

It is the members who make the decisions – the people who can vote, who show up and vote. The chair and other executive members are not the people who make the final decisions on things like bylaws (unless your bylaws specify that, which wouldn’t be recommended). Your chair is at the meeting to facilitate the work of the members and ensure that the meeting is run well; your chair is not at the meeting to be in charge of everything.

If you do not have bylaws, or if you cannot find your bylaws, or really don’t like your bylaws, then you need to adopt new bylaws. If the problem is that you can’t find your bylaws, this makes it trickier to amend them. However, many PAC bylaws seem to have a 14 day notice period, and a 2/3rds or 75% majority vote required in order to make amendments. Someone could put up a notice that they plan to make a motion to replace the bylaws with a sample version of bylaws at the next meeting, and then this version could then be amended to fit your particular PAC’s situation at that meeting. After you have bylaws in place, you can then take more time to sit down and carefully amend them.

DPAC has some sample bylaws here, with some notes about what options may or may not work for your PAC: Generic PAC Bylaws 2016

DPAC also has a copy of a presentation from our last conference on Making Your Life Easier with Bylaws and Robert’s Rules of Order here: http://sd57dpac.ca/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/2015-October-24-Bylaws-and-Rules-of-Order.pdf

Please let us know if DPAC can be of any assistance to your PAC.

School Board – Special Meeting May 17th, 2016

The school board is having a special meeting on Tuesday, May 17th, for two agenda items:

  • first and second reading of the annual budget for 2016-17
  • Aboriginal education enhancement agreement


As always, board meetings will be streamed live for your viewing pleasure. If you use Windows 10, make sure to use a browser other than Edge (such as Chrome, or Firefox) to view the school district website, as it previously didn’t work using the Edge browser.

New Executive – elected at May 9th meeting

At the May 9th meeting, the annual general meeting election was held. The DPAC bylaws have term limits, which limit people from serving in any one position for more than 4 consecutive terms, and on the executive itself for more than 8 consecutive terms.

The new executive is:

Role Name
Chairperson Gillian Burnett
Vice Chairperson Mike Gagel
Treasurer Sarah Holland
Secretary Darlene Campbell
Director Candice Bate
Director Sarah Foot
Director (election to be finalized June 6, 2016)

There was a question about the eligibility of two candidates, so an election for the final director position will be held in June, once candidate eligibility has been verified.


May 9th DPAC General Meeting

People may attend the meeting remotely through a weblink (not as good as attending in person, but we understand this can be difficult):


This webconference is set up through LearnNowBC’s Blackboard Collaborate service. A participant guide for this service can be found here:



Agenda – DPAC General Meeting
Monday, May 9th, 2016, 7:00 p.m., Van Bien Training Centre
1. Call to order, Secretary
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) DSAC Presentation (Josh Nycholat )
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)

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

6. PAC and Parent Assistance
a) Grant requests
b) Conference committee and discussion of event planning

7. Advising School District
a) School District Budget to be presented at school board meeting scheduled for May 17th
b) Report – Superintendent Job Interview Panel, May 5th
c) Education Services Committee Report (Steve Shannon)
d) Education Programs and Planning Committee Report ( Mike Gagel)
e) Policy and Governance (Sarah Holland)
f) Suggestions for School Board Report

8. Elections – Chair, Vice Chair, Treasurer, Secretary, District Associate, Directors

9. Other Business
10. Agenda items for next meeting
11. Adjournment – Next meeting is scheduled for Monday, June 6, at 7:00 pm, Van Bien.

SD57 Strategic Plan

At the school board’s April 26th meeting, the board voted to receive their new strategic plan, and distributed copies at that time.

For those people not in attendance at that meeting, here is a scanned copy:

sd57 strategic plan april 26 2016

For background, here’s a news article from when it was first decided on, in 2013: https://www.250news.com/2013/11/06/sd-57-to-spend-100-grand-on-strategic-plan/

We would be interested in feedback as to what parents think of this plan.