At their November 1st and December 13th board meetings, trustees adopted motions that had not been previously publicized, contrary to past practice. Further, the board approved two new policies without providing the mandatory 60 day opportunity for public comment.
The school board decided at the December 13th meeting, by a four to three vote, to waive their policy 8310 on policy and policy development that requires public input for policies, and approve a new policy 1160 on the role of the board.
They also voted unanimously to approve policy 2111 on the role of the superintendent, again with no public input sought.
The motion was not published in the board book before the meeting, as is more usual.
One trustee brought up the benefits of having public input for important policies, but that topic was quickly dropped.
Has anyone been turned down by the district for anything, and told “that’s in policy”? Apparently, now policies can be waived with no public notice – even policies that deal with how to change policies, and have provision in them for a policy to be immediately adopted.
More info on policy 8310:
“Policies are developed as statements of principle and rules of action for the school district. Policies should govern and direct decision-making in all areas of jurisdiction”
4. When a new policy is developed, a review must be done to ensure that it is not in conflict with existing policies, legislation or collective agreements.
5. A new policy or major revisions to an existing policy must be reviewed by senior administration, by the appropriate committee of the Board, if applicable, and by the Policy and Governance Committee before being presented to the Board [in draft] for consideration.
6. Once a new policy or a major revision to an existing policy has been approved by the board for consideration, it must be distributed for a 60-day public consultation period prior to final approval by the Board. During this period, the policy must be posted on the district website and distributed to trustees, partner groups, schools and administrators in order for them to provide input. The policy may be distributed to other applicable standing committees, organizations or individuals for input at the discretion of the Superintendent of Schools or the Board.
7. The 60-day consultation period for a draft policy shall not include the summer break.
8. By separate motion, the Board may, if it deems necessary, approve a policy in principle, for implementation while the input process occurs. In these circumstances, the policy may be amended and must be approved by the Board following the conclusion of the consultation period.
More info on motions with no advance notice at board meetings:
The board publishes the board agenda package the Friday before a board meeting here: http://www.sd57.bc.ca/Board/Agendas/Pages/default.aspx
Traditionally, the board agenda package would include the text of motions being made.
At the November 1st board meeting, the board passed three motions that had not been distributed before the meeting. DPAC wrote a letter regarding some issues, including the concern with the notice:
“The board agenda package is made available to the public on the Friday before a board meeting. On the Monday preceding a board meeting, a valuable Partner Group President meeting occurs, during which the superintendent reviews the board agenda package, goes over any business that may be arising, and answers any Partner Group President questions.
The three motions arising from the long range facilities plan were not included in the board agenda package, nor were the partner groups informed of these motions. There was no notification until a few moments before the board meeting started, which did not allow for any public or partner group input on this matter.”
At the direction of the board, the superintendent responded: “Your concern with appropriate notification is acknowledged.”