DPAC Presentation to the SD57 Board of Trustees for June 2021

Tonight at the SD57 Public Board Meeting the following presentation given by DPAC Chair Andrea Beckett:

“First off I would like to say Wow, we made it. If someone told me in June 2020 that we would be where we are today I honestly don’t know that I would have believed them.  In spite of a global pandemic and the amount of uncertainty facing us as parents, families, teachers, educators and school staff in September 2020 DPAC still managed to accomplish a lot of work while ensuring access to safe public education was upheld as a community priority.  

I would like to say thank you to the board, administrators, principals and vice-principals, school office staff, department leaders, teachers, EAs, counselors staff in all positions including maintenance, custodians and support staff at our district office, and thank you to anyone else that I have missed recognizing specifically for your commitment to a safe school year that was more productive than we could have expected.  Thank you for making the mission of Inspiring Learning Anywhere into a reality, especially on such short and sudden notice..  I would also like to thank our departing DPAC executive members, Kim Pryschlak and Amie Thibodeau, who were integral parts of our executive team this year.  

The collaboration between our DPAC and SD57 Senior Admin combined with solution-oriented problem solving allowed the parents to feel included and to make our mission of parent advocacy and parent education a reality in the 2020-2021 school year, despite the many challenges.  Together we accomplished so much by providing parent access to decision-making meetings and parent perspective to our schools and district in many areas, including:  

  • Covid Restart Townhall with NHA experts
  • Covid Safe Schools Re-Start 2020
  • Enhancing Communication Plans to Parents around Covid and changes within school.
  • Parent Education opportunities throughout the year: 
    • Facilitate access to White Hatter seminars 
    • Food Safe funding
    • BCCPAC Parent Education Conference
    • One on One communication with PACs and parents
  • Facilitating the work of PACs: 
    • Hosted our first Virtual PAC Cafe
    • Facilitated Zoom Meetings across the region
    • Rural PAC engagement
    • Problem-solving with PACs directly on school level questions
    • Support and Engagement with Centre for Learning Alternatives and Central Interior Distance Education PAC around changes to District Learner Supports and access for students
  • Representing SD57 schools, parents and families at the provincial level via BCCPAC events
  • Valentine’s Day Social Media Campaign
  • Strategic Plan Review and Development
  • Participating in the Special Advisor’s Review
  • Expanded Committee of the Whole budget consultations and feedback
  • PAC/Principal & Vice Principal working group resource development
  • Traffic Townhall and safety resource development

This year PAC and DPAC feedback really mattered and we watched the implementation of our parent perspectives be integrated in real time.  The collaboration between our volunteer parent organization and our school district is truly second to none in the province and is something in which we take a great deal of pride. As Martin Luther King said,

“The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education” 

Next year’s priorities are already taking shape as we carry forward initiatives started this year and finally bring conclusion to other projects including the Policy and Governance Review work this board started almost 3 years ago. On the note of Policy & Governance, I do need to state that currently this board is stalling progress in our school district by refusing to move forward with the Policy & Governance work that was started July 3rd 2019. Policies are the guiding principles of our district and the Procedures are the guiding processes of our district – these two pieces are how we function.  We know that we don’t function well as a district – that’s why this policy & governance work was undertaken. That’s why the Ministry of Education Special Advisors were sent to our district. Because we needed to improve and do better. 

However, we as a district can’t get better if we do nothing. We talk about living documents because they are under constant progress. Just like education – constant change – it is a journey towards improvement and that journey can only continue if we keep moving. It’s never going to be perfect because we live in a changing world. But doing nothing and constantly waiting for the perfect moment, the perfect opportunity, the policy to be perfect – is simply wrong. It makes us stagnant, unable to respond, grow or move forward at all. Where we are going is better than where we are – and yes, we still have further to go and work to improve upon but that is why the work will never be finished. And that’s okay –  in fact that’s good. What is not okay is not doing anything, waiting.

We have done work, massive, good collaborative work- in fact downright amazing work – just look at the proposed Draft AP 170 on Anti-Discrimination – it is a phenomenal piece of work. But if we don’t adopt it, or others,  we can’t implement them – we can’t take action on it, we can’t use it and thus we can’t do better. 

DPAC is excited to be an active part of the next phase of work in School District 57 to deliver high quality education that nurtures and empowers all students in all places at all times to be proud, confident and engaged lifelong learners. We look forward to working with this board to facilitate meaningful and positive change next year for our school, student and parent communities. Despite the challenges we have all faced, I know we can move forward and do better. I know what we as a DPAC have done and achieved this year to meet our mandate – so in closing I ask this board the same question, “What have you as a board achieved this year to move us forward?”

To watch the Board meeting either live in real time or after the fact: https://youtu.be/SuLPp7HHRjA

For more information and the Board Agenda book, reports and meeting details please go to the SD57 Website here.

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