Importance of financial controls for PACs

A recent news story about a PAC on Vancouver Island that is missing $40,000 brings up the importance of PACs having financial controls.

Story: CBC article on PAC

It is important for PACs to take precautions when it comes to dealing with money, such as having two signatures required, at least two people counting cash, regular financial reviews, and viewing original bank statements. This protects the PAC treasurer, as well as protects the PAC.

Find out more about steps that can and should be taken at our DPAC conference, being held Saturday, October 24th!

Monday first day of school

The school district waited until after 3:30pm on Friday to officially notify parents of when the first day of school is.

Superintendent’s Update: Friday, September 19, 2014 3:30 p.m.

With the ratification of the Memorandum of Agreement between BCPSEA and BCTF schools will open on Monday, September 22, 2014.
Monday, September 22, 2014

Schools will follow normal opening day routines with a shortened 90 minute day. Busses will run at the usual time in the morning. Bus students will be transported home following the morning session.

Beginning Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Schools will begin full day programming. Regular bus routes and schedules will be in effect.

Kindergarten Gradual Entry

School District 57 will continue with the gradual entry process for kindergarten students entering school this year. The gradual entry of phasing in with a small group and shortened attendance times allows children to feel comfortable as they adjust to their new environment, routines, teacher and peers. This gentle introduction to school helps build the foundation for a successful start to their school life.

On September 22, kindergarten students will attend for the first 45 minutes of the day. On this first day, schools will provide parents with a schedule outlining the gradual entry for their child.
      Gradual Entry Schedule Outline (Specific times will be provided by the school)
Week 1
Monday, Sept. 22 45 minute session
Tuesday, Sept. 23 1.5 hour session
Wednesday, Sept. 24 1.5 hour session
Thursday, Sept. 25 2 hour session
Friday, Sept. 25 3 hour session
Week 2
Monday, Sept. 29 4 hour session
Tuesday, Sept. 30 4.5 hour session
Wednesday, Oct. 1 First Full Day
      **Hixon, Giscome and McBride Centennial will have an alternate kindergarten schedule to accommodate rural bussing.

School Calendar, Secondary Semesters, Secondary School Provincial Exams

Due to the late start to the school year, it is likely the Ministry of Education will allow district staff to balance secondary semesters and schedule provincial exams at a later date. Senior staff are working with the Ministry of Education and the Prince George District Teachers Association today and we expect to announce a revised semester 1 end, Ministry of Education exam schedule and semester 2 start early next week. Secondary school principals will provide this information to you. It is likely that the January 23rd Non Instruction Day will be shifted to coincide with the adjustment in semesters. All remaining Non Instructional Days and scheduled school year holidays are confirmed as determined earlier this year by the Board of Education.

Focus on Learning

Our most important work remains student learning in a safe, caring and orderly environment. Our professional and support staff are united in this belief and we will continue to provide learning experiences that enrich the lives of each student.

Teacher Strike Ratified – 86% YES

The prolonged B.C. teachers’ strike has ended, and the province’s public school students will be starting their new school year next week.

More than 31,000 B.C. teachers voted Thursday on the tentative agreement reached with the government earlier this week, with 86 per cent of them voting to accept the deal.

B.C. Teachers’ Federation president Jim Iker said it was a tough round of negotiations and a difficult time for those on strike, but the job action is now over.

“With the ratification of the new collective agreement, the strike and lockout are now over,” he said. “Teachers and students will be back in school on Monday.”

For some school districts — Vancouver, North Vancouver, Surrey, and Delta included — Monday will be a day of student orientation, and classes will start Tuesday. Parents are advised to check with their local school boards for details about the new school calendars.

Iker said the deal wasn’t perfect, but said it did provide gains for teachers, protects their charter rights and increases support for students.

“There will be more classroom and specialist teachers in schools to help our students. Our teachers teaching on call will get fair pay for a day’s work, and all our members will get a salary increase,” he said.

BC School Trustees Advocacy Update

As we enter the second week of the school year with classrooms still closed, BCSTA is extremely concerned about the impact the continuing strike is having on students, staff, parents and BC’s public education system overall.

We appeal to both sides to move beyond their current positions to make meaningful and real concessions with the assistance of mediator Vince Ready. If the parties will not make the necessary moves to achieve a negotiated settlement BCSTA strongly encourages a cooling off period that would include a public third party report and non-binding recommendations.

The most recent development has been a call by the BCTF for binding arbitration. BCPSEA Chief Negotiator Peter Cameron has recommended that government not agree to the proposal due to the preconditions set by the BCTF. The arbitration proposal has resulted in a significant amount of media and comment. While we respect that individual Boards will decide their own local position on binding arbitration BCSTA continues to advocate the following positions:

  • An agreement that is freely negotiated that can be supported by both parties going forward. While legislation or a binding settlement imposed by a third party would get students back into classrooms neither of these approaches adequately address the long-term issues facing the education system.
  • Boards of Education have repeatedly expressed the need for flexibility on class size and composition. Rigid numbers set in a contract make it very difficult to accommodate individual learning needs at the school level.
  • The Learning Improvement Fund (LIF) provides a flexible way to provide additional learning supports in classrooms where needed. BCSTA has called on the government to increase the LIF funding beyond the $75 million already in the 2014-2015 budget. The LIF must be increased to address class size and composition issues.
  • BCSTA believes that while teachers deserve an increase in compensation it needs to be comparable to those accepted by other BC public sector unions and realistic given the provincial government’s existing economic mandate.
  • BCSTA urgently and continuously calls for increased funding for BC’s public education system.
  • When a settlement is reached it must be fully funded by government.

While we may not all agree on the specific aspects of each party’s current position, trustees, teachers, administrators and parents agree that we need students back in the classroom now. Parent Alert involving sextortion

Parent Alert: September 7, 2014

In the past few weeks, has seen a rise in reports from youth involving sextortion. These cases have involved  offenders (posing as teenagers) secretly recording teenagers exposing themselves online and then threatening to share the sexual content if they don’t pay money (often hundreds of dollars) to the individual.

In response to this emerging issue of concern, the Canadian Centre for Child Protection has issued a Alert for parents as well as a tip sheet on how parents can talk to youth about online extortion:


Tip Sheet for Parents:


Article on "no homework" movement

“…He may be the only teacher in his high school who has nixed take-home work completely, but Mr. Martin is part of a growing cohort of parents, educators and even administrators who are “anti-homework” — viewing it as a stress-inducing, mostly useless practice that saps students’ desire to learn rather than nurture it. It’s a movement that has risen alongside the return of free play, the concern about raising innovative young people primed for the knowledge economy and families’ increasingly busy lives packed with extra-curricular activities. This week, Collège de Saint-Ambroise in Saguenay, Que., launched a year-long pilot project banning homework for students in Grades 1-6. Like in Mr. Martin’s class, the way students spend time time at school will be restructured to make sure children do not fall behind, school board spokesperson Marie-Ève Desrosiers told The Canadian Press.

The news reinvigorated a debate about the value of homework — a conversation that has bubbled up and receded over the past five to seven years, gaining converts along the way. Even still, the issue remains divisive, with some parents campaigning hard for a homework-free experience that would give them their life back — and others worried about their children falling behind or failing to learn the discipline and time management required in high school and beyond. As one Collège de Saint-Ambroise parent said, “I’ll see how the year goes, but I’m very afraid. Homework is a way for us parents to evaluate whether things are going well, and to guide us in helping and supporting them.”

The research is also split or viewed with skepticism, muddying the waters for parents and educators.

“If you look at all of the different types of homework of all students, it has a moderate effect. It’s not big, but you can say ‘This does enhance student achievement,’” said Robert Marzano, CEO of Marzano Research Laboratory in Boulder, Co., which does research and development for K-12 education. “Do you actually have to have homework? No. You could have a system that didn’t have any homework and it could still be a good system. I can’t recommend getting rid of it, though, except at the primary level. But make sure you use it purposefully.”

A 2009 systematic review by the Canadian Council on Learning found that homework is linked to higher student achievement — but only if it is “judiciously assigned” and engaging to the student. ”

“Parents were confused — where was the homework that made clear what the students were learning in class? Some parents even asked that their children be enrolled in a class led by a more traditional teacher who assigned homework.

“As parents we still expect our kids’ school experience to look like ours and I’m not sure it should. That’s part of it,” she said. “Parents go ‘Why don’t you have homework?’ and it does put a bigger onus on the teacher to communicate it.’

The whole point of nixing homework, she said, was to create a more equitable learning experience — and you would see the difference in submitted homework, some with “parents’ fingerprints all over them,” as Jessica Lahey at The New York Times‘s Parent-Teacher Conference blog puts it, and some in which it was clear there was no help at all.”

Blood donation challenge

 Anyone who is letting a fear of needles stop them from participating in this year’s Canadian Blood Services Interior Drive for Life can look to four-year-old Audrey Saulters for some inspiration.

Over nearly a year of treatment for cancer, the youngster received 84 “pokes,” her mother, Pamela, noted as the two helped launch this year’s campaign Friday during a kickoff event at Pine Centre Mall.

That’s a sight more than the 14 that even the most dedicated of blood donors will contend with over a year – one in the finger to test their blood for iron and then one to make the donation during each of the seven times they can show up at the clinic over a 12-month-span.

“Many people say they’re afraid of needles,” Saulters said in response to one of the more common excuses people use for not giving blood.

“Children are afraid of hospitals. Children are afraid of doctors. Children are afraid of surgery, nurses, chemotherapy and radiation. Children are afraid of being away from home. Children are afraid of being sick. Please ensure our children are not afraid of running out of life-saving blood.”

The Interior Drive for Life is a friendly eight-week competition between Prince George and Kelowna to see which city is best at meeting and exceeding its targets. Prince George will have 18 clinic days to collect 1,152 donations and bring in 230 new donors and Kelowna has 28 days to get 1,792 donations and bring in 368 new donors.

– See more at:

Located at 2277 Westwood Drive, in the strip mall next to Arby’s, the clinic is open every Wednesday and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and every fourth Saturday – Sept. 13 and Oct. 11 during the challenge.

To book an appointment visit or call 1-888-2-DONATE (1-888-236-6283).


Times Colonist Editorial from Geoff Johnson

Welcome back to British Columbia’s day of national disgrace. After a week or so of bumbling, scrambling and face-saving in high places, B.C.’s public schools are still shuttered and half a million children are barred from participation in what was once one of the world’s better systems of public education.

Both the government and the leaders of the B.C. Teachers’ Federation should hang their heads in shame.

A summer of opportunity was frittered away, one that should have at least seen the warring sides come to a level of understanding that could have sent 500,000 kids back to school today. Political considerations and a history of mutual cynicism disgracefully trumped the kids’ chance at being in class somewhere other than in an independent school.

In the absence of shame, as they say, all conduct is excusable.

The media pictures of the premier sipping wine in Saskatchewan, while B.C. parents and kids frantically looked for safe child-care alternatives for this week, said it all about the government’s priorities.

The BCTF, having backed itself into a corner by calling a premature strike in the last two weeks of June, has realized too late that the government had no intention of making a deal.

Too late, as well, to understand that this never was a normal negotiation — something that mediator Vince Ready recognized months ago and confirmed again this weekend.

The decades of rancorous and unproductive relationships between teachers’ union leaders and governments of three political parties — Social Credit, NDP and Liberal — has led public education in B.C. to a place outside the normal expectations of a progressive society.

Hovering over this educational dystopia has been a labour-relations structure designed for a different time and one found consistently unworkable in serving the needs of B.C.’s kids and their parents.

Too late to grasp that teachers are not hardhat factory or mill workers who, as a union, can bring an unjust employer to its knees by crippling a business.

Too late to realize that the government is not a private-enterprise employer with labour-relations decisions and conflicts circumscribed by the profit margin. Teachers teach children and government is elected to make sure that happens.

Too late to see that there was a serious responsibility on the part of both the BCTF and the government to make sure that the purpose of their relationship is focused on getting school operating.

That responsibility has been set aside and schools are closed because both sides have failed to fully appreciate their obligations that demand that, whatever it takes, schools open today and a year of learning begins.

But that has not happened and there is no point in retelling, once again, the disgraceful history that has led us to this point.

No point in revisiting illegal behaviour by a government that, for 12 years since it legislated its way out of the teacher contract, has accumulated what amounts to a court-imposed insurmountable debt.

No point in questioning the ill-conceived strategies of the BCTF, including the demand that the government pay up on that debt and pay up now.

No point in wondering why neither side has accepted their mutual responsibility to set aside their abysmal history and seek a solution that leaves neither side satisfied, but which supports the greater good.

There is no likelihood that the government will buy the kind of solution it did in on June 30, 2006, when, with the 2010 Olympics looming, the government avoided the potential embarrassment of school closures and picket lines contrasting with Olympic largesse by agreeing to a settlement that included a 16 per cent salary increase over a five-year term and a $4,000 signing bonus for each teacher.

That was then and this is now. The Olympics imperative does not exist and, with new priorities identified, the government will continue to allocate its assets as it sees fit. Public-sector employees, having campaigned unsuccessfully for a change in government during the last election, will continue to find themselves at the end of the generosity line.

The government and the BCTF have demonstrated that, for one of the very few times since the inception of Canadian universal public education, B.C. will now blunder onward and lead the way into a new world of labour relations where, without regard to the consequences for 500,000 kids and their parents, winning at any cost is what it is all about.

Welcome back.

Geoff Johnson is a retired superintendent of schools.

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