Friday, November 30, 2007

JANUARY 15th not 11th

First of all, the Board debate and decision on my motion will be held on Tues, January 15th (not the 11th).

Check out the article in today's Edmonton Journal on the motion.

I've been asked why I wanted to do this at a Public Board meeting instead of having a "behind closed doors" conversation.

Here are my answers:
A- This is an issue that concerns the public, so they deserve to have the opportunity to be involved
B- This is a complex issue and as a Board we will be held accountable for our decisions later in January. If we don't "show the work" and let the public witness our deliberations, how will they have confidence in our choices? How will they know what we've considered?
C- This is an opportunity to hear new ideas, to consider new ways of thinking without the pressure of talking about specific schools. It is a chance to identify values, philosophies and belief systems....outside of the emotional context of a specific school's review.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Motion to Review School Closure

Last night I put forward the following notice of motion. It will be debated and trustees will cast their votes on January 15. (Debate was postponed to allow the return of Trustee Esslinger and Superintendent Schmidt who will both be in China during the December public board meeting.)

I encourage you to post comments here about my motion to save my email inbox from being over-run. Please start by stating whether you would vote for or against this motion. I would like to encourage full dialogue and don't want to edit the comments, so please be respectful and considerate. If you would like to express comments privately, feel free to contact my by email. ( Thanks!

"Move that the Board establish an Ad Hoc committee of the Board to review the school closure process and impose a one year moratorium on the closure of any district school until this review is complete and has been duly considered by the Board.

The scope of the committee's review shall include, but not be limited to:
-broad base consultation with the public to determine their support for school closure
-evaluating the full impact of school closures on community
-evaluating EPSB policies to ensure equity in the promotion of all district schools
-evaluating EPSB policies regarding capping school sizes to facilitate a more even distribution of students
-transparently identifying the actual savings of closing a school
-assessing current research on the value of a small school vs. big school education
-reconsidering the timelines in the current Sustainability Review Process to allow schools sufficient time to implement ideas before initiating the school closure process
-exploring expanded intergovernmental and interagency partnerships to support schools with declining enrolment

and most importantly:
- fully explore options other than school closure to respond to declining enrolment."

Sale of Junk Food

Last night, the Board voted unanimously in support of Trustee Colburn's motion to ban the sale of junk food in schools. Eight members of the public came out to speak to the motion- 6 in favour and 2 against (Wendy Keiver, Amanda Beseigal). It was a great night for Trustee Colburn, who has been working tirelessly on this issue for a number of years and a great night for kids in Edmonton.

Someone called me today to express their gratitude that finally elected officials had voted the way they wanted them to... their faith in democracy had been restored.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Junk Food Ban--- VOTE

At the public board meeting this week, Trustee Colburn raised the motion to ban the sale of junk food in Edmonton Public Schools.

We will be voting on this at the next Board Meeting on Nov. 27.... so please give me your input!

Role of the Public in Public Education

As part of the PSBAA conference, we read the book Reclaiming Public Education by Reclaiming our Democracy by David Matthews. It's an American book but has a startling number of similarities. Inspiring stuff.

A key message:
Public Education is owned by the public, not parents, not teachers, not administrators and not the government. SO public engagement in public education is not just a "nice idea" it is essential to preserving the health and vitality of public education.

The role of the trustee is to ensure that the public has a say.

What have I been doing?

Well, it's been pretty much non-stop since getting sworn in on Oct. 30.

Here's a few highlights;

Results Reviews- every fall, every department and school has to review their results with us trustees. This involves looking at the budgets and goals that were set in the spring and measuring the success rates. It's a way to make sure everyone is accountable and also that trustees have a sense of what's happening across the District. We look for trends and patterns and input to help us determine where we should go next. What's working well, what's not.

Orientation- We've been given a session on legal matters, the media and our responsibilities.

School visits- I've been going out to several schools in Ward C to see things "first hand" and have a chat with the Principals. These meetings were my own initiative and I've really enjoyed them.

Meetings- Public Board meetings, conference meetings, meetings with the Superintnedent, lots of meetings!

Conferences- I went to the Public School Board Association of Alberta's conference in Calgary for New Trustees. I have another one this weekend.

Lots to do!!