Friday, March 13, 2009

Board- outcomes

The Board meeting this Tuesday was jam-packed....

The Superintendent advised that McArthur and Ecole Richard Secord
Schools will be receiving an award from the Alberta Association for Community Living
(AACL) for the work of staff in implementing and supporting quality inclusive
education to students with developmental disabilities. CONGRATS!

Edwin Parr Nominee finalists- all were congratulated for their outstanding work and dedication. The District selected one finalist to represent us at Zone 2/3.... and the winner is... drum roll, please.... Clare Cumberland from J. Percy Page School. Congratulations!

District Enrolment Outlook and Impact of ASAP schools Report
This report generated quite a bit of discussion. There was talk about if the schools could accomodate alternative programs (like French Immersion) and what opportunities this might present the district in terms of creative use of additional space. 70 schools are listed in the report and although the exact numbers of decline will be ultimately determined by parental choice... the challenge is certainly real. The admin is attempting to get some advance information from parents to see if they plan to attend the new school in their area once it opens.

Reports from Staff Groups... Both the Teachers Union and the CUPE 474 (Custodial staff) made presentations to Board. They both outlined areas they wish the Board to address in our upcoming budget deliberations.

Requests for Information-
1- Paperless format for Board businesss. Trustee Colburn thanked the admin for the information and announced his intention to go paperless for the remainder of the year as a pilot project.
2- Suspensions- Madeline Rainey, a parent, spoke about her concerns re: suspensions, in particular for children with diagnosed behavioural issues.
I asked a number of questions related to this issue and encouraged the District to continue its work on alternatives, included restorative justice techniques and community conferencing. I expressed concern about students who were suspended and unsupervised due to parents who were working, etc. I also suggested reviewing the terms for suspension as outlined in Policy IG. BP, which lists "loitering" and "use or display of profane language" as possible grounds for suspension.
3- Reducing Ride Times- The transportation review is expected to be completed by June (for special needs students) and August (for regular students). At that time, we will have more information on the costs and implications. At the same time, the Planning Department is reviewing the placement of programs, to try and put them as close to the student's homes as possible. I asked for clarification re: our intent to reduce cross-boundary bussing for alternative programming and it was confirmed that we would be providing bussing only for an alternative program within a set area. So, parents could choose a french immersion program within a certain boundary... and receive bussing. But if they wanted to attend a different french immersion program all the way across town, we would not feel obligated to provide bussing in that circumstance.

-KPMG was approved as the auditor for EPSB for Sept. 1, 2008- August 31, 2009.
-Bonnie Zack was approved as Director.
-Infrastructure Survey response was confirmed. I asked for an update on the internal audit of our buildings.

-All policies passed first and second reading (Fiscal Oversight, Purchasing, Terms of Employment for Exempt Staff, Vacations and Holidays, Reduction of Staff, Evaluation of Superintendent, Staff Performance.)

There was some discussion on the Purchasing Policy-a definition of "recognized certifications and standards" for environmental and ethical considerations. Admin has done research and provided details. The final vote was 8-1.
There was also discussion around Reduction of Staff. I was concerned about striking out "The superintendent of schools shall recommend to the board the termination of employment of staff who are surplus to district needs." I felt the Board needed to retain its authority in this area, as it will surely be held accountable for these decisions by the public. The vote was 7-2 in favour.

Reports from Trustees:
I reported a number of events I had attended, accompanied by many of my colleagues. I also mentioned that I have decided to join safedmonton's Working Group on Sexual Exploitation. This committee is comprised of members from the City of Edmonton, Neighbourhood and Community Development, PAAFE, Bent Arrow Traditional Healing Society, Changing Together, Edmonton Public Libraries, Edmonton Police Services and Edmonton Child Services. I felt the addition of a representative from the Education sphere would be helpful.

A group of parents from the Somali community spoke to the Board about their concerns.

No notices of motion. No requests for information.

Tha-tha-that's all folks!

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