Last night, I resigned as Vice Chair. I no longer feel I am the right person for the role. In particular, I am no longer confident in my ability to speak on behalf of the board to the media, should the Board Chair be unavailable. Therefore, I think it is in the best interests of the board for me to step down at this point. I look forward to welcoming the new Vice Chair (who will be elected, I believe at the next public board meeting) and am willing to provide any support needed to ensure a smooth transition and to allow the board to focus, without distraction, on the important work of governance.
All policies passed first and second reading. The policy about National Identity was amended to say singing or playing the national anthem on a regular basis was "expected" (previously written as "encouraged").
Trustee Colburn's motion re: establishing a wellness committee was defeated 7-2. I voted in support, however the majority of the board felt the timing and/or format proposed was problematic.
The planning base (budget) passed. Next year's budget is over $822 million and the funding we are expecting to receive from the government will not meet our costs. So, the board approved using 60% of our operating reserve (also sometimes called surpluses held at individual schools and central decision units) to try and offset our projected shortfall. Despite using over $19 million of our reserves, we will still be $12 million short to meet our projected costs. This amount will have to be made up at schools and central units. As well, this will bring our reserves down to a slim margin (below the provincially recommended 2.4%) and of course, that raises concerns about subsequent years, should funding not increase from the provincial government. We are doing our best to minimize the impacts on the classroom and maintatin staffing levels, however, it will be a challenge for all.
A number of interesting motions were put forward for the next meeting:
From Trustee Colburn: that a series of annual reports be scheduled, with dates made publicly available
From Trustee Shipka: that our debate rules be changed so that trustees will only speak for 3 minutes each, for a maximum of two times.
From Trustee Esslinger: that a policy be developed regarding attendance areas
From Trustee Ripley: that we pursue a school levy to be attached to the Oct. 18 ballot, asking the public for $20 million to use to for the renovation and renewal of EPSB buildings