Monday, May 31, 2010

One-stop shopping for EPSB info

Added later in the day: OOPS! Turns out this link below is for internal use and you need an EPSB password to access it. I will look into seeing how many of these documents are already available in other locations and how many more could be "released" for public viewing. I was excited about this page because it was all in one location and I think that's what parents need and want.  Stay tuned!


In this age of information-overload, it's no wonder we have a hard time finding things. I've been on the Board for three years and have only just TODAY discovered this vital link for parents. It's one-stop shopping for information on everything and anything related to education:  https://intranet.epsb.ca/publications.cfm

There is info on Agendas, our Mission, Budgets, Basis of Allocation, Audits, Respectful Learning Environment (with complaint form), Technology, School Zone, Transportation, Assessment, Metro Continuing education, suspensions...the list is long and I'm not going to hyperlink them all.

As you scroll down you will see publications for parents with children who have special education needs. Here you will find the Handbook to Creative Inclusive School Communities:
https://intranet.epsb.ca/datafiles/specl_ed/CreateInclusiveSchoolCommunities.pdf

How to Write Successful IPP's https://intranet.epsb.ca/datafiles/HelpfulLinksWritingIPPs.pdf
and more.

Clearly, this is the first page I should have written about... but I didn't even know it existed. Please bookmark this page. The more informed you are, the better able you will be to support your child's learning and advocate on their behalf.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Board motion re: community schools

At our next public board meeting on June 15 (which is the last public board meeting of this school year), we will be looking at several important things, including the budget for the upcoming year.  I'm sure you've read about our leaner budget in the Journal. We've done what we can to minimize the impacts felt at the classroom, but it will still be a challenge. Over the next couple of weeks, trustees will be meeting with principals and central decision unit leaders to understand the full implications of the budget.

On June 15, we will also be debating the following motion that I put forward:

That Edmonton Public Schools ensure that schools offering regular programming (also known as local or community schools) receive an equitable level of district promotion and support as schools that offer alternative programs or programs of choice.

The point of the motion is equity between schools, not preferential treatment for one type of school over another. I believe many parents appreciate choice within our system. However, in my opinion, our current choice model does not fully embrace the community school and it is important to ensure a balanced approach so that all choices, including community schools, may flourish. Currently, we have a number of practices and policies that seem to favour alternative programming over community programming. For instance, schools offering programs of choice are free to advertise across the entire District. Community schools may only advertise within their catchment area. Schools offering programs of choice qualify for bussing, while community schools typically do not. Is it any wonder that, with the cards stacked against them in this way, many community schools are struggling with declining enrolment? Could your business succeed if you could only advertise to  people living within 10 blocks of your store, while your competitor could advertise to (and provide subsidized bussing for) customers across the entire city of Edmonton? I would suggest that it makes sense to create a level playing field for all schools.


The District website and glossy publications (see pg.10) highlight all the schools offering alternative programs. Schools that do not offer these programs are not listed or profiled (see pg. 9). We have a whole administrative department, called Programs, focused on alternative programs and these skilled administrators work to develop, support and ensure the success of alternative programs. Schools receive additional funding to implement alternative  programs.

Is there an equal level of administrative focus and support to promote and nuture community schools? The short answer is "no". In fact, I cannot think of a single District-level promotional effort focused on community schools. Occasionally, the media will pick up on the achievements of local schools, like Westglen Elementary, which became the first school in Alberta to reach Earth III status, but this was more due to media interest and a fabulously on-the-ball teacher, rather than a concerted effort by the District to shine the light on the success of a community school. If fact, unless you knew about our "Find a School" tool on the EPSB website, you might not even know that there was an exceptional local school in your neighbourhood.

To my knowledge, EPSB has never engaged in a discussion with the public about the many benefits of local community schools. I would love to see the occasional EPSB communique saying: "There is a great choice in your own backyard." or "Save the Planet- walk to school." or "Get connected- meet your neighbours at school."  Perhaps EPSB will prove me wrong and enthusiastically partner with EFCL's upcoming "Living Local" campaign.
 
I also think the very language we use seems to suggest a two-tiered system of education. Local, community schools are said to offer "regular programming"- I don't know about you, but to me, the word "regular" doesn't sound very enticing. It suggests ordinary, plain, bare-minimum rather than extraordinary, adaptable or impressive. Contrast this with: "Programs of choice" which implies something that it is definitely worth choosing. The word "choice" suggests we will get something better. (Think: "choice cuts of meat").
 
To be clear, I'm not suggesting that everything currently in place for schools offering programs of choice be duplicated in exactly the same fashion for community schools. I'm talking about equity, not necessarily identical treatment. For instance, it may not be logistically possible (or environmentally sound) to add 100 more bus routes to cater to community schools- but we need to recognize the existing inequity and think of ways to offset the imbalance. Neither am I suggesting dismantling our system of choice: that would be throwing the baby out with the bathwater! I believe we can move towards restoring balance through sensible and thoughtful consideration.



So, that's my thinking to date--- I have a couple of weeks to gather feedback and ideas to develop this idea further. I would encourage you to write to me: Sue.Huff@epsb.ca to let me know what you think. I am open to (and appreciate) all constructive feedback.  It helps me to elaborate on my ideas when you point out the flaws or gaps in my thinking, so please feel free to disagree with me!
 
If you would like to speak to the board on this item (or any other), you may do so by registering with our Board Secretary prior to June 15. Email: Anne.Sherwood@epsb.ca and indicate which item you would like to comment on. You will have 3 minutes to speak. I suggest timing your speech- 3 minutes goes by quickly!
 
CIAO!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Public Engagement 101- Sector Reviews

Yesterday, I attended one of the two Public Engagement 101 sessions put on by Dialogue Partners, who will be leading the upcoming Sector Reviews for Edmonton Public Schools. I picked up some critical information that I would like to share with you:

Dialogue Partners adheres to the IAP2 (International Association for Public Participation) core values, code of ethics and practice. You should read through the core values and code of ethics to understand what this means and it will give you a good idea of what to expect.  As well, you should DEFINITELY read the Spectrum of Public Participation and know where this process of sector reviews falls on the spectrum. EPSB is committed to the INVOLVE stage. We have not committed to go beyond to COLLABORATE or EMPOWER.

Here's what INVOLVE means according to the IAP2 Spectrum: 
Goal- to work directly with the public throughout the process to ensure that public concerns and aspirations are consistently understood and considered.
Promise to the public- We will work with you to ensure that your concerns and aspirations are directly reflected in the alternatives developed and provide feedback on how public input influenced the decision.

(FYI- The lower stages of "Inform" and "Consult" are also inherently and automatically included in the next stage: "Involve".)

To contrast, here's what COLLABORATE means (which is the next step beyond INVOLVE):
Goal- to partner with the public in each aspect of the decision including the development of alternatives and the identification of the preferred solution
Promise to the public- We will look to you for advice and innovation in formulating solutions and incorporate your advice and recommendations into decisions to the maximum extent possible.

Many people in the public seem to think we are (or should be) at COLLABORATE, but I must emphasize again that the Board has only committed to the INVOLVE level of public participation.  A good deal of tension exists, I believe, because of a misalignment of expectations.

There was some good information provided at the meeting on what will happen, when and how this will all roll out.

Step One: Between now and June 25- there are workbooks to be completed, community forums to be held, conversations with kids in grades 6 and 7 at several schools, and an on-line discussion to be hosted at http://www.connect2edmonton.ca/ starting on May 28. All of these venues will gather input on key principles, values, issues to guide the conversation. Dialogue Partners will be, in essence, holding a values-based conversation to uncover what is important to you and this will form the basis or foundation for the next set of conversations.

Step 2- September and October: more workshops (2 held in each sector) and a think tank of government officials and organizations.  At this point, the foundation established in Step One will meet the data, facts, constraints and realities. We will look at ways to move forward. How do we balance all the needs?   What options make sense? (see website for details: http://www.sectorreview2010.com/)

Step 3-
November 2010:  Dialogue Partners creates a final report for EPSB and presents it to the trustees.
Between November and  January 2011: The EPSB Administration creates recommendations (for closure, consolidation, program reconfiguration, etc.) in consideration of Dialogue Partners report. (see "promise to public" under INVOLVE above to see how we commit to use the report.)
January 2011- Recommendation to consider closures (or other school space changes) will come to Board for a vote. If passed by the trustees, the process mandated by the School Act kicks in, which includes more public meetings, etc.
Approximately March/April 2011: Vote to close schools. Trustees make the final decision.


There were many questions at the session and a lot of table discussion. The facilitators have promised to get answers to the questions and post them on their website.

For more information on Sector Planning Review and how you can become involved please contact Dialogue Partners toll free at 1-866-269-1276 or by email at info@dialoguepartners.ca. Project website: http://www.sectorreview2010.com/

Monday, May 17, 2010

Update- Sector Reviews (re: possible school closures)

Update from Dialogue Partners re: upcoming Sector Reviews. Please pass this on to anyone who lives in the mature neighbourhoods of Edmonton- central, west and south (of the river) central.
-Sue


Hello -

We are writing with an update and some important information on the Edmonton Public Schools Sector Planning Reviews in Central, South Central and West 1 Sectors.

1. REMINDER - Workshop - Public Engagement 101 - What to Expect, How to Participate
Are you a member of a parent council, community league or community organization? We are holding TWO workshops on May 19, 2010 specifically for you. We'll share information, talk together about public engagement, and answer your questions about the process.

- Session 1 - 9am-12pm, Robbins Health Learning Centre,
Grant MacEwan University, room 9-207, 10910 - 104 Avenue (Sue will be attending this session)

- Session 2 - 7pm-9pm, Centre for Education, One Kingsway (AKA Blue Building attached to Victoria School)

Please be sure to RSVP your attendance to Lynn@dialoguepartners.ca as space is limited and we want to be sure we have enough materials for everyone.

2. Workbooks
Starting last week an online fillable pdf version of the workbook was available in the library on the website and a small number of hard copies have been distributed in schools. The workbook provides important information and facts and asks lots of questions. Tell us what is important to you about your community and use of school space. Share ideas, issues and concerns that you think should be included in sector review.

Note: for the online fillable version you will need Adobe version 5 or higher, which you can download free (the link is on the website).

We'd like to sincerely apologize for an error in the West 1 elementary school attendance area map on printed copies of the workbook. The Youngstown area says "3" and it should say "224". (This error has been corrected in the online version).

3. Community Forums

Attend a community forum to discuss what is working well in area schools, what can be improved, and your ideas, issues and concerns about school space use specific to YOUR area.

May 29 Strathcona School - South Central Sector

9 am - 12:30 pm 10450-72 Avenue


June 5 Ross Sheppard School - West 1 Sector

9 am - 12:30 pm 13546-111 Avenue


June 19 Victoria School - Central Sector

9 am -12:30 pm 10210 - 108 Avenue NW

4. City of Edmonton / Edmonton Public Schools - Thinking and Working Together

Edmonton Public Schools Planning staff have been meeting with City of Edmonton staff regarding a number of projects and initiatives over the last two and a half months. Since March 1, 2010, EPSB planners have met with City representatives on fifteen separate occasions to discuss topics ranging from the joint use of schools, the REACH Report, City project proposals on school sites, and neighbourhood developments and improvements. The City is represented on the Sector Planning Public Engagement Advisory Committee which will meet during the sector reviews to provide input into the public consultation process. Planners have also responded to 18 Land Development Applications that concern district schools. Near the end of June, a strategic meeting with City of Edmonton senior management will be held to discuss the current sector reviews underway. (Sue's note: at the governance level, all three levels of government- city, province and school board- will be meeting on May 21 to discuss the issue of school space.)


5. Public Engagement Process - What is Happening and When?

You can find an outline of the entire process, with all of the opportunities to participate over the next 6 months, posted in the key dates section on the website here


Kind Regards,
The Team at Dialogue Partners

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Advice to new Trustees- the O'Malley case

On Saturday, I attended a "mixer" for new trustee candidates. It was hosted by ARTES  and was very well-attended. Trustee Catherine Ripley, Councillor Ben Henderson, former Leader of the NDP, former MLA and former EPSB Trustee Ray Martin, former MLA Weslyn Mather and a host of trustee candidates were in the room: Michael Janz (running in Ward F), Sarah Hoffman (running in Ward G), Heather MacKenzie (running in Ward G), Tina Jardine (running in Ward I), Sarah King (running in Ward E), Cheryl Johner (running in Ward A) Patricia Grell (running in the Catholic ward that includes Woodcroft) and a few others who are "thinking about it" including Laurie Simpson, who is considering running in Ward C (scroll down to comments and Laurie has a long post here on school closures).

Dale Hudjik gave a quick overview of the aims of ARTES and why they were hosting this gathering. He spoke a bit about governance and then turned the mic over to Ray Martin, who emphasized the importance of the Board of Trustees being distinct from its administration, rather than an extension of it. He spoke about his experience as a trustee with EPSB and fielded some questions. He emphasized that trustees are politicians.

It was a great evening, with lots of energy in the room and I enjoyed connecting with new trustee candidates: I have many coffee dates lined up to continue the conversation and provide some advice.

This article is quite helpful in understanding some of the duties and obligations of the trustee, to act in an ethical manner regarding confidentiality and conflict of interest:

http://www.cheadles.com/article/trustee-confidentiality-and-conflict-of-interest-164.asp

One piece of advice I would extend to new candidates is familiarize yourself with the O'Malley case (see #2 in above article- Conflict of Interest).  Mr. O'Malley was a trustee with the Calgary Separate Board who took the unusual step of initiating a lawsuit against his own Board and was subsequently removed from the Board. The case is of interest because of the court's ruling on the  fiduciary duty of a trustee.

To quote from the judge who ruled on the O'Malley case:
..Mr. O’Malley had a misguided understanding of to whom his fiduciary duties are owed...Mr. O’Malley wrongly believes that his duties are owed only to the people that voted for him...the fiduciary duties are owed to the corporate body (the Board) which is, in turn, accountable to the Catholic ownership.” [para 109 - 110]

Whenever I have seen this quote, the last 9 words have been deleted. Without the accountability phrase, you might assume that trustees' ONE and ONLY fiduciary duty is to the Board and that they therefore have NO  or LITTLE duty (accountability) to the public. The idea of a duty of care to the Board (and District) may at times appear to be in direct conflict with the wishes of one's electorate and if the idea of accountability to the public is not fully understood, new trustees, in particular, may be confused. I think when you read the entire phrase (and also understand the extreme measures that Mr. O'Malley took in trying to stop his Board from passing its budget, etc.), you arrive at a more well-rounded perspective.

In my view, there is nothing in the O'Malley case that would indicate that trustees should not (a) represent the views of their electorate (b) debate vigourously (c) disagree with their colleagues or offer different points of view and (d) consider themselves to be politicians. (Minister Hancock- please correct me if I'm wrong.)

In fact, this article  would seem to agree with me:
"However, do not assume from these cases that Trustees have no voice or right to object vigorously.



Courts have stated elected representatives can form views and opinions and declare themselves on issues of public interest. They have gone so far as to say:


“Elected officials are and should be entitled to maintain and forcefully to express their views without fear of disqualification or unwarranted interference by the courts. In this case, however, any reasonably well-informed person acquainted with the facts would inevitably conclude, as Justice McMahon did, that Mr. O’Malley, by attacking the validity of core governance policies through the courts, has a personal conflict of interest...that likely would preclude him from bringing an unbiased mind to the performance of his Board responsibilities.” (O’Malley decision, paragraph 104, page 23)

“Mr. O’Malley had a shared public duty to advance the work of the Board, which included deliberating on and passing a yearly budget. Yet he tried to halt the Board’s budget work, thus putting his private interest in conflict with his shared public duty to carry out the responsibilities and work of the Board...trustees collectively and individually owe a public duty to carry out their responsibilities and the work of the Board in good faith and with reasonable diligence. They are elected for that purpose. They need not be of like mind. They may hold strong conflicting views. They may debate with vigour, and occasionally with rancour. There is no rule requiring trustees to like each other. But they do have one overarching responsibility -- a shared public duty to advance the work of the Board to which they had the privilege of being elected. A trustee who chooses to personally engage his Board in litigation concerning the Board’s fundamental operations places a private interest ahead of a public duty...A trustee who cannot in good conscience continue to perform that duty has a choice. He can resign his position and regain the elector’s right to challenge the Board in court. What he cannot do is remain and abandon his public duty to advance his private interest. He is unable, in those circumstances, to bring an unbiased mind to the performance of his public duty.” (Emphasis added)

Perhaps you see it differently, but, as far as I'm concerned, there is nothing in the O'Malley case that should stop a trustee from representing their electorate in their decisions, while balancing the needs of the entire District and preserving public education as a public good.

I've highlighted the above passage about being "free to express their views without fear of  disqualification or unwarranted interference" because another case is also of note for new trustees: the instance where the Calgary Public Board was disbanded by the Minister of Education for being 'dysfunctional'. In this case, the in-fighting between board members seemed to be getting in the way of getting the job done. What exactly defines "dysfunction" is open to individual interpretation and without clear guidelines, it can breed a sense of discomfort about any sign of public disagreement. It can be used to justify conducting a great deal of work behind closed doors, in order to "smooth out any rough edges" before things appear in public. Perhaps the new School Act will articulate some clear expectations or guidelines in this area.  It would certainly help new trustees feel confident in their role, if they could understand what constitutes "dysfunction" and also how their fudiciary duty to the Board intersects with (or complements?) their duty to represent the public who have elected them.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Board meeting- outcomes (May 11)

As predicted- big agenda, long night!

The four motions last night all received a fair amount of debate. The one of most interest to the public (perhaps) was the special tax levy. The Board discussed issues such as:
  • low public support for additional taxes (both historically and in the current economic climate),
  • the condensed timeframe to communicate the need for the additional money (between now and October),
  •  concerns about this happening right in the middle of a board change-over due to the election with several trustees not returning and how that would impact our ability to effectively engage in a dialogue with Edmontonians,
  • the cost (time and money) of mounting a public awareness campaign,
  • whether the upgrading of approximately 8 buildings on the Capital Plan over 3 years would "touch" enough people (Trustee Gibeault introduced an amendment to use half the money to eliminate transportation fees and half to upgrade buildings. This was defeated.).
  • the possible damage to EPSB public relations,
  • the timing of this coming so soon after contentious school closures
  • the damaging perception of low public support for funding public education should the levy fail.
In the end, the motion was defeated 7-2 (Ripley and Shipka for, everyone else against.) For me, I felt the timing was not right and that to give a plebiscite any hope of passing, a Board would need to commit to three years of dialogue with the public prior to asking for money. There is no doubt that we have a serious problem of deferred maintenance ($240 million of deferred work!), but the public is, by and large, unaware of the issue and it will take some time to build understanding. The on-line comments posted in response to the Journal article on this topic, show a great animosity (some of it unnecessarily personal in nature towards Trustee Ripley) and also a great level of misunderstanding about how we are funded and why this problem exists in the first place.

The other motions:
Trustee Shipka's motion to limit the amount of time trustees can speak in a debate to twice for 3 minutes each time.... passed (6-3). I voted against this. As did Trustee Colburn and Trustee Fleming. I did not vote in support because I feel it will place unnecessary constraints on debate, take up precious energy in enforcement, create anomosity on the Board as people are cut off and ultimately, it won't reach the goal of shorter meetings because the other issues that contribute to long meetings have not been addressed. The long meetings regarding school closure were cited as indicators of the need for this new policy. However, in those instances, many hours were taken up with administrative presentations, administrative answers and comments from the public. The real problem, in my opinion, was looking at 6 closures in one night...not how long individual trustees spoke. In any case, this is now the new rule- I need to find a stopwatch.

Trustee Esslinger's motion re: creating a policy for attendance boundaries passed. I can't remember the vote... I believe 8-1, with Trustee Colburn dissenting. The problem seems to center largely on the new ASAP schools, where people assumed they were going to be able to attend one of the new schools, but then found out they were just outside the catchment area and so they have been designated instead to another school. In some cases, they will need to drive by several schools before they get to their designated school. This is due to the Planning Principle that says students will be designated to the nearest school that has available space for all the public school students in their neighbourhood. The aim, as I see it, is to develop a policy and accompanying regulations to clarify to our public the values and principles used to make these decisions.

RE: Trustee Colburn's motion regarding a series of annual reports on district work, as identified with input from the Board, be posted on the district website no later than the end of September.
The idea of posting annual reports on the website, so the public can see when we are dealing with key issues, had warmth from the Board. An amendment was proposed by Trustee Gibeault: "That annual reports on District work be posted on the District website". I voted against the amendment, as did Trustee Colburn, as we both felt that the Board should have some input on which reports would be included. The amendment was passed 7-2. The next vote (on the amended motion) passed 8-1, with Trustee Colburn opposing. I voted in support of the final motion, because it was the only one left on the floor and I felt that the issue of transparency had been won and it was an important step in the right direction.

Other outcomes:
A very complex and detailed transportation report was submitted....a communication plan is being developed to condense this information and make it accesssible to the public. It appears, if the signalling from the Province is accurate, that rather significant changes in transportation funding are coming soon. A strict 2.4 KM eligibility may be enforced. So, if you live closer than 2.4 KM from your school- our District would not receive funding for your child to ride a bus. This would eliminate many of our current eligible riders and therefore eliminate a huge percentage of our transportation budget. (Our transportation budget is currently 70% provincially funded, 30% parent funded through bus passes).  The other provincial rule change that will have a profound impact is a requirement to attend your designated school to be eligible for funding. As you may know, approximately 50%  of our students choose to attend a school other than their designated school. Our system is built on choice and it appears as if that choice model will no longer be supported by provincial transportation dollars. We are looking at various options to deal with these rather significant funding changes, including modifying our service delivery model. If the province changes its eligibility requirements (causing our revenue to plummet significantly), the status quo is not possible without increasing the parent paid fees to unacceptable levels.We will also be expressing deep concerns to the Province regarding these proposed changes and how they will impact EPSB students and parents. Stay tuned for more info. This will take some further discussion!

Bus pass increases- $43 goes up to $48, $24 goes up to $27. This passed 7-2. I voted against the increases because I do not feel assured that we have sufficient mechanisms in place to address issues of poverty. I have heard anecdotes of families that have one bus pass for several children, who, as a consequence, come to school on alternate days. This is completely unacceptable in Canada's richest province. There should be no barrier to accessing public schools- least of all, financial. Principals at schools are instructed to cover the cost of bus passes for families who cannot afford them, but this does not happen in all cases, due to tight budgets at schools or unclear guidelines about who "qualifies". I want to have a discussion about sliding scales for bus passes, so those who can least afford them are not forced to choose between bus passes and food. We must fully recognize the disadvantaged in our society and ensure that their needs are met. To do any less is to fail to meet our moral responsibility.

All policies passed their readings, unanimously. I was very excited to see the Environmental Policy come to light. Some of you may recall that I put forward a motion to develop and overarching Environmental policy a while back. It was debated and eventually sent off to a Trustee Retreat for further discussion. It never made it back to the public board table, but it was picked up by our administration and developed....and le viola! a policy. I'm so proud to see it in writing.

A presentation from Mr. Mahammed Accord from the Somali community, asking the Board to advocate for the mandatory age to be increased from 16 to 18 years. He spoke of the challenges facing the Somali youth, including a high drop-out rate, violence and gang activity and stressed the critical role education plays in creating options and different pathways for youth. Mr. Accord has been a tireless advocate for his community and, in particular, the Somali youth, and I salute his dedication!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Mixer for Trustee Candidates

I will be attending this event. I hope to see you there. Please circulate to anyone interested.

Dear Trustee Sue Huff:


I am extending an invitation to you to attend a Wine and Cheese Mixer that ARTES (Association for Responsive Trusteeship in Edmonton Schools) is organizing for people interested in local education issues, including potential candidates who are eyeing the possibility of running in the fall election.

Event details:
Saturday, May 15th, 7-9 p.m.
Woodcroft Community League Hall
13915 - 115th Avenue

The focus will be on building connections, but the event will also include three brief presentations:
- Dale Hudjik, ARTES president, on the principles of effective and responsive governance;
- Lynn Odynski, a former EPSB trustee, on the responsibilities of the office; and
- Ken Chapman, partner at Cambridge Strategies, on the values that voters identify as most important heading into the vote.

Anyone considering standing for election as a trustee is invited to attend, along with members of the public who want to learn more the school board system or get to know potential candidates.

Please forward this invitation to others that may be interested. In particular, please send it to anyone who may be considering their candidacy for school trustee in Edmonton.

Kind regards,

Dale Hudjik
President ARTES (Assoc. for Responsive Trusteeship in Edmonton Schools)
http://responsivetrustee.com/
c. 1.780.904.6081
dale.hudjik@gmail.com

Monday, May 10, 2010

Sue not seeking re-election

After a great deal of reflection over many months, I have decided not to seek re-election in October.

I would like to thank my community for the privilege of representing them over the past three years. I have done my best to listen, to connect, to share information and to bring your concerns to the Board table. I have considered your viewpoints carefully in my decision-making and explained my rationale for the difficult decisions I’ve had to make. You, in turn, have been unfailingly appreciative and fair with me. Serving the public has been a great experience for me and I thank you for your generous support.

I would also like to thank the many outstanding members of the EPSB extended family that I have met and worked with over the past term (you know who you are!) I salute your dedication to children, youth and families. There is no greater calling than nurturing and educating children. My conversations with you have broadened and deepened my understanding of complex educational and social issues, challenged my views and helped me grow as a person. You can be sure that I will carry with me what I have learned from each of you.

Over the final months of my term, I will continue to focus on the job at hand. We have budgets to consider, policies to review and work to do to ensure a smooth transition for the next board. In Ward C, there are a number of strong potential candidates and I will be working to ensure they are ready to assume the role.  As well, I am happy to provide any additional mentoring, as desired, following October 18. I am heartened to see the growing public interest in trusteeship and in particular I am excited by the number of young people declaring their intent to run in the next election. As a parent and Westmount community member, I will, of course, remain actively engaged with Edmonton Public School Board. It look forward to seeing where the next Board leads EPSB and it is my sincere hope that it will be a board dedicated to the principles of transparency, openness, accountability, integrity and good governance.

So what’s next? At this point, I am still exploring options. I remain fiercely dedicated to the ideas of community, social justice, children and democracy. I look forward to finding new ways to serve my community and to affect change in a progressive and productive manner.

Thank you again for your support and your dedication to public education.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

My Big Fat Agenda- Tues, May 11

A whole lot on this agenda: four motions (incl special tax levy), three policies and bus pass fee increases. Transportation Review is long but important for anyone who relies on bussing to get their kids to school. There may be significant changes coming to who is eligible and who is not.
Board Meeting #16:  Tuesday, May 11, 2010 6:00 p.m. McCauley Chambers
Centre for Education  One Kingsway

Agenda:
The disposition of the items from the May 11, 2010 Board meeting will be posted May 12, 2010.
O Canada
Roll Call
Communications from the Board Chair
Communications from the Superintendent of Schools
Minutes:
Board Meeting #15 - April 27, 2010

- These minutes will be posted May 12, 2010.

Recognition  An Act to Follow Staff Recognition Program

Comments from the Public and Staff Group Representatives (this is where anyone can approach the microphone and address the Board on educational matters, no need to register in advance. 3 mins max.)

Reports:
Report #12 of the Conference Committee (From the Meetings Held April 27 and May 4, 2010)
RE; Appointing Principals

Election of Board Vice-Chair

Motion re Schedule of Annual Reports

Motion re Debate on Motions

Motion re Policy for Setting Attendance Areas

Motion re Special School Tax Levy

Delegation - Alberta Somali Community Center (ASCC) (7:00 p.m.)
RE; board support for advocacy around raising mandatory age to stay in school to 18.
Policy Review ACB.BP - Multiculturalism and National Identity

Policy Review - Board Policy JH.BP Public Gifts

Policy Review - FO.BP - Environment

2010-2011 Non-Resident Fees

District Three-Year Capital Plan 2011-2014

Transportation Action Plan

Student Transportation Fees

Responses to Board Requests for Information
more complete information on CCEP (inner city) graduation rates, and things underway to ease transition of students affected by closure decisions


Committee, Board Representative and Trustee Reports (NO ENCLOSURE)
Trustee and Board Requests for Information
Notices of Motion
Meeting Dates
Adjournment

Next Board Meeting:  Tuesday, May 25, 2010 at 6:00 p.m.

Nominate a Teen (124 Street Community Teen Awards)

Community Teen Awards

Do you know a teen in Westmount or Inglewood who makes a difference in your life or the life of our communities? Someone whose good deeds and positive contributions make our communities a better and safer place to live.

Nominate someone 13 - 18 years old for the 124th Street Crime Council Community Teen Award.

Please write as much as possible on the teen, giving full details on why they should be recognized. The winners will be contacted by phone and announcements will be in the Community newsletters and website. Nomination deadline is June 30, 2010.

Nominations can be emailed to crimecouncil@shaw.ca or mailed to:
124th Street Crime Council
c/o #202, 10715 – 124 Street
Edmonton AB T5M 0H2

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124th Street Crime Council Community Teen Awards



Name of Nominee:__________________________________________________________________

Address:__________________________________________________________________________

Phone Number:____________________________________________________________________



Name of Nominator:________________________________________________________________

Address and Phone Number:_________________________________________________________

REASON FOR NOMINATION: (please write as much as possible, giving full details. Attach a separate sheet if needed.)

Friday, May 7, 2010

DATES/INFO for next round of Sector Reviews

This is from Dialogue Partners, the consulting firm hired to do the Sector Reviews. (for those of you who have no idea what Sector Reviews are--- they are the process used to decide possible school closures.)

Change is Coming! Be a Part of it.

Hello -

We are writing with an update and some important information on the Edmonton Public Schools Sector Planning Reviews in Central, South Central and West 1 Sectors.

1. What Was Said? Survey Submissions
We received over 400 survey submissions - a fantastic response, with lots of thoughtful, passionate comments. Thanks so much for taking the time to tell us what you think. The reports are now posted in the library on the website.

We've considered your input as we have developed the public engagement process.

2. Public Engagement Process - What is Happening and When?

You can find an outline of the entire process, with all of the opportunities to participate over the next 6 months, posted in the key dates section on the website here.

3. Workshop - Public Engagement 101 - What to Expect, How to Participate

Are you a member of a parent council, community league or community organization? We are holding a workshop on May 19, 2010 from 9am-12pm, specifically for you. We'll share information, talk together about public engagement, and answer your questions about the process. Please RSVP your attendance to lynn@dialoguepartners.ca by May 16, 2010. (I will be attending.)


4. Workbooks

Starting May 10, 2010, an online fillable pdf version of the workbook will be available in the library on the website. It provides important information and facts and asks lots of questions. Tell us what is important to you about your community and use of school space. Share ideas, issues and concerns that you think should be included in sector review.

5. Community Forums

Attend a community forum to discuss what is working well in area schools, what can be improved, and your ideas, issues and concerns about school space use specific to YOUR area.

May 29 Strathcona School - South Central Sector
9 am - 12:30 pm 10450-72 Avenue

June 5 Ross Sheppard School - West 1 Sector (note: most Ward C schools are in West 1)
9 am - 12:30 pm 13546-111 Avenue

June 19 Victoria School - Central Sector (incl: Westglen, Westmount, Prince Charles and Inglewood)
9 am -12:30 pm 10210 - 108 Avenue NW

Kind regards,
The Dialogue Partners Team
info@dialoguepartners.ca

Tel. 1-866-269-1276


The Fine Print
You've received this email because of your interest in the Edmonton Public Schools Sector Planning project. If you would like to be removed from the contact list, please send us an email with "Remove EPSB" in the subject line, and we'll take you off the list right away.  If you'd like to be added to the list, please send us a note with "Add to EPSB" in the subject line, and we'll sign you up.

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION & PROTECTION OF PRIVACY (FOIP)
If you have indicated that you would like to be included on the contact list, you may be contacted by phone, letter or email for the intended purpose. Personal information is collected to support the development of a public engagement program and provide input into the decision-making process in regards to sector planning. All personal information is collected in accordance with the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, the Alberta School Act, and board policies of Edmonton Public Schools.

Special Tax Levy - $20 million to upgrade schools

On Tuesday, we will be debating the idea of including a special tax levy as part of the October 18 ballot. Should the motion pass.... when you vote for your city councillor, your mayor and your trustee in the fall, the public school electorate would also vote on this special tax. If passed by the majority of voters, the money collected would be used to upgrade our schools. Our current maintenance deficit is over $240 million. We are VERY behind in upgrading many of our schools, due to insufficient funding.

What needs to be done? Boilers (and more boilers!), windows, roofs, gym floors, painting interiors, etc.
When we compare EPSB buildings to buildings in other urban school districts, our buildings are considerably older and so the maintenance/renovation gap grows more pronounced with each passing year.

So- what would it mean to you, dollar-wise?
The tax increase (should the levy receive voter approval) would be around $20 for every $100,000 property value. So, if your house is assessed at $400,000, your taxes would increase by approximately $80.

So- what do you think?

Please let me know: I have to vote on this on Tuesday and I would appreciate your comments. Remember, the vote on Tuesday is just whether the Board should ASK the voters if they want to contribute, through a fall plebiscite. Unlike the city, we don't have the authority to impose taxes on anyone.

Here's the article in today's Journal:
http://www.edmontonjournal.com/news/Edmonton+trustee+wants+special+school+building+maintenance/2995997/story.html

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Learning Our Way to the Next Alberta

Reprinted, from Ken Chapman of Cambridge Strategies---  I will be attending the June 1 public lecture and hope to see you there too!

We live in challenging, changing, and uncertain times. Fortunately, Albertans have the strengths, stability and stamina to deal with these volatile times. We have the resources needed to plan the next Alberta in ways that are adaptive, deliberative and wise.

That vision inspired a public lecture in Calgary (May 31) and in Edmonton (June 1) entitled “Learning Our Way to the Next Alberta.” We have three internationally renowned expert speakers. Gwynne Dyer author of “Climate Wars,” David Peat, author of “From Certainty to Uncertainty” and Scott Murray, a literacy expert and researcher who has studied impacts and implications of low literacy levels on Alberta’s economy and competitiveness.

These speakers are very familiar with Alberta. They will share perceptions, trends and ideas about the potential of a learning culture in our province. It will be an informative and engaging evening with a focus on how we go about “Learning Our Way to the Next Alberta” together. Space is limited so we encourage early registration.

There is also a 1-day Symposium in Edmonton June 2 with these speakers and education, industry and government policy people who can share ideas of a learning culture including impact on Individuals and Community, Work and the Economy, Governance and Politics and Emerging Technologies. Let us know if you are interested in attending the Symposium too.

For more information and online registration please CLICK HERE. As always, space is limited.

Please forward this email to any of your friends colleagues who may be interested in a conversation about the place of learning in the next Alberta.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Setting the Direction Update- Inclusive Education model

From Alberta Education:


Moving Toward an Inclusive Education System in Alberta

The Setting the Direction Framework recommends the building of a single inclusive education system that meets the learning needs of all students, including those with diverse learning needs. In the context of the Framework, an inclusive education system is a way of thinking and acting that demonstrates universal acceptance of, and belonging for, all students. Inclusive education in Alberta means a value-based approach to accepting responsibility for all students. It also means that all students will have equitable opportunity to be included in the typical learning environment or program of choice.

In the Alberta context, inclusion means every student will be included in the greater school community, and will be physically placed in the setting that is best for them at a particular time based on the input of all parties. Inclusion does not necessarily mean that every student registered in the Alberta school system will be placed in a regular classroom. Physical placement will be flexible and changeable, always with the student’s success in mind. his will be true in all school authorities—public, separate, francophone, private and charter.

A “made in Alberta” inclusive education system means: Shifting from a dual system of mainstream education and special education to a system that takes responsibility for ALL students. Sharing a commitment to building an inclusive education system that meets the needs of a diverse student population in all school settings becomes a focus of the reform of Alberta’s education system. Replacing the emphasis on special education “programming” with an emphasis on achieving outcomes for ALL students. This emphasis will be built into the inclusive education funding and accountability model. Developing the comprehensive supports and services required to take responsibility for all students and to work in an outcome-based way. Setting the Direction is exploring a continuum of support, where classrooms, schools, school authorities and the specialist community are equipped to make it possible for all students to have their needs met. This collaborative model advocates a collective responsibility for the success of each student. Taking an asset-based approach to meeting the needs of students with diverse learning needs and placing the emphasis on what students can do, rather than the limitations of their diagnosed condition. This approach focuses on making changes in the environment in which students are learning so that they can be more successful. Respecting and using data gathered at all levels of the system, beginning with the teacher and family and including specialist reports from medical and education experts. This honours the expertise that lies at every level. Recognizing that a successful school journey for all children begins with quality early learning and care and concludes with positive high school completion and a supported transition out of the school system. This includes an acknowledgement that smooth transitions throughout the school journey are critical elements of success. Working together to support students in schools with the supports that they need – which may not be exclusively educational services—delivered collaboratively in the most logical and natural setting, thus “wrapping” around the student.


Comparison of Alberta’s current education system and the system we are moving toward

FROM:  makes a provision for special education to exist in section 43 of the School Act, students with special education needs and their parents experience an education program that focuses on disability shifts

TO-  shifts the responsibility for students with special education needs onto the education system as a whole,
all students and their parents experience an education program that focuses on the Alberta Program of Studies

FROM- has special education founded on a medical model based on the student’s diagnosis, students and parents experience an identification of disability that is linked to coding, which is tied to specialized services and often leads to a lifelong label

TO - is founded on understanding a student’s needs based on the student’s learning and developmental profile, parents and students are participating in a process for the identification of strengths and/or needs to determine supports and services

FROM- identifies barriers to learning and development within the student, with an assumption that the student needs to change to fit the system, teachers refer students for assessment to identify special education needs

TO - identifies barriers to learning and development within the system, with an assumption that the environment needs to change to support student learning, teachers are supported to personalize learning for all students and use teacher-based assessment to identify both strengths and needs
FROM - focuses on deficits to be remediated, teachers are responsible for developing Individualized Program Plans (IPPs) for students with special education needs
TO - focuses on strengths and what the student can do, teachers are members of a team responsible for developing personalized learning profiles

FROM- tolerates difference, teachers express that they don’t feel they have the capacity or awareness to support diversity within their classrooms.

TO - tolerates diversity,  teachers are supported to understand and program for diversity within their classrooms.

FROM-  relies on medically-trained experts and specialists, teachers refer to medically-trained experts and specialists for identification of student need

TO - includes teacher and parent as experts, students, parents, teachers, specialists and others collaborate to provide programming

FROM - has an accountability system for special education that is input-based, school administrators dedicate resources to identify and report students with severe disabilities
TO - has an accountability system that is outcome-based (e.g., measuring the indicators of success),
school administrators dedicate resources to ensure that indicators of success are measured and reported