Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Langley School District Board Report - Special Report by Susan Semonick

Trustees Hogeterp and McVeigh attended the school district transportation staff’s Transportation Breakfast on behalf of the Board.

Kwantlen Quad District Partnership Signing
This is an agreement between Kwantlen University College and the Langley, Surrey, Delta and Richmond School Districts to cooperate in a few key areas. The intent is that they would work together to improve the transition to post-secondary, promote communication between public and post-secondary systems, and to look at issues in ways to increase academic opportunities for students. The Horticultural program was mentioned as an example as well as developing dual credit opportunities for secondary students. These are programs that help students, I am not too sure how much promotion actually happens in the secondary schools to promote participation. I am sure it will increase as the list grows.

Rec n’ Reading
Suzanne Hoffman reported that the district provided funds to support the program and the Langley School District Foundation which, received a donation of $125,000 from the school district, also donated funds to support Rec n Reading. Again, I question why we need the Foundation if all it is doing is getting monies from donors that were already giving directly to the District; AND the School District is giving money to the Foundation to be given back to the District in this manner. Is the Foundation really doing what it intended to do? Why is the School Board not seeing that this is just creating extra meetings and expenses - not revenue, for the most part. The district itself can issue tax-deductible receipts. The Foundation uses the district’s Secretary Treasurer to do the books. They show two employees as the members of its executive in their brochures. I ask, at what cost to the district? The amount of cost is rising so that the actual revenue generated is at question. According to their website they only list 3 outside directors. It now stands that 50% of the directorship is not at arm’s length.

Aldergrove Elementary PAC
Cathy Suek again reiterated the wish that Aldergrove wishes to move to Shortreed a whole. It looks as if at least their principal will be able to maintain her position at Shortreed since the current principal at Shortreed had retired and was asked to return to fill position until they found a replacement.

Aldergrove Elementary Teachers – Maureen Wilson basically requested that all staff remain together so I guess Shortreed staff should be on notice. I do not see the LTA agreeing to ignore the seniority process and will probably ensure that it is maintained. That is one of the benefits of being in a union is it not?

School Achievement – Coghlan Fundamental Elementary School shared with the Board its work with students regarding social responsibility. It is working to implement the Restorative Justice Program into the school to improve overall attitudes on how each of us should treat each other.

The numbers tell the story. It looks like anywhere from 3 to 4 elementary schools could be considered for closure with one Secondary in the Langley/Central Area. When all is said and done this district should be looking at 5 - 6 elementary schools being closed and one secondary, most likely HD Stafford due to the cost and current upgrading to be green and lack of capacity to accommodate any of the other displaced students. HD Stafford students can easily be accommodated at LSS and D.W. Poppy.

Here are some thoughts on improving the consultation process….
The Board is not looking that far into the future yet, for they still are insisting at looking only at one little corner at a time. They haven’t even had the vision to look in the business end of things first and do the sadly needed house cleaning and consolidation required there.

As stated earlier, the school district should have a final public forum, once all consultations are completed and recommendations have been received, that would include all the communities in Langley Township/ City. The public would have an opportunity to ask questions and make suggestions at this forum. The other important component in this is to have the people with some knowledge present to be able to answer the questions.

Within the consultation framework, there should be an additional focus area that should be reviewed, which would encompass the School Board Office and all business activities and entities within the district, with a goal to improving the effective utilization of facilities and manpower. Immediately, a reduction of Senior Administrative positions, inclusive of the Trustee board. With the expanded mandate the qualifications needed to do a proper job are required. My guess is only 2 currently on board hold the minimal requirements.

Here are some additional thoughts on school closures…
Notice to parents with preschoolers and use DAY CARE; the facilities will disappear with the filling of schools. The option of putting the DAY CARES in portables was suggested.

One recommendation is to allow the schools to rename themselves to promote unity in the converging communities.
Mr. Burton kept referring to the policy when asked about this possibility, however, the policy only applies to the naming of a new school. There is no policy for renaming schools. But, he did say they would entertain any suggestions from the community. There is no process in place so it is a free for all in regards to the consolidation of schools. So what needs to be done is to determine the cost in doing this so you can budget for it. The board did decide to approve naming of a playing field at an estimated cost of 5,000.00 plus upkeep. So I’m sure that the signage for each of the approximately 6 schools would not exceed that amount.

A preliminary report was received by the Board for information. Based on this report the Board moved that the district develop a policy around the use of personal technology devices (phones, PDAs, etc.) in schools. District staff will be consulting students, parents, teachers and other groups. This seems more a personal concern for one trustee rather than the reality of it being a societal problem of the youth. What are we teaching our children? We all wish accountability. The problem is that all of us have a different definition. I myself believe there are laws and processes that are already in existence. When the Board itself cannot follow its own policies nor do they ensure that current policies are being followed, why, I ask waste the money and time on this? It would be far more beneficial for the students to be taught the proper use of this technology than saying “within these walls you are not allowed to ………. “ Teaching children respect of others would be money better spent. Teachers will need to be sure to have their input as this will affect how they use their phones, PDAs, etc. in school as well. In the report, comments from administrators recognized that technology is useful and it is all about teaching proper use. Hopefully, the policy will recognize that students are just that, students who are still in the process of learning. The district couldn’t get together on a district dress code policy because no one could agree.
I wonder how this will go? Especially when in my opinion you are treading on personal rights.

The Progress Board’s report titled “Working Together to Improve Performance: Preparing BC’s Public Education System for the Future” was received for information. This discussion paper examines six areas for change to improve education in BC in order to enhance the province’s economy. As stated before the Board is worried they will become a non-entity so finding anything to validate its existence is in order. The document can be found at

Ministry will provide the 2007/08 operating grant information to school districts on March 15th. The district is projecting a decrease in enrollment of 178 for the coming school year. They anticipate that wage increases negotiated recently will be fully funded. Details of the Annual Facilities Grant (for building maintenance and upgrades etc.) are not yet known.

The Budget Open House to be held on April 17th at the School Board Offices between 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm is where you can actually see the books. Have your pen and paper ready to list the sheets of information you would like to receive as the ones posted on the presentation boards are not easily read.

There was no financial update to the current 2006/07 operating budget provided.

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