Friday, February 23, 2007

Langley School District Special Report by Susan Semonick - Boards To Share Dinosaur Fate?


Aldergrove Elementary PAC – Kathy Suek requested that the Board vote NO to the recommendation for closure of Aldergrove Elementary stating that doing so would not work towards what the parents want. She asked that they turn around and immediately approve a new recommendation which would facilitate the AMALGAMATION of the two elementary schools, Aldergove and Shortreed, and allow for implementation of the other considerations re staffing, programs, etc. that the Aldergrove Elem. parents are concerned about.

LTA – Special Education – there is still a shortage of staff to meet the needs of students with learning differences

DPAC made a presentation re school fees. A summary of their recent parent survey indicates that the parents were willing to pay for instruments and field trips, although there was mention that parents who can afford to pay won’t and those that can’t afford to, will.


Band instruments, choice academies, apprenticeship programs are covered in the Throne speech.

The news release is available on the government website .

Boards will likely seek clarification on Field Trips and non-instructional materials, and a lot more still not covered.

School Board Chair Burton commented on School Planning Councils (SPC) and the parent representation on them that got the IRE up of more than a few at the meeting. The following are the two points in the Throne Speech, which I surmise may be of concern to Chair Burton.
Amendments to the School Act will also be introduced to enable boards to offer "special academies" upon the approval of school planning councils and consultation with parents.

Boards will be authorized to charge fees approved by school planning councils to defray non-instructional costs or additional costs incurred in offering special academies, trades programs, and band instruments.
He expressed some concerns that the Board could be at the whim of a small un-elected group, referring to SPC parents in particular. For instance some could have had their arms twisted to participate. The Chair of a School Board should know that parents on SPCs ARE elected. There was a comparison made that the Board is elected by 125,000 people while parent representatives are not. The only correction to that is that only 5,000 voted for some trustees and for two of them on the Board less than 2,000 some odd elected them in - not 125,000 unless the election results are wrong. Therefore the SPC members, in my comparison have been elected into their positions with the same representation that the Board members have. Interesting to note also that it is the Board that is responsible for having a functioning SPC at each school and yet there are some schools in Langley that do not have full parent representation and are not functioning as they should. I wonder what the Chair is doing about that?

The Board voted to send a letter to the Minister of Education to voice their concern about the power of SPCs to “approve” rather than to be “consulted”. I guess they see the writing on the wall in that school boards may go way of the dinosaur. Perhaps regional boards or area superintendents are in the works…and sooner than they think.

The elimination of the district school boards will save millions maybe billions of tax dollars. The annual fee of 50,000.00 plus for BCSTA fees for each district alone will realize at least 3,000,000. These monies can be redirected straight to the students. Having a Provincial Superintendent will set the groundwork to enable this transition to become a reality within the next few years with authority being given more directly to schools through the SPCs and district Superintendents. The professionals and parents at the local grassroots level will have the decision-making ability instead of elected volunteers. We will finally have those educated about curriculum making the close to home decisions about educating our children. This is a good thing even though I am sure many will not have the futuristic outlook to see it now.


Next meeting is on February 22nd at Langley Secondary School. This is when Mr. McAvoy will provide his recommendations. I wonder if the suggestion of secondary school closures will be considered. At the consultation meetings I heard suggestions of closing RE Mountain and HD Stafford and building a new one in Willoughby by year 2008 to accommodate the growth in the area. LSS and DW Poppy were also mentioned as options for closure by a few parents. Some people suggested that HD Stafford could be turned into an Arts centre for the City community or RE Mountain as an Arts centre for the Township. One guess what those parents’ interests were? An Arts centre seems to also be a focus for Township council.


Approved this policy revision. Very little public input received on this policy, which now frees up the Board to consider options that they could not previously, as they were required to go to public tender. It gives them a wiggle room to wheel and deal…will have to wait and see if and how this will benefit students.

There was question put to the Board in regards to the properties the district holds and whether the district would receive the full revenue or not from those acquired prior to certain Ministry regulations. The District retains, as capital funds, 50% of revenue generated by the disposal of sites, but some older school sites may not be subject to this revenue split with the Ministry. The chair advised they did not know and were looking into it.

2006/2007 AMENDED ANNUAL BUDGET BYLAW - Approved in the amount of $148,880,631

2007/2008 OPERATING BUDGET UPDATE – received for information approved

FACILITIES - Construction and upgrades at various sites are within budget and on schedule.


Trustee Bech appears to this writer to be in agreement with this writer in regards to the School District Business Company as reported last month. I understand that the SDBC Annual Report and financial statements will be presented at the next school board meeting.


The LTA questioned why the Ministry’s stats on class composition/size received, did not jive with some provided by the district earlier in the year. District staff will be reviewing the data to determine where the differences occur and why.

School Communities Connection Ad Hoc Committee report by Mr. Collins will be forth coming hopefully by next meeting. The committee seems to be having problems proposing a project that the Township and City council are willing to back. From what little I know of any of the proposals, the only one I am aware of that Township should be considering is the maintenance and improvement of the WGSS track. The school already has a third party backer, willing to match funds. This is one-time grant money from the ministry that I hope that the politicos will seriously consider accessing for enhancements for our communities considering they have seen fit to increase our taxes.

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