Sunday, June 17, 2007

All Trustees Wimp Out & Re-Elect Burton as Chair !!??- June 12 Langley School Board District Report by Susan Semonick

Bravo for Chair Burton for arranging the agenda so that the Aldergrove Elementary and Bradshaw Elementary communities had opportunity to address their situations without all the overshadowing of the large contingent from HD Stafford.

Trustee Reports
Trustee Paterson apologized to fellow trustees, Ms. Beaumont, and the public for sending out the e-mail addressed to Ms. Beaumont to the 900+ people on the school district’s listserve. Of course, she was referring to the email that she sent out in the early morning hours of April 25th, making known her displeasure about the sudden decision to relocate the Board meeting and the short notice provided. The crowded boardroom was noisy and Trustee Paterson had her eyes focused down on her written copy, rarely looking up, and spoke in a muted voice so it was difficult to hear. She gave several reasons why she believes she did what she did. Whether the public considers them excuses or not remains to be seen. From what I understand of the events that have led up to this apology, there seems to be lack of full disclosure of what really transpired.

I wonder, since very few people on the listserve attend Board meetings, whether they appreciate having their e-mail intentionally sent all over the place, and whether her apology will be satisfactory, if they find out about it somehow. Being one of the recipients of the infamous email, I know I have still not received a retraction or an apology and yet this would seem simple enough to do. This time however, just use the blind-copy.

The Freedom of Information and Privacy Protection Act allows for penalties of $2,000 up to $500,000 to be imposed depending upon several factors. Hopefully, the Board will not incur any penalties. I have asked for a copy of her public apology and will be able to comment further when I receive it.

Delegations (First part)
Bradshaw parents made two presentations on how things were going for them. I will quote the Bradshaw PAC President, Allison Charlton.

“This process has reminded me that there is more to education than what is taught within a school.”

“I have learned that ordinary people are capable of extraordinary achievement. Sadly, I’ve also learned the even with great heart and great strength it is impossible to deny the reality of our demographics.”

Bradshaw Elementary will close at the end of this school year. The vote of 5-2 to close the school almost didn’t occur due to a couple of trustees who were either not paying attention to what was being voted on, or did not realize that the effect of voting against having all three readings of the motion at one sitting would be to delay the decision for another painful week. However, it was quickly rectified after the audience’s outcry.

Chair and Vice-chair Elections
Steve Burton acclaimed to position of Chair. I say “Way To Go “ Mr. Burton for sticking to it, even with all the controversy. No other trustee challenged him for the position so they have no right to complain about how he does things. Since there were no other candidates, despite all the complaints that have been lodged about the treatment the public has received, this indicates that the Board is fine with how he has handled the public or that they believe he has changed. I hope the latter is true.

Trustee McVeigh was challenged by Trustee Cody for the Vice-Chair position, but won in a secret ballot amidst some vocal displeasure from the audience.

Student Leadership was reported on in regards to School District initiatives. From responses from a survey of educators and students, the vast majority clearly indicated that they felt it was very important to have strong student leadership within the school system and gave numerous examples including:

  • Being strong role model for younger students
  • Helping teach others how to be responsible
  • Being able to show pride in accomplishments
  • Getting involved in activities that will make you want to be a part of school
Overall, the message was that students were setting example and showing the lead for others, as our Board of Education should be doing.

Flood Prep Update
No flood threat at this time for the Fort Langley schools.

Fee Schedule
The school fees tab stands at $600,00 to 800,000 to cover the costs that the district is now not allowed to charge families.
The Board approved fee schedules for Hockey, Soccer, Edge program, Dance, Theatre, Media Arts, Music and Visual Arts academies at four of our schools in the district.

Budget Report
There has been $2.4 million in enhancements to programs and services that is partially supported by $646,000 of funding that was not used last year. The government has given all the money that they have promised. We are still closing schools. When I hear the word “enhancements” I don’t know about the rest of you, but I interpret that as something that is not really needed. Are we trying to meet unrealistic expectations in trying to meet a choice mandate at the cost of needlessly closing facilities? Or, are we trying to correct things that are not complete?

Delegations (part two)
Of the 13 delegations at the end of the Board meeting, all related to the South/Central consultations and 6 delegations were identified as presenting on behalf of HD Stafford although many individuals spoke on behalf of HDS as well. There were at least six, if I am correct, past trustees in the audience. I wonder if they will be getting together as former trustees and putting together something as recommendations to the Board? I also wonder if all the parent presenters will be meeting over the summer to come up with a joint recommendation that could work. So many of them seem to have individually spent many hours on their presentations that collectively as one group, imagine what they could do.

I will be submitting an additional post in regards to this meeting in the near future. It will deal with Building for the Future suggestions. Even though each of the presentations had valid content, a few are more than worth my time to advise you of; the content of some were very entertaining. If any of the presenters have not already given me their presentations please send them to if you wish your input to be considered in my next report.

Due to the lateness of the evening (they were the last two delegations) LSS chose to submit their written presentations instead of speaking. According to the last presentation that the PAC President had done, LSS parents are apparently in support of the 9-12 configuration and the middle school concept.

The meeting was adjourned at midnight.


Susan Semonick...

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