Friday, November 30, 2007

Does Sponsorship/Liberals 2004 = Schreiber/Mulroney/Conservatives 2008?

Everybody is talking about the newly revived $300,000 (or rather $500,0o0) Schreiber affair but meanwhile 4 other key issues to watch that have now arisen out of this core controversy may have even longer and more extensive legs.

Specifically they are:
1) Mulroney/Conservatives wireless telephone industry influences/decisions. (See G & M here.)
2)The McKays/Schreiber connections. (See CTV here. )
3)Scheiber's lawyer accusations about the powers to be in the conservative government that in his opinion tried exceptionaly hard to extradite Schreiber as a political move only. (See Toronto Star here.)
4) Finally the Mulroney/Harper relationship, and their publicly well known new and old Conservative party chumminess and potential influences/conflicts that are very diffilcult to ignore even if Mulroney for all intents and purposes has been declared hot by the ruling conservatives. This declaration by Harper that all should not be in contact with him for the duration essentially makes one wonder why this is even neccessary. Does this mean the contacts were that great?

Mark my word that these together are explosive and you can now bet that the Liberals are targeting an election definitely next spring now that the controversial shoe is now definitely on the other foot! Also the Libs & Cons are NOW tied in all the polls and using the above controversies (actual and/or perceived) will probably create enough of a wedge for a minority Liberal government. Meanwhile the NDP and Bloc say both the past & present Libs. & Cons. are not clean of any corruption. Also the Harperites are in desperate spin control now and are praying that no more new skeletons are found. Actual or perceived!

The real and final question that the Libs feel good about right now is:
Does Sponsorship/Liberals 2004 = Schreiber/Mulroney/Conservatives 2008?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

It's $500K re: Mulroney/Schreiber Affair, not $300K says Schreiber at House of Commons Ethics Committee

What a couple of weeks of admitted mistakes! Former PM Mulroney says the biggest mistake he ever made was taking the $300,000 cash payment, former PM Chretien says that if he knew about the $300,000 cash payment to Mulroney at the time, his government of the day would have reconsidered paying the ~$2 million slander and libel settlement paid by the canadian taxpayers to Mulroney. I guess this was another mistake? And in little ole Langley, Councillor Bateman finally admits that his so called re-election team made a mistake in advertising a raffle for his fund raising luncheon! Mistakes, political mistakes?

Meanwhile German-Canadian businessman Karlheinz Schreiber, at today's House of Commons Ethics Committee while holding back on most details on the affair due to preparation requirements did reveal a few gems from his point of view. He says that former PM Mulroney/Schreiber affair arrangement was for $500,000 and not just $300,000 paid to Mulroney. Schreiber said Mulroney only got $300k because he did not do the work that he was expected of him at that time. He refused to at this time say what he expected but did say it certainly was not for "pasta". Schreiber also said that he was told that Mulroney "was in desperate straights and needed the money" at the time.. He also name dropped multiple prominent names that it is assumed will play prominently in the committee hearings over the next weeks if not months!

See CBC for a report and see Rafe Mair's column of "vital questions" that he insists should be asked of Mulroney. The whole affair was revitalized by the cbc's Fith Estate newsmagazine report. View the Fifth Estate complete report and timeline at

Schreiber was today's big winner by probably remaining in Canada longer and now going to house arrest as opposed to a detention center. Shreiber easily controlled the whole committee agenda today that was clearly for his benefit. Stay tuned the committee resumes on Tuesday live on TV.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Letter To The Editor - Nov 28, 2007 - From Ed Monteith - Water Management Plan, Bamboozled by the experts again?

As a resident of Langley Township, I am sitting at my keyboard almost in a state of disbelief as I keep thinking about the township's headlong rush to solve the problem of our diminishing aquifer levels. Compounding this disbelief, is the direction that our council is about to take when they decide that metering our private well water will be front and center when solving this long and predictable downhill slide regarding the state of these aquifers. Then, as if this enormously important decision needs nothing in way of more inteligent input, our council is presently scheduled to ram this through by December 31st of this year. Ladies and gentlemen, you are about to see what you get, when you don't pay attention to who you vote for at municipal elections. If you own a well, be sure to attend last open house on this issue, at the Murrayville Firehall from 4 to 8 PM on november 29th You should then try to filter the bafflegarb from the reality of what's about to happen.

The Sunday Times (Nov.25th) has a quote from Dixon-Warren, the township's engineering department's groundwater specialist. He states that the water management aim is to establish guidelines for preserving both the quality and quantity of groundwater. Let's stop and think for a momment right there. Why? Because the TOWNSHIP itself has failed to do this, and continues to do so on a daily basis. They have done this time and time again, when they have allowed poorly planned development practices to destroy our forest ground cover, which retains our rainfall, which in turn allows clean water to filter into our aquifers. They have turned a blind eye when their development methods have allowed water to go from rooftop to rain gutter, and then to storm sewers and ditches, where it is lost on a fast track to nowhere useful. Flash floods in ditches and streams give us strong evidence of this after every heavy rainfall.. Dixon- Warren then goes on to say: "You can't manage it (water) unless you know who is using it and what is coming in and out" Well exactly my dear Doctor Watson, but let's get to the cause of the illness, and that is the township's poor planning and engineering practices sitting right there front and center. Methods of water RETENTION has never entered their minds I can only assume, yet in the State of Florida it has been a comon practice as far back as I can remember, and that's over 50 years. Such inteligence and foresight was perhaps never considered, and now the township has chosen to treat the symptom of this ailment (diminishing supply) rather than the very blatant cause which is located at the front end of the supply and consume cycle. Open your eyes Mr. Mayor and council et all. Look right across the road from the City Hall behind London Drugs, and you will see enough water wasted with each flash flood, to feed every well in the township for at least a month or more. It can no longer be absorbed and held by the vegetation that you have reclessly allowed to be destroyed by the gung-ho development on the south slope of the willoughby escarpment. Nice going guys !

A township manager involved with the water resources stated very loosely in the same article that the township "Expects" the provincial government to pick up the cost of water meters estimated at between $1000 and $2000 dollars. Hurry up with a firm promise here, because we only have until the 31st of December before this headlong rush to a huge blunder becomes irreversable. Most private well owners already have $20,000 and more tied up in their water systems and also have maintenance costs added as well. Charging for additional hardware for the water delivered from these facilities will be adding insult to injury.

Before I go on any further, let's turn our eyes towards Darth Vader, who lurks manacingly at the source of this messy controversy. Darth is of course is a symbol of none other that the Ministry of Agriculture. Remember them? You should, because they have already brought us misery via their letter of the law enforcement of the Right to Farm Act. Oh yeah, they are very friendly to the environement. NOT ! I'll just remind everyone how they have ignored our envirnment regularly each time they confuse INDUSTRY with REAL FARMING, and readers can assemble their own list. You might begin with with mushroon composters , and how their leash seems to get longer with every passing day as they are excused for the foul air they create in abundance.

At this moment there is every reason for the township council to slow the process, before starting with the metering of private wells. That procedure would be a costly, and a very large and complex program to implement fairly. There are far too many contributing factors to the diminishing levels of our water tables, and a fast track will contribute nothing sensible when prioritizing solutions. Let's start first with the worst offender among the others, and that is without a doubt the entity that holds the reins of this runaway horse. Yes indeed, it's the township itself. I'm sure that Confusious once said: "Check horse's mouth before looking up other end for problem". (LFP Editor's note - see 3 part Richter report for more)

Ed Monteith

Good Morning Langley! - So Just How Stupid is Stupid? Council Sells OUR 3/4 acre land for $12,500!

In another classic Mayor Alberts and slate move last Monday (Nov.26/07), they approved the sale of ¾ of an acre of land close to the Salmon River for $12,500 to one of the neighbours next to this land. They did this after hearing a delegation from another neighbour to the land who offered to pay Council $25,000 (double the money!) right there and then for the same land. He even offered to bring out his check book at the council meeting as a sign of his good faith!

When questioned by one of the councilors (yes-you guessed it by Councillor Richter - who else?), this second neighbour said that he had not even been offered the chance to buy the same land. But he would. Right then and right there. Councillors Kositsky, Richter and Long (the veteran team, aka the smart group) opposed the sale because they thought that in light of this new information it should be sent back to staff for more research. However, Mayor Alberts staunchly opposed this idea and the rest of the Jeniuses on Council followed his lead.

So ¾ of an acre in the Salmon River Uplands is sold for $12,500. What’s the average property assessment value around there – something like $750,000 per acre? What a deal! Meanwhile, the Township is busy buying property in Willoughby for parks at probably a lot more than $12,500 per acre (like try $1 million per acre).

Why is there such a disconnect with this council? Get ready for another tax increase – I’m not sure they even know how to add.

P.S. You wanna laugh or rather cry even more? This Editor has heard that the proposed 2008 Township tax increase is starting off this time at 7.5%. Any bets that the raffle meister, Cllr. Jordan Bateman scores a hat trick with his 3rd consecutive year's motion to increase our tax bill by another 4.95% ? Lets see ( I'm betting he won't move it this year. He's clued in so he'll probably get Cllr. Fox to do it!). That would be 15% compounded over 3 years! Even more historic than before! But of course to these financial Jeniuses this makes perfectly good sense, especially when you sell off ¾ of an acre anywhere in Langley for $12,500 and still fight off even higher bidders!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Susan Semonick On Schools - Amalgamate, Amalgamate, Amalgamate

I do agree with Mr. Bysouth and Mr. Woode. Amalgamation would better utilize our tax dollars by cutting down on the cost of politicians thereby leaving more money for services without increasing taxes.

There is one thing though that people should realize - that even though the school district is considered a single area, right now no voter has a say on who will sit in each and every seat on the Board.

There is no voter parity. The voters in the City who are determined to change the make-up of the Board at the next election do not have the power to make that change as they can only vote for two of the seats, not all seven. And yet, as we have seen this past year, it is the decision of those trustees who they CAN NOT elect who can make the difference in their children’s education. Is this right?

It was stated at the last Board meeting that approximately 400 Aldergrove parents have expressed their concerns about placing a middle school program in a Secondary. They are now looking at a stand alone 6-8 middle in that area. We will not know until the new year but it certainly looks like the trustees will listen. Yet, when well over 700 parents stated their concerns about a middle school in the city nothing was changed. Why? Could one of the reasons be that those people do not vote for the majority of the Board? There is a way to correct this and there is still time before the next election. Go to and sign the petition. If there is enough renewed interest, I will send it by May to the Minister of Education.

Wishing voter parity

Susan Semonick

Monday, November 26, 2007

Susan Semonick On Schools - District Foundation Annual Report – A Comedy of Errors or a Tragedy?

My night reading was a colourful 16-page brochure, which the Langley School District Foundation put out as their Annual Report. I thought it would help put me to sleep. It did not. What it did was leave me with a lot of questions and a headache. The booklet read like a cheap whodunit that disoriented you with constant back and forth of changing time. Unlike a good mystery that skilfully takes you to a satisfactory 'aha’ ending, searching for clues or facts in the report was like being led through a showy maze and getting lost while stumbling along the way over more than a baker’s dozen of spelling and grammatical errors littered throughout. At the end, you end up with no resolution and only red eyes. One would think that an organization associated with an educational group such as a school district would pay more attention to the fundamentals of writing.

Annual Reports often have two functions. There is the legal requirement to provide financial reporting and a summary of the past year’s activities. The glossy, colourful versions are also an organization’s calling card, its public face or foot forward if you will. This year’s annual report for the Langley School District Foundation does a disservice to the numerous volunteers and donors who have chosen to give of their time and resources. At the very least, I would expect that the names of the generous donors be correct. This is a sign of respect and appreciation. The corporate donors would not complain but they do take notice. The Foundation has several people in business as directors so they should understand that the corporate name is extremely important and that a lot of thought, time and resources have been put into creating a corporate image, which includes the company name. It is disturbing to note how many of these have been misspelled in some way (15 at last count, before my eyes got tired) including that of the Foundation’s largest benefactor, McDonald’s (with an apostrophe please), and even Campbell Burton & McMullan (with the ampersand, and evidently with or without the comma) which just happens to be the Chair of the Langley Board of Education’s firm. I am not sure if ‘Paddlewheelers’ that have apparently also supported the Foundation is a riverboat cruise company, a pub, or a liquor store but it would be nice to give acknowledgment to where it is appropriately due and not elsewhere. The School District spent so much money on behalf of the Foundation on a colour brochure that one would have expected that they would have invested in a spell-checker and an expert proofreader. This is not being fussy; it is about respect and professionalism in conducting business. There are many other charities to donate to; the competition is fierce. Why would you not want to cultivate good relationships and present yourself and your donors in the best way possible? Do you not learn this in Basic Business 101?

I compared the information presented in the brochure with the audited financial statements and had more questions than answers. If you told me that the annual report was a piece of fiction, I might not argue with you right now. The numbers do not seem to add up.

Let us start with the obvious. As I said, the report seems to be purposefully vague about time. First, the Foundation was officially established in November 2001 and yet the report refers to 2005-06 as its first year. It may be the first year for the establishment of certain events but that is not how the annual report reads and I find this, once again, disrespectful to the directors and many others who worked hard to establish the Foundation in 2001 and continued to develop it for many years. After all, the Foundation reported assets of over $692,000 at the end of the 2004-2005 fiscal year.

Second, while the annual report is supposed to report activities of the past year, it often reports out past activities and success to provide context and history. This is fine if you are clear and exact about what happened when and how much was raised in each time period. However, this is not the case when you read the Foundation’s report. Stories of successes, those of the Foundation AS WELL AS those of other organizations, and endeavours not a result of direct Foundation activities, are sprinkled liberally throughout the report and make it look like the Foundation has achieved more than it really has. One is never quite sure whether the amounts reported are for this fiscal year, a past year, a one-time revenue or a cumulative accounting of revenue and grants. I am developing a begrudging awe of the Foundation’s ability to cast a wide net, attach itself to numerous other activities, and present a kaleidoscope of its padded successes.

Third, the numbers that are provided about the two events that the Foundation does actually conduct do not match the figures contained in its audited financial statements. It is interesting that the usual information, balance sheet, income statement, etc. are not included in the annual report as is customary. The reader is, instead, directed to a website to find this information. The annual report states that the wine and cheese gala raised $74,000 and golf tournament raised $55,000. However, if you look at the financial statements, the net revenue for the wine and cheese is $12,590 and the net revenue for the golf tournament is $16,660. Even if you add in the other donations recorded for the past year of $18,860, this only totals $48,110 not the stated $129,000 for the two events. The numbers do not even match the reported revenue for last year, so it would be difficult to suggest that figures refer to different fiscal years.

The only reason the Foundation can state that it provided schools with $60,000 in grants is because of the transfer of $125,000 of school district funds to Foundation coffers. There is no doubt that SOME of the programs that are supported by donations, as well as redirected school district funds are worthwhile. The Langley School District, like many others, is fortunate in having generous corporate as well as individual donors. However, some would question why a few of these programs like the Reading Recovery Conference for Teachers could or should not be funded by district or other outside funds. As I have said repeatedly, there is an issue of lack of accountability regarding these monies, and decisions that should be made by trustees and not Foundation directors.

Apparently 70% of it’s funds raised is “earmarked” for particular school programs and incentives and 30% goes towards an endowment fund. Again, the numbers do not add up. It seems that a good portion of the transferred $125,000 is being “held” in this endowment fund for future use. What about the needs of current students?

As far as I have researched, it does not appear that the school district records the wages of the Foundation’s executive director as a donation, nor does it appear that the Foundation records it as a gift in kind or pay for it and include it as an expense. Why would they? Then it would show that there is actually a net loss and that the cost of running the Foundation is greater than the donations that it receives, if you do not include the huge transfer of funds from the school district, which I do not.

Why do donations to PACs need to be funnelled through the Foundation when the school district is able to issue charitable receipts directly? Again, is it to paint a pretty picture for the Foundation? See page 11 of the report. Much of what the Foundation did was simply provide charitable receipts. There was no direct fundraising by the Foundation; the schools and/or PACs did the work. Nonetheless, it looks good on the income statement.

Why are the two trustees and the secretary-treasurer of the school district reported as “at-arm’s length” when they in my opinion appear not to be? Until this past year, the Foundation did not meet the criteria for being a public foundation. They do now, and that is good but why did it take so long to comply?

As I said, there are too many questions and inconsistencies. The Foundation’s Annual Report is a pretty presentation, full of inaccuracies and errors, that confuses more than it explains.

A parent has asked for copy of the Foundation’s charity return that it would have submitted to the Canada Revenue Agency. Perhaps I will be able to find out why my math does not seem to be the same as that of the Foundation.

This is an opinion on the Foundation’s Annual Report that was produced using school district funds that could have been better used for direct student services.
I would like to make it clear that I am not against the Foundation. What I am opposed to is the school district’s contribution of grant and endowment monies, office space, web space, an employee and office supplies without accounting for all of it. In times when we are closing schools and disrupting people’s lives all in the name of finance, the school district should ensure that students’ basic needs are met before addressing the fluff.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Richter Report - Nov. 23, 2007 – Additional Clarifications on the Water Management Plan (WMP) - Part 3

I think perhaps some clarifications are in order based on your written comments and phone calls to my earlier posting about the proposed draft water management plan.

First of all, I was not on the planning committee. I was appointed by Council as one of three council observers to meetings of the Stakeholder Advisory Committee (SAC). As observers, we were not allowed to sit at the SAC meeting table. We were required to sit in the background and to not interfere in the discussions. (Although we could ask questions from time to time).

The SAC met 4 times: March 22, May 1, June 14 and November 14, 2007. I attended 3 of these meetings (March, May and November). Councillors Fox and Ferguson each attended 2. There was a 5 month gap between the last 2 SAC meetings during which time the Interagency Planning Committee wrote the draft report. The SAC did not see this report until a week before their meeting on November 14, 2007. This meeting was from 2 pm to 8 pm with a half hour dinner break. The purpose of the meeting was to go through the 44 recommendations in the draft report. Some members of the SAC were not present at this final meeting so their input on the report recommendations was not obtained. One member of the committee had not even had time to read the report prior to the meeting. Another member showed up half way through the meeting.

The Interagency Planning Team (IPT) consisted of staff members from the Township Water Resources Department, the BC Ministry of the Environment, and the BC Ministry of Agriculture. The IPT met 22 times over the past year. There were no members of the public, the SAC or Council present at their meetings. The IPT, with the assistance of an external consultant, wrote the draft report.

Members of the SAC represented 13 different organizations/groups in the community such as commercial agriculture, hobby farms, environmental stewardship, developers, industrial users, drillers, health authority, DFO, and private well owners. To my knowledge, SAC members were chosen by the Interagency Planning Team (IPT). There was no public call for participants and there was no approval of membership by Council.

On November 5, 2007, a 4 page staff report came to Council (Report #07-194). This report contained a summary of the draft (IPT) Water Management Plan and requested that Council receive the staff report (not the IPT draft report), and authorize a final meeting of the SAC as well as two public open houses. Council was informed in this staff report that "a copy of the Draft Water Management Plan is available for viewing in the Clerk's Office". So Council did not actually read the draft IPT report until after they voted on the motion because Council did not receive a copy of the IPT report to read until the following week.

In addition, the staff report to Council highlighted only 16 of the IPT's 44 recommendations. It did not note that 24 of the 44 recommendations were considered "Core Recommendations" or that the "Core Recommendations are considered central to the plan; removing any one of them will accordingly jeopardize the integrity of the plan and meeting the objectives consistent with the Ministerial Order". (p.2 - IPT draft Water Management Plan [WMP] report)

Furthermore, the staff report to Council said that "The planning team envisions a dedicated governing body overseeing the implementation of the is envisioned that the body will be non-profit, self-funding, representative...The Province is currently undertaking a study to look at options for water governance bodies across BC" [Editor's italics]. There was no mention of this being a Core Recommendation which in fact it is (p.38 - IPT draft WMP report).

At the November 5, 2007 Council meeting, I asked several questions about the costs incorporated in the report and about this proposed governing body for water. I was informed by the Township's General Manager of Engineering that this was a work in progress and that there were no specific answers to my questions. (Why is that? How can you write a report and not know what the answers are?). At this same meeting, I also raised concerns about pushing this report through to the public just before Christmas.

Secondly, if this is just "a work in progress" and "hardly a firm document with binding resolutions" as some suggest, then why the rush to get public and Council approval on it prior to December 31, 2007? Why does the IPT draft WMP state that this is "currently in Step 3 of a 7-step WMP program which includes legislative and non-legislative steps" (p.10 - IPT draft WMP report).Why is Step 4 a provincial Order in Council? Step 5 an Implementation Regulation? And Step 6 = Compliance and Enforcement? (p.11 - IPT draft WMP report). Why did the public Open House materials show in big cardboard print last night that 2007 was for public input and that 2008 was for implementation, regulation and enforcement?

Thirdly, this process has not been driven by a committee of community stakeholders as has been suggested. Rather, it has been driven by the bureaucrats who even went so far as to choose the volunteer members of this committee of community stakeholders.

However, I do want to make it very clear that the volunteers in question did an excellent job within the scope that they were given. They were informed, committed and passionate about the topic of water. They gave 24 hours of their time and experience and expertise but they did not write the report. They were only asked to comment on it and do so at one meeting (November 14, 2007).

Fourthly and finally, I absolutely remain committed to protecting groundwater. I always have been. I live on the Hopington aquifer. I have for 22 years. I have a private well and a septic system. Like thousands of others in this Township, I pay for the upkeep of these by myself. I do not get municipal assistance for them. I value the water that I have and I take care of it. My husband and I have been Township “Water Wise” participants. We have gone door-to-door in our neighbourhood talking about how to protect private wells and maintain septic systems.

I chaired the 2002 Water Resources Management Strategy public advisory committee that recommended a 20 year/$20 million comprehensive action plan for the management of groundwater resources. Under this plan, $1 million per year would be spent on protecting groundwater. This plan was approved by Council in 2002 and I have assumed that it was implemented as planned. So, I’m sure you can imagine my surprise and disappointment when I read in the draft IPT WMP (p.1) that these efforts have not been enough. Apparently more “provincial regulatory tools” are needed (like a “Conservation Board”?).

I do not oppose protecting groundwater but what I do oppose is the creation of another bureaucracy in order to do so. What I oppose is sitting in a public advisory meeting as an observer and listening to provincial bureaucrats say things like: "There is no legislative mechanism to charge for groundwater use but local government can charge for the provision of service which in this case is the protection of quality and quantity of groundwater. You're not charging for water but charging for service".

We probably do need metering but we do not need a separate, appointed, taxing authority to run it just because this is a way to get around things from the provincial government’s perspective.

Am I passionate about protecting groundwater? You bet! But not at the cost of another bureaucracy.

I hope I've answered some of the questions that people have raised as a result of my initial post. Thank you all for taking the time to write and voice your concerns. This is a very important issue and I appreciate hearing from you. Please go to the last open house on Thursday Nov. 29 (4 to 8pm) at Firehall #6 and voice your concerns there so all of council can hear them.

Editor's Note: This is Part 3 on the WMP. See Kim's initial post at Part 1 and another post at part 2 on the WMP.

Susan Semonick On Schools - Education Board Report

Children with special needs put on your life jackets.

Where to begin? I have to say to the students in School District 35 - brace for a tidal wave. There will be many changes in the next few years. For the life of me I do not see where the district will get the finances to pull this all off especially, if they keep the SDBC going and do not stop all donations to the School District Foundation.

You have the Fundamental Middle School being staffed by teachers who are just getting the training they require to make the middle school concept function.

They are considering placing a stand-alone middle school in the Aldergrove area. Although no official recommendation has been put forth from district staff, those in the know suggest that Betty Gilbert Elementary, which has the smallest capacity of the three elementary schools in the area and I understand has no room for expansion, is being considered for the middle school. In doing this, whichever school is selected, they will reduce the enrolment at Aldergrove Secondary Community School to about 50 % of capacity. Do they have a plan to fill the rest of the building? Remember, we were told it was about empty seats. What about cohort size? This solution does not seem to address this concern, which was one of the key factors put forth in moving HDS students to LSS. A half empty ACSS could mean that possibly DW Poppy will be closed because those families have the ability to transport their children to Aldergrove or LSS. The Township council has just approved the new sewage development in Aldergrove in the hope that it will ignite new interest in this community, which would translate into more people and new students. However, who knows how long this will take. As we have seen in the Willoughby area, it could take several years.

The Board has stated there is a teacher shortage and lack of funds. It has been reported that due to the new funding structure based on courses taken, there could be an approximately 1.6 million dollar shortage in funds this year. So, how can they possibly make this a go without making major cuts in all other schools’ programs? The answer is that they cannot. That is why there will be a significant review of the DDM in the next round of budget discussions. Of course, with increased cuts one could reasonably predict that there would inevitably be many more students dropping out or getting lost through the cracks. The district’s transition rates may not look so good for a while but eventually they could have a better academic achievement and graduation rates as you would be basing result on a greater percentage of students who have chosen to stay or whose needs you are at least minimally meeting. What would not allow me to sleep at night is thinking about all the children lost in order to achieve such results. Every, and I mean every, child should count. Why is it acceptable for the education system see it as tolerable to lose even one student, especially when it can be avoided with prudent fiscal management?

Many things seem to be coming to a head. The special needs teachers have been telling the district for several years now that they need to have more trained staff to be able to handle the case loads. They seem to be speaking to a board that may be following a philosophical dream that will only succeed if we have Donald Trump’s financial backing. The Board of Education is making decisions without divulging or explaining the financial costs involved. What is scary to suppose is that perhaps they have no clue – some of their responses certainly seem to suggest this. They do not have the funds to properly staff the schools we have now. How is it possible that they choose a form of education that requires additional funding to run? Where will the money come from?

Board Meeting DelegationsThere were four delegations.

The Uplands Elementary PAC requested that they also become part of the Brookswood catchment area. It was received for information with no comment from the Board.

The Alice Brown PAC spoke in favour of recommendation #6 to become a feeder school to Brookswood Secondary.

The Langley Teachers’ Association spoke on class size and learning conditions.

Mrs. Illsey brought information to the Board regarding Bill 202, Protection of Children Abusing Drugs Act (PCHAD), passed in the Alberta legislature, which addresses mandatory detox of minors with drug addictions.

Final Enrolment and School Growth Plans
Final enrolment numbers received for information. School Growth Plans from 2007-2008 approved by the Board.

Recommendations for Elementary Schools in South Central Langley
All eight recommendations were approved unanimously with the exception of recommendation #6, which was approved 4 to 2. I will leave the public to guess who voted which way. (Trustee Cody was absent. See comments below) A motion to defer consideration of recommendation #6, because there was a new request from another elementary PAC to also include it in BSS’s catchment, was defeated by a vote of 4 to 2.

REC #2 will now allow the District to do all the cuts to all the rest of the school’s programs to afford the middle school dream.

REC #6 - Alice Brown Elementary is now part of the Brookswood catchment area and will not become a K-5 school.

REC #8 - Approved unanimously. Goodbye Murrayville. The process to review closure of Murrayville has already been started and by January the public will know.

Other ReportsReports on the delivery of a middle school program in Aldergrove, seismic upgrade at Langley Fine Arts, the 2007-2008 budget, North Langley consultations and an update on Bills 20, 21, and 22 were received.

Trustee Bech put forth a request that a letter be written to BC School Sports to notify them of the reconfiguration that will occur in Langley and to request that BC School Sports lift the restriction of students having to be at a school for at least one year before they participate in the school sports. Trustee Ross wished the letter to state that it was for only students going to LSS. Superintendent Beaumont stated that a request can be made but the decision rests with the organization.

At the end of the meeting there were some theatrics displayed by one trustee; we will leave it at that. I did hear several comments about it but I will not repeat them.

Stacy Cody was absent. I did not hear why or even if it was mentioned that she had sent her regrets. So, has she resigned since she wishes the Board of Education be fired? This would then require a new election to fill the position unless her resignation is effective after January. It would be very costly to the district and the taxpayer if she does it before then. A resignation in January would save the district $10,000 or more in stipend/expenses and could go to the students instead.

Check out the School District website for the PowerPoint presentations on enrolment, Bills 20, 21, 22 and the report on Delivery of a Middle School Program in Aldergrove. This is a must read for all. It is important that people view at least the Middle School Report from Mr. Etchell. I did request that all these reports be posted and they stated they would be.

Special note: Effective December 1, 2007, the trustees will be eligible for another raise. I wonder if any trustee will put forth that they forgo their automatic raises for this year?

Respectfully Submitted:

Susan Semonick

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Richter Report - My Friday Night Out in an RCMP Cruiser: An Eye Opening Experience

"It is quite the story that Township Councillor Kim Richter has written about her night on the beat with a Langley RCMP Corporal. ....... I heartily recommend that you read it in its entirety..." - by Kurt Langmann, [Editorial Nov. 15, 2007] Editor of The Aldergrove Star and a Canadian Community Newspapers Association Silver Quill award recipient.

"7:45 p.m. – I arrived at the police station. While I was waiting to be admitted, a young woman stormed out of the building in tears and swearing. (I later learned at the briefing that she was a victim of domestic abuse, was addicted to drugs and was pregnant. The RCMP had spent considerable time that day arranging for her..."
The foregoing is the start of a chronology of what I experienced [press here for my full report in PDF format].
It was an extremely educational experience. [Press here to see my final conclusions also in PDF format].
LFP Editor's Note: The Aldergrove Star (Nov. 15, 2007) and the Langley Times (Nov. 21, 2007) also reported on Richter's friday night out in a RCMP cruiser both in print and online. If you cannot open and read the PDF format go to Adobe and download "Adobe Reader" to read it.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Richter Report - Nov. 19, 2007 - Groundwater Users and Municipalities in all of BC - ALERT!

Richter Report: The Draft Water Management Plan (WMP) should ring a lot of “Warning Bells” – Is another Translink in the works?

In the next month, Township Council will be pushing through a draft Water Management Plan (WMP) that will be the first of its kind in the province of BC and which will become legally enforceable through provincial legislation. It will also be the model for the rest of the province. The intent is well-meaning but the financial ramifications are far-reaching.

Given that 80% of the water in the Township comes from municipal and private wells, and that our aquifer water levels have been dropping significantly, the need to protect groundwater is almost universally accepted throughout the Township. I think we all agree that something needs to be done. The question is what.

As a result of a 2006 Ministerial Order under Part 4 (2004) of the Water Act, the ‘what’ has now been defined and is open for public input. This input can be given over the next 2 weeks at Open Houses on Thursday November 22/07 and Thursday November 29/07 from 4 to 8 pm at Firehall #6 in Murrayville.
Public attendance at these open houses is absolutely crucial as it will determine the direction of future water protection in the Township (and the province because Langley is the ‘model’). Should nobody attend or make any comments, the plan will be rubberstamped as is and sent to Victoria by December 31, 2007 for final approval and implementation via an Order-in-Council and subsequent binding provincial Regulations.

The draft WMP can be seen on the Township’s website in PDF format (45 pages). It consists of 44 recommendations: 24 of these are “Core Recommendations (CR)”. According to the interagency bureaucracy planning team which wrote the report, these core recommendations are considered central to the plan. Apparently, removing any one of them will jeopardize the integrity of the plan and the Ministerial Order.
The goal of the WMP is to ensure safe and sustainable groundwater for the community for generations to come. The interim target is to reduce overall groundwater demand by 30% across the Township within 10 years. These are admirable goals but…

From my perspective, the key points in the plan on how the goals will be achieved include:

· CR (Core Recommendation) 2 (p.25) – Install meters on all water supply wells within 8 years: Meters will be installed on both existing and new municipal and private water supply wells. (There are 15 municipal wells and at least 5000 private wells in the Township).
· CR 5 (p.26) – Initiate universal metering on the municipal water system leading to a graduated rate structure
· CR 8 (p.27) – Initiate a fee structure for groundwater use
· CR 11 (p.28) – Limit the amount of water extracted by municipal supply wells
· CR 13 (p.28) – Mandate hydrogeologic assessments for any new water supply wells with a pump capacity greater than 190 litres per minute
· CR 15 (p.30) – Implement a decentralized sewage management plan for the Township which could include mandatory sewer hook-ups, regular cleaning of septic tanks, and tertiary septic systems
· CR 16 (p.30) – Establish a local environmental protection officer to enforce provincial legislation and local bylaws relevant to the plan
· CR 23 (p.38) – Establish a body (or Local Conservation Board) dedicated to implementing and managing key elements of the WMP. “This Board would have the ability to borrow money, apply for funds and collect any needed levies from residents and businesses in order to effectively recoup costs associated with implementing the WMP“ and “as a vehicle to fund aspects of the WMP”. [In other words, this board will be a separate operating and taxing authority similar to Translink].

So there you have it. The real gist of the matter is the creation of another Translink. This provincial government has been adept at sheltering itself from the key issues that matter to the people who live here. They have Translink to protect them from criticism on transportation. They have school boards to protect them from criticism on education. They have health boards to protect them from criticism on health care. Now they will have water/conservation boards to protect them from criticism (and taxation) on groundwater.

Overall the costs for the core recommendations in Langley’s WMP amount to approximately $800,000 per year excluding meters. This works out to about $8/year/person in the Township which will be raised by a conservation levy (just like the stormwater levy which is now paid by all property owners whether or not you get the service). Universal meters are estimated to be between $13 and $18 million depending on the metering technology selected. Private well meters will be in the range of $10 million or $1,000 to $2000 per well.

If you are currently on your own well and septic in this Township, you need to read this report in detail and come to the public open houses to express your opinion because once Council rubberstamps this and sends it to the Ministry, it will be too late for changes – not only for Langley but for the entire province because Langley is the model.

Personally, I think that the rural taxpayers in this community have been shouldering an unfair burden of taxes and this plan, while well-intentioned, will only aggravate that situation. Rural taxpayers already pay a premium for minimum services. If this goes through, they will pay a lot more.

This is no longer about a lifestyle, this is now about a lifetime. Will you be able to afford to retire on your rural property in Langley?
Council needs to hear your thoughts on this plan before they vote to give it final approval. Based on a 4 page staff summary report, they gave it preliminary approval by sending it to public Open House without even reading the whole 45 page report because it was not circulated to Council before this first vote was taken.

Editor's Note: This is Part 1 on the WMP. See Kim's clarification post at Part 3 and another post at part 2 on the WMP.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Letter To The Editor - Nov 18, 2007 - From Hildegard R. of Coquitlam - Questionable "Get Moving BC"?

Letter to the Editor,
Jordan Bateman, a councilor of the Township of Langley, published on the Website "Get Moving B.C." a comment, which I find highly questionable and according to my experience as a transit user untrue.

Under Fare Cheats he repeats a statement of Pela Lusa:

"My mom was riding a B-Line bus, a long accordion bus, which was stopped on the Granville Bridge and a fare inspector got on. This inspector told my mom that he had caught 40 people, who had cheated on their bus fare."
Since I have no car I am a frequent transit user. Never in all these years have I seen a fare inspector on a bus. The tickets are validated by the fare box - making checks by inspectors unnecessary. And can anybody familiar with bridge traffic imagine the bus being stopping on Granville bridge?

Only on the Sky Train do fare inspectors check the tickets. Rarely have I seen a person caught without a ticket. This the transit officials, present on the platform of Sky Train stations, confirmed, when I asked.

Mr. Bateman's writings prove that he is not familiar with Public Transit, promotes the B.C. Liberal's agenda - to spend $100 Million on gates at stations - and he does not shrink from using questionable means to say the least. Its time the citizens of Langley wake up.

The whole Lower Mainland is in desperate need of an effective Public Transit System now - not costly gates.

Hildegard R., Coquitlam, B.C.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Susan Semonick On Schools - Go To Nov. 20 Foundation Mtg!

Hear Ye! Hear Ye!
All those who wish to know where approximately $175,000.00 dollars of school district funds go to annually.

The Annual General meeting for the Langley School District Foundation, run under the directorship of Trustee McVeigh and Trustee Ross, will be held on November 20th at 4:30 pm at the School Board Offices. Come one, come all - see why we have to close schools so that funds can be used in this manner.

Each year, the school district transfers funds generated by the International Students Program to the SDBC in order to support special projects outside of the school district budget to the tune of $175,000. This is revenue, which in my opinion should be going to direct student services and NOT to the fluff that only a few select Foundation directors determine it should be allocated to. This is done without any accountability to taxpayers, not from school trustees nor foundation directors. If the Board feels that these are worthwhile causes, then leave the $175,000 in the school district budget, justify those expenditures, and be answerable to the public for those decisions. What they are doing is removing themselves from their responsibility for this pot of money and allowing themselves some “pet projects” with no need for progress reports, reliable data, etc. to validate the special use of these funds, especially when there are many competing needs in the school district.

Let us be clear – the Langley School District Foundation is supposed to be an at arm’s length organization because it has declared itself to be a public foundation rather than a private foundation. The rules are different for each. A public foundation requires more than 50% of its directorship to be at arm’s length. However, the LSDF does not appear to operate as such. As far as the public can tell, there has been no change in the directorship over the past year in which only three of the six directors are at arm’s length. Just last year, the Foundation changed its bylaws and its structure to increase the number of directors to eight in order to comply with certain charity regulations and yet maintain the Board of Education’s control over the Foundation’s constitution. What has the executive director or other directors done to add to their directorship in order to comply with their own bylaws as well as government regulations? Some might argue that they have been operating without actually complying with the rules.

A paid employee who is remunerated by the school district, and it would appear, whose wage is shown as a donation, is the executive director for the Foundation and is responsible for running the two annual charity events and other activities. There have been no new events since the Wine and Cheese, and Golf Tournament. Without the transfer of school district funds, the Foundation does not even make enough to cover the wages donated - another good example of poor business choices by the trustees. Remember the School District Business Company and how well it has done?

The executive director is apparently in charge of nominations to the Board of the Foundation and it was interesting to find out that the one and only new nominee last year was not even known to the current president at the time of election. So, who is running the show? What about due diligence? The LSDF elections seemed liked they were just a formality, musical chairs in fact, but at least one director felt the need to ask who the new person they would be working with was. They should be asking more questions about the legality of the SDF Board functioning as a public foundation.

The Langley Board of Education, which is ALSO a registered charity, can issue its own charitable receipts and yet has seen fit to funnel through the Foundation much of the donations made to the school district. Charitable receipts for donations that would/could have been issued by the school district are now, as much as possible, being issued by the Foundation. I wonder how many people are aware of the difference. Trustee Burton has said that the Foundation was not supposed to solicit funds from traditional sources that would normally support Parent Advisory Council supporters – small local businesses.

It would seem that not only does the Foundation's image need to look good but so do the books in order to convince potential donors. Why else would private donations make a pit stop in the Foundation accounts, especially when much of the money is targeted by the donors for specific school projects like playgrounds etc., and the district itself can issue the charitable receipt? Perhaps the taxation department will revoke the school district's charitable license since it does not seem to want to use it.

It is interesting that the Foundation’s webpage is actually a part of the school district’s website. It is probably maintained by school district staff as well. I wonder if the printing for the Foundation’s annual report (in colour) was provided at no cost, as well as office supplies, etc. How much in un-itemized costs does the Foundation really cost the students of Langley?

The Board of School Trustees of school District # 35 Langley was already a charity, long before the Foundation was established. Why the extra bureaucracy which does not appear to save us any money. It appears the benefit may be to skirt accountability and use money that could be in the direct student services pot?

Where has all the money gone?

Susan Semonick

Thursday, November 15, 2007

"Raffle Waffle" - Langley councillor pulls ‘raffle’ ad (The Province, 15 Nov 2007, Page A8)

(This Province article is Part 5 of the Raffle Waffle Controversy. See Part 4 here. See Part 3 here. See Part 2 here. See Part 1 here.)

Langley councillor pulls ‘raffle’ ad
The Province
15 Nov 2007

Langley Township Coun. Jordan Bateman has removed an advertisement for a “raffle” from his website after a complaint was lodged. “To get a gaming licence, you need to be a charity,” Langley hotelier Wally Martin said yesterday. Martin has lodged a... read more...
Tech Tags:

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

"Raffle Waffle" - Wally Martin's Letter To Premier Gordon Campbell - Demands Bateman & Coleman Resignations

(This is Part 4 of the Raffle Waffle Controversy. See Part 5 here. See Part 3 here. See Part 2 here. See Part 1 here.)

November 12, 2007 <>

The Honourable Gordon Campbell - Premier of British Columbia,

Box 9041
Victoria, BC
V8W 9E1

Dear Premier Gordon Campbell

The publicity below has been posted on the web site, , that belongs to Jordan Bateman a councillor in Langley Township .

I have alerted the Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch.

I draw your attention to the BC gaming rules (see below).

You should immediately demand the resignation from public office of both MLA Rich Coleman and Councillor Jordan Bateman for their involvement in unlawful gaming.


Wally Martin

21628 48 Ave
Langley BC V3A 3M8

Ministry of Public Safety
and Solicitor General

Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch

3. The Gaming Event Licence Generally, a licence is issued for a single ticket raffle where tickets are sold and winning tickets drawn during a period of time not exceeding four months. A licence may be issued for up to a 12-month period, permitting a series of ticket raffles of the same type with similar selling periods, number of tickets and price of tickets.

Class A gaming event licences are for gaming events that could potentially generate more than $20,000 in gross revenue.

For ticket raffles, the three categories are:

• Registered Raffle – when anticipated gross revenue is $250,000 or more. All licensees of registered ticket raffles must satisfy the Branch’s registration requirements. The minimum requirement is registration of the person in charge of the event and of the person in charge of financial accountability for the event;

• Major Raffle – when anticipated gross revenue is $100,000 or more but less than $250,000; and

• Minor Raffle – when anticipated gross revenue is more than $20,000 but less than $100,000.

A Class B gaming event licence is issued for any ticket raffle whose potential gross revenue is $20,000 or less.

Class C gaming event licences are issued to the Board of an eligible fair or exhibition.

Unless otherwise noted, standard procedures for Class A, Class B and Class C licensed ticket raffles are the same.

To conduct any form of a ticket raffle without a licence is unlawful.


"Raffle Waffle" - Wally Martin's Letter To Langley Township Council - Demands Bateman Resignation

(This is Part 3 of the Raffle Waffle Controversy. See Part 5 here. See Part 4 here. See Part 2 here. See Part 1 here.)

November 12 2007

Mayor and Council - Township of Langley,

You see in the enclosed that Councillor Bateman is organizing a ticket raffle for personal gain.You see that “To conduct any form of a ticket raffle without a licence is unlawful”.Demand the immediate resignation of councilor Bateman from public office. Please forward this and the enclosed to the Township returning officer.


Wally Martin

21628 48 Ave
Langley BC
V3A 3M8

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Letter To The Editor - Nov 8, 2007 - From Wally Martin - Bateman Reelection Fundraising Raffle Controversy

(This is Part 2 of the Raffle Waffle Controversy. See Part 5 here. See Part 4 here. Part 3 here. See Part 1 here.)

Dear Editor
It would appear from the attached (see adjacent left) that Jordan Bateman is organizing a "raffle" This item can be seen at I am even more shocked to see that Rich Coleman is involved.I have filed a complaint with the Gaming Enforcement Branch as I believe private raffles such as this that appear to be operating without a license are unlawful. The same web site states the following "I worry about the cycle we are creating in our society, with gambling addiction causing broken families that we then fund service for out of the very money they gambled away. In Langley, 6% of people are gambling addicts. That's thousands of people." Gambling of any kind is bad but unlawful gambling is even worse. To have it being done by politicians is beyond belief.
Wally Martin
Langley BC

LFP EDITOR NOTE: Double mouse click picture above to enlarge it. Also this is part 2 of 2 see part 1 of 2 here to see initial LFP posting that initiated this email from Mr. Wally Martin apparently original written Nov 8th.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

The Rumor Mill - Councilor Bateman's 60 Tickets, 60 Minutes, for 60 Dollars

UPDATE (10:00 pm) - Note, that just 6 hours after LFP's initial BREAKING NEWS posting seen a little further down below right under 'Original LFP Posting', the story has suddenly changed on Bateman's website! (See excerpt from his website immediately below in red italics). Obviously, his posters must have worked because he now says all the tickets have sold out. Guess all ticketbuyers are looking forward to their raffle prizes! Wonder what they are (were)? Curious, don't you think?
Excerpt from Bateman's website 6 hours after our LFP posting; "...Anon, about disclosure. I will be disclosing all donors, just as I have always done.George, the invite posted here is now out of date. Sam and I were thinking about a raffle (which we would have only done if we had been issued a licence), but decided after this rendition of the invitation that a modest auction would be a better fit for what we have planned. And I'm pleased to say tickets have sold out--but I have two set aside for Servant, as requested (and as long as his/her cheque clears!). Jordan 11.10.07 - 9:40 pm

Original LFP Posting:

"I have always been on the side of transparency and accountability in campaign fundraising" says Councillor Jordan Bateman who is the first off the mark on Langley Township council to kick off his formal re-election fundraising campaign one full year in advance of the November 2008 election. Towards this end he has organized and is promoting a one hour long luncheon within the next 2 weeks which he is prominently advertising as "Sixty Tickets" total to be sold for a "Sixty Minutes" long luncheon, for "Sixty Dollars" a seat.

Bateman's short one hour long fundraising luncheon should be a jam-packed speed-listening luncheon where the attendees will be hear his "vision for Langley". However, the "Rumor Mill" has also learned that many are mainly coming because of his special advertised guest, MLA Minister Rich Coleman. "Raffle prizes to be won" are also an added advertised benefit.

Sounds great? Right? Let's look a little closer and listen to the street talk "Rumor Mill" about this Bateman reelection fundraising event.

First and foremost, let's be clear that this Editor unabashedly has the greatest respect and regard for our eminent Langley BC MLA Rich Coleman. Rich's work for the Langleys has been outstanding and appreciated. But the street talk "Rumor Mill" suggests that many including this Editor, are taken aback that Coleman is suddenly getting very involved in another separate level of government's political business by lending his name and reputation and essentially an implied endorsement as the keynote headline selling feature at Cllr. Bateman's "60 -60-$60" fundraising luncheon. In fact, since Bateman is presently Coleman's constituency VP and was also Coleman's constituency or election campaign previous communications consultant it is even more so raising people's eyebrows.

To the best of this Editor's knowledge and other's, Minister Coleman has despite his own personal affiliations and partisan relationships steered clear of all other levels of government direct and overt political involvement or interference especially insofar as election endorsements and even more so with respect to political fundraising. Will the floodgate of more non-municipal government political endorsements become the norm now? More importantly, should it? Coleman's sudden icebreaker on this issue has surprised many and raises even more questions of partisan nepotism. Does this mean that other candidates in the upcoming elections can also count on getting Minister Coleman to be a special guest at their events too?

The "Rumor Mill" also has heard talk and asks the question of whether indeed key Surrey provincial Liberal politico's are involved in fundraising for Bateman's luncheon which is targeting the prominent Surrey historically friendly developers and Liberal movers and shakers? Is the old Surrey SET crowd perhaps strategizing a Liberal friendly/compatible township council? Is the "Get Moving BC" smokescreen work and support from Bateman perhaps a contributing reason for getting financial & political support from key provincial Liberal movers and shakers?

The "Rumor Mill" also wonders how involved Coleman's constituency association was in previously helping elect Bateman and how involved will they be in his next reelection campaign?

But ultimately, would the Langley voters be in favor of any actual or perceived municipal political takeover attempts by big brother provincial or even federal politicos? Or do they expect an arm's length approach as has been the case in the past. The "Rumor Mill" has also found out that many are questioning whether the Cllr. Jordan Bateman advertised fundraising luncheon is a sanctimonious doublespeak on gambling?

Specifically Bateman has been the most vocal voice against the evils of gambling, (" ..a long time opponent of gambling, - Langley Advance Nov 9/07) saying essentially that his own personal beliefs are dead set against gambling. In fact he was the only Township council member in the past week to vote against adding slot machines at the existing Langley Bingo palace. Yet his prominent ad for his reelection fundraising luncheon entices purchasers of his $60 per seat tickets with the possibility of "raffle prizes to be won"! Is this appropriate, doublespeak, or simply poor decision making? You decide.

The "Rumor Mill" has found out that in fact a formal written complaint has been lodged with the appropriate powers at the BC gaming authorities. Apparently only registered charities are authorized to have raffles. Will there now be a sudden flurry to get some proper gaming approval or will it be quietly dropped?

Either way one wonders how Bateman on one hand is against gambling when it brings in direct revenue for the community and community's charities but on the other hand he condones and even promotes his fundraising raffle when it brings in revenue for his own reelection campaign? And both in the very same week! It reminds this Editor of the old adage that you can't be partially pregnant!

(This is Part 1 of the Raffle Waffle Controversy. See Part 5 here. See Part 4 here. See Part 3 here. See Part 2 here.)LFP EDITOR NOTE: Also this is part 1 of 5, see part 2 to see actual complaint email from Mr. Wally Martin....

Friday, November 09, 2007

Susan Semonick On Schools - Parents Claim School District Insensitive to Families

Parents Claim School District Insensitive to Families

Only one day after the decision to reconfigure the South/Central area schools into a K-5, 6-8, and 9-12 format, Superintendent of Schools, Cheryle Beaumont sent a letter to parents of students in the affected school communities that has apparently touched off a firestorm of anger. Evidently, it was not so much the content of the message that angered some parents as it was the method in which the letter was delivered. These parents are upset that they were not informed or consulted before the letters were distributed to elementary school student to take home to parents. It would seem that the education system is working and that even young students can read and understand the gist of the information in the district's letter. I was told that some children were very upset and were crying as they went home. The issue was that some parents had not told their children about the changes to come and were waiting for the certainty of a Board decision before having those discussions with their children. Certainly, these parents thought that this would be the prudent and responsible thing to do to instead of causing unneeded anxiety. The Board's timing of the delivery of the letter and the way that it was done did not leave parents with any time to provide a safe and caring way to share the news with their children. The letter was not in an envelope, nor even folded and stapled, but was rather much like the standard notice home of a "hot lunch order" or "lice infestation".

This action would seem to go against what is stated in the district's letter that "every effort would be made to meet the needs of students and to keep parents informed".

Where was the transition team or counseling department? Where were the principals in all of this? If this was any part of a transition plan, then the district needs to go back to square one and rethink the plan because some key areas of concern are missing. When world tragedies happen outside our schools, we look out for our students and provide the supports needed and implement caring plans to take care of the different aspects of student needs. When events happen in our own school communities should we not expect the same, if not more?

I understand why the district might feel the need to get its message out quickly, especially when the media is almost instantaneous. However, in a rush to be expedient, it looks like they trampled on some of the very same students that they are charged with taking care of. What happened to "Safe and Caring Schools" and social responsibility on the part of adults? What has happened to acting in principled and responsible ways?

The following is a quote recognizing Manners Month this past September.

"Without good manners, we cannot function as a society. Manners are the shared patterns of behaviour that allow us to work and play together, to help one another and to succeed in our endeavours. The first set of attributes in our Graduate Profile have to do with students being Ethical and Respectful Citizens who act in caring, principled and responsible ways, respecting the diversity, gender, age, race, ability and cultural heritage of all people and the rights of others to hold different ideas and beliefs.' A lot of that has to do with good manners."

-Cheryle Beaumont, Superintendent of Schools, Langley School District

When I first heard about the parents' complaint, I thought Wow, it can't be true, how this was handled; it must be an isolated incident. But, from what I am hearing, it is not.

For families having to wait until after June 15th to know if their child will be accepted to the school of their choice is ridiculous. If the Board had even attempted to look into the future, they would have already made allowances to their policy before or at the same time that the reconfiguration was imposed. They certainly have enough forethought with the boundary changes to James Hill, in consideration of the pending possible school closure of Murrayville.

Being in the throws of this for at least 10 months, you would think that since they are pushing the middle school concept through, that they would like to know where and what the parents are doing in the elementary schools and 6-12 grades. To have these delays will not allow for the schools that will have more students to staff it properly. And, what about those schools that may have too many teachers because students have decided to leave? It could be that more than the usual number of teachers will be laid-off unnecessarily at the end of June because it is even more difficult to "unhire" a teacher that you have no students for in September. Imagine what the summer will be like for them? I hope this is not what we will see happen.

When they make the statement "the parents will have the choice to place their children in any school as long as there is space", what does that mean to a parent? What does that mean to the district? Obviously, two different things.

Hopefully, everyone can quickly come to some sort of mutual understanding that is in the best interests of the students.

Thinking of our stars,
Susan Semonick

Letter To The Editor - Nov 9, 2007 - From Bonnie McPherson - Considering Taking My Children out of the Langley School District

Dear Editor:

I'm sending this to you as I believe this problem is going to affect all of us. Some districts are growing and some are shrinking in size. Population is aging. People are waiting longer to have kids, or chosing no kids at all. The education system is feeling the stresses of this demographic shift. We all know that some changes are inevitable. Schools are closing. But here in Langley something is terribly wrong.

Here is my letter:

The changes that are taking place in the Langley School District next September will affect close to 6000 students. There is very little public support. I'm considering taking my children out of the Langley School District
Here's why:

My daughters have very few OPTIONS. Only one of which is an actual school. One can attend an "experimental" school that has no support in this community. This new "Middle School" is going to be in the building that was once H.D. Stafford Secondary. There is too much research showing all the "problems" associated with middle schools for me to seriously consider this option. Too many of us opposed it. The teachers that I've spoken too don't want to teach there. The statistics from our research tells the story. Drop out rates go up. Bullying complaints go up, marks drop. I just know too much to let her go there. There are no swing sets or monkey bars. There are no "little kids" for her to be a mentor to....

There will however, be about 100 grade 12 students there as our Board of Education "forgot" about them when they made these plans. There is no room for them anywhere else. They want to stay, as H.D. Stafford has been their home. I feel like they deserve to have "H.D.Stafford" on their diplomas. But that is not where I want my 11 year old to be.

The only school that has room for my 13 year old daughter is L.S.S. Now I have nothing against L.S.S. My daughter is a soccer player. L.S.S. has the soccer academy. L.S.S. is the next closest school, although it is almost 5 km's away. It is the only highschool with room for my daugher. I have concerns about being FORCED into a school that doesn't really want us. I've been to the meetings. So has my daughter. We have a life outside school, and it is perfectly clear that there are going to be problems. There is bitterness and anger that has yet to be addressed. I have no confidence in the Langley School District to be able to effectively deal with this very real issue.

Brookswood is apparently capping it's cohort size at 250. Chances of getting in there are slim. They are expecting long line-ups come February. Tents and sleeping bags. Hope the weather isn't too bad.... R.E. Mountain - Full. Walnut Grove - Full. Aldergrove Senior Secondary.....lets not even go there.
There is friction here too. On more than one occasion I have heard "those whiney H.D. Stafford people" comments. I wonder how whiney any of you would be if this was happening to you or your children. It is not that we think our school is any better than yours. It's just that it was OUR school. And they are taking it away from us.

Abbotsford and Surrey, on the other hand, are GROWING communities and will welcome our kids with open arms. They have seats available. They put up portables to fit the kids in. There are choices there. There is a feeling of being wanted when you walk in the buildings there. Tweedsmuir has a great football team. Rick Hansen has fine arts. And they both have transportation options for our kids.

They want us.

Langley Board of Education doesn't.

What kind of Board of Education puts kids at risk? What kind of Board of Education chases its own kids out of it's district? What kind of Board of Education makes it uncomforble to be a Stafford parent or student. What kind of Board of Education takes the position of being the "victims" in this scenario. The Board are essentially using "smoke and mirrors" in my opinion. They should not use that on children and their education.
These people are bullies. Shame on you all. Look what you have taught my children.
Something is really wrong in Langley.


Thursday, November 08, 2007

Susan Semonick On Schools - OPTIONS for South/Central Students - Due to Middle Schools Starting in 2008

Options for Students in the South/Central Area of Langley

Now that school reconfiguration in the South/Central Area is a done deal, some parents have decisions to make - and sooner than they think.

The reconfiguration is an opportunity for parents of those school communities that will be affected by the changes to come together, show leadership, model how to handle change with grace and optimism, and make the best lemonade they can when faced with a bushel of lemons.

The personal choices they will make will not be the same for each family, or even for each child in a family. However, those choices should be based upon the best information available to ensure that whatever the choice, it will meet the needs of each student.

Families in the Alice Brown Elementary catchment and those families currently living on the east side of the James Hill Elementary catchment will not have to worry about changing to a K-5 elementary as they will likely become part of a 8-12 secondary school catchment if the pending recommendations are approved.

To assist the rest of the parents who need to make a decision, here is some information for their consideration.

The technical considerations can be found in:
Policy #7008 – Attendance
Policy #5804 - Application to Enter Alternate Programs
Policy # 5018 – Special Education

Priority of Enrolment according to Policy #7008
Continuing students first, in the following priority
(i) continuing catchment area student
(ii) continuing non-catchment area student
(iii) continuing non-school district student

Then applications considered in the following order
(iv) a catchment area child who attended the school in the previous year
(v) a catchment area child
(vi) a non-catchment area child
(vii) a non-school district child

Provided deadlines and requirements have been met, each application will be prioritized according to the date and time the application was received for each category. Special programs within schools may have a separate enrolment capacity.

Key dates related to the policy #7008:

Immediate - Continuous intake of application at Board Offices for year one of district programs. However, parents must provide proof of residency in Langley before February 1 of the entry year and the child's age must be confirmed by birth certificate.

District Programs:

Early French Immersion Kindergarten
-Belmont Elementary
-James Kennedy Elem

Late French Immersion Gr.
-Six Alex Hope Elementary
-James Hill Elementary
-Parkside Centennial Elem

Langley Fine Arts Grade One
Langley Fundamental Elem. Kindergarten
Montessori Kindergarten Uplands Elementary

Application to other years of the above programs and to other alternate programs will be processed at the school site.

February 1, 2008 - Start date for schools to receive cross-boundary applications. (non-catchment and out-of-district students)
March 14, 2008 - Cross-boundary applications should be submitted by this date. After this date your request will be a late application.
June 15, 2008 - For those moving to a new catchment, last date for submission of new catchment area application in order to receive priority over non-catchment and out-of-district applications received before March 14, 2008. (Proof of residency is required)

Options for students and their parents:

• Attend local K-5 elementary school, then HDS and LSS
• Move into the catchment of a K-7 elementary or 8-12 secondary school in Langley
• Apply for cross-boundary enrolment in a K-7 elementary or 8-12 secondary school in Langley.
• Apply to a district program in a K-7 elementary school that is a feeder school to an 8-12 secondary in Langley. School-Based Programs may have separate enrolment limits.
• Enrol in U-Connect, Langley’s distributed learning program (currently K-10, but may change with demand)
• Apply for out-of-district enrolment in a Surrey school
• Enrol in other distributed learning provided by other districts
• Enrol in a private school, or home-school your child(ren)

A few things to keep in mind are:

• A decision about middle school configuration in the Aldergrove area has not yet occurred. There may be additional elementary school closures in this area and a change to K-5 elementary schools in this area as well.
• Enrolment and capacity figures for Sept 2007 are available at
• Most Surrey elementary schools have over 400 students. The closest small K-7 near the Langley/Surrey border is Sunrise Ridge. East Clayton is a K-3 primary school and Clayton Elementary is a 4-7 intermediate school – both are small.
• All nearby secondary schools in Surrey are large. The closest to the Langley/Surrey border are Clayton Heights and Lord Tweedsmuir, and Earl Marriott a little further south.
• Both the district Fine Arts program at Langley Fine Arts and the Fundamental program already have waiting lists.
• Distributed learning often requires much at-home parental support and/or a student’s ability to be an independent learner.
• The district has committed to implementing a middle school program. IF you trust that the district will do all they can to make it succeed because failure is not an option, then reasonably, your middle school child will be afforded an extra amount of attention in the next few years. Your feedback as a parent of a middle school student would be critical to the district and parents to come.
• Regardless of your school choice, the school administration and school staff can and likely will change during the course of a child’s attendance at any given school, even without reconfiguration; and gradually, so will its school culture.
• For those who are curious, the regulations for Policy 7002 state that:
enrolment of international students will be subject to space being available in the immediate and projected (2 years) future. New International students are not to displace within district students.
Individual Considerations
• How does your child deal with change?
• Would your child get lost in a large population?
• Would your child do well in making a host of new friends?
• Would your child enjoy the challenges/opportunities in a middle school? (Explorations, enhanced Fine Arts, sports, etc.)
• Is going to school with friends in the neighbourhood important to your child or is he/she comfortable in a variety of groups and has other social groups as well? ( eg. soccer, ballet, etc)
• Is it important for you and your child to have you involved as a parent in the school community and will you be able to do so at the school you choose (eg. travel time)?
• Would your child benefit from the leadership opportunities and emphasis on social responsibility at the middle school?
• Would your child benefit from the greater focus on early competency at the K- 5 schools?
For more suggestions, see my previous posting re: How to Choose a School

HD Stafford Transition Plan Suggestions

Centralized intake of cross-boundary applications from HD Stafford catchment students.This would eliminate the possibility of parents waiting in line at two schools and rushing to a third.Applications would be date and time stamped AND would be given priority over other out-of-catchment applications.
Grade 11 students at HDS

Grade 11 students at HDS must make known to the district their intention to stay at HDS for their graduation year by sometime early in the spring of 2008 (date yet to be set) so that the district can make plans. It will be interesting to see where the out-of catchment students currently at HDS will go. If parents of the grade 11 students are truly interested in the best interests of these students, they may wish to recommend to the entire graduating class that they move as a group to LSS. The students would have more opportunities there than at HDS, particularly those who wish to take Fine Arts courses, grade 11 courses, honours or other advanced courses, etc.Extra-curricular opportunities would be also available to them as they most likely would not be in an single grade configuration at HDS.

I do not know if they there would be enough interest to be able to field a grade 12 only girls basketball team, etc. The school district would likely not be anticipating this but with the proposed move of the Media Centre at LSS, there would be some additional room to accommodate the additional grade 12 students. They may have to add a couple of portables for one year only but the district did not seem to worry about cost when they made the middle school recommendation so they shouldn’t mind now. They can also apply for cross boundary to any 8-12 school in the district.
Special Needs Students
Policy # 5018 – Regulations state:
Schools will develop transition plans for students with special needs moving from preschool to elementary school, elementary to secondary school and secondary to post secondary programs. Transition plans will also be developed for students with special needs transferring between programs, schools or districts.

Considerations for PACs

The reconfiguration of schools in the South/Central Area is also a unique opportunity for a large number of Parent Advisory Councils to come together to help each other out. There are a few issues with respect to PACs and the reconfiguration that could be better handled as a greater PAC community. In particular, PACs may wish to consider the redistribution of their Direct Access fund allocations which are based upon the previous year’s September 30th enrolment. K- 5 schools will be receiving funds for a grades 6 and 7 population they no longer have. HD Stafford and Langley Secondary will both receive an allocation of direct access funds that is far less than they could be receiving.

As part of bringing the community together, it may be useful for these PACs to hold off any budgetary decision regarding direct access funds that they anticipate for 2008/09. They may wish to discuss redistribution of these funds to “follow the students” to the schools that they will be attending and wait until the end of September 2008 when enrolment figures are finalized to redirect some of the Direst Access funds.

This may even be a good time for PACs to do an asset inventory. Elementary PACs may find that they have resources that are best suited for grades 6 –7 students that they may wish to pass on to the middle school. And, the same goes for the HD Stafford PAC which may have resources that may be better utilized by students in grades 9 – 12.

Undoubtedly, the school district will redistribute library resources and much more as necessary.
The Bottom Line
Parents need to do their homework and do what is in the best interests of each of their children.In the best interest of all students, everyone needs to do their part.
Dispelling Rumor
Some parents have heard rumors that principals have been told not to accept cross-boundary applications from HDS students - to find an excuse so that these students have to attend LSS or HD depending on the grade of the child. As far as I know, this is not true. It would be foolish of the district in an age of incredible access to information to do such a thing; after all, parents do talk to each other.

However, what may happen is that principals will be reminded of the regulations and be cautioned to wait until after June 15 before making any confirmation of enrollment. What has sometimes happened in the past is that because there is a fair amount of excess capacity at some schools, cross-boundary applications from new out-of-catchment and out-of-district students were processed and confirmed before June 15, which is the deadline for applications from new in-catchment students (move-ins). Remember that new in-catchments students have priority over new out-of-catchment and out-of-district students even if they apply between Spring Break and June 15. This year in particular, there may be a sudden, large influx of new in-catchment applications during this period, at schools outside of the HDS/LSS catchment area, if the rumblings from parents turn into action.

This is why the district should consider a central registration for cross-boundary applications for HDS students for this one year.

This is also why the HDS community should ask the district to immediately suspend any confirmation of enrolment for ISP students until all applications from HDS students are processed because it has been practice that once enrolled, even ISP students are considered “continuing students” and many of them have different school years and enroll “mid-year” of our school year.

This board of education has decided to displace at least 3,000 students, if not more. Are they not to ensure that these students have increased opportunities, not decreased? They have effectively taken a choice away and left them with something they do not believe in.

The question for parents is no longer whether the trustees have listened. It is now, have they been assured that the students’ rights have not been butchered in this process. If parents have difficulty about having appropriate plans in place for their child(ren) or ensuring due process, the BCCPAC Advocacy project is available as a resource. The provincial hot line is: 1-888-351-9834 leave a message and they will return your call.

This is an opportunity for the LSS community to show that they welcome the newcomers with open arms.

Respectfully submitted
Susan Semonick