Sunday, December 13, 2009

Crunch time for the budget challenge

NVSD Budget Challenge Report and Recommendations

This weeks board meeting saw the board approve all of the proposed budget measures with little debate over any of them. This comes as no surprise as these measures have carried through two public consultations and given the size of the anticipated shortfalls the board has little choice but to pursue as many avenues as possible to balance the budget. The District administration must now examine each of the proposed areas for cuts to determine how they can be implemented, what the actual impacts and savings will be. They will then feed that information into the development of the 2010/2011 budget.

There will be cuts to all areas of the District next year, but what this means in terms of big ticket items for parents is less support for students, larger average class sizes across both elementary and secondary schools, the consolidation of elementary schools and changes to alternate programs.

The most intimidating of these for most parents is the issue of school consolidations. The administration has been asked to look at the options for re-organizing and consolidating both schools and alternate programs across the district and to bring their recommendations to the board on January 19th for consideration. We do not yet know which schools or how many schools will be impacted.

NVPAC (as representatives of parents) and other stakeholder groups have been asked to help administration with a review of the criteria used to assess schools.

What criteria should be looked at to decide which schools would be best to serve the students of North Vancouver? How do we consider how many schools should we have? All of our schools are wonderful schools with unique characteristics, advantages and disadvantages. How do we capture those advantages within this process? What criteria would best support an overall vision for world-class education and opportunities for all students across the district?

How do we compare our schools against those criteria to make sure that once this process is complete, the schools we have are the ones that will best ensure we have a sustainable school system in North Vancouver that enables the district to provide the best quality of education and the most learning opportunities for students across the district?

Its a difficult situation. But we have an opportunity to make the pain of consolidation worthwhile if re-organization enables us to maximize the quality of education in North Vancouver.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Budget Challenge 2010 - Part III - Dec1st@7pm

My apologies for this very late meeting reminder.

The 3rd session of the school districts Budget Challenge consultation meetings is this evening at 7pm. This is the last significant public input into this process as the board will start to make decisions in direction at the Dec. 8th board meeting. NVPAC encourages parents to contribute to the meeting

Tuesday, December 1, 2009
7:00 pm
Lucas Centre Gymnasium
2132 Hamilton Avenue
(North of Capilano Mall - Access via Hamilton or Fell Avenues)

The magnitude of the Board’s budget challenge has been identified as $10 million over the next three school years, with an estimated $6 to $7 million for the 2010/2011 school year. For more information on the meeting and the challenge see the district website.
In particular parents should review the supporting material that will be used to guide this evenings discussions

Friday, November 20, 2009

Budget Challenge 2010 - Input Opportunities

As part of its public input process the school board has posted the list of proposed changes presented and discussed at the November 18th Budget Challenge meetings to their website. Recognizing it was difficult to get through all these suggestions in the time available and that not all interested parents were available to attend the meeting the district is asking parents interested in submitting further input to do so by November 23rd.

For the list of suggested options go to:

NVPAC Nov. Meeting Summary

A big thank you to all the parents that made it out in the rain and awful traffic to our NVPAC meeting last night. For those that weren't there. We elected a new Member-at-Large, Mike Sexsmith. Welcome on board Mike. 

We also had a short session on School Planning Councils, and some of the resources available to support that process in our schools. For parents interested in the variety of plans coming out of SPC efforts there is a summary of the plans on the NVSD website at:

Following that we discussed the very interesting and positive discussions taking place in the education and programs meetings this year.For parents interested in how the district teaches and evaluates our children we are hoping to have some of the teachers involved in the Educational Institute program  come and talk at an upcoming meeting about how this programs the District is following  improves teaching quality and mentor teachers.

Lastly we talked a lot about Wednesday nights Budget Challenge 2010 meetings. Feedback from those that attended was that cafe format was good, everyone found it very useful to have a good mix of experience and perspective at their tables and that generally the conversations were helpful, respectfull and positive.

On the other hand, attendees also felt the number of items to discuss were too great, in many cases just getting through them took too long to allow consideration and that perhaps many of them were in areas where it would be more relevant for people who understood the implications to look at the items. That there was no real time for new ideas to come to the table.

There was general agreement on a couple of things
1. That we should avoid cutting in areas that we need to heal or regrow the districts capacity and try to focus cuts in areas we can get back when situations change.
2. That the meeting didn't enable discussion on the big issues because there were so many small ones.
3. That NVPAC members see the need to restructure the district and build something new and would be willing to discuss the big issues that would entail, rather than just looking at long lists of potential cuts, .

A major concern though was that the timeline for the decision-making is unclear. Parents would like a better understanding of when decisions are being made and by whom.
Lastly, It was clear from the discussion that people recognize that we are fortunate in North Van to have a school district that does go to such lengths to consult with the broader community and parents are very glad to have the opportunity to ensure we continue delivering quality education in North Van.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Budget Challenge 2010 - Nov. 18th - "Defining Student Achievement"

The Budget Challenge 2010 meetings continue next week and NVPAC is encouraging parents to attend and give input into this district prioritization process.

7 p.m. November 18, 2009: Sutherland Secondary, 1860 Sutherland Avenue

The meeting will use a World Café format to discuss issues raised during the initial discussion process in smaller groups. In particular this meeting will look at “How do we define student achievement and how much program diversity can we afford?”

At issue here is how the district can organize itself to ensure students reach their achievement goals and to what extent the school district can and should provide programs to meet the diverse needs of individual students rather than concentrating all of the districts funds on meeting the needs of most students with higher overall quality programs.

The meeting is expected to start with an overview of the purpose of the meeting and then move into a discussion of the budget proposals that have been developed under the five themes discussed at the Oct. 20th meeting: Instructional practice, Program Diversity, Community Connections, Facilities, Information and Communications Technology.

More information can be found at:

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Budget Challenge 2010 - Public Input Needed

The North Van School District is asking parents to comment on what its priorities should be as it tries to rebuild its budget in the face of $10 million worth of cuts over the next 3 years.

But rather than keep looking at this from a perspective of annual cuts the district is trying to rebuild the budget around a plan for a longer term, sustainable district structure. But what that structure is is unclear.

The District needs our help to decide what we as a community want the school district to provide for our children. Beyond the mandated curriculum how do we want to deliver education to our children, what is it that we want to be unique to North Vancouver and our children's experience in the district, what is it about how we deliver education in North Vancouver that we value vs. what can be changed.

The process for this discussion is being called "Budget Challenge 2010" and the next public meeting is on Nov. 18th. This meeting is being designed around a "world cafe" model to enable groups to discuss specific issues and considerations as part of this process.

More info on this can be found on the Budget Challenge 2010 web page

Leading into this next discussion the district is currently seeking public input to decide what those themes of discussion need to be. They have asked the public to respond to two questions

1. What are the areas that you are most concerned be maintained and preserved?
2. What areas do you believe could be reduced to enable us to maintain priority services?

These are open ended questions but they form the basis of this very important discussion about what we want the District to deliver for our Children.

To respond to these questions please complete the Districts input document  and send your responses by November 9th to the Budget Challenge address.


Monday, October 19, 2009

Budget Challenge 2010

North Van School District announced a series of finance and facilities public consultation meetings to try and address the ongoing budget challenges faced by the school district. The aim of the meetings is to arrive at an understanding of what the "core" education requirements are for students, how the district expands on that in its current programs and what is needed to maintain quality of education.

This discussion is important because it moves the budget discussion from an annual discussion of cuts and facilities to a discussion about what sort of education we want for our children in North Vancouver and how we can re-organize the district and build programs to deliver high quality education. 

If you are interested in contributing and have ideas about how we can maintain the quality of education for all students across North Vancouver then these would be good set of meetings to attend. I will be there.

7 p.m. October 20, 2009: Highlands Elementary, 3150 Colwood Drive
Distinguishing mandatory and optional services and prioritizing for Instructional Practice, Program Diversity, Community Connections, Facilities and Information and Communication Technology.
7 p.m. November 18, 2009Sutherland Secondary, 1860 Sutherland Avenue
The World Café: “how do we define student achievement and how much program diversity can we afford?”
7 p.m. December 1, 2009: Leo Marshall Curriculum Center, 810 West 21st Street
Reviewing the service delivery options and arriving at recommendations.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Advocating for our Schools

The North Vancouver Parent Advisory Council (NVPAC) is asking all parents in North Vancouver to contact their MLAs by phone, by mail and by email.

You, as parents and the public, represent first hand the voting community. It is up to you to inform the government as to how their cuts to school and PAC funding are impacting your schools and your children. We ask you to insist on funding for education: it is not a luxury and it cannot sustain continual erosion.

NVPAC is sending letters to our government, but as an organization, we do not vote. You do. You are who the government needs to hear from, so please, send a letter. Send a bunch of letters. Overwhelm the 2010 budget consultation survey with responses (BC 2010 Budget Consultation Survey). Cuts to education need to be reversed to maintain the quality of education in BC.

NVPAC School Funding Primer

Want to know more about the situation? Why we are asking you to do this? What to do? Please read  our primer on school funding.  We've tried to capture what you need to do and why as well as we can there.  But if you want to know more, feel free to ask us or even better come to an NVPAC or School Board public meeting.  For more information contact

Welcome to the North Van Pac Blog

We at North Van Pac have a lot to communicate this year. Until now we have focused on email and newsletters as our communication vehicle but have found this creates challenges with the distribution and timeliness of our communications. A blog will let us reach out to our community in a more timely fashion and enable our readers to keep in touch with events in North Vancouver without having to rely on email distribution lists.

We hope through this we can improve our ability to serve our community in a timely fashion