Tuesday, November 22, 2011

North Vancouver City Library Seeks Parent Input

North Vancouver City Library would like your help to plan for the future!
There will be a focus group with parents of 9-12 year olds on Monday, November 28th from 7:00-8:30pm in the North Vancouver City Library Board room. The library would love to hear from you about your experiences and how the library can best meet your needs.

The discussion will focus on: Identifying the wants and needs of you and your family, including: Where do you go in the North Shore for entertainment and activities, how do you find information about educational experiences and enriching activities for your children, and what do you imagine an “outside-the-box” library might look like or provide for families.

The focus group will be made up of no more than 12 parents so we can have a relaxed discussion. There are limited spaces available upon request for activities for children ages 4-12,  including a family story time and a Manga club event, which will happen in association with the focus group.

You will receive a thank you gift of a $20 gift card to Starbucks or Chapters, an NVCL Library Tote Bag, and an “I Imagined the Future: NVCL Library” button as a thank you for your time. You can sign up for a focus group at http://www.nvcl.ca  , or by emailing imaginethelibrary@cnv.org<mailto:imaginethelibrary@cnv.org>  , or by leaving a message with name and number at (604) 998-3453.

The library will be holding eight other focus group sessions with other members of the community, including parents of pre-school age children, and spots are available in these groups as well. These meetings will inform our strategic planning process and help us offer relevant services, programs and materials. 

If you can’t attend this event but would like to be involved, please check out these other focus groups, and fill out a survey to inform the library about what you would like to see in the future!

The North Vancouver City Library is currently recruiting for the following focus groups:
Job-seekers / Career Transition Focus Group
Monday, November 21st, 3-5pm, Library
Retired Seniors 
Tuesday, November 22nd, 3-5pm, Silver Harbour
Home-based Business Owners 
Wednesday, November 23rd, 7-9pm, Library
New Canadians (this session is full) 
Thursday, November 24th, 6-8pm, Library
Individuals 20-40 years of age 
Thursday, December 1st, 7-9pm, Library
Parents of 9 - 12 year old children
Monday, November 28, 7-9pm, Library
Parents of pre-school age children 
Tuesday, November 29, 7-9pm, Library
Tech Enthusiasts 16 - 35 years of age
Thursday, December 8th, 7-9pm, Library

Monday, November 21, 2011

BCCPAC Lower Mainland Regional Conference - Saturday November 26, 2011

BCCPAC Lower Mainland Regional Conference - Saturday November 26, 2011
Parents as Partners – Building Success
The BC Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils is hosting the second Lower Mainland Conference part of its new Regional Conference Series on Saturday November 26, 2011 at the Queen Elizabeth Secondary School (9457 King George Blvd) in Surrey, BC.

The conference is a perfect opportunity for parents from all across the Lower Mainland to learn and be involved in their child’s education.

Gary Anaka, a Brain-Based Learning facilitator, will be presenting the Parent’s Brain and also the Brain Power in Children and Youth.

Dr. Patricia Porterwill host an interactive workshop on why and how parents can get involved in their child’s education - Why Parents Don’t Get Involved and How They Can!

The FORCE Society for Kid’s Mental Health will be presenting the FRIENDS program on anxiety prevention and resiliency for children and youth.

Make sure your BCCPAC Membership is up to date, all BCCPAC  member delegates receive a 20% discount on their registrations.

Event Information:
Saturday, November 26, 2011
Doors open at 8:00am
Conference hours are 9:00am – 4:30pm
Queen Elizabeth Secondary School
9457 King George Blvd
Surrey, BC
(Lunch is included)

*BCCPAC members receive a 20% discount

For more details on all the exciting presentations, check out the program on the BCCPAC Lower Mainland Regional Conference webpagehttp://www.bccpac.bc.ca/index/event_calendar/2011RgnlConf.aspx 
Please feel free to forward this message.
BC Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils
Suite 200, 4170 Still Creek Drive, Burnaby, BC V5C 6C6
(P) 604-687-4433  w Toll Free 1-866-529-4397 w (F) 604-687-4488

Our Vision: To improve public education for all students by including and supporting parents

Funding Available for North Van PAC

Having approved our budget for the coming year at Thursday's general meeting North Van PAC has budget to assist PACs with funding in the following areas:

  • Emergency Preparedness Grants: to help PACs acquire equipment for emergency preparedness
  • Speaker Grants: currently up to $150 contribution towards hiring speakers for PAC events
  • Foodsafe Grants: currently a $25 contribution each for up to 2 parents per PAC to get their Foodsafe certificates.
  • Family of Schools Grants: currently up to $200 contribution toward a joint event within a family of schools
  • BCCPAC memberships: North Van PAC will pay the annual membership fees for any of our PAC's, if you are enrolling for the year please state on your application to BCCPAC that North Van PAC will pay.
  • BCCPAC Conference Attendance: North Van PAC has funding to pay for parent attendance at BCCPAC conferences.

We are currently revising our guidelines for managing these grants but don't want to force people to wait so if you are planning an event or have use for these funds please contact us.

contact Treasurer@NorthVanPac.org for more information.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Parents sought for North Van PAC

The headline is always true, North Van PAC could always use more help to fulfill our role of informing parents on school district issues, informing the district of parent issues and helping all our individual school PACs keep up to date with what each other are doing.

But with the election of our current chair, Cyndi Gerlach and past chair, Mike McGraw, a significant portion of the team will soon move to a new role with respect to the school district.

To fulfill our role we need parents to represent parents on various district committees and to report on district public events such as the education and programs meetings and to facilitate communication between the district, parents and PACs.

Between the Ministry's new plan for personalized education and the School District's new strategic and operating plans we can see that both are embarking on an exciting changes to the school system. Involved parents are the best way to influence these efforts and ensure they work for kids.

If you or someone you know are interested in learning more about North Van PAC and getting involved even if it is to sit on just one committee then please let us know and we will find a way to get you involved.


Congratulations to the new school board

Congratulations to the winners of the North Vancouver School Board Elections.

Assuming the preliminary count holds, which isn't certain as Christie Sacre currently leads Chris Dorais by only 3 votes, the elected school board trustees for the next 3 years will be:

Franci Stratton
Barry Forward
Cyndi Gerlach
Mike McGraw
Susan Skinner
Lisa Bayne
Christie Sacre

With four new members this will be a new look to the board and we look forward to working with them.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

2011 School Trustee Election - Candidate Information

On Saturday, November 19th ... Vote for your school board

A new school board representing the people of North Vancouver will be elected on Saturday, November 19th. There are 12 candidates running, 7 for the 3 positions representing the City of North Vancouver and 5 for the 4 positions representing the District of North Vancouver.

To help parents understand and evaluate the candidates, North Van Pac sent 20 questions to each of the candidates prior to our All-Candidates meeting and gave each of them the opportunity to answer some of the questions at the meeting and to submit written comments for our website. The questions were derived from the main themes in last years parent survey along with a need to reflect current district events.

Below you will find links to the questions we asked of the candidates and each of the candidates responses as they were sent to us. We hope you find this information useful as you prepare to vote.

All-Candidate Meeting Questions
Questions from the North Van PAC and from "the floor" submitted at the All-Candidates Meeting (note: the floor questions were not available to candidates when they wrote their responses)

CITY of North Vancouver Candidate Responses (3 to be elected)
Christie SACRÉ

DISTRICT of North Vancouver Candidate Responses (4 to be elected)

All Candidates meeting - Floor and Prepared Questions

Two types of questions were asked of school trustee candidates at the North Van Pac All-Candidates Meeting. Prepared questions, sent to the candidates in advance and "floor" questions. 

North Van PAC asked all the attendees at the all-candidates meeting to submit written "floor" questions that could then be asked of the candidates. We received a number of questions and while we were unable to ask them all at the meeting we are publishing them all so people can see the areas of interest to the community. The questions varied significantly in length and for the sake of brevity we have edited some of them while trying hard to keep the original tone and intent. Our apologies if any questions were missed or changed substantially in this process.

Floor Questions Asked in the All Candidates Meeting
· There is a definite lack of funding resources for Gifted Children. What changes will you be making to address?

· How would you increase parent involvement, and integration in the schools and why?

· In 2009 the school trustees voted in favour of closing multiple schools due to budget shortfalls. If this situation should happen again, how will you deal with it. How will you be help accountable?

· There seems to be a growing perception among parents, student and teachers that the quality and diversity of educational opportunities in North Vancouver is falling behind Do you see this as a legitimate concern and why?

· Is education underfunded?

· Are you aware of the school boards history of a more than 3 million dollar deficit one year to be followed by a 1.6 million dollar surplus the next. How would you address this issue in the future?

· Do you agree with the governments current messaging that public education needs to be transformed. If yes what needs to be transformed and why?

· What do you believe are the most important principles of public education?

· How will you as a school trustee engage in public advocacy for public education to secure adequate educational funding for our district and the province

· Do you support BCPSEA’s Labour Relations Board application that would fine teachers up to 15% of teachers’ salary during the job action. Why or why not?

· As a parent of learning challenged child who attends Keith Lynn, I want to know how you will support alternative programs like the ones at Keith Lynn to offer non academic students to assist in them in moving to the workplace?

· My teacher wants sound tiles, ( acoustic damping)She has been asking and asking for them but they just won’t give them to her. How will you help teachers make their classrooms better?

Floor Questions for which we did not get time

· Given the ministry of Education top down approach, Can you explain/justify the need for school trustees?

· What is you experience or background with special needs students and issues?

· There exists a lack of trust between parents and the school district and school board. What will you do to rebuild this trust?

· How do you intend on representing the needs of teachers & students in terms of healthy and safe working and learning environment? Address: Increased Violent incidents, Decreased maintenance & custodial Services, Mould Growth , Inconsistent Joint Health & Safety Committee meetings in schools.

· How can the process and structure of district decision making change to improve parent integration?

· How can you help support and improve the process of dealing with a poor quality teacher and make the situation better for the students?

· How would you increase community involvement in the schools?

· What is your opinion about dress codes in the schools and the impact of such codes on student success/happiness?

· Where is the money going from the sale of the units behind the new School Board Office on Lonsdale?

· There are several examples of “Traditional Schools” in BC with impressive track records. How supportive would you be of this type of model in NVSD? Would you consider converting Balmoral into one?

· Given the reduction in provincial funding, would you consider looking for private funding for specific special projects?

· Are you willing to risk your political career to stand up to the provincial government’s efforts to undermine public education? If yes what are you willing to do?

· Could you explain why approving 5 million dollars to be spent on outdoor school is justified when we are having trouble balancing budgets?

· What is your position on the two week spring break?

North Van PAC Prepared Questions answered by All Candidates at the meeting
All 1. What in your mind is the most important goal in the new strategic plan for the district and what tactics do you propose to ensure it is achieved?
All 2. Under what circumstances would you consider the permanent sale of school district land and what would you want done with the resulting capital?

North Van PAC Prepared General Questions answered by 3 candidates at the meeting (randomly drawn)
1. The provincial government does not fund many important features in new school construction such as cloakrooms, teacher storage, covered play areas and stages for drama. How should the school district deal with these issues?

2. There are many types of children with special needs in our classrooms. What do you see as the biggest concerns facing this diverse group of families and what changes do you propose to address these?

3. The new community learning program is set to start in Sept of 2012. What steps will you take as a board member to ensure that the consolidation of the district alternative education programs gets off to a good start and then grows into a world class program?

4. What administration or governance changes, if any, do you see as necessary at the school district administration level?

5. The NVSD has many students with lofty or specific goals. What gaps are there in the district in terms of supporting these high-achieving students and what changes need to be made to close these gaps?

6. How should the school district ensure that every student receives a personalized education?

7. What should the school district change or keep the same to ensure that students have access to the best instructional practices available?

8. How will you ensure that School district #44 is an inspiring place to work for all employees?

9. School board meetings often drag on well into the night. What would you do to shorten the meetings and make them more accessible to the public?

10. What involvement have you had in the community that demonstrates you commitment to quality education?

11. What is the most important skill will you bring to the table that the school board needs and give an example where you have demonstrated it?

12. Have you participated in any school district or PAC events or committees in the recent past and if so what was you contribution to the outcome?

13. Private schools are growing in BC. What should the school district response be to this situation?

14. What challenges do you see working with the Ministry of Education and how would you advocate for North Vancouver Schools?

15. What is your assessment of the current quality of education in North Vancouver schools and how would you like to see it change?

16. The BC Ministry of Education is currently planning a number of changes to the school system to support more personalized learning. What do you see as the key initiatives the Ministry is promoting and how would you like to see them implemented?

17. The BC Ministry of Education and the BCTF are currently involved in a job action. What do you see as the main issues driving this and what would you advocate to help resolve it?

18. How can we afford to maintain the practice of including special needs student in mainstream classrooms?

19. The BC Ministry of Education is proposing increased parent involvement in education. What sorts of parent involvement could you foresee and how should the school district engage with parents to promote and enable this initiative?

20. The BC Ministry of Education is proposing to increase the amount of technology-supported learning in our schools and enable students to bring their own devices into schools to support their education. How should the school district respond to this proposal?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Public Board Meeting - November 15, 2011

During public comment period I made comments about the two week spring break and the impact on students and families that cannot afford the extra time off.
Another parent spoke to moving the alternative programs to Balmoral and lack of consultation with families in the area and also the traffic that would be created and asks that everyone in the area that could potentially be affected be consulted so that there is no ill will.
Artists for Kids Trust 2010/2011 Annual Report - presented by Yolande Martinello - discussion around being open longer in the new facility; will we have enough prints to meet the demand; open during the summer to attract tourists (summer time will be under the Smith Foundation); student program will remain the same;
Motion: moved & carried
Community Learning Program - presented by John Lewis, Mark Jefferson, Julie Parker, Monty Bell & Patrick (missed last name) background can be found: http://www.nvsd44.bc.ca/en/sitecore/content/Updates/~/media/PDF_uploads/BoardMeetings/2011_12/BoardAgendaPackage20111115.ashx
- Background given with board goals - strategic plan spoken to connecting to the BC's Education Plan Key elements
- three year operation plan
- students will be at the centre of the Alternative program
- Community Living Program (CLP) being used as an operating name
- Community support services
- District Support Services (Distant Learning/Continuing Education/High School Completion/Work Experience)
- NVSD Learning Centre
Philosophy - develop the best program for our kids
Criteria - flexible schedules for students - time of day, number of classes, full-time, part-time
Differentiated instructional methodologies
Integrated instructional approaches
- learning outcomes integrated across the curriculum ie applications of math through carpentry
15-20:1 students to teacher - one teacher and one youth engagement worker
Increased course options to meet students interest
Develop and promote innovative and sustainable program
- flexible programming integrating blended DL program with face to face instruction
opportunity for students to cross enroll at other schools for district specialty programs
- opportunity to participate full in career programs, work experience apprenticeships, ITA initiatives etc...
- smooth transitions from Choices and to Choices
- course selection is aligned with graduation requirements, enabling the students to select from a wide array of elective courses offered within the program, the Learning Centre or in the community.
Strengthen and expand reciprocal community relations
Wrap-around support services for students
- health & nutrition (food program breakfast/lunch)
- youth services for counseling, medical, physical & mental health services
Community Services wishing to partner
- Vancouver Coastal Health
- Ministry of Children and Family Development
- North Shore Neigh
- Capilano Youth Services, Parkgate Youth Services
- NS Multicultural Society
- Tsleil-Waututh & Squamish Nations
Patrick spoke to the drawings of the new facility and what was to be included.
School, counselling support services, administration, community learning support offices, resource management, parking
Sites looked at - Keith Lynn, Plymouth, Lucas Centre & Balmoral
New school - $15 mil; KL - $15 mil; Plymouth $6 mil; Lucas $5 mil; Balmoral $2.5 mil
Recommendation - Balmoral
Time lines Phases
Planning Consultation
Consolation Programs/PACS/students community partners
Design - schematic; detail; contract docs; tendering award
East side of the district is 25% of our student population
Exective Committee recommendation - Balmoral
Next Steps
- inform all parents, staff & partner groups
- continue to meet with alternative program staff, parents PACS and Students
- Engage consultant team
- establish facility design working group
- continue program development (district & choices)
- continue consultation with potential partners and community agencies
- proceed with implementation planning with reps for alternative programs and local PACs
- continue working with DNV & PACs regarding traffic management
How to pay for this.....IY - possibilities include - Annual Facility Grant (part of all of it), capital reserves (about $2 mil in reserves), or sale of land
Careers high on the agenda for these students.
Motion to approve Balmoral as the site for the CLP - Trustee Forward Moved; Trustee Bouman Second - motion moved - Trustee Skinner voted against.
Local School Calendar 2012/2013
Spring break for the 2012/2013 school year will be March 18 to March 28 2013 - Motion passed.
Trustee Forward; Trustee Skinner; doesn't support
Trustee Bouman; Trustee Tasi; Trustee Back; Trustee Buchanan; Trustee Stratton; support
Proposed Revised Policy 101: Board of Education - Role & Function
Proposed New Policy 107: Board of Education - Stipend, Resources, & Expenses.
Policies to be referred to the new board.
Proposed Revised Policy 303: Student Health Services and Medication Management
- housekeeping item to remove the word Oral
Motioned carried
10:00 - Motion to move past 10:00 pm - Carried
Community Use of School District Facilities - Final Report
Motion to receive the report and accept the recommendations - Carried
Field Trips - out of country
Superintendent's Report
Presentation to Outgoing Trustees to Trustee Bouman, Trustee Back & Trustee Buchanan
Future Meetings
Public Question & Comment Period
Again, this my interpretation of tonight's events.....for the official minutes please see the district website.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Ministry announces a new plan for education

On Oct 28th, The Ministry of Education released a new plan for education that calls for transformation of the system to include a greater emphasis on personalized education and parent involvement.


The plan consists of five key elements:
  • Personalized learning for every student.
  • Quality teaching and learning.
  • Flexibility and choice.
  • High standards.
  • Learning empowered by technology.
Lots more information in this is available at www.bcedplan.ca

The plan appears positive at a high level but at the moment it looks more like a plan for a plan than a specific set of initiatives. What we see so far raises a number of questions; what specific changes are being contemplated to deliver these new objectives and how will these changes be funded.

We will be discussing the plan at our next NVPAC general meeting (Nov 17th, LMCC) along with the Districts strategic plan and look to gather parent perspective on the questions the Ministry is asking as they develop their plan:
  • What new competencies will students need to prepare them for graduation and the future?
  • What type of information do parents need on their child’s learning?
  • What do you think is important for our education system in the future?

All-Candidates Meeting - fast-paced & informative

I'd like to thank the 120 or so people that joined us for our all-candidates meeting last night for coming out and helping us make the meeting a big success. The Sutherland Theatre is a great venue for these sorts of events, especially when we fill the room as we did last night.

Along with their opening and closing remarks the 12 candidates gave us a total of 87 responses to 21 questions in two hours. We heard from each candidate multiple times on different topics (governance, funding, personalized learning etc) and I think the event gave everyone a chance to showcase their talent, interests, philosophy and experience for the audience. It was a fast paced event (no hockey game, but pretty frenetic for an ACM) and I thank both the audience and the candidates for putting up with our tight timing and active microphone management.

Still we didn't get to all the questions and not everyone was able to attend so for those that missed it and to try get answers to those questions we didn't get to we will be posting all the questions we received at the door and the ones we had prepared for the candidates on the blog. We have invited all the candidates to send us their responses, which we will post on the blog next week, in time to help you select the candidates you wish to vote for.