Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Final SD52 Board session of 2021 explores Ts'msyen language program, request for presentations from PRDTU at Board meetings

Board Chair Kate Toye and Superintendent of Schools 
Andrew Samoil at the December 14 SD52 Board meeting

The School District 52 Board hosted their final monthly session of 2021 last week, the December 14th  Board meeting lasting just over an hour, streamed live through Zoom.

The session Chaired by Kate Toye opened with a fairly extensive review of the Learning Ts'mysen program at SD52 with a number of Board staffers providing a glimpse into the 2021-22 program curriculum and learning process at all of the city's schools.

The program which has many themes, includes areas of harvesting items for making such things as jams, learning about bannock and a range of other elements that have captured the interest to those participating  this year.

Other business on the evening saw the Board endorse the Universal School Food program, there was some significant discussion towards a request for opportunities for the PRDTU to make presentations at Open Board meetings from time to time.

Trustee Tina Last led off the majority of the discussion towards the topic, noting of the value of the student or staff led presentations at the start of the meetings have a purpose and how there could be a difference in what students may present, compared to how a union led presentation may proceed.

"We're elected to look after kids, that's our job, do what's best for the just under 2,000 kids that we have in our District: All the adults in the system have venues that they can use, vehicles that they can use, to bring forward things that aren't rosy and I respect that. And so for me I'd like to see things stay the same, and it's student focused and the only presentations that we see at the beginning of a board meeting are those done by the students with their teachers or their administrators"

Trustee Janet Beil spoke to similar themes, observing that if they hear from one group of the stakeholders there is going to be an expectation of other stakeholders to share their frustrations or dis-satisfaction. 

She too suggested that the current process of limiting the presentations to students was the direction the Board should stay with.

The Trustees also discussed themes related to Letters for review on Clean BC sector targets, Provincial Teacher Shortages and the declaration of a National Opiate Death Crisis.

The consensus of the trustees one to keep the current process of holding the presentations of the Board Meetings student focused.

The Superintendent of School's Report from Andrew Samoil's provided for an overview of a range of topics.

Some of the highlights included a look at recent and upcoming Field Trips and Sports events , among the notes related to the field trips were concerns over how COVID could change the nature of those trips in the future.

On enrolment Sandra Pond outlined the latest data from the District, noting how enrolment has gone up by a net gain of four students since last month.  That with nine new students having enrolled and five having left the School District, that makes for an enrolment of 1,852 this month.

The COVID update from Superintendent Samoil provided a look at the level of supplies in the schools and a review of the current reports on COVID, which in November saw no public notices for COVID in the schools, though there is a rise in the seasonal cold and flu symptoms, with a reminder of the need to follow the range of COVID protocols in place.

The Superintendent also observed of a recent opportunity to share themes on COVID with Education Minister  Jennifer Whiteside, with Mr. Samoil exploring themes of his contribution on attendance issues, "when we do have COVID notices of exposure our attendance really suffers, a lot of kids stay home" 

He also outlined how the School District supports the ongoing clinic process in the community.

Mr. Samoil also provided updates on the Strategic Plan work which will be outlined in the New year,  other notes included Community Facilities rentals, that use requires a COVID plan to be in place, following a range of COVID protocols.

On  upcoming projects, the main focus was on administrators and staff work recently that explored Truth and Reconciliation areas led by the Indigenous Education Department. 

The Superintendents also outlined how SD52 is working with Northern Health on themes of employee recruitment, with Mr. Samoil noting that many of the issues of lost employee recruitment and retention is related to child care. 

That gave him an opportunity to note of the current program of the Seamless day program underway and in place at the Booth School facility hosted by the School District.

One other item of note was the success of this years Hour of Code, an annual exercises this year,  which staff and students completing a range of projects as part of this years program.

The Superintendent also outlined notes of the Board Office closure over the holiday break, with the office closed the week of December 27, reopening when the schools do on January 3rd, which brought a question from Trustee Last if that closure is a normal situation at the  Christmas  break period.

"No ... we normally stay open, and this year we looked at the second wee, and there's only two days in that week and we have many of our staff are already on approved vacation. it would go down to a such a skeleton staff that the decision was made to give people a break with this COVID year and to have a solid week"

Secretary Treasurer  Cam McIntyre outlined how things are going quite well as far as budget matters go, making note of two financial reports delivered last month.

On operations Councillors Beil and Maier both had questions and some concerns on the status of snow clearing for the schools in the city, which are handled by a local contractor.

The Board then made note of the upcoming Budget Consultation plans for 2022 which will get underway on Monday, January 31st with the process continuing through to mid April. How those consultation sessions will take place whether in person or by Zoom will be determined closer to the dates.

The trustees also explored a range of themes related towards how they address policy work and consultation with partner and stakeholders.

The Board also set their Calendar of Meetings for 2022, making a shift to every third Tuesday of the month, which will see the next SD52 Board meeting to take place on January 18th, 2022. The move will allow for more extensive financial information to be presented at the Board meetings in the new year.

The full hour of the Board gathering can be reviewed from their Video Archive page.

More notes on Education across the Northwest can be explored from our Archive page.

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