Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Presentations on Trips to Ontario, Haida Gwaii and some year end housekeeping themes wrap up Board of Education work for 2022-23 School year

SD52's Board of Trustees hosted their final Board of Education session on June 20th, the evening starting off with two presentations,

The First was from Music Instructor Kristy Tillman who had  few of the members of the PRMS Band in attendance with her, they recounted their recent trip to Niagara Falls for the MusicFest National competition.

A photo collection provided some background to the trip to Ontario, with some of the students providing their own comments related to the trip and what they found from their musical adventure.

Ms. Tillman paid tribute to the help of the chaperones that came with the students on the journey.

"The highlights for me from this trip included the joy and excitement that the students had throughout the entire trip. The sense of pride they showed after finally being able to attend the Festival and exceeding my expectations. 

And the pride we felt from the entire community while we were still away and even more upon our return. Their success resonated throughout their families, their School, the School District and the entire community"-- Some thoughts from PRMS Band instructor Kristy Tillman on the recent trip to Ontario

The trustees offered their praise to the students and Ms. Tillman for their success in Ontario and of the music program in Prince Rupert.

The Second presentation was from Nancy Griffith-Zahner who outlined how the Prince Rupert program at Charles Hays Secondary school has sought to work towards the decolonization of French language instruction at the School Board, the focus of the talk framed through a recent field trip to Haida Gwaii.

As part of her presentation she outlined how she had modified  some of the Grade 12 Core French program so that it's content was 100 percent based on the Haida Nation, and how that served as the foundation to the field trip.

Much of the presentation highlighted the exploration of the area and how they adapted their travels to reflect what they had learned as part of the classroom component of the course.

She observed of the learning opportunities that the trip offered for students as they travelled around the Island.

"We had learned these stories ahead of time and then we were actually there it was very moving for everyone including myself"

Ms. Griffith-Zahner noted how the approach towards localizing French education had benefits recounting how they used elements of it as part of their recent trip to Haida Gwaii

"To be able to talk I think in French to talk about Haida Reconciliation, in my opinion, now a this point in my life in 2023 is maybe more important that to talk about ... a village in France, it's just a rich more relevant ... my view is ... if you're going to be teaching a language of colonization like French in Prince Rupert, it's impetus has to be to support local Indigenous culture in nature to the land while all still hitting the important parts of the curriculum"

Board members followed up with a number of questions about how the program evolved and what Ms. Griffith-Zahner learned from her work towards development of it.

The remainder of the session focused on a range of Agenda categories with correspondences and a number of reports from Superintendent, Secretary-Treasurer and Committees.

From the Superintendents Report, a recap of field trips was provided as well as some notes on enrolment from Sandra Pond and a look at the final numbers for the school year.

"Enrolment went up by one this month, we're at 1,811 students"

Towards that information relay, Trustee Beil asked if there could be a breakdown between both elementary schools and the high School. The trustees then discussed whether that should be a once a year delivery of date or on a more frequent basis. With Ms. Beil the information would be useful towards Board planning.

"We can provide a summary and we'll continue with the explanations as well. Because sometimes the numbers don't tell you the whole story and we always have to be cognizant of that and we need to tell you what's behind those numbers" -- Superintendent Andrew Samoil

Mr. Samoil also noted of the work that the School District had put into towards the National Indigensou Day event taking place at the Civic Centre.

His review also highlighted some of the end of school activities that were taking advantage of the nice weather that was in the area in recent weeks.

The Secretary-Treasurer's Report was next with only a few questions or observations for Ms. Verissimo from the five elements that were reviewed.

Trustee Michael Pucci observed of the need for some attention towards website development for the current Board website; he was advised that the Board is looking at a pilot project to upgrade the website and information that is delivered through it.

There were two items of note from the Capital Projects notes, with priorities noted for the Prince Rupert Middle School Seismic Replacement project and Conrad Street Elementary Seismic project. 

Neither generated any discussion and the larger topic of the eventual replacement for PRMS did not make for that part of the evening's proceedings.

Committee Reports saw updates delivered on six topics, with some discussion related to the District's request towards creating spaces on Boards for Indigenous Representation, though it was noted that province wide there had not been much progress towards that goal yet.

Board Chair Kate Toye shared her notes on the most recent meeting of the Indigenous Education Council and what she took out of that gathering that was held on June 15th. 

She highlighted the School District's work in presentation of the Witness Blanket, noting that SD52 was the only District in the North to bring that to their students.

Ms. Toye also made note of the upcoming field trips as well as to share thoughts on how the School District is unique in how its Indigenous Language Authority is woven throughout the District and how well resourced the Prince Rupert School District is with that Language Authority.

When it came to Policy Reviews, the Board outlined three up for review, related to Multimedia Devices, Staff Recruitment and Retention and District Support Committee

The policies will be forwarded to stakeholders for further review.

The Board set their calendar for meetings for the 2023-23 School year, outlined the nature of the Daycare Lease Bylaw provisions and noted of a letter to the Ministry of Education towards funding exempt/Admin Labour increases.

The Board discussed what should e included in the letter, noting how the lack of guidance from the Ministry is having significant impact on smaller Board Districts and how they approach their Budget decision making.

Board Chair Kate Toye followed that discussion with a reminder of some key dates, with the final day of School for 2022-23 set for June 29, the first day for the new school year in September will be September 5th. 

The Board will have their first session of the new school year on the Third Tuesday of the month.

Trustee Beil made note of their recent loss of life in the community and the impact that it has had on many in the community. Board Chair Toye observed of the loss to the school community from that incident with the Board holing a moment of silence.

The Board then received comments and questions from the Public, one member of the public had questions towards a range of topics including concerns over mice issues in the schools, he was advised that those rumours are not as large as noted and not substantiated, and how the Board was proactive on those issues.

There was a request that the Contingency Fund be included in the Treasurer's Report each month, a suggestion that the Board said they would take under consideration and look at in September.

The Third question was related to New policies and concerns he had over some elements of the Multi Media policy planning and how there needs to be a balance between protections and risks and dangers, a well as worries over putting too much power into the hands of School Principals.

Board Chair noted that they would take those concerns into consideration as they move the policy forward.

From that the session came to a close with best wishes for the summer.

You can review all of the elements of the June 20th session from the Video below:

More notes on Education across the Northwest  can be explored through our archive page.

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