Welcome to my website, chronicling my journey as a member of the Surrey Board of Education. I’ll be updating this website on a regular basis with my activities, and hope this will provide some insight into the role of a School Trustee in our District.
On January 6th, I attended a Principal, Vice-Principal, EPEG meeting at the Surrey Arts Centre. This meeting is an opportunity for district leadership to introduce new administrators, make announcements, and provide some inspiration for the remainder of the year.
January 7th was a sad day, attending the memorial for STA President Jennifer Wadge, who passed unexpectedly, and far too soon, over the Christmas holidays. It was nice to see the very large crowd; Jennifer obviously had an impact on many, many people, and will certainly be missed.
We had a budget meeting on January 11, followed by an in-camera meeting dealing with personnel matters.
On January 13th, we had another meeting with Surrey MPs to discuss the incoming refugees, and funding for the Welcome Centre. This has become a top priority for us as our current funding agreement expires in April. Our collective agreements mean that we would have to give 90 days layoff notice to any employees, so the urgency of the matter was quite real, as we would not be able to keep the Welcome Centre open without federal funding. The meeting went very well, and our MPs have done a good job of relaying our concerns, as we have since received an email assuring us that our agreement will be renewed for an additional year, at least. Immediately after our meeting, I went to Burnaby for an ELL Consortium meeting.
On January 14th we held a public board meeting, which started with an excellent presentation from Kwantlen Park Inter-A students, and their teacher, Ms. Veto. Our main items of business at this meeting were:
- A motion was passed to maintain the same kilometrage reimbursement rate for this year.
- A motion was passed to appoint architects for our next two elementary schools in the Clayton area. We have not been approved by the MoE for funding at this point, but hope to be prepared for construction as soon as possible once we get the go-ahead.
- Wayne Noye formally announced his retirement as Secretary-Treasurer at the end of this school year.
January 20th, I attended a memorial for Bruce Yantz, held in the library at Queen Elizabeth Secondary. Bruce didn’t work for the district, but did a tremendous amount of volunteer work for our Foundations program teaching students about sheet metal and other trades skills, for which he was honoured by the board in 2014. Bruce is remembered fondly and will be missed. Later that day, I attended a community forum on refugees at Fleetwood Park Secondary.
On January 21st we hosted this month’s BCSTA Metro Branch meeting. In the evening, we had a meeting with the executive search firm who is working with us to recruit a new secretary-treasurer.
On January 25th, we had an executive meeting for the entire afternoon, ending with a Budget Committee meeting.
January 26th, I attended a Montessori Committee meeting at DEC.
On January 27th, I was honoured to attend the District Partnership Electrical Program-end Celebration, and offer congratulations on behalf of the board to the students who have successfully completed the program, as well as thanks to BCIT, instructor Don Zaklan, and district and school staff for supporting this wonderful program. Later that evening, I attended a meeting of the Surrey Crime Prevention Society.
I attended Berkshire Park Elementary’s production of Shnowbiz, involving the entire school. Congratulations to the staff and students for all their hard work, the results of which were greatly enjoyed by the large audience. That evening I was at LA Matheson for their Welcome Dinner in honour of newly-arrived refugee families, our Welcome Centre staff, and all those who worked so hard putting together care packages for our newly-arrived families. Many thanks to Annie Ohana and LA Matheson staff for all their hard work planning the evening.
On December 1st, I stopped in at LA Matheson during their Aboriginal Winter Family Gathering, a very nice way to bring together the community for an evening.
December 2nd was another great afternoon of student leadership at an iDEAS36 meeting.
December 10th started with a wonderful production of Annie Junior at Betty Huff Elementary. In the evening, we held a public board meeting. There were no presentations or delegations. Our main items of business at this meeting were:
- Shawn Wilson was voted as board chair, and Laurie Larsen as vice chair, for the next year.
- A motion was passed to approve the Annual Statement of Financial Information (SOFI), and submit it to the MoE.
- A motion was passed to amend the calendar to declare April 18th as a non-instructional day. This was necessitated by the Ministry of Education decision to add 10 hours of non-instructional time this school year, to allow teachers to prepare for the new curriculum.
- A motion was passed to award the construction contract for the new Clayton North Area Secondary School.
On December 14th, there was an EPEG (exempt staff) Liaison event at our new Resource & Education Centre (REC), across the parking lot from DEC. Immediately afterward, I attended the Bell Centre Volunteer Dinner, which is held in appreciation of our wonderful Bell Centre volunteers.
On December 15th, I was pleased to join Frank Hurt administration in thanking their great staff, going class-to-class with well-deserved tea, coffee, hot chocolate, and treats for teachers and EAs. Later in the day I attended the IB 35th anniversary at Semiahmoo Secondary, where I was pleased to speak as an alumni of the program from back in the first few years of the program. It was great to see some of the hard-working teachers that make the program what it is. The day finished with hearings back at DEC.
December 16th saw me start at Sullivan Heights for Grad Transition interviews, then over to a Food Action Coalition meeting, and finishing again with hearings at DEC.
On December 17th, I started at Enver Creek for another set of classroom visits similar to those at Frank Hurt earlier in the week, again for a hard-working and dedicated staff. Then it was back to Sullivan Heights for more Grad Transition interviews; always a highlight of my day.
On December 18th, I was pleased to be part of the EMS Pancake Breakfast, serving up whipped cream on top – an extra-special treat for me, as our own kids were among those I was able to serve. In the afternoon, it was back to Sullivan Heights for the third day in a row, but this time for Mr. Begg’s “Winter Extravaganza” – with a lot of help from his fellow staff members. A great time was had by all!
On November 2nd, we honoured our retirees from last year at Eaglequest – thanks again to all of you for your hard work, making a difference in thousands of students lives.
I attended the iDEAS36 meeting on November 4th with another full house of student leaders.
On November 9th, we held a Budget Committee meeting followed by a meeting with executive.
I was very privileged to attend the Guildford Park Secondary Remembrance Day ceremony on November 10th, especially since I was seated next to retired Major General Guy Tousignant, who gave an eloquent and moving speech. There were also some emotional speeches from GP students that came to Canada as refugees, sharing their experiences with war, as well as an excellent performance by GP drama students. The whole ceremony was a very fitting tribute to our veterans.
On November 11th, I attended the Remembrance Day ceremony at Royal Canadian Legion Branch #240 – Crescent Beach and laid a wreath on behalf of the school district along with board chair Shawn Wilson. Thanks to all our veterans for their service.
I took part in the Food Action Coalition meeting on November 12th, and then was at our public board meeting that evening. There were no presentations or delegations. Our main items of business at this meeting were:
- A motion was passed to approve two new board-authorized courses for the 2016-17 school year – a Writing 11 course and Linguistics 11 course developed by Surrey teachers.
- Motions were passed to approve several routine capital projects and upgrades, that have been approved for funding by the Ministry of Education.
I was present for the Holocaust Symposium at the Bell Centre on November 17th. Thanks to Randy Jaggernathsingh and his team for organizing the event once again, and to Kit Krieger and Lillian Boraks-Nemetz for sharing their wonderful and moving stories.
On November 18th, I went to the Guildford Park Career Fair, where I was very impressed by the huge variety and number of speakers in attendance, including many GP grads. That evening, I attended a Surrey Crime Prevention Society meeting.
On November 23rd, I took part in a board/executive meeting at DEC.
On November 25th, our entire board met with all Surrey MPs in regard to the Syrian refugees that will be coming to our city. As we are still waiting to hear back on the proposal we submitted for continued Welcome Centre funding, we felt that it would be prudent to meet with our newly-elected representatives to the federal government, who provides the funding for our Settlement Workers in Schools (SWIS). It was a very productive meeting, and very educational for our MPs, who will be taking our concerns back to their government colleagues
From November 26-28, I attended the BCSTA Trustee Academy in Vancouver. The event included numerous educational keynotes and workshops, as well as a BCSTA Metro Branch meeting. We were also able to meet with Acting Deputy Education Minister Jill Kott in regards to the Employee Practice Liability Program – this meeting came out of a motion at the October public board meeting. We expressed our concerns with the program, and whether it would cost our district money, rather than provide the savings that it is supposed to. This is just part of ongoing discussions about this program, as we plan to continue letting the MoE know about our concerns.
On November 30th, I attended a Budget Committee meeting, followed by in-camera and executive meetings.