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December 14, 2018 Message to Members
BC Funding Model Review
As many of you know, the BC Ministry of Education has been consulting with K-12 stakeholders to review the province’s public education funding model. The current funding model has been in place for more than 15 years, and can no longer reflect the social, cultural and demographic trends in our province. Advances in technology have had a profound effect on instruction and student learning. The job market has shifted, as have the skills that students need to prepare them for their post-graduation life. Our public education system has recognized that specific learning needs can best be supported, and success enhanced, within a revised curriculum.
The funding model review process emerged based on the 2018 realities of education in BC. The goal of the funding model review is to ensure that the allocation of funding is equitable across BC’s 60 Boards of Education, with a focus on strong outcomes and equitable access to opportunities for all students. We share the goal of providing the best supports and services for all students, and I have been involved in the consultation process on behalf of the BCPVPA, both on the Board level and during my time as President. During the initial stages of the review process, stakeholder perspectives were gathered from School Districts, sector partners including the BCPVPA, parents’ groups, teachers’ groups and non-profit groups with an interest in education. You can read those submissions here bit.ly/K-12FMRFeedback.
An independent review panel met with School Districts around the province, and while the feedback was broad and reflective of the different needs of the 60 Districts, 16 themes emerged including Special Education, Collective Agreements, Targeted Funding for Indigenous Students and Unique School District Features: read about the findings here bit.ly/K-12FMRPanel. Government has been in the process of reviewing the panel’s recommendations, and options for transitioning to a new funding model will be released shortly before or after the holiday break.
Changes that affect the operation of our schools can be high on the list of things that keep school leaders awake at night. We expect that there will be many questions from our members once the results of the funding review are released, and we will be here to help you to navigate the information and understand the context for your schools. I will be involved in a feedback process with government, and I am committed to taking your questions and concerns forward to ensure that we are continuing an effective dialogue.
As we move towards the end of the year, I wish you and your families all the very best. I want to personally thank you for being passionate advocates for public education, and for creating a positive and inclusive learning environment every day in your schools. I’m proud to be part of this community of leaders, and to represent your voice.
December 7, 2018 Message to Members
As many of you know, I’m a forward-looking guy. I’m fascinated by new technology and the way that it can enhance our support of students while advancing our own learning. So, it may come as a surprise that I still write an annual Christmas letter to my friends and family. I treasure the process of casting back through the year that’s passed and documenting it, often with humour and no small measure of sentimentality.
This year, I’m thinking about what I’ve experienced since I became President. July’s trip to Toronto for the symposium on mental health reinforced member well-being as one of the pillars of my work, and October’s journey to Nova Scotia to witness the birth of a new association gave me a strong appreciation of how the BCPVPA has grown and developed. And mostly it’s been the pleasure of meeting with members in your communities and in your homes and finding out more about your challenges and successes. This year’s letter will draw in those experiences, along with the new reality of having a family that is settled in separate cities.
It’s a busy time in schools, as the learning of the Fall flows into report cards and final classes, and beyond into family gatherings and your own holiday traditions. For some it’s a whirlwind, for others a peaceful pause. But before you close the door on 2018, take that moment of reflection to look at what you accomplished: maybe it was an innovation in your school, or supporting a colleague through a crisis. Maybe it was coaching an anxious child to speak for the first time in front of her class or meeting a fundraising target that will cascade in learning benefits to your students. Or maybe it was a milestone event in your family life that will subtly alter your path. You don’t have to produce your own Christmas letter, it may be a cerebral post-it note for you alone. But remember the impact that you’ve made this year.
November 30, 2018 Message to Members
Earlier this week, you received our brief on the November 23-24 President’s Meeting, Chapter Council and AGM. The sessions were informative, and we introduced a lot of content that reps will bring back to your local meetings. I’m eager to hear from you if you have any questions!
One feature of the sessions that we can’t reproduce in a report was the experience of real-time feedback that we introduced. Some of you know that I’m a lover of tech, and we decided to elevate the traditional table-talk and flip-chart documentation to a new level. We used sli.do for quick in-room polls where we could all track the emerging responses, and a new back-channel of Better Educate – BackBEat Channel – where Directors could moderate table-talk discussions and instantly share commentary from the table groups.
What these platforms brought to our discussions was an immediacy and sharing that was effective: we were able to identify common questions quickly and provide answers. With the pace and complexity of the work we do every day in our schools, we may sometimes feel like we’re not coming together as easily as we should in our team meetings. Introducing this kind of interactivity can help teams to hone in on the pressure points and key issues in a nimble and direct way. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by technology but remember that you’re the one in control. Think about the technological supports that are available to you, and how you could use them to achieve specific goals that will enhance your connectivity with your students and your teams.
November 23, 2018 Message to Members
I feel fortunate for those occasions in the calendar where we move outward from our regular circles and can share time and conversations with members from around the province.
From November 22 – 24, our BCPVPA Board, Chapter Presidents and Chapter Councils will come together. As a Board, we look at the big picture of the association as defined by the Strategic Plan and its goals. The direction that we formulate together, and the actions that result, are longer-term processes that have significant implications for the association. Our collective examination of issues is critical, as are the different voices and perspectives that are represented on our Board.
As Presidents, we have few opportunities to come together, but it’s an unparalleled opportunity to learn from the wisdom in the room. At the President’s Meeting, common challenges can be recognized and shared, and there is space for solutions and positive strategies to emerge.
As Chapter Representatives, our members have the chance to gather and talk about their stories and successes, and to get vital feedback from their peers in other districts. This sharing of information, strategies and ideas helps to strengthen our processes and supports our people in their roles.
At the upcoming Chapter Council meeting, we will also take the time to thank and acknowledge our outgoing Directors: Read Jorgensen (Greater Victoria), Carol-Ann Leidloff (Kootenay Lake) and Kevin Reimer (Comox Valley). Directors dedicate a significant amount of time and energy to advocating for our members, and we are extremely grateful for the contributions of these three leaders.
This week’s meeting is our opportunity to view the BCPVPA and its work through a provincial lens: the unique voice of each region is represented and gives us insight into the needs of students, staff and communities as we support our members in leading familiar processes and exploring the implementation of new initiatives.
I look forward to sharing some highlights with you next week.
November 16, 2018 Message to Members
In the transition of the seasons and the cycle of the school year, Remembrance Day 2018 has brought to our communities a deep sense of reflection. Across BC, within the smallest elementary schools, in our distributed and alternative programs and in our largest secondary schools, thoughtful ceremonies and activities brought together students, staff and special guests to pause and acknowledge the sacrifices of Canadian veterans.
As a principal, it was my role to support a team of students and staff as we conceived the plan for the school Remembrance Day assembly each year. If there was a time when I felt most proud of our students, it would be during these annual assemblies. Like many of you, I would invite our community to join us and I would hear how impressed they were with our students and their engagement as these young people led the events with quiet respect through songs, poetry and memorial projects. Although we are all invited to ‘remember’, we recognize that it is challenging for our youngsters whose direct connections may be limited. I would ask our students to pause and to really listen to the stories of sacrifice, many of which involved young people not much older than them. Most importantly, I would ask them to reflect on what they are thankful for in their lives, especially the little things that we might take for granted. I’ve been grateful to see the dawning understanding when a student retells a story that has resonated, because it gives me hope.
The poppy is a powerful and enduring symbol of sacrifice and remembrance. When I look out at a school assembly and see that field of poppies resting on shirts and lapels, I believe that the lessons of Remembrance Day are among the most meaningful that we can impart to our students. Thank you all for the impactful moments that you shared with your own students in the past week.
November 9, 2018 Message to Members
Negotiation: (n) formal discussions between people who have different aims or intentions, especially in business or politics, during which they try to reach an agreement.
Representation: (n) the action of speaking or acting on behalf of someone or the state of being so represented.
The BCPVPA’s quest for negotiation representation has been a pivotal theme in our work over the past year. During this time, we have had discussions with our members, Boards of Education, Superintendents and the provincial government. To date, we’ve visited members in more than 40 districts and if we haven’t spent time with you yet, we anticipate a visit in the coming months. Every conversation with our members and partners helps us to further reinforce our message, and to get a deeper understanding of our members’ needs.
We’ve seen progress: the standardized approach to principal and vice-principal Regional Salary Grids has been a success, and we feel that the next step is a standardized provincial framework for negotiation. Provincial negotiation frameworks have proven successful in every other province in Canada, and we believe that alignment with this approach will be mutually beneficial in BC.
We have just completed an in-depth report on negotiation representation for the BC Public School Employers’ Association (BCPSEA) that follows our presentation to the BCPSEA Board of Directors last spring. We look forward to their feedback as we continue along the negotiation representation pathway.
As a starting place, we believe that a provincial negotiation framework would recognize the BCPVPA as the negotiating representative for principals and vice-principals in BC, and the local association as the representative for principals and vice-principals in each district; that there would be a common, but limited set of terms and conditions of employment provincially; a fixed term for each agreement; language defining contract review and dispute resolution processes; and a common provincial language which still allows autonomy for local boards to negotiate on local items.
The provincial terms and conditions of employment could include ongoing Regional Salary Grid implementation, standardized benefits, contract review and dispute resolution language, short-term disability provisions, salary and benefits enhancements and indemnification as possible areas of negotiation should we be voluntarily recognized by our government and employers as the provincial negotiating representative for principals and vice-principals.
At our upcoming Presidents’ and Chapter Council meetings this month, we will provide updates on negotiation representation and seek member feedback about our approach. As I mentioned, our chapter visits will continue and we are beginning to take a similar approach in helping Boards of Education, as the employers, to better understand the benefits of negotiation representation. As we move forward, we will also ensure that our members have the information they need to speak comfortably about negotiation representation if asked by a Trustee or any other contacts.
Our goals in attaining a provincial framework are fairness, equity and sustainability for our members, and a focus on success for BC’s students. Principals and vice-principals take great pride in achieving excellence in our schools, and we want to ensure that our members feel valued for the amazing work you do.