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Minutes from May 2, 2011 - Community meeting with Vision Committee

Present: James Warner, PAC Chair; Laura Busheikin, Vision Committee Chair; Sean
Novak, Riane daSilva, Lisa Lundy and Mary Hicks, Vision Committee members;
Veronique Eriksson, PAC Treasurer; approximately 30 members of the public.

Called to order at 5:05pm by James Warner

James (PAC Chair) welcomed people and gave a brief history of the steps leading
to how we came to be here.

Laura (Vision Committee Chair) spoke a bit about the Vision Committee. She
reaffirmed that all parents of children at the school are members of PAC.

James passed on information from Sherry Elwood and Allan Douglas (of School
District 71 - SD) on Thursday. A lot of what we are doing has to do with the
number of children that are enrolled in the school. Today they said the “magical
number” is a minimum of 25 children in order to proceed with the staffing plan
that they have given us: They are willing to continue with a 5 day a week program
with this bridging year. We will have 2 teachers {(1full time teacher) + (0.6
teaching + 0.4 admin)} plus (0.4 music+ .16 music prep) + (.2 LST)

Other support staff would continue as is, one exception was reduced from .2 to .1
(James can’t remember which this is).

The SD is making a commitment to not make any further adjustments as long as


we maintain a minimum of 25 students.

As part of this process of looking at making changes to our school, the SD is


willing to put some money towards hiring a facilitator or other costs (advertising,
promotion, other) during this bridging year. There seems to be a genuine
commitment to work with the community to keep the school open and dynamic.

This is an opportunity to turn this into a win-win situation

CM (Community Member): It seems to me that .4 is a high number of admin time.


When there were 100 students, there was a .3 admin. With a 25 enrolment that
seems awfully high.

CM: does that 25 include preschoolers with the strong start program?

CM: Would the school district consider giving the total money to run the school for
the year to the school to see how we would divvy up the money?

Vision Committee Member: This is not possible and not what parents have been
asking for, although yes we want more community involvement.

James: The SD is interested in working with DICES to half fund a community


support person to facilitate engaging more community input into the school.
CM: Are they talking about a new position or an expanded position in DICES?

Laura: We don’t know it could be either.

CM: Is there a major difference between what you are describing and what we
have right now.

Vision committee member: The major change next year is the administrator would
be in the school full-time and there would be one less class room.

Laura: The concessions made by the School District are due to the activity of our
community, our community support, and that we are so very organized. Sherry
Elwood recognizes we have a need for a far more involved consultation process
than other schools may need. Here is a summary of our last meeting with Sherry
and Allan:

We need to design a consultation process - both internal (community


consultation) and external (with the SD).

We are looking at a bridge year in which to carry out our consultation, the school
could start experimenting with different educational directions, (ones currently
emerging as possibilities are place based, student centred, 21st Century Learning
as defined by John Abbot, bridging to the homeschoolers and self designers),
talking more about this, trying some new things out, being flexible.

The consultation process includes two streams - there is what we are bringing to
the table and there is what the SD is bringing to the community.

Some ideas they have is a blend of some kind with Hornby. Whether that is ½
time on each island, or getting together once a month remains to be seen.

The SD recognizes that we have a unique culture at our school and that if we do
not have a good fit with one staff member/teacher then that can throw things off
in the entire community. A letter of understanding with the union may help us to
deal with that concern.

Sherry understands that we need a better process for dealing with any issues of
unhappiness with staff.

Sherry would like to come and talk to the entire community on May 18th at
6:30pm. Perhaps about new paradigms in education, perhaps about our process
and to answer questions. She may be able to get John Abbot to speak to our
school, in the future.

Committee member: Denman kids will continue to go to school 5 days a week on


Denman. Any sharing between Denman and Hornby will be an extension on what
we already do.
CM: What I find interesting is that I was at a school board meeting where they
presented the video about 21st Century Learning. There is nothing new there. Be
careful of the technology part of this.

CM: 21stCentury Learning is a broad term and the core philosophy is not about
technology. If you talk about the ideas of John Abbot you make it clear that it is
not a focus on technology.

Laura: We are being very clear when we talk to the SD that we do not want
computers to replace teachers and that we want more active learning, not more
screen time.

CM: How much can we really do differently when we have to meet curriculum to
satisfy the SD?

CM: There is a lot of leeway in how we interpret curriculum delivery. We have to


be creative.

CM: We need to discuss assessment and how assessments are done. If we get to
do “John Abbot” we don’t have to do report cards. We could do IEP’s for each
child. We could do student based assessments.

CM: If we bring John Abbot, Jeff Hopkins, we can ask how others do it.

CM: if have the latitude to do it, we can figure it out.

CM: If we are letting our kids to learn what they learn, it’s a great thing. But, what
if later we leave and go to another school. How do the kids fit into another form of
education?

CM: Children learn what they learn when they are ready to learn not when the
curriculum tells them to learn something. They will fit in wherever they are. Kids
are adaptable.

CM: How can you do a pod with only 2 teachers?

CM: a pod is like a “reading group” where you direct the group. You get them
working on a project, then go and check in with another pod. There is a lot of
flexibility with that make up.

CM: I have a hard time with the SD asking for community members to come in
and teach. They are getting paid to do this, I don’t want them unloading
education onto community members.

CM: I agree, we need to be careful with asking parents to volunteer. Experts are
not teachers. Just because you are a biologist, an arbourist, an artist doesn’t
mean you can teach.
CM: I have been listening to all of this and have two pages of notes. You are trying
to make 25 students fit into the Vanier model. Why are we talking about the BCTF
when we should be talking about what the kids need. There is a new professional
in the educational system. That professional is called a tutor. Forget having a
teacher. A tutor does everything they can to aid and abet the learning process.
There are all sorts of people in this room who can offer their expertise. That is the
learning laboratory which is Denman Island. We need to change the whole
paradigm.

CM: I completely agree that often that those who can’t do teach. To really be a
teacher is to be that bridge and the inspiration and the person who is walking
beside. The teachers at this school are going to have to be ambassadors to aid
the process.

CM: Here we are in a process. We have several stages to this. We have things to
do to make the people over there happy. Then we have to do what we are going
to do to make things work for our community and our children.

CM: The more people we can bring over here, the more information we will have.

CM: This ties into the re-skilling the arts and entertainment part of Transition
Denman Island. People are willing to come into the school to share their craft. We
don’t yet know exactly what that will look like.

CM: We are in a process of shifting the paradigm here on our island. We are trying
to do this without marching on the BCTF, we are trying to open things up so our
kids can get their needs met, to get the skills they need. We are engaged in that
process. We need a lot of discussion. We need the buzzwords, we can learn from
“the experts”, then we can make something that works for us.

Laura: We’ve already had some discussions about some of the complexities and
typical challenges with the community involvement piece. All of these issues need
to be and can be dealt with. We have experience with this and can learn from
other schools that are bringing in more parent and community involvement. We
have been doing this for years and years and years, and this is our strength.

I just want to bring it back that we have been asked by the SD to look at what
consultation will look like. This is not all going to be resolved tonight. This will be
going on for over a year. Also, our committee will be shifting and we need other
people to step in and bring their energy to this committee.

We want to keep moving. All this discussion is great, and some of it would be
better in a structured consultation process. We need to figure out what a
consultation process would look like.

What are some of the questions we need to get at? We may not have the answers
tonight but we need to ask the questions. What needs to be done?

CM: First you need to know what your vision is.


Laura: We have already done a fair bit of that.

CM: You have specific questions that need to be answered.

Committee member: We are getting tired on this committee. We have hit the
ground running and made many course corrections over the past 5 weeks. We
need to know where we need to be headed, we need more people, we need to be
sustainable.

I have a few notes on things where we could break into pods and do various
things:
Job descriptions,
We need someone representing homeschoolers on the island to have that voice.
We need someone from DICES
People with experience with different models of education.

CM: This is my first meeting I heard about this on the ferry. I spoke to someone
who took both her children out of this school. Before you can do a job description
you must have a direction. I think the concept has to be firmed up first before you
do a job description.

Laura: We did a lot of the concept work at the last meeting. We have extensive
minutes we can send them to anyone who missed that meeting. Also, there was a
visioning meeting last year and there have been discussions at PAC. We are on
our way but still need to firm up the concept.

CM: I don’t think we’ll attract kids from other communities by just changing a few
little things. We need to do something radical and make this school a real
alternative.

Laura: The SD will put in the job description that we are a school going into a
transition year. As to how big or little the changes are will be worked on over the
next year or two. There will be a PAC meeting on Thursday May 5. We can look at
5 things that the committee needs to do.

CM: We need to have more flexibility to have pods and to look at alternative forms
of assessments.

CM: We have a year to come up with a new paradigm but we only have a month
to hire a teacher. We need to get on the teacher part.

CM: To throw out my two cents I personally would like to meet 2xmonth 6-8.

Tomas volunteered to be on an ideology committee.

Perri Gorora is willing to be involved in some way.

CM: If we don’t get a vision then we can’t hire.


Committee member: We have a general sense of the vision, but the pinpoint
vision will be over the next year. We do need to nail down the characteristics that
we want a teacher to have. They got all of our notes, they got the letters, they
have a general sense of what we want. We don’t need to do up a whole job
description. Go back to your flip charts find out what is starred, you have your
directions for the SD. Alex can you tap into the parents of the kindergarten and
preschool kids and get them involved?

Alex: Yes.

CM: I think it’s vitally important for staff to be here while we have these
discussions. I think it’s unfair to have expectations and desires for our school
without communicating to them. I really want the staff to hear what we want from
them.

Laura: If anyone has an issue with the teachers participating please let me know.
Otherwise. I will invite all staff to be here as consultants or in any way that works
with them.

CM: We definitely want a model where we collaborate between staff and parents.
CM: We need to practice good process. The committee that is doing consultation
with the kids needs to answer to the PAC. I don’t understand the process with the
principal. Will the principal be going to both Denman and Hornby?

Committee member: No. The SD recognized that this model is not sustainable. I’m
hearing that the job description is very important. We did give the SD lots of
feedback. We still have the opportunity to do some more work on this. We may
have the opportunity to see the draft job description.

CM: Maybe going back to where Perri was, you (Sean) were going to show us the
draft/rough idea of where we are going. (Firm up concept).

Sean: We will send out the minutes from the May 21 meeting which shows some
general directions if you provide us with your e-mail address.

CM: I think that’s a great idea and we need it mailed to us before the next
meeting.

CM: Firm up the agenda prior to the meetings happening and send out agenda to
everyone so that we can come prepared to the meetings with our
questions/suggestions. That way we can use our time more efficiently.

CM: Is the same big committee working on the job description or should a sub
committee do that?

Committee member: I think it makes sense for the existing committee to send
that out since we have all the information already. We can look at it and fine tune
it and in the meantime get ideas for working on how job descriptions look.
CM: I know you had a meeting for the concept but this is a huge thing and the
entire community needs to be involved.

Committee member: How does that look? How is that different from what was
done 10 days ago, from what we are doing now by inviting the entire community?

CM: Firming up the concept; is that likely to be the subject of the next community
meeting? Maybe there are other things that need to be happening at the same
time. Maybe we need to prioritize. When we say prioritize we are talking about
what the cmte is doing.

Committee member: We have a meeting on Monday May 9 at 9am for people


interested in being on the committee. I think when we say firm up concept we
mean firm it up enough to make a job description. The final firm up is at the end
of next year. I’m still not totally hearing what the parents are wanting in terms of
consultation. What do you want to feel that you have been thoroughly consulted?

CM: 5:00 p.m. meetings are too early for most parents. Please set meetings later
in the eve, 6:00 start at earliest.

CM: I think it’s that we get together and keep the ball rolling and keep talking
until we’re completely comforted that we have had full consultation.

CM: To me it looks like the committee meets once a week then meets with the
community once a month. The committee moves forward and boils down the
information that has been provided by the community then brought back to the
community once a month. It won’t be helpful to have everyone at every meeting
every time.

CM: In terms of the concept of “firming up the concept” I don’t like firm I like
fluidity. I’d like to “articulate the vision”. I think firming something up is not where
we want to go. We want to be flexible and move with what needs moving.

CM: I was wondering if possibly a survey from these discussions might be helpful.
This would provide strong and clear numbers to present to the SD.

Wendy is willing to do survey work.

CM: Can we use a blogspot to communicate?

Katarina will work on creating a blogspot for this.

There were requests for a facilitator at future meetings, “gives more people a
chance to speak and ask questions.”

Meeting adjourned at 7:02pm


Notes: Sherry Elwood District Superintendant of SD 71 will present to the Denman
Island community on Wednesday May 18th. Time, place and topic to be
determined at a later date. Please reserve the date.

Other volunteers
Charlie Johnston (DICES) willing to be involved.
Magdalene is willing to be involved in other capacities outside of the children’s
group.