April 2015 Minutes

DPAC 13-04-2015 General Meeting Notes


Burnaby Central Secondary School
6011 Deer Lake Parkway
Burnaby, B.C.
DATE: April 13, 2015
TIME: 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm

Schools Attending:

Brentwood North:  Alpha, Aubrey, Montecito, Parkcrest, Westridge
Cariboo Lougheed:  Burnaby Mountain, Cameron, Stoney Creek, University Highlands
Central West:  Burnaby Central, Douglas Road, Morley, Moscrop, Cascade Heights, Chaffey-Burke
Kingsway South:  Burnaby South, Edmonds

District Staff:

Gina Niccoli-Moen – Superintendent; Wanda Mitchell – Assistant Superintendent; Heather Hart – Assistant Superintendent; Roberto Bombelli – Assistant Superintendent; Greg Frank – Secretary Treasurer; Roy Uyeno – Assistant Secretary Treasurer

Board of Education Trustees and their zones:

Ron Burton, Chair (Brentwood North); Harman Pandher, Vice-Chair (Central West); Larry Hayes (Cariboo Lougheed); Baljinder Narang (Kingsway South); Gary Wong (Brentwood North)

Regrets: Katrina Chen (Central West); Meiling Chia (Kingsway South)

DPAC Executive:

Jen Mezei, Chair (Cariboo Lougheed); Herman Louie, Treasurer (Central West); Kristin Schnider, Secretary (Cariboo Lougheed); Jocelyn Schonekess, Vice Chair (Brentwood North)

Regrets: Victoria Brenden, Member at Large (Brentwood North); Dave Dye, Member at Large (Cariboo Lougheed)

1. Welcome and Introductions

Before calling the meeting to session, two door prize draws were given or presented.

The Chair called the meeting to order at 7:05 PM and welcomed everyone. DPAC Chair Jen Mezei then introduced the District Staff, Board of Education Trustees and DPAC Executive members in attendance.

Jen began the meeting with some opening comments on the ongoing budget process. She noted that since the February DPAC general meeting several other meetings and consultations had taken place, including two partner group meetings as well as a public meeting on April 9. DPAC Executive members were in attendance at each of these meetings.

Jen further advised that at the public presentation, DPAC gave a presentation on our budget discussions and process underway. She then thanked the School District for including DPAC in the budget discussions and noted that the budget process actually takes longer than just the February to April period. Throughout the school year, the School District looks at District priorities and reviews input from parents. She added that this process also allows the District to look at longer-term initiatives and priorities.

2. Budget Update

Jen Mezei then welcomed Secretary Treasurer Greg Frank, who spoke to the attached budget presentation and provided additional information on the District’s budget process.

To begin, Greg Frank provided some background information on the School District’s sources of revenue and on the provincial funding formula. He noted that Burnaby has some additional sources of revenue available that allows the District to provide expanded services, such as international student fees, facility rental income, surplus revenues for previous school years, continuing education fees, etc. Greg further explained that when compared with other school districts and the provincial average, Burnaby generates more revenue through local initiatives and is therefore less reliant on the provincial grant. Nonetheless, the majority of the School District’s grants come from provincial grants through the Ministry of Education’s funding allocation system. Specifically, Burnaby receives $196M in operating grants or approximately 4% of the total provincial allocation.

Greg Frank went on to explain that Burnaby is still receiving less than the provincial average. In fact, Burnaby is the one of the lowest funded school districts. This is largely due to the fact that the funding formula is designed to direct more funds to the smallest school districts in the province.

Greg Frank then reviewed the expense classifications as provided by the provincial requirements, which include instruction, operation or maintenance, district administration, and transportation. He noted that in Burnaby more funding goes into instruction versus the provincial average. As a result there is also a lower allocation in the other three categories versus the provincial average. (See page 5 of the attached presentation).

In terms of timeline, Greg explained that the Burnaby Board of Education needs to submit an approved 2015-2016 Annual Budget to the Ministry of Education by April 30, 2015.  Therefore, the budget must be approved at the April 28 meeting of the Board of Education.

Greg then highlighted the key assumptions upon which the budget is built, which are provided on page 8 of the attached presentation. He noted that the additional FTEs recognizes the growth in special needs as well as the removal of the EA staffing from Learning Improvement Funds (LIF) funding.

Greg explained that the rules pertaining to the use of LIF will change in 2016, as stipulated by the Provincial Government. That new rules require school districts to use teachers to support the new learning improvement model rather than Education Assistants (EAs). That does not mean that Burnaby will stop using EAs. However, it does mean that the District has to shift the costs associated with these EAs into the operating budget. Overall that equates to fourteen less EAs under LIF funding and twelve more EAs charged to the operating budget (or a net loss of 2 EAs).

A parent asked if the loss of teachers realized through the necessary budget adjustments would be compensated through use of the LIF. Greg Frank answered that we wouldn’t know that information until the Board makes those decisions.

Greg Frank then reviewed the enrolment projections for 2015-2016, noting that the District was anticipating a slight decline in elementary students, whose enrollment have been declining for some time. However, the decline appears to be leveling off now. Consequently, the District is now anticipating decline in secondary enrolment, which will continue for a couple of years. (See pages 8 of the attached presentation for further detail on the enrolment numbers.)

A parent asked if the School District had statistics on private school enrolment in Burnaby and whether or not our decline in enrolment was due to demographic changes or if there was an increasing trend toward private schools. Greg answered that the number captures all factors that result in an enrolment decline; specific reasons for the decline are not tracked by this in this measure.

Another parent asked about the different areas under development in Burnaby and wondered the budget accounted for these. Greg Frank answered that the reality is there will always be the continual issue of shifting pressures across the District due to population changes and development.

Greg then moved on to explain the operating grant highlights as provided on page 9. He noted that the numbers provided are based on estimated enrolment. In the fall when actual numbers are available there may be additional funds that are currently being held back.

Greg Frank then spoke about the Provincial Government’s requirement that Districts reduce their administrative costs. He advised that the Province has given a fair amount of flexibility to school districts for their plans, which will be worked out in the coming months. Greg Frank then reiterated that the target budget adjustments for the 2015-2016 need to total at least $2.4M in savings to meet the shortfall, which accounts for the inclusion of surplus funds. In the 2016-2017 school year the overall budget needs to be reduced by an additional $6.033M unless Provincial funding changes.

After further discussion on revenues, Greg Frank reviewed the potential areas for budget adjustments. There are areas being investigated by the District; not all options will necessarily be included on the final list that the Board approves. A summary of these potential adjustments is available on page 14 of the attached presentation.

On the issues of reducing transportation and busing, Greg Frank clarified that the School District is looking at efficiencies that can be realized, not transferring the cost to parents, etc. Similarly, the reduction to the music program is based on realizing efficiencies in teacher travel time between schools, not reducing the program itself. The District will work with the music teachers to find these efficiencies.

Greg Frank then reviewed the expense additions anticipated in the 2015-2016 school year, which include a new robotics program with startup costs of $27K and $54K in startup costs for the new BCIT Health Sciences programs. Both new programs are seen as draws for new students and are expected to assist with increasing enrolment numbers.

A parent then asked if the 2015-2016 budget would include salary increases for non-union staff or if there is still a freeze in place for exempt staff compensation. Greg Frank answered that the freeze is still in place provincially.

Greg Frank went on to clarify that the administration savings School Districts have been tasked with finding are not allowed to impact students per the instruction from the Provincial Government. However, while funding cuts will be impactful on students; it’s the School District’s responsibility to ensure they are as minimal as possible. The Provincial Government has laid out the criteria for identifying these administrative savings and the Province will assess the savings. They want to ensure that the savings are real and sustainable.

Greg Frank went on to say that the Province didn’t look at how efficient School District already are when they announced the requirement for administrative savings, and are instead basing the operating grant allocation with an equal percentage applied to each school district that must be realized.

A parent asked why per student funding across the Province differs:  why doesn’t each student receive the same amount?  Greg Frank answered that all students receive the same amount within the detail of the funding formula. However, there are other factors within the formula that are taken into consideration such as transportation costs for rural or remote areas, heating costs in colder climates, and/or declining enrolment. Greg Frank further advised that the funding formula is necessarily weighted more heavily to smaller, rural districts, and those with an enrolment decline.

Trustee Gary Wong commented that media had suggested that administrative costs were around 7% in some school districts. In Burnaby our total costs is 2%. He then asked what school districts spend 7% of their operating grant on administrative costs. Greg answered that other components are used to calculate administrative costs, including school based and district office administration costs, facilities and maintenance administrative costs, and transportation administrative costs. Greg added that he wasn’t aware of any districts with a percentage that high, but knew the provincial average to be around 3.4 percent.

Several concerns were raised on the proposed reduction of secondary lab assistants. Parents wondered if this reduction would cause safety issues for students.

Assistant Superintendent Roberto Bombelli clarified that the lab assistant is not in the classroom, nor is s/he involved in classroom instruction or with students. The lab assistant helps order and manage supplies in the dispensary; the science teacher is the individual that sets up the classroom for lab experiments, etc. Therefore, student safety would not be compromised with this proposed adjustment.

Jocelyn Schonekess raised a concern regarding the use of taxis to transport sports teams to events. She wondered if there might be any savings to be realized by using parent drivers instead of taxis. Assistant Superintendent Roberto Bombelli answered that there’s an Athletic Director budget at each high school, which is used these types of expenses. He added that this only occurs when there aren’t enough parent drivers, noting that it’s not cost effective to rent a bus for all events. Jocelyn then asked who makes the decision on whether or not the hire taxi and whether or not they advise parents of the shortage of drivers prior to making that decision. Assistant Superintendent Bombelli answered that it is up to the individual coach to make that decision. However, he agreed that communication could be improved between parents and coaches to avoid these costs.

A parent then raised a concern regarding the number of staff resources there are for counselling in elementary schools. The parent noted that he had been advised the School District ratio for counsellors to elementary students in Burnaby was around 1 to 1,800 whereas the provincial ratio was around 1 counselor for every 500 students. Superintendent Niccoli-Moen clarified that counsellors are allocated by elementary school, but by zone based on population.

The parent then further commented that he’s aware the Burnaby School District does a lot in this area; however, he also recognizes that it doesn’t seem like Burnaby families have enough access to the resources required. Superintendent Gina Niccoli-Moen confirmed that the counsellor to elementary student ratio is currently 1:900. Further discussion ensued.

Given the discussion on the proposed expenditure reductions, Jen Mezei proposed that DPAC conduct a survey for parent feedback. The survey could allow parents to rank or prioritize the proposed budget adjustments, adding that it could go out to all parents and DPAC representatives via the listserve. Along with the survey, Jen stated that DPAC would provide an explanation for the proposed adjustments to avoid any confusion on the items. All agreed with the suggestion.

Jen Mezei then commented that the discussion from parents at the last DPAC general meeting was more on generating additional revenue versus reducing expenditures. Increasing enrolment was the main focus in that discussion as well as reducing the number of student that leave our district. She added that following the budget process there may a further opportunity for DPAC reps to discuss this matter further and investigate what draws there are in Burnaby for students and/or families.

3. DPAC Chair Report

Jen Mezei advised that she would be abbreviating her report given the time use for the previous agenda item. She advised that DPAC is looking into establishing a PAC handbook, including information provided in the PAC 101 workshop offered by DPAC each fall. Jen had already spoken with Superintendent Niccoli-Moen about this idea and they would be looking at developing best practices for PACs that could be contained in the handbook as well. Once the list of topics is confirmed, DPAC will be asking PAC chairs and DPAC reps for their input on the best practices.

Jen further reported that District’s Special Education Advisory Committee, which she sits on as a DPAC representative, is discussing students with a gifted designation. Currently under the Committee’s Terms of Reference students with a gifted designation are not included in the Committee’s mandate. However, the Committee is discussing whether or not to designate one meeting per year to discuss the special education requirements and concerns for this group of students.

Before concluding her report, Jen reminded DPAC reps that the BC Gaming grant application process begins April 1 and ends June 30. PACs must submit their applications within this timeframe to receive the $20 per student provincial funding grant. Further information is available at https://www.gaming.gov.bc.ca/grants/pacdpac.htm.

4. Upcoming PIEs and Events

BCCPAC is hosting two upcoming webinars on April 14 and April 21 at 7 PM. The webinars, presented by BCCPAC Treasurer Susan Wilson, are on PAC 101 and Treasurer training. Jocelyn encouraged all to attend and provide feedback.

Jocelyn Schonekess then reminded parents about the upcoming PIE at Burnaby Central Secondary at 7 PM on Wednesday, April 22. The PIE, “Identifying At-Risk Behaviours,” provides information for parents on how to keep your kids safe and avoid exploitation, including online and sexual. At this workshop, you’ll hear stories of youth who have experienced these issues and also have a chance to connect with local prevention experts. The PIE is being hosted in partnership with the Burnaby-New Westminster Taskforce on Sexually Exploited and At-Risk Youth. Pre-registration is required.

The BCCPAC Spring Conference and AGM are taking place May 1-3 at the Hilton Metrotown in Burnaby. Resolutions for the AGM are posted on BCCPAC. Jocelyn advised any parents wishing to discuss the resolutions are asked to email the DPAC Executive. Jocelyn added that if schools will not be sending a representative to the AGM, they can complete a proxy form to allow a DPAC representative to vote on their behalf. Information the resolutions and the proxy form is available at http://bccpac.bc.ca/sites/default/files/media/resolution_and_nomination_book.pdf.

For those parents interested in attend the AGM and spring conference, the Burnaby DPAC will cover 50% of the early-bird conference registration fees. Jocelyn then reminded parents that the early bird registration deadline is April 17. Further details are available on the BCCPAC website at http://www.bccpac.bc.ca/events/2015-bccpac-spring-conference-and-agm.

5. Meeting Adjournment

Before adjourning the meeting, the Chair advised that the next DPAC General meeting is scheduled for Monday, May 25 at 7 PM at Burnaby Central. Jen then adjourned the meeting at 9:06 PM and thanked all for attending.


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