November 2014 Minutes

DPAC 24-11-2014 General Meeting Minutes


Burnaby Central Secondary School
6011 Deer Lake Parkway
Burnaby, B.C.
DATE: November 24, 2014
TIME: 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm

Schools Attending: 

Brentwood North:  Alpha, Brentwood Park, Gilmore, Kitchener, Rosser, Burnaby North, Aubrey, Capitol Hill, Lochdale, Parkcrest
Cariboo Lougheed:  Burnaby Mountain, Lyndhurst, Seaforth, Second Street, Stoney Creek
Central West:  Burnaby Central, Douglas Road, Gilpin, Morley, Moscrop, Inman, Malborough
Kingsway South:  Burnaby South, Nelson, Edmonds

District Staff:

Kevin Kaardal, Superintendent of Schools; Gina Niccoli-Moen, Deputy Superintendent; Heather Hart, Assistant Superintendent; Roberto Bombelli, Assistant Superintendent;  Sarah Larsen

Board of Education Trustees and their zones:
Baljinder Narang, Chair (Kingsway South); Ron Burton (Brentwood North); Meiling Chia (Kingsway South); Larry Hayes (Cariboo Lougheed); Harman Pandher (Central West); Gary Wong (Brentwood North)

Trustee-Elect Katrina Chen

DPAC Executive:
Jen Mezei, Chair (Cariboo Lougheed); Dave Dye, Member at Large (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)

1. Welcome and Introductions
Before calling the meeting to session two door prize draws were made.
The Chair called the meeting to order at 7:03 PM and welcomed everyone. Jen then introduced the District Staff and Board of Education Trustees in attendance.

Jen announced DPAC Executives in attendance.

2. Sexual Orientation/Gender Identity Policy 5.45 – Policy Implementation Update from Sarah Larson and Roberto Bombelli
Assistant Superintendent Roberto Bombelli opened the discussion by providing a brief background on the School District’s Sexual Orientation/Gender Identity Policy 5.45. He advised that the policy was adopted in June 2011 after a year of development and consultation. Roberto then acknowledged that the School District has other policies that address discrimination and that the District is intent on keeping Burnaby schools safe for all students. The overall aim is to create and maintain an atmosphere of respect and safety for all students and staff.

Roberto went on to say that the Burnaby School District follows the Ministry-mandated curriculum and that Policy 5.45 does not change anything within the Ministry curriculum: prior to the implementation of the policy students already received lessons on inclusion and acceptance. That said, since the policy was passed, a committee has been struck that is tasked with communicating the policy with staff, assisting with how to apply the policy within the classroom and providing resources for staff.

On a larger scale, the committee also brings awareness to community LGTBQ events and campaigns, involving the School District in a number of activities such as the You Can Play campaign, Pink Shirt Day, the Vancouver Pride Parade, the Dare to Stand Out Conference, and the International Day Against Homophobia Gay Straight Alliance breakfast, etc.

Assistant Superintendent Roberto Bombelli then introduced Sarah Larsen. Sarah is the School District’s new 0.2 (one day per week) LGTBQ staff resource for District schools, and a teacher at Cameron Elementary. In her role, Sarah visits the District’s elementary schools and speaks with classes about the Ministry-mandated curriculum content regarding inclusion, respect, and learning about diversity. Also included within this curriculum are age-appropriate discussions on LGTBQ issues. Sarah then provided an overview of what the curriculum content looks like for the different age groups she meets with:

  • K – Grade 2: gender roles (typical and non-typical), what makes a family (diverse families in our communities
  • Grades 3 – 5: dangers of name-calling (including homophobic name-calling), stereotypical gender roles
  • Grades 6-7: healthy relationships (same-sex as well as heterosexual), LGTBQ definitions

Sarah also reviewed some of the resource books the District is using to communicate this curriculum with students. As with the curriculum the books reference age-appropriate discussions on inclusion and respect. Sarah further explained that she works with the students and also provides teachers with follow-up lessons to continue the work after she leaves.

Sarah then advised that the curriculum also allows for a discussion about people in the community with differing physical and mental abilities and how some individuals and groups in society haven’t always been treated fairly. This discussion is further linked with other classroom curriculum and subjects such as Canadian heroes like Rick Hansen, Japanese internment camps during Remembrance Day/WWII study, voting rights, etc.

Sarah then called for questions.

A parent asked for clarification on whether or not the materials and information presented to elementary students was appropriate. Sarah answered that the Ministry curriculum does not begin with a full conversation on sexual orientation. Instead, the curriculum begins with a conversation regarding the diversity of family compositions already present within the student population, such a single parent families, multi-generational families with grandparents, two parent opposite-sex families and same-sex families, etc.

Roberto reiterated that these discussions are part of the existing curriculum and have not been added to or changed by the policy. What Sarah does provide are additional resources and support to teachers for the delivery of this curriculum.

After some further discussion, a common questions from parents was whether or not the information discussion gave consideration to different cultural beliefs that some families in Burnaby have. Assistant Superintendent Roberto Bombelli addressed questions by confirming that the School District is cognizant of the differing cultural beliefs within the community. He added that in Burnaby we respect families and the diverse views held. To date, a number of schools have received visits from Sarah and no concerns have been voiced. However, if a parent does have any concerns regarding this discussion of the Ministry curriculum they are advised to raise them with the teacher and the school administrator.

After further discussion, Jen Mezei thanked both Sarah Larsen and Roberto Bombelli for their presentation.

3. Chevron’s Fuel Your School Program
Jen then provided parents with an update on Chevron’s “Fuel My School” program, which ran in Burnaby during the month of November. At the time of the DPAC meeting, 14 Burnaby schools were participating in the program with 29 teachers submitting applications. As a result there was around $100,000 in unallocated revenues still available through the program ($1 was donated from each gas sales of 30 L or more at Chevrons in Burnaby during the month of November). The grant application deadline has been extended until December 31 to allow individual Burnaby teachers to apply for up to $1,000 in funds for classroom equipment and resources. Originally grant applications were intended to be focused on science and math; however, given small number of applications that have been received to date, the program is now accepting grant applications more generally from teachers.

A parent asked if the DPAC Executive had provided any input for the School District’s decision to participate in the program. Jen answered that the Executive had been consulted. She added that before the Executive consented, it was clarified that no letters would be sent home with parents and there would be no advertising to students in schools, etc.

Another parent then asked if PACs can apply for the program grants. Jen advised that the program application process is only open to teachers.

Superintendent Kaardal noted that the grant application is administered through a third-party charitable organization, My Class Needs. Superintendent Kaardal added that because of the nature of the District’s policy regarding work with corporations, they were able to negotiate with Chevron that there would not be any requirement for students or grant recipients to submit photos or thank you letters after the equipment was received, and that any such decision in that regard was solely up to the teacher. Superintendent Kaardal then emphasized that the School District is not requiring teachers to apply for grants; there is no pressure from principals for teachers to participate in the program.

Several other Lower Mainland School Districts have decided to participate in the program including Coquitlam, Surrey, North Vancouver and West Vancouver. Superintendent Kaardal then stressed that the Burnaby Board gave great consideration to project first before deciding to proceed, ensuring that students would not be used for marketing or advertising purposes.

Another parent then asked who would own any equipment purchased with grant funds. Does the individual teacher or the School District have ownership? Superintendent Kaardal answered that the grant funds are given to the school so the equipment would belong to the school, not the teacher. However, it could remain with the teacher insofar as the teacher is teaching in the Burnaby School District.

4. BCCPAC Conference Report
The Chair reported that the BCCPAC Fall Leadership Conference took place November 21-23 at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre in Nanaimo, BC that five parents from Burnaby attended.

Before addressing the individual workshops attending, Jen reviewed the Classroom Resource Fund framework that the BCCPAC is advocating for. Jen added that she had sent reference material out via email in advance of this meeting. Essentially, the BCCPAC is looking at developing a resource framework to support two resolutions that were passed at last year’s BCCPAC AGM. Those resolutions spoke to protected funding for the local-end process to address classroom needs not met under the current funding formula and the establishment of a supplemental funding framework developed through collaboration with teachers, parents, administration and staff. The supplemental funding would be solely for optimizing the learning conditions in the classroom.

Jen commented that some Burnaby parents at the conference noticed that BCCPAC’s proposed framework is very similar to how Burnaby administers the LIF funding. What this this demonstrates is that we are very fortunate to have the LIF consultation process in Burnaby that was very ‘classroom-up’ in its design; many other School Districts in the province do not have any mechanism for parents to provide input on funding that provide additional classroom supports.

Jen then encouraged DPAC reps to have their PACs to look into BCCPAC membership if they are interested in being involved in the discussion with BCCPAC regarding the Classroom Resources Fund framework. The deadline for BCCPAC membership registrations is December 15, 2014.

Jocelyn provided a report on the workshops she attended that the conference. Jocelyn attended the LearnNowBC workshop, which reviewed the content they have available on their website. She added that it’s actually something that DPAC is looking at getting more information on for parents and PACs in Burnaby. Jocelyn also attended two workshops with Gary Anaka, who talked about brain wellness for parents and teenagers. The other workshop Jocelyn attended was one put on by the Ministry of Education regarding the accountability framework they’re working on.

Jen also attended the accountability framework workshop. She added that they the Ministry will be conducting some consultation with parents as they work through the draft. Jen then went on to talk about another workshop she attended regarding the new Ministry curriculum and 21 Century Learning. The workshop addressed the new curriculum draft for grades 10 through 12 along with proposed changes to the assessment model. Jen reported that parents voiced concerns about what impact will changes to the assessment model have for students who are looking to attend universities outside of British Columbia and outside of Canada. The speakers acknowledged these concerns and answered that all changes being considered are part of an international conversation with other jurisdictions. Moreover, the Ministry will not do anything to jeopardize the academic futures for students in B.C.

Kristin then reported on the workshops she attended. Of note, Kristin attended a workshop with Kevin Cameron who is a therapist and internationally acclaimed specialist who develops violence risk assessment protocols for schools and communities. The workshop looked at these violence threat risk assessment (VTRA) protocols and how they can be effectively developed for school districts and their communities. Essentially they are multi-disciplinary protocols that are enacted whenever there is a threat within the school. Once enacted the protocol is designed to address the threat, be it credible or not, in a timely and appropriate manner and intervene to prevent any violent acts.

Kristin then advised that she briefly spoke with Deputy Superintendent Gina Niccoli-Moen about this and confirmed that Burnaby is in the process of drafting its own VTRA protocol that does involve other community partner groups, including the RCMP and Youth Community Services, etc.

5. Committee Reports
Policy Committee – Jen reported that the policy committee is currently reviewing a draft policy regarding emergency preparedness. Jen noted that this is an area the many PACs are already actively engaged in. As such, once the draft is finalized and put forward by the Board it will be sent out to PACs and SPCs. Jen then encouraged parents to review the draft and provide feedback so that their input can be considered in the final draft.

Youth and Community Services – Kristin reported that this November, the District will again have all grade four students participate in the Middle Years Development Index (MDI). The MDI is a self-report survey for grade four students that helps the District obtain information about their lives inside and outside of school with the aim of using the data to inform practice and finding ways to promote positive development.

The survey assesses five dimensions of the children’s well-being: social emotional development; feelings of connectedness to school, family, friends and communities; school experiences; physical health and well-being; and time use during the after school hours.

Once the surveys are completed, the student response will be analyzed by the Human Early Learning Partnership (HELP) at UBC and the Districts will receive results that can be shared with the community.

DTAC – Dave advised the Shaw Open network are being installed in all Burnaby schools at no cost to the School District. The advantage of having the free wifi networks is that some students and staff can use the service in lieu of the School District’s wifi. Dave added that the Shaw Open networks are not intended to replace the District’s networks but rather provide an alternate network for students and staff to use for their personal devices. This will decrease downtime and overloading of the District’s network, which currently occurs with the large number personal devices connecting to the District’s network. At present, the majority of elementary schools are already complete; high schools will receive the Shaw Open networks next.

Buildings and Grounds – Dave reported that there are three earthquake improvement projects underway at Burnaby North, Alpha and Montecito. All three are working their way through the Ministerial process. These are consecutive, multi-year processes, which began with Burnaby North. Currently, Burnaby North has made its way through the Ministry of Education process and it is now being reviewed by the Ministry of Finance. Once that project is complete, Alpha will begin followed by Montecito.

6. New Business/Q&A/Show and Tell
Burnaby South High School will be hosting a parent education evening with speaker Colleen Drobrot of the Neufeld Institute in February. The evening will be on communications with teens. Once details are finalized they will be sent out to DPAC reps.

A parent then raised a concern from parents at her school. Recently her school began sharing custodial services with another school and a number of problems have been realized. She wanted to know how the District came to the decision to begin sharing a custodian between schools. Superintendent Kaardal answered that the decision for the current custodial pilot was based on a recommendation from staff to the Board of Education. The aim of the recommendation was to maintain service in schools, ensure safe and clean schools, and – at the same time – keep money in classroom for instruction in light of the budget shortfall. Superintendent Kaardal went on to say that by making some budget adjustments across all kinds of areas of the District, including custodial services, the School District has been able to maintain almost all of our District programs in a time when funding is a challenge.

Superintendent Kaardal acknowledged that the custodial pilot has experienced some challenges, largely due to staff shortages for backfilling absences. This District is aware of these challenges and they have held a number of meetings with facility staff and School District staff to find ways to improve the model and ensure that it works.

Dave Dye then asked if parents have concerns on this matter where should they be directed. Superintendent Kaardal answered that concerns should be discussed with school principals. He then reiterated that the maintenance adjustments are still a work in progress. The School District is working to resolve them. Superintendent Kaardal then thanked parents for their patience with this matter.

The parent then raised a specific concern from parents at her school regarding the pilot: the concern centres on the principal and teachers using their time to address cleaning issues in the school. Superintendent Kevin Kaardal answered that this is not part of the model that the District wants to move forward. However, the model that the School District is supporting is still very rich relative to other school districts in Metro Vancouver where principals are assuming some custodial responsibilities. Burnaby is not intending to head in that direction; we’re building a model that works for Burnaby that continues to allow us to retain as many programs as we can with the budgetary constraints we have.

Jen then reminded the DPAC reps that this spring we will be talking about the budget again. She added that having the ability to discuss the budget at a DPAC meeting allows us to provide input on the decisions regarding budget adjustments, etc. Jen then commented that in the past DPAC has been supportive of the Board’s decision to maintain funding for classroom and student supports while making some adjustments to other areas in the budget. She added that it has been really difficult over the last few years with the funding challenges we have. This situation is not unique to Burnaby. In fact, it speaks to BCCPAC resource funding model that they are advocating for.

7. Meeting Adjournment
Before adjourning the meeting, the Chair advised that the next DPAC General meeting will take place January 26 at Burnaby Central at 7 PM. Further details will follow. Jen then adjourned the meeting at 8:48 PM and thanked all for attending.




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