Board News May 25, 2021

May 24, 2021



Superintendent’s Reports

Superintendent’s Report – Annual Truth and Reconciliation Update

Aboriginal Education Principal Mike Pue provided an update on the work the District is doing in meeting Truth and Reconciliation commitments. He opened by noting the work is guided by the First People’s principles. As he explained, Reconciliation begins with oneself, knowing one’s history, and knowing what actions can be taken. The presentation focused on two examples of actions in progress.

The first portion of the presentation highlighted a “Learning through Story” book club. Two District teachers Lesley Gunning and Devon Stokes-Bennett shared their experiences and explained how they got the book club started. Gunning says they first created guiding goals for their club. They researched and read a lot of books throughout the process, established a working group, developed a purpose, and chose the books. There were 28 participants in year 1 and 25 participants in year 2. The group met regularly and had thoughtful discussions. Each teacher involved received a grant to purchase Indigenous resources to take back to do their own learning or for their classroom. Devon Stokes-Bennet said the response was successful and teachers and staff from other District departments outside of teaching took part. To measure outcomes, they surveyed participants and the feedback was positive. The two teachers outlined many lessons learned. Through this work they recognized the importance of the calls to action – sharing information and best practices on teaching curriculum related to Residential Schools and Aboriginal History. They also were able to identify teacher-training needs.

To close their presentation, they introduced the District’s Digital Library which they noted was robust and contained e-books and audiobooks. They gave recommendations on some of the books they covered in the last year. They also shared instruction on downloading an app which gives members of the school District community access to these books.

The second portion of the presentation highlighted the hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ language being taught in classes. Sesmelot, who is the District’s hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ language teacher, outlined how she engages students through games, songs, with a focus on oral language. She demonstrated one of the games with Board members. She mentions language revitalization is now a part of the Aboriginal Education Program. One of the activities she has completed recently included teaching principal, Shawn Davids, how to do a welcome in hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ language. She noted this video recording as well as a long list of other resources are posted on the District’s dedicated page to hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ language. Sesmelot remarked on how her teaching is not just about language, but about identity and culture, which is vital to Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students.

In closing, Mike Pue provided student feedback in relation to work that is underway regarding the Distrct’s Truth and Reconciliation journey. He expressed that overall students had a desire to learn the language of the land, to have a greater understanding and connection to culture, to have a unique learning opportunity, and to learn language revitalization. He encouraged everyone to do their own work in understanding shared history and creating actions towards Reconciliation.

The Board approves the report as presented. The video above will begin on this agenda item.

Summer Session 2021

Summer Session Principal Ron Stare began his presentation making connection between our District vision and the purpose of Summer Session. He gave a brief overview of programming that ran last year which was impacted by COVID-19. Despite the change in number of students and delivery, Summer Session was successful for most students and staff. Stare explained registration opened later this year as the District was waiting to hear COVID-19 protocols. Changes for this year include limited capacity and registration only open to SD35 students and Langley residents. As of this week, there are 1700 registrations at the elementary and middle level and more than 930 for secondary level. Despite challenges with COVID-19, he mentioned they can deliver diversity in programming and variety of explorations, for example at the middle school level: Computational Thinking and Coding, Maker Explorations/Jr. Trades, and Woodworking for Girls. Stare noted two secondary sites will be used this year including LSS and REMSS and site-specific programs include “Youth at Risk” Programs. He noted classes begin on July 5.

Recommendation: That the Board of Education receives the report on Summer Session 2021 for information, as presented.

The Board approves the report as presented. The video above will begin on this agenda item.

Secretary-Treasurer’s Report

2021-2022 Annual Budget Bylaw (First and Second Reading)

Brian Iseli, Secretary-Treasurer, presented the 2021-2022 Annual Budget to the Board.

Similar to last year, he says this has been a challenging year budget wise due to the impacts of COVID-19. He gave an overview of various Budget assumptions for the next school year. Some examples include the projected decline in ISP students to 625 and smaller number of students enrolled in Summer Session than previous years. Larger expenses costing the District include benefit changes, collective agreement increase for teachers and CUPE, Admin and exempt wage increases, staff and costs associated to the opening of Donna Gabriel Robins Elementary. The District’s budget bylaw is $274,810,378 for the 2021-2022 school year.

Iseli provided breakdowns in numbers for the following financial categories: Operating Funds, Revenues, Grants, Tuition Revenue, Operating Expenses by Source. He noted 90 per cent of operating expenses are spent on salary and benefits, which have seen increases in the last year. He also talked about examples of local capital purchased from the Operating Fund.

The District is at a deficit budget of $3.3 million, meaning the District will be using $3.3 million of the accumulated surplus to balance the 2021-2022 budget. Iseli commented on how the Federal and Provincial COVID-19 grants from this year helped but at this point there is no indication they will be in place next year.

To close the presentation, Iseli explained the process moving forward which includes first and second reading at tonight’s meeting, and third reading at the next Regular Board Meeting. He also announced the District is hosting a Virtual Budget Open House for the public. It is an opportunity for members of the community to have their questions answered and provide feedback to the District.

The Board recommended the following motions:

Recommendation: That the School District No. 35 (Langley) 2021/2022 Annual Budget Bylaw in the amount of $274,810,378 be given first reading.

Recommendation: That the School District No. 35 (Langley) 2021/2022 Annual Budget Bylaw in the amount of $274,810,378 be given second reading.

The Board approved all of the above motions. The video above will begin on this agenda item.

New Business

Trustee Comments

Question Period