Powell River Board of Education briefs: March 2020

Learning Innovation Team; Five-year capital plan; BC Tripartite Education Agreement

Learning Innovation Team

At the Powell River Board of Education trustees meeting on March 11, Kristen Brach, district principal of learning and innovation, provided an update on the Learning Innovation Team’s recent work with kindergarten teachers.

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“All the district’s kindergarten teachers were at our last meeting,” Brach said. “They are very happy with the direction our discussions have gone, and we have a working model for assessment and gradual entry for next year.”

A group of kindergarten teachers had approached the board about increasing the gradual entry period. By working with the team, the teachers have developed a framework within which each individual school will formulate a gradual entry plan that meets the needs of their school community, but will generally allow for a gradual entry for kindergarten students over two weeks. There will be a district brochure created that outlines each school’s approach for the coming year.

The team also reached an agreement on student assessments for the 2020/2021 academic year. In the past, a teacher has been sent to schools in the spring to assess the basic skills of children registered for the coming year in order to determine if additional supports may be required. “Many kindergarten teachers have expressed interest in doing the assessments themselves,” said Brach, “so we have worked together to revamp this model and make it more modern and authentic.” Starting this spring, if a teacher wishes, he or she can assess the students themselves, and the district teacher will act as a substitute teacher while they do so. 

Five-year capital plan

The Ministry of Education has approved the district’s five-year capital plan, and the board voted at the March 11 meeting to proceed with the approved projects.

The projects fall under the ministry’s School Enhancement Program, Carbon Neutral Capital Program, Building Envelopment Program, Playground Equipment Program, and Bus Acquisition Program. Over the next five years, Brooks Secondary School will see lighting and electrical system upgrades, as well as a new roof; Edgehill Elementary School will receive electrical system upgrades as well as a solar power system; Texada Elementary School will receive a new roof; and there will be a new accessible playground at Kelly Creek Community School. The school district will also purchase at least one new school bus.

BC Tripartite Education Agreement

The board held a brief discussion on the British Columbia Tripartite Education Agreement (BC TEA) and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). 

“We have a lot of things going on and a lot of resources developed at the school level with regard to indigenous education,” said superintendent of schools Dr. Jay Yule. “What we don’t have right now is a plan to implement UNDRIP at the board level, which will come up at the AGM in April.”

Trustee Jackie Timothy shared his experience attending similar discussions at the Vancouver School Board, and encouraged the board to organize a talking circle to look at the changes and impacts in a different light. “We should be focused on making changes in the right places,” he said.

Chair Aaron Reid shared some of her experiences at the Vancouver Island School Trustees Association meeting in Nanaimo, including that the Nanaimo trustees are able to greet others in the local indigenous language. Reid indicated that she had a personal goal of learning greetings in the local language before the end of term. Timothy responded by providing a short language lesson in greetings and responses, for which the board expressed its gratitude.

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