Following the BCSTA AGM in 2018, the Board of Directors approved a Strategic Plan, an element of which under the Advocacy goal is to: “Create specific working groups in support of achieving our advocacy goals and addressing the major identified themes (including consideration of involvement with partner groups and external organizations).”

Establishing Working Groups

The plan was to focus time and attention on strategic ways for the BCSTA to advance the actions identified in member resolutions.  Although, where appropriate, letters regarding the resolutions had been sent to government officials, more intensive attention through the working groups was a proactive approach to follow up on the directions proposed.

Aligning with the key themes from the AGM, there were six working groups created:

  • Capital Working Group
  • Finance Working Group
  • Indigenous Education Committee Working Group
  • Post Secondary Working Group
  • Student Initiatives Working Group
  • Student Mental Health Working Group

Members were assigned to the Working Groups and resources were allocated.  

Terms of reference were:

  1. Review motions adopted at the 2018 AGM as assigned
  2. Make recommendations to the Board of Directors as to how the Association might best achieve the specific desired outcomes
  3. Make any additional recommendations to the Board of Directors regarding additional issues or initiatives related to the specified motion goals
  4. Produce a summary report to the Board of Directors regarding the work of the Group and its recommendations by no later than March 1, 2019

Motions from the 2018 AGM were considered, but the Working Groups had the latitude to include related motions from the previous three AGMs as well.  The working groups reported to the BCSTA Board in March.  

Capital Working Group

Members of the Capital Working Group were:

  • Donna Sargeant (BCSTA Board of Directors)
  • Kathleen Karpuk (Trustee, SD 73, Kamloops-Thompson)
  • Estrellita Gonzalez (Trustee, SD 39, Vancouver)
  • Dawn Lang (Trustee, SD 8, Kootenay Lake)
  • Greg Frank (BC Association of School Business Officials and Secretary Treasurer for SD 36, Surrey)

The group reviewed recent resolutions plus those the group chose to address from previous AGMs.  The members were assisted in their deliberations by Dave Byng, former Deputy Minister, in a consulting capacity.  He helped the group identify a strategic set of actions based on his extensive knowledge of government, especially in the area of capital planning.  In summary, the group recommended next steps to be taken:

  • Establish a BCSTA position and business case for change
  • Solicit formal support from key partners
  • Engage government in a meaningful dialogue about how the proposed changes to policy could be advanced.

In total there are 14 recommendations, including those related to strategic partnerships, communication and tactics such as developing position papers and identifying areas of government direction that are parallel to BCSTA priorities. The areas of policy in which specific changes are proposed are: capital program slippage, early learning and daycare, area/space formula, portable classrooms, school site land acquisition, use of school district funding for capital projects, energy saving initiatives and lifecycle funding for maintenance.

The BCSTA Board of Directors adopted the recommendations of the Capital Working Group at their meeting on March 7, 2019.

Finance Working Group

Members of the Finance Working Group were:

  • Carolyn Broady (BCSTA Board of Directors)
  • Gordon Swan (President, BCSTA)
  • Mike Roberts (CEO, BCSTA

The group considered eight recommendations concerning: support for vulnerable students, funding for assessment and intervention, funding student technology in school, rural education enhancement funding, newly created employer health tax, funding formula and K-12 enrolment audits, review of the funding formula report, education funding model.   They reviewed several government documents to see where there might be areas of common purpose that could increase chances of affecting change, including election platforms, throne speeches, budget speeches, BC strategic plans, Ministry of Education Mandate letter and MOE service plans.

In summary, the group’s recommendations are to:

  • Focus on 2-3 priorities OVERALL (capital, financial AND other)
  • Look for quick and easy “wins” where we will have a greater chance of success
  • Prioritize items that align with government, cabinet and ministry priorities. Aligning our goals helps us support government and the ministry can assist us in moving our priorities forward.

Strategically, the group recommends setting priorities and developing strategies to move those forward, creating opportunities for member boards to help develop strategic advocacy, creating strategic partnerships, and continuing to build relationships with various ministries.

The BCSTA Board of Directors adopted the recommendations of the Finance Working Group at their meeting on March 7, 2019.

Indigenous Education Committee Working Group

Members of the Indigenous Education Committee Working Group were:

  • Cyndi Gerlach, Co-Chair (SD 44 North Vancouver)
  • Rick McKamy, Co-Chair (SD 74 Mission)
  • Erin Evans (SD 60 Peace River North)
  • Larry Ransom (SD 70 Alberni)
  • Alvin Azak (SD 92 Nisga’a)
  • Frank Johnson (SD 49 Central Coast)
  • Nancy Rempel (SD 74 Gold Trail)
  • Rebecca Barley (SD 48 Sea to Sky)
  • Tim Bennett (BCSTA Director)
  • Matt Taylor (BCSTA Staff)

The group considered six motions from the 2018 AGM.  These included those on Aboriginal enrolment for Aboriginal programs, support for Aboriginal students, Indigenous language development, letters of permissions for Indigenous language instructors, equity in Indigenous funding and Jordan’s Principle.  Specific recommendations included:

  • Refer the motion on the enrolment audit back to the IEC to follow up and get a better understanding of the scope of the concern, then report back to the BCSTA Board of Directors, and continue to engage the MOE regarding flexibility for enrolment audits
  • Advocate to the Ministry to recognize and celebrate district innovations to enhance learning that include non-indigenous students.
  • Refer the motion on support for Aboriginal students to the Trustees on the BC Funding Model Review Working Groups to advocate for the funding in the new model, and look for ways to collaborate with the K-12 working group.
  • Work with FNESC and other education partners on advocacy for Indigenous languages, and to urge CSBA to advocate for additional funding for Indigenous languages for public schools.
  • Refer the motion on the letters of permission back to the IEC to follow up and get a better understanding of the scope of the concern, then report back to the BCSTA Board of Directors, and to respond individually to member boards if they struggle with letters of permission.
  • Refer the motion on Jordan’s Principle back to the IEC to follow up and get a better understanding of the scope of the concern, then report back to the BCSTA Board of Directors.

The IEC Working Group also asked the Board of Directors to consider developing a one-page document regarding membership on committees, ensure future IEC appointments maintain mix of Indigenous and Non-Indigenous trustees, and to consult with Committee Co-Chair on next new appointments to the IEC.

The BCSTA Board of Directors adopted the recommendations of the Indigenous Education Committee Working Group at their meeting on March 7, 2019.

Post Secondary Working Group

Members of the Post Secondary Working Group were:

  • Stephanie Higginson (BCSTA Board of Directors)
  • Carolyn Broady (BCSTA Board of Directors)

The group reviewed two motions.  The first was on the development of standards of practice for education assistants by the BC Ministry of Education.  In reviewing this recommendation, the group noted that BCPSEA and CUPE BC have been working together on this issue and had written to the MOE in September 2016 with recommendations.  The Ministry has not taken action.  The group recommends that the BCPSEA and CUPE BC work together on standards that could be adopted and monitored at a district level.  They further recommend that future motions of a BCPSEA nature be brought forward to the BCSPSEA at their AGM.

The second motion was about providing more local teacher education programs to enhance recruitment and encourage Indigenous teachers to stay and work in rural and remote communities.  The group recommends a meeting with Advanced Education and the Teacher’s Council to better understand and explore the issues.  They suggested that measures such as loan forgiveness, housing allowance and long-term employment bonuses (addressed through bargaining) might support the intent of the motion. They also recommend to monitor and expand if successful the creation of 15 Indigenous teacher training spots at VIU Duncan, and to encourage teachers in this program to teach in rural and remote communities as noted above.

The BCSTA Board of Directors adopted the recommendations of the Post Secondary Working Group at their meeting on March 7, 2019.

Student Initiatives Working Group

Members of the Student Initiative Working Group were:

  • Tim Bennet (Board of Directors)
  • Barb Hopson (SD 43 Coquitlam)
  • Bill MacFarlane (SD 19 Revelstoke)
  • Laurae McNally (SD 36 Surrey)
  • Teri Ferworn (SD 20 Kootenay Columbia)

During the 2018 AGM, the Association adopted a number of motions related to student focused initiatives. All were directed at support or enrichment opportunities for students.  The group considered seven motions on: voting age for School Trustee Elections, framework for support for student voice, student trustees and advisory councils in School Act, rural school participation in BC School Sports, Coalition for Healthy School Food, education about consent, and education regarding cannabis use.  The group conducted a survey of districts to find out what strategies they use to include student voice in board of education matters. The group also contacted school districts to find out what the challenges were with BC School Sports.

The group recommended a number of actions be taken, including:

  • Follow up with government as the next election gets closer regarding changing the voting age, engage with UBCM for joint advocacy on the issue and encourage distracts to bring the issue to the attention of student trustees and advisory councils.
  • BCSTA create and distribute a one-page handout with tips and ideas to engage student voice, provide a summary of findings from the survey on student voice to all school districts, request the PLC to offer workshops on student voice and feature districts that are successful with engaging student voice in a BCSTA publication.
  • Monitor the current situation with respect to student trustees and get involved if and when there are Ministry of Education challenges with student voice structures.
  • Provide to the BCSTA representative on BC School Sports, the challenges collected in the survey noted above.
  • Distribute information about the Coalition for Healthy School Foods to all member boards, encourage members to revisit policy on the matter of healthy schools, support government’s healthy meals policy when it is unveiled and urge CSBA to support the Coalition for Healthy School Foods.
  • Engage with BCTF to determine if consent is not clearly defined as a key concept in curriculum, and if there is a concern, to send a joint letter with the BCTF to the MOE.
  • Encourage member boards to engage with local health authorities to access materials on youth and cannabis use and encourage conversations with local health authorities, local governments and others to implement education program in their community.

The BCSTA Board of Directors adopted the recommendations of the Student Initiatives Working Group at their meeting on March 7, 2019.

Student Mental Health Working Group

The members of the Student Mental Health Working Group were:

  • Moyra Baxter (SD23 Central Okanagan)
  • Laura Dixon (SD 37 Delta)
  • Jen Mezie (SD 41 Burnaby)
  • Raymond Raj (SD82 Coast Mountain)
  • Margot Swinburnson (SD 61 Sooke)

The group considered three motions from the 2018 AGM.  They concerned supporting the recommendations in the Select Standing Committee on Children and Youth (Child and Youth Mental Health in BC: Concrete Actions for Systemic Change); requesting Ministries of Education, Children and Family, Mental Health and Addictions, and Health, along with boards and stakeholders from K-12 develop a student-centred mental health strategy; and, calling on the Ministries of Education, Children and Family Development, Public Safety, and Mental Health and Addictions work together to develop a gender-based violence prevention strategy.

One set of recommended actions of the group were for BCSTA to write to the Ministers of Education and Mental Health and Addictions to request clarity about their respective roles and responsibilities; confirm our common goal to focus on mental health, early intervention and prevention and a coordinated system of care; ask to be included to work alongside the Ministries; and, to advocate for a web-based system to share best practice and initiatives, supported by the Ministries of Education and Mental Health ad Addictions.

The second set of recommendations included inviting the Ministries of Education and Mental Health and Addictions to present structures that exist to support student mental health and wellness, help trustees understand their governance role in their work and identify how we could work with superintendents to seek evidence of policy and funding decision that make a difference, build on themes of systems change and leadership from the 2019 conference on School Mental Health, and develop space for resources and contacts on the BCSTA HUB.

The BCSTA Board of Directors deferred the discussion of the report of Mental Health Working Group to their meeting on April 25, 2019.

Following the 2019 AGM, the new board of directors will be reviewing the initial year’s work to determine if and how working groups will be used in 2019/2020.  Your feedback on the work to date would be most welcome.  Directors are always looking for feedback from members as to the success of such initiatives.