During BCSTA’s Academy, which ran from November 29 through to December 1, the BC School Trustees Association (BCSTA) and the Ministry of Education (MoE) publicly signed an updated Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Association and the Ministry.
President Gordon Swan of the British Columbia School Trustees Association and the Province’s Minister of Education, the Honourable Rob Fleming, signed the document in front of an audience exceeding 500. Attendees of the event consisted mostly of trustees from throughout the province, but superintendents, secretary-treasurers and other key stakeholders in BC’s public education system were also on hand to witness the event.
The MOU acts as an agreement on collaboration, cooperation and communication between both organizations. Its primary objective is to define the relationship between both organizations as they work together to continue to improve BC’s K-12 public education system.
As part of BCSTA’s press release, Minister Rob Fleming was quoted as saying he was “honoured to sign the 2018 MOU with the BC School Trustees Association, which signifies our dedication to supporting students across BC. With a new focus on Indigenous education and improving student outcomes, I look forward to working with boards of education to make sure our students have the same opportunities for success no matter where they live.”
President Swan shared similar enthusiasm over the signing of the MoU, stating “It is of the highest importance that we reconfirm the relationship between BCSTA and the Ministry of Education through the signing of a new and updated memorandum of understanding. This agreement defines the working relationship between our Association and the Ministry as we work together to continue to improve BC’s K-12 public education system and put students first. I would also like to thank our membership for their contributions leading to the development of this updated MoU.”
The first MoU between BCSTA and the Ministry of Education was signed almost 20 years ago by Past-President Gordon Comeau and his board of directors. It was this board that first saw a need to better define BCSTA’s relationship with BC’s government, and led the charge on what has since become an important part of the Association’s relationship with government. The wording of the MoU has been updated at regular intervals to be reflective of both organizations’ current priorities, and it is intended that the MoU remain a ‘living document’ that, by mutual agreement, is updated at select points in time to reflect new priorities and emerging realities.
BCSTA’s current board echoes this sentiment, as it strongly believes it is crucial that the working relationship between the Association and the Ministry be reviewed and defined through such an agreement with the input of member boards of education being taken into full consideration. BCSTA’s Board of Directors would like to publicly thank all 60 of BC’s board of education for their numerous contributions during periods of consultation on the MoU’s updated wording, the contents of which accurately reflect the current climate and priorities of BC’s varied school districts.
As individual boards of education throughout the province have pre-existing, legislated co-governance relationships with the Ministry of Education in place to guide BC’s public education system, it is important to note that the MoU’s intent is to reconfirm the important role BCSTA has in working with the Ministry of Education. The updated MoU does this by establishing key understandings regarding collaboration, cooperation and communication, and does not act as a co-governance agreement between the Ministry and the Association.
While school boards are under attack in some other areas of our nation, BC continues to take positive steps forward in highlighting that local voices matter and that communities are best served by democratically elected boards acting with the best interests of their constituents in mind. BCSTA is appreciative of the provincial government’s continued support of public education in BC and is confident that the signing of this document will further strengthen BCSTA’s relationship with the Ministry of Education as both parties seek to improve the learning outcomes of all BC’s students.