The governance structure of the BCSTA includes several standing committees established to consider the organization’s business in a specific area and provide recommendations to the Association’s Board of Directors. The committees also provide members with opportunities to engage directly in BCSTA work and to provide perspectives from the membership.
BCSTA standing committees are formed by resolution on the AGM floor. Membership in, and terms of reference for, these committees is governed by bylaw. Current standing committees include:
- Credentials Committee
- Finance and Audit Committee
- Indigenous Education Committee
- Legislative Committee, and
- Professional Learning Committee
This month we are going to profile the work of the Legislative Committee. Overall, the Legislative Committee supports the governance of the BCSTA by reviewing motions and maintaining policies.
Roles and Responsibility
The major responsibility of the Legislative Committee is to ensure that motions from member boards, branch associations, BCSTA committees, and Provincial Council a) meet motion criteria set out in BCSTA bylaws for Provincial Council motions and late motions to AGM, and b) are clear and accurate to enable members to correctly focus on debating the substantive issues raised in motions. As noted in Bylaw 11(a), the committee’s process includes examining, amending, rejecting and reporting upon notices of motions submitted to the committee for consideration at the BCSTA’s AGMs and Provincial Council meetings.
It is important to note that all this work is done without assessing the merits of the motions submitted. Rather, the committee considers each motion and makes sure the intent is clear and the factual statements and assumptions are accurate. It may revise the wording to clarify intent. It assesses whether the motion meets the criteria established in BCSTA’s bylaws, especially with respect to motions submitted beyond the deadline established. The committee categorizes motions to help organize the decision-making process during the annual meetings. And, it consolidates motions where more than one motion is submitted with the same intent. Any changes the Legislative Committee proposes to make in this regard must be communicated to the body that submitted the original motion. According to policy, “should the Legislative Committee reject, consolidate, alter or in any other way amend the motion of any Board, it will notify the moving Board of its decision in writing and the Board shall have the right to challenge the Legislative Committee’s decision at the opening of the general meeting proceedings. In such a case, the Legislative Committee will provide the Legislative Committee’s rationale for its decision and then request the general meeting to sustain its decision” [Bylaw10(f)]. Further, “all the actions of the Legislative Committee with respect to notices of motion shall be subject to the approval of the membership at the general meeting or the meeting of the Provincial Council and the membership may, upon simple motions from the floor of the meeting, sustain the committee’s action, or refer back the notice of motion to the committee with special instructions” [Bylaw 11(a)].
Rick Price, Chair of the Legislative Committee and a member for some time says “Boards are usually happy to see the proposed changes. They want their motions to pass, and improving clarity assists by making the debate more focused on intent.”
The Legislative Committee also plays a supporting role, by offering workshops for trustees on forming motions. For example, at the BCSTA Trustee Academy in November 2018, the Legislative Committee hosted a workshop called Motion Writing for Everyone. In this session, the Legislative Committee and attendees reviewed the purpose of a motion and gave tips for how to write good a motion. The committee also developed a Motion Guide to further assist members in preparing motions. The presentation and guide are available for download by BCSTA members on the HUB.
Another important role the Legislative Committee plays in ensuring the Association’s policies are up-to-date. The committee may recommend changes to policies to the board of directors and subsequently to the membership. This role is outlined in Bylaw 23(b).
Importance of the Legislative Committee
It would be difficult for an Annual General Meeting to operate without the support and advance work of the Legislative Committee. The importance of getting motions to a state where the intent can be debated and where decisions made lead to clear direction is critical. As Carolyn Brady, board liaison to the Legislative Committee notes “Imagine the floor of an AGM where the intent of motions is unclear, or where there are several motions which say almost the same thing. The meetings would be longer for sure because time would have to be spent getting clear about what the motions mean. And, in the end the outcome would not give the board clear direction. It is essential that the Legislative Committee does the upfront work so the membership can deliberate on the floor without confusion.”
In its role on maintaining policy, the Legislative Committee is also very important. As the Association relies on policy for its guidelines and operations, it is essential that the policy remain relevant, current and accessible. The Legislative Committee work is critical to the ongoing operations of the BCSTA.
Annually, BCSTA solicits interest from the membership for participation on a variety of committees. Following the Annual General Meeting, the President considers requests submitted by volunteers and factors such as geographical representation, continuity, and renewal, and appoints membership to committees accordingly. Members of the Legislative Committee are appointed within thirty (30) days of the president assuming office. According to Association’s bylaws there must be at least three members on the committee, one of whom is a member of the BCSTA’s Board of Directors who assumes the role of liaison between the committee and board.
Current members of the Legislative Committee are:
- Rick Price, Chair, SD48 (Sea-to-Sky)
- Bob Holmes, Vice-Chair, SD36 (Surrey)
- Janet Fraser, SD39 (Vancouver)
- Ravi Parmar, SD62 (Sooke)
- Carolyn Broady, Board of Directors, SD45 (West Vancouver)
The committee elects a chair and vice-chair annually at the committee’s inaugural meeting. The committee meets in advance of meetings of the Association’s Provincial Council; in advance of general meetings; during general meetings; or at the call of the chair. It typically meets in person in advance of general meetings and during general meetings and conducts other meetings remotely.
The committee reports to the board of directors. The board’s committee liaison serves to keep the board of directors apprised of the committee’s work. The committee may also submit motions to the board of directors. The committee delivers oral reports to Provincial Council and the general assembly. The committee also submits an annual written report to the membership.
Audrey Ackah, Legal Counsel and Taya Bocking (Program Assistant, Legal) provide staff support to the Legislative Committee.