Last Tuesday I had the privilege of attending the first board meeting for MHPSD since the elections. I initially stated that it started at 6pm, and then after checking the agenda, corrected myself, and said it started at 6:15pm. That was apparently actually a mix up on the agenda, as I arrived at 6:15pm and the meeting had already started. I unfortunately missed the Board recognition section of the meeting.
The overall flow of the meeting was pretty standard. The first item discussed was a band field trip to Disney Park. It was approved in principle. It appeared to me to be a well organized proposal, and I think the kids will have a great opportunity, should it receive final approval.
There was then a ‘district milestones update’, and then they got into the meat of the meeting. The policy update recommendations for student fees and special needs education. The student fees policies were updated to align with Bill 1, and it was noted by the Secretary that further updates are likely to follow, as the NDP have indicated that they wish to make further changes to school fees. The details of which are as yet not known. Massini noted that he had some “editorial comments, that he would give to the secretary in private.” (Why would editorial comments need to be in private?)
Forbes also noted that she would like to see the fees policies completely re-written, rather than keep amending them. This makes sense to me, and the Board seems to all agree, but they are going to wait until all the changes from Edmonton have been completed, and use amendments as a stop gap until that time. Forbes elaborated a bit on what she foresaw in changes to the wording of the policies, in regards to the section having to do with special needs.
Forbes stated that “Special Needs Education” should be called “Special Rights Education”, because these children have special rights to education. I did a bit of a Spock face to that comment, as it seemed rather Animal Farmesq. It brought to mind the quote from Animal Farm by George Orwell that says “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”
Now, I do think that children with special needs, do have special accommodations do to their particular circumstances, but I am unaware of any rights that they have that other students do not. I also do not have 20 years of experience on the board, so perhaps I am missing something. I’m a bit too cynical to draw my own conclusions, as to whether these wording changes would be helpful or not to the special needs policy in MHPSD, so I’ve put a poll at the bottom, so that you can let me know how you feel about it.
After approving the revisions to policy 650, the second in a series of “accountability” reports. These reports are based on the results of survey questions asked of staff, students, and parents, on where the district stands on various metrics. The results for this report are in the attachment documents for the agenda, and are fairly self explanatory, however how sampling was taken, and what questions were asked is not available. This may have been given in September’s report, but I was not at that meeting. I would be really curious as to how sampling was conducted.
There was a brief discussion on nominations for various committees, (those elections have not happened yet,) and then it was into a presentation from Student services. The student services presentation focused on special needs….I mean special rights education. The bulk of the discussion was around Tier 4 students, and what their support looked like. The presenter explained that each special rights student had a B.E.S.T.(Behaviour and Emotional Support Team,) group which consisted of a Support Teacher, Educational Assistant, and a Social Worker, which they now call a ‘Family Enhancement Facilitator.’ I guess there is some kind of stigma with calling them a social worker. I’ll have to ask the ministry of truth about that. Wilson-Fraser inquired further about the Support Teachers, and as far as I understood it, each school has one. Symmonds commented on the importance of a family liaison. I think she too was referring to the social worker. So I’m not sure what they should be called. There was no discussion on the centralization of special needs staff, that I heard so much about from teachers during the campaign.
The meeting finished with Trustee Reports, an enrollment update, (we are up by 22 students this year, there was a prediction of no increase, so that was good,) and a few announcements about future meetings.(NSBA,PSBA, & ASBA) The trustee reports were very brief, as everyone was involved in the election campaign. Massini made a comment about how he had not been to Ross Glen parent council do to a controversy. Not sure of the details on that.
The Board moved to in-camera, and thus concluded my public viewing of the meeting. I hope to get to as many board meetings as I can, but….just so you know, they CAN be interesting, but not always. I’m hoping as part of the future changes to CPoSD76 to get a schedule up, and maybe have someone else fill in on one or two meeetings? (wink, wink)
What do you think of the new suggested language of the policies, do you agree? Vote in the poll, and I can present the results to the Board.
Will rewriting the terms and definitions of inclusive education help to correct the pressing issues of the program?
Total Voters: 14