February Newsletter: School Closure Moratorium Committee Recommendations and much more

Hello Everyone,

Two very important information pieces regarding School Closures are on the radar.

  1. The EPSB Moratorium Committee Draft Recommendations:
    http://www.epsb.ca/board/january31_2012/item04.pdf

Last year when our board established the two year moratorium on school closures, we determined the need to investigate the causes of closures and determine recommendations that could help keep more schools open. The findings focus on actions that the EPSB district should take and actions that the Province and the City of Edmonton should undertake.  Many of the mitigating factors around a school closure (amount of maintenance funding we receive, the number of children in the neighbourhood) are more influenced by the City or the Province and not by well-intentioned school trustees.

These recommendations are being discussed at 2PM tomorrow at our Public Board Meeting. You can watch it online at www.livestream.epsb.ca

To see the information reports on the causes of closures, check out presentations on:
1. Urban Growth Patterns 2.            Aging School Buildings and Infrastructure Deficit 3. Instructional and PO&M Funding 4.            District Enrolment Trends 5.            Space Utilization 6.            Alternative Programs and Open Boundaries 7. Leasing 8.            Concluding public forum

http://www.epsb.ca/trustees/ClosureMoratorium.shtml

These recommendations if approved by the board will become the backbone or our advocacy regarding school sustainability.

Some questions I have…
– So what is the action piece?
– Do we need to prioritize the maintenance of existing schools over new schools?
– Do we need to establish which particular schools are at risk and need supporting?
– What will this work mean in future for our board and future boards in 10, 20, 30 years?
– What options are there for collaboration with the Edmonton Catholic School District?
– Are replacement schools something that should be referenced or considered when the cost of repair exceeds replacement?
– What do you think? michael@michaeljanz.ca

  1. The Mayor’s Task Force on Community Sustainability (The Michael Phair Task Force) Launch Feb 2nd @City Hall.


During the election Mayor Mandel was vocal about the need to support established communities and support more collaborative planning between the city and the school board. The Mayor established the Task Force on Community Sustainability headed by Former Councilor Michael Phair. The Task Force has been meeting with stakeholders around the city and hosting public consultations. I have been to a couple of these gatherings and found them to be most informative.

http://www.edmonton.ca/city_government/initiatives_innovation/community-sustainability.aspx

Many Edmonton communities, especially mature neighbourhoods, are challenged with keeping their communities livable, lively and vibrant when confronted with change. The population pattern of mature neighbourhoods typically sees a large decline in the number of school aged children, resulting in a significant impact on schools. This kind of change and others that occur over time in mature neighbourhoods can slowly lead to a loss of vibrancy and community ‘wholeness’.

The City recognizes that communities are the building blocks for the quality of life of its citizens and is aware that a key building block in healthy communities is schools. In collaboration with the provincial government, school boards, parents and community groups, the Task Force on Community Sustainability has been brought together to build innovative partnerships and plans across jurisdictions and to recommend ways that core neighbourhoods can become more vibrant and sustainable.

Looking for Solutions
Mandate
Newsletters and Updates
Public Input
Task Force Members

  1. February Update

Much has been happening in 2012 so far. Last week we went on an organizational board retreat for 3 days and evaluated how we can do our work together, better. With the potential of a massive policy overhaul being undertaken by our board, we are always trying to evaluate how to do our work more effectively.

Outside of my work as a Public School Trustee (in theory this job is part-time though the committment is far more significant) I am the part-time Marketing Director for the Edmonton Federation of Community Leagues. This job has me representing Edmonton neighbourhoods at the New Partners for Smart Growth Conference this coming week. This is quite complimentary to my work as a school trustee because many of the sessions focus on the relationships between schools and communities and how schools are a key component of good urban planning.
http://www.michaeljanz.ca/2011/11/interested-in-design-schools-or-urbanism-come-to-san-diego-this-february/

I’ve started my part-time Masters in Education Policy Studies at the University of Alberta and my classes are fantastic. I’m enrolled in a class about Education Administration in Canada and it is extremely relevant to the work we are doing with the board and the challenges that we face.
http://www.michaeljanz.ca/2011/12/back-to-school-for-trustee-janz/

Thanks for reading! As always, please visit www.michaeljanz.ca for more information and updates. If you would like to meet for coffee to discuss anything related to our community or public education, I’d love to hear from you.

Michael Janz
Ward F Trustee
Edmonton Public School Board
www.michaeljanz.ca
780-288-9866