Edmonton Public School Board to act as Grand Parade Marshals
For Immediate Release – The Edmonton Pride Festival Society is very excited that the Edmonton Public School Board has accepted its invitation to act as the Grand Parade Marshals at this year’s Pride Parade on Saturday, June 9, 2012.
Each year, the Society, organizers of the annual Pride Festival, selects an honourary Parade Marshal to lead the parade. This is the Festival’s opportunity to both recognize and honour an individual or group for their contributions to the LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered, Queer) community.
Last November, the School Board approved a new Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity policy that ensures all sexual and gender minority students, staff and families are welcomed, respected, accepted and supported in every school. This ground- breaking policy, which was supported unanimously, is the first of its kind developed by a school board on the prairies.
The School Board’s leadership exemplifies this year’s Festival theme – Stand OUT! We are thrilled they will be playing such a prominent role!
The Edmonton Pride Festival Society, representing the LGBTQ community, coordinates a yearly festival to showcase the community’s unity and diversity.
Michael Phair, Director at Large – 780.426.1516 Terry Harris, Director, Communications – 780.721.3857 Colleen Sutherland, Co-chair – 780.722.6266 Warren Becker, Co-chair – 780.405.2999
A few weeks ago, I had the chance to sit down with Sandra Woitas who is the Executive Director of the EPSB Foundation. Sandra has devoted many years to public education, community service and volunteerism in the Edmonton Community and was also named one of the Edmontonians of the Century.
I’ll admit that in a perfect world, I wish we didn’t need to have a foundation. I wish that we had a fully-funded public education system and that our government invested in early learning, especially for the highest risk populations who need it the most. But they don’t, so that’s where the Foundation comes in...Read more
Building on District Priority #4 (Promote health and wellness for all students and staff) and our Ward F&H gathering (Healthy Kids, Healthy Schools, Healthy Communities) I had a chance to sit down with Timothy Caulfield, a local Ward F resident, parent, lawyer, academic, and author of the book “The Cure for Everything” (available online or at your local bookstore:http://www.penguin.ca/nf/Book/BookDisplay/0,,9780670065233,00.html)Read more
I’ve recently had the privilege of guest speaking to a couple of Grade 6 classes as part of their civics course. I must say these students are sharp.
From knowing intricate details about our municipal government system to the standards they hold for their elected officials, I’m relieved to know that these children are the guardians of our democratic system. These students have goals and hopes and dreams for their democracy and I was thrilled to have the chance to spar with them.
A curve ball that usually knocks me off balance is some variation of the question “What is the hardest part about being an elected official?”Read more
Are school trustees urban planners? No.
Do decisions made by school board trustees impact city planning? Absolutely.
Part of the reason I ran for the school board was that I wanted to see a more integrated approach to how we build our communities– with the provincial, municipal, and school boards working together. Although it doesn’t get the same headlines as school closure related issues, I’m thrilled that our board has been working hard on many initiatives for kids like the anti-bullying work, special needs task force, and district priorities.
I’m glad our board had the opportunity to participate in the community sustainability task force and I hope it leads to more collaborative planning in the future. I look forward to a more coordination and discussion in the future!
Like city council, we need to understand that a city is a complex organism and decisions made by one level of government have dramatic effects upon other entities. Political decisions made in isolation can trigger trickle-down effects that severely impact the work of other levels of government.
If the School Board decides to open a new school, change a neighbourhood school to a magnet site, move yellow bus service, or close a school, all of these decisions have urban planning applications for the whole neighbourhood. Conversely, if the city is going to make transportation decisions that lead to unsafe streets around schools, even though that decision isn’t the jurisdiction of school trustees, you can bet that they should speak up!
Edmonton’s growth plan (in practice) continues to be sprawl-baby-sprawl and has not made family and seniors-friendly infill densification a priority. There’s some nice language in The Way We Grow but in reality development continues outside rather than inside the Henday.Continuing to green-light more sprawl neighbourhoods creates enormous pressure on school boards to meet the educational needs of families who are living further and further away from existing schools.
In the short term, I do support new schools in areas of need. In the long-term, I hope that we will be able to incentivize more families to return to existing neighbourhoods where we have already paid for services. But this won’t happen overnight, and the buck stops with the city of Edmonton and the capital region board on growth decisions. Until then, wherever the children live in Edmonton, we have an obligation to ensure they receive a top-notch Edmonton Public education.
If the city changed its development priorities we could get more families back into our mature neighbourhoods, keep schools open, and save money. The school board could save on transportation and hire more teachers instead. It’s the fiscally prudent thing to do.
If established communities want to keep their schools open— Separate or Public—then we need to make it easy for the kids to live where the schools already are.
The Mayor is right, we do need a variety of housing choices in the city, but we also need a variety of housing choices in the neighbourhoods we have already built! We’ve already invested billions of dollars in the core of our city in our schools, playgrounds, parks, and pools, let’s not let it waste and crumble!
Two very important information pieces regarding School Closures are on the radar.
The EPSB Moratorium Committee Draft Recommendations:
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
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? [email protected]
In March the Edmonton Public School Board voted 8-1 to create a policy to create a policy that would help fight bullying and ensure safe spaces for all students, especially those who are (or are perceived to be) sexual minority staff, students, and families.
I voted to support the creation of this policyand am pleased to see our board taking steps to ensure safe and caring learning environments for all students, staff, and families of our diverse student population.
I have had the privilege of speaking to many students, staff, and families who self-identify as sexual minorities and have heard touching stories about how even just knowing that this policy is in creation has increased their families feelings of safety and security.
Our board took a strong stance to support the diverse needs aboriginal learners, fight racism with our multicultural policy, and now we are taking action on the disturbing research surrounding the bullying of sexual minorities. Hence, the recommendation:
That the Policy Review Committee develop a policy that affirms the District’s commitment to providing a welcoming environment, free of discrimination and harassment, for all students and employees who self-identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual/transgendered and queer (LGBTQ). The Committee shall look at LGBTQ policies of the Greater Victoria School District and Vancouver School Board as examples, and seek input from students, staff and members of the public.
Moving forward: The policy was drafted and posted for extensive public consultation. In June and September the Policy Committee then met to review the policy and determine if the policy fulfilled the direction of the board.
The recommended policy is now being brought forward to the Board Meeting on Tuesday, November 8th at 2PM. Our meetings are open to the public and webcast on www.livestream.epsb.ca.
The board is now debating whether the proposed board policy fulfills the direction given by the motion we passed in March. Some of the questions I’m thinking about as I review this policy are:
- Does this policy support creating a welcoming environment, free from discrimination and harassment? What else should be included in this policy?
- What changes might help strengthen this policy?
- Will this provide clear direction to administration about how we can provide a welcoming environment for all students in our schools?
- Will this policy help prevent the bullying of “straight” kids too? (research has shown that many victims of homophobic bullying are actually straight students!)
If you would like to speak to the policy, please call 780-429-8080. If you would like to contact your trustee or email the board with your feedback please email [email protected]. If you would like to share your thoughts just with me: [email protected]
If you would like to read the full text and learn more: http://www.epsb.ca/board/november08_2011/item10.pdf
Here is the proposed Policy:
PHILOSOPHICAL FOUNDATION STATEMENT
The Board is committed to establishing and maintaining a safe, inclusive, equitable, and welcoming learning and teaching environment for all members of the school community. This includes those students, staff, and families who identify or are perceived as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, two-spirit, queer or questioning their sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. The Board expects all members of this diverse community to be welcomed, respected, accepted, and supported in every school.
All members of the school community have the right to learn and work in an environment free of discrimination, prejudice, and harassment. This right is guaranteed under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Alberta Human Rights Act, and Alberta School Act. These rights shall be supported, and enforced so that all members of the school community may work together in an atmosphere of mutual respect and appreciation for individual differences. The Board will not tolerate harassment, bullying, intimidation, or discrimination on the basis of a person’s actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.
The Board believes that all sexual and gender minority students, staff, families and same- sex parented families have the right to:
• be treated fairly, equitably, and with dignity and respect; • have their confidentiality protected and respected; • self-identification and determination; • freedom of conscience, expression, and association;
• be fully included and represented in an inclusive, positive, and respectful manner by all school personnel;
• have equitable access to the same supports, services, and protections provided to heterosexual students and families;
• have avenues of recourse (without fear of reprisal) available to them when they are victims of harassment, prejudice, discrimination, intimidation, bullying, and/or violence; and
• have their unique identities, families, cultures, and communities included, valued and respected within all aspects of the school environment.
The Board is committed to implementing measures that will: 1• Define appropriate expectations, behaviours, language, and actions in order to prevent discrimination, prejudice, and harassment through greater awareness of, and responsiveness to, their harmful effects.
• Ensure that all such discriminatory behaviours and complaints will be taken seriously, documented, and dealt with expeditiously and effectively through consistently applied policy and procedures.
• Improve understanding of the individual lives of sexual and gender minorities and their families, culture, and communities.
• Develop, implement, and evaluate inclusive educational strategies, professional development opportunities, and administrative guidelines to ensure that sexual and gender minorities and their families are welcomed and treated with respect and dignity in all aspects of the school community.
The Board understands that institutional and cultural change occurs over time and believes that the provision of an annual report at a public board meeting on progress related to the strategic directions and benchmarks identified in this policy will ensure accountability and demonstrate the District’s commitment to supporting our diverse communities.
Please take a look at the attached .jpg containing some of our highlights from the 2010-2011 year.
As the board reconvenes tomorrow for our first fall meeting, it is important to take a moment to reflect on what we have accomplished since November and look ahead at the year to come. I feel on many issues our board has made significant headway, but there is still much that I would like to accomplish.
As I wrote in my first blog post, our mental concentration can be like a flashlight beam. If you don’t focus your efforts and energies on the big issues that matter most, you can get derailed by administrivia and smaller, less-pressing matters.
What most needs doing?
I pose the question to you and encourage you to email me [email protected] with your own suggestions and priorities. If you haven’t signed up for our Ward F newsletter, click here.
EPSB Board of Trustees
2010 – 2011 Highlights
The previous school year was a productive one for Edmonton Public Schools’ Board of Trustees. Trustees focused on engaging with Edmonton communities and ensuring all students have a safe and caring learning environment.
• Developed the new District vision, mission and set of priorities
• Introduced live webcasting of public board meetings (www.livestream.com/edmontonpublicschools)
• Imposed a two-year moratorium on school closures and initiated the formation of a School Closure Moratorium Committee to explore ways to keep schools open
• Created a Special Needs Task Force that provided recommendations to promote an inclusive learning environment for students with special needs
• Participated in the Community Sustainability Task Force
• First Board in Prairies to approve the development of a board policy on sexual orientation and gender identity to ensure a welcoming environment for all students and staff
• Established an Anti-Bullying Advisory Committee that provided recommendations to prevent bullying
• Re-prioritized capital plan to place a high priority on modernizing existing schools
• Continued work with all orders of government and other partners to advocate for adequate, predictable and sustainable funding for education
Many of you know I’m passionate about swimming and saving Scona Pool and I’m passionate about parties! This ward gathering will bring together our schools and communities– but with a fun twist for the whole family!
You can grab a hot dog and your kids can party in the pool while you meet and mingle with other passionate education supporters, community leagues, elected resources and much more. I hope this makes it just a little bit easier for busy families to attend as there will be plenty of things to do for the whole family!
Download the PDF and send it to your communities: 2011Ward F Public School Trustee Michael Janz invites you to
Stop in for a visit, or come for the full two hours! And if you can’t make it, there are great Scona Pool activities happening all week!
Recently I had a chance to sit down with a very passionate Outdoor Education teacher at an EPSB Junior High. We had a great chat about our board’s 2010-2013 district priorities, how a robust outdoor education strategy could support these objectives, especially Priority #1, increasing our high school completion rate, and the formative role that outdoor education played in our own orienting stories...