Tag: Community Engagement

Ward F Pool Party 2012: Saturday October 6th, Scona Pool

I’m excited to announce our second annual back to school Ward F Pool Party!

1030-1230, Saturday October 6th. Scona Pool.

Click here to download the invitation: Oct6WardFPoolPartyInvite2012

Ward Gathering Recap: Celebrating our communities and our neighbourhood schools

First Ward Gathering a success:
How do we increase the number of families living in our mature neighbourhoods?
This very important question was the trailhead into a wide-ranging discussion hosted April 7th by myself and Ward 10 Councillor Don Iveson. Approximately 40 local community leaders gathered to discuss community revitalization, keeping schools open, family and seniors friendly housing and much more.
School Closures are still a hot topic in the media and our ward gathering was mentioned in Metro, the Examiner, and on inews880/630CHED.
Discussion was wide ranging and leaders present were given a homework assignment to continue the conversation at their school councils and community leagues. We asked each of the participants to take back to their organization two questions:
If it meant your neighbourhood had a greater chance of retaining their school:
1. Would the community be willing to encourage more density and infill?
2. What would that infill look like and where would it be?
As our city continues to sprawl, the pressure for providing new services, libraries, parks, roads, and schools for new developments continues to reduce the funding available for maintaining infrastructure in the core. The city has started to signal an intention to move towards a more compact, walkable, urban city, but last year only 7% of new developments were in the core. Low enrollment continues to put schools in mature neighbourhoods at risk of closure or consolidation. Leaders present stressed the need for complete communities with vibrancy, ammenities, and the need for us as residents of mature neighbourhoods to tell the story about how our communities are safe, desirable, and worth investing in.
This was the first Ward Gathering and I found it to be an empowering and engaging experience. The next gathering will be focused on student health and wellness and will be taking place in Riverbend in early June. They will always be an open invitation so bring a friend!

General Feedback:

This is an abridged summary of the 6 different discussions held April 7th, 2011. I couldn’t type out all of the feedback verbatim, but if I missed something please leave a comment below and I’ll update the lists.
- Complete communities are important with a variety of housing types, transportation options, access to learning and shopping, and recreation.
- Strong schools make for strong communities.
- We need to embrace family and senior friendly infill that will open up new opportunities for families to move back into mature neighbourhoods while allowing other segments of the population to age in place. More infill can help revitalize and bring new energy to neighbourhoods in need of revitalization.
- Social isolation and the aging population will increasingly mean we need to do more to support our aging populations and ensure they are not living in auto-dependant suburbs.
- Residents of mature neighbourhoods love our communities and need to do a better job of celebrating why they are so special. The old comfy pair of jeans that is ‘broken in’ is much better than the
- Edmonton should embrace progressive taxation and incentives to encourage infill to encourage more families to move into the core. Offsets should be placed on new and proposed neighbourhoods like Mayor Nenshi has proposed in Calgary.
- Incentives must be found to help increase the number of families in the core
- Choice programs and open boundaries can be both a blessing and a curse as in some cases the children do not go to the neighbourhood school, while in other cases a program of choice keeps the school open.
- If the city does not densify and continues to sprawl, the tax burden to build new schools, roads, and infrastructure will become unsustainable and might tax more seniors and families out of their homes. Increased population density is economically efficient and will help keep taxes down.
Question one: What attracts families back into the core?
- Schools, parks infrastrucutre: BIG TREES!
- Close to parks and schools so shorter commute times
- The broken pair of comfy jeans is better than breaking in a new one
- Save money by driving less and living closer to libraries, recreation, shopping and other amenities.
- Lower property taxes and financial measures to help make the neighbourhoods more desirable
- Abandon the mexaplex model for recreation centers and focus on smaller, more widely distributed pools and recreation centers.
- Attach costs of new schools and infrastructure to new developments so they don’t deplete dollars from existing infrastrucutre
- How do we promote our neighbourhood schools?
- How can we increase and promote the early childhood education, preschool and childcare programs in schools?
- If parents are driving their kids to school and many work at the U of A or downtown, how can we make our schools desired destinations?
- How can we increase the variety of housing available in mature communities?
Question two: What can CITIZENS do to?
- Sing the praises of our mature neighbourhood through block parties, celebrations, and other events that showcase the community. Especially showcase safety- our neighbourhoods are safe!
- Ensure that we work together to ensure our neighbourhoods are clean and presentable and just as attractive as a new neighbourhood.
- Instead of opposing new developments, working to ensure they are family-friendly, seniors-friendly that can help revitalize our neighbourhoods.
- Understand that our city is constantly in flux and change and that we need to think holistically about our advocacy when it comes to new developments
- Vote, and engage our communities in the electoral process.
- Join their community league, work to strengthen the relationship between their neighbourhood and their local school.
- Co-housing was raised as an innovative new initiative that is starting in Edmonton. It might be coming to a community near you.
- Shop local, help to increase your communities walkability and safety.
- Get further involved in the EFCL through initiatives such as community league day and the Living Local campaign.
- Start a neighbourhood e-newsletter and hold regular potlucks and block parties. Vibrant communities attract more families!

Community Use of Edmonton Public Schools

The Board Policy committee (of which I am a member) is in the process of collecting feedback on our Community Use of District Buildings Policy. The subject of sharing space in our schools is a very complicated question as there is a very high demand for use of school facilities during peak, non-school hours. Given the scarcity and conflicting demands, we are trying to come up with a solution that is truly fair and transparent. The draft revision of the policy is below.

I hope to see us work with the city, province, and external partners to transition our schools to be available and fully-utilized more often. I truly believe that these buildings remain the heart of our communities and that we should seek to make the most use of them as possible. I do not believe in diverting resources from the classroom, but I think we can do more with the partnerships we have available.

This was a question I heard about frequently on the doorsteps and from constituent emails. Now is your chance to help have input into a policy that could help better connect our schools to valued community partners. Please give me your thoughts on the blog, by michael@michaeljanz.ca, or by filling out the survey below.

Click here to complete the survey on our community use policy by FEBRUARY 14th!

The intent of Board Policy JG.BP – Community Use of District Buildings is to guide the Board and staff in determining community use of district buildings. The most significant changes to the policy include clearly identifying the role of the City of Edmonton in implementing the Joint Use Agreement: Facilities and the methods surplus learning space can be utilized by community groups.

Revised Board Policy JG.BP – Community Use of District Buildings    (http://www.epsb.ca/policy/adraftjg.bp.shtml) is open for stakeholder input from January 17, 2011 to February 14, 2011.

Here is a copy of the proposed revised policy for your feedback:

CODE: JG.BP
TOPIC: Community Use of District Buildings
EFFECTIVE DATE: 11-02-1997
ISSUE DATE: 16-05-1997
REVIEW DATE: 02-2002

The Board believes in cooperating with community organizations to meet the educational and recreational needs of the community in the effective management of district facilities to meet the needs of students and also the principles of the Joint Use Agreement: Facilities, which supports the sharing of publicly funded facilities to maximize benefits to students and citizens of the City of Edmonton.

In support of this belief, the Board encourages the use of district buildings by the community provided there is no conflict with school programs the District’s mandate to provide (K-12) education Use of district space leased by other users and the use shall be compatible with the Board’s educational aims and objectives. Surplus student spaces can be utilized in operational and closed buildings.

Members of the community can access surplus learning spaces through the following methods:

    A group represented by the City of Edmonton under the Joint Use Agreement: Facilities.

    An occasional paid rental for groups not eligible under the Joint Use Agreement: Facilities.

    As a group with exclusive use of space as specified in a lease agreement.

    As a group with limited use of space as specified in a license agreement.

    As a group with shared use of space with a direct benefit to the students at the school in a Memorandums of Understanding.

Fees for paid rentals will be determined annually by the Superintendent.

Leases are intended to be at no cost to the District. Information regarding leases in the District shall be provided to the Board annually.

Mid-November Update: school reviews, school council training, and more

Thus affirmed– live on the first EPSB webcast!

I was afirmed as a new Trustee at our November 2nd board meeting. Thank you for the emails of support. I look forward to serving the district. On of the most exciting aspects of the meeting was that it was the first webcast meeting of the Edmonton Public School Board. City Council regularly shares their meetings online, but this was a first for Edmonton Public. I look forward to exploring further measures on how we can make our board more transparent, inclusive and better communicate with the public.

You will be able to tune-in online on November 16th and hear some interesting discussion items including a motion to create a special needs task force and a motion for our board to reaffirm our committment to the discussions with city council and the province regarding school space and school closures. After the Mayor and many city councillors committed to action during the election, I look forward to getting the ball rolling!

Newsletter list grows

Thank you to those of you who have signed up for the Ward F newsletter. This will be used infrequently on a monthly basis for ward related and school related news. If you have not done so already, click here to sign up.

Meeting of School Council Chairs of Ward F

In early December I will be hosting a meeting of the school council chairs the date and time of this meeting will be sent out over my Ward F newsletter if you are interested in participating. I have been trying to get out to as many of the school council meetings as I can, and I look forward to setting up our first Ward F Ward Council/Town Hall meeting in the new year!

Your Feedback is Necessary

The province has put forward a new framework for public education and a new school act. These are the crucial documents steering the education system forward in our province.

Education Act Proposed Framework: http://engage.education.alberta.ca/uploads/1011/educationact-propose87321.pdf

If you haven’t read Inspiring Action, you can click here to get a .PDF copy: http://engage.education.alberta.ca/uploads/1006/20100621inspiringact86934.pdf

I look forward to your feedback and thoughts on the issue. Former Education Minister, David King, shared a blog with a few thoughts on the new framework that sparked some conversation.

What do you think is missing from the act? What would you like to see included?

School Reviews

November is an opportunity for the trustees to review our schools and decision units over the past year. I have participated in various school review meetings which brings together a group of 6-8 schools (including group of Principals, Vice Principals, School council members) for a discussion. An Assistant Superintendent is present to observe these interactions as well, and I’m not quite sure how I feel yet about their attendance (does their presence limit discussion or limit the frankness of staff and community contributions?) Nevertheless, I encouraged everyone to email me at michael.janz@epsb.ca if they had anything else they wanted to share.

The reviews have helped us learn about some of the unique challenges and opportunities at each of our schools. We have had a chance to review their achievement test scores, staff and student satisfaction surveys, and dig deeper into how we can better empower our schools to succeed in the future. We also had a chance to review some of the central decision making units in the superintendents area. For the 6 new trustees this was an opportunity to learn more about the inner machinations deep within the “Big Blue” — the affectionate term for 1 Kingsway, the EPSB Headquarters.

Questions could be quite specific about performance issues or could be quite general. One of the ice breakers I was interested in hearing was if the Principal had been to a community league function over the past year or not and if the school had a relationship with their neighbours. As a trustee who is passionate about community and libraries, I was also curious to hear if the School had a relationship with their local Edmonton Public Library branch. So far most schools have answered in the affirmative to both questions.

School Council Training

Wednesday evening I attended the school council training evening hosted by Edmonton public and the Alberta School Council Association. The ASCA helps empower school councils with advocacy and training to help empower school councils be more effective in their day to day work. They are primarily funded by the province and membership dues.

School Council: 1. A group of people who work together to advise the principal and the board respecting matters relating to the school. 2. A means for parents and community members to work together with the school to support and enhance student learning.  Alberta School Council Resource Manual, 2006

www.albertaschoolcouncils.ca

The session was presented by Lisa Dickner and her focus was empowering school council participants to give them purpose. She did a fantastic job in discussing how important increasing parental involvement in a child’s education is.

Increased parental involvement results in:

  • Higher student achievement
  • Better student attendance
  • Positive student attitudes and behaviors
  • Higher student graduation rates.

Questions I’m pondering:

  • How can the district help better empower parent councils?
  • How can the district better connect parent council volunteers with each other?
  • How can the district better engage parents in their children’s education?
  • How can we better connect the surrounding neighbourhoods to their local school and foster a strong relationship between the community league and the school council?
  • Should we establish a council of school councils throughout the whole district?

Upcoming in November:

  • More school reviews. More Central Unit reviews. They are open to the public and are listed on www.epsb.ca if you would like to attend
  • Attending school council and community league meetings
  • EPSB Trustee Retreat
  • Alberta School Boards’ Association fall conference

What I have been Hearing about Inclusion

As I started door knocking in May for my public trustee election campaign, one of the most frequent questions I received from teachers and parents (whether they had special needs students in their family or not) was: what do I think of the proposed changes to classroom composition?

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