Monthly Archives: July 2008

A “Caucus Meeting” – public or not?

A commissioner in another Montreal area school board wrote to me a few months ago now, and we’ve been having a very interesting chat via email.

One question he brought up was the question of standing committee meetings, and/or caucus meetings, and if they should be held in a public forum or not.

Henry Aubin wrote in The Montreal Gazette a while back:

“The EMSB also has frequent caucus meetings. Unlike their counterparts at other levels of government, these caucuses are not for individual parties – all 23 commissioners can attend. These sessions are important: Issues are discussed but not voted upon. Note that Laval’s Sir Wilfrid Laurier School Board lets in the public to its caucus meetings.

“To be sure, the EMSB allows two representatives of parents to attend its caucus meetings. But so phobic is it of sunshine that it makes them sign agreements to keep proceedings confidential.”

Interesting to read. Unfortunately, the reference to our board is incorrect – at least in our current forum. But oddly, I cannot disagree with Mr. Aubin more.

We just had another caucus meeting. And in it, things were discussed that simply would *not* have been discussed had it not been for the private forum. Some real work was done that night that will have a real and positive effect on how well our school board runs.

Now, I know next-to-nothing about the EMSB and its issues, but what I *can* tell you is that as a new commissioner, I have found our SWLSB caucus meetings to be extremely beneficial to the school board. Now, for standing committees? I am somewhat of the opinion that these be public – and have said so many times now. Some agree; some don’t. I actually think that we will get there sooner rather than later.

Truly,

Steve

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School Success Plans

School Success Plans already form the cornerstone for how our schools should work.  With the changes proposed in Bill 88, these success plans will play an even more important role in the life of a school, and in the relationship between the individual schools and the school board.

Though the legal requirement for school success plans has been in place for literally years, the sad fact is that there is very little to look at in actual practice.  Some schools “success plans” are posted on their websites in a single page, with nary an update in a year or two – or more!

Here is my “bottom line summary”, and all the Education Act excerpts that justify it follow after my summary:

  1. Each school must have a detailed success plan
  2. The Principals are responsible for coordinating the analysis of and the development, implementation and periodical evaluation of the school’s success plan.
    1. The educational project shall be defined, implemented and periodically evaluated with the participation of the students, the parents, the principal, the teachers and other school staff members, representatives of the community and the school board.
  3. Each success plan must have clear goals and clear measures for these goals
  4. Each year, the Governing Board must report on the evaluation of the implementation of the success plan.
  5. The school board must ensure that these plans are in place.

Bill 88 is going to take this all a step further.  Given that many schools don’t even have the basics in place already, as per the existing law, it worries me that we’re going to have even more to live up to.

Every school board needs to make sure that they are up to speed with today’s law, even before we take it a step further.

SM

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Legally, this is what we should be living up to:

The Education Act is found online by clicking here.

Chapter III Schools, Division I Establishment

ESTABLISHMENT

Object.

36.  A school is an educational institution whose object is to provide to the persons entitled thereto under section 1 the educational services provided for by this Act and prescribed by the basic school regulation established by the Government under section 447 and to contribute to the social and cultural development of the community. A school shall, in particular, facilitate the spiritual development of students so as to promote self-fulfilment.

Mission.

In keeping with the principle of equality of opportunity, the mission of a school is to impart knowledge to students, foster their social development and give them qualifications, while enabling them to undertake and achieve success in a course of study.

Educational project.

A school shall pursue its mission within the framework of an educational project implemented by means of a success plan.

1988, c. 84, s. 36; 1990, c. 78, s. 54; 1997, c. 96, s. 13; 2000, c. 24, s. 19; 2002, c. 63, s. 2.

Educational project.

36.1.  The educational project shall be defined, implemented and periodically evaluated with the participation of the students, the parents, the principal, the teachers and other school staff members, representatives of the community and the school board.

2002, c. 63, s. 3.

Aims and objectives.

37.  A school’s educational project shall set out the specific aims and objectives of the school, and objectives for improving student success. It may include actions to promote those aims and objectives and integrate them into the life of the school.

Needs and priorities.

The aims and objectives of the project objectives shall be designed to ensure that the provincial educational policy defined by law, the basic school regulation and the programs of studies established by the Minister are implemented, adapted and enriched.

Respect of freedom.

The educational project of the school must respect the freedom of conscience and of religion of the students, the parents and the school staff.

1988, c. 84, s. 37; 1997, c. 96, s. 13; 2000, c. 24, s. 20; 2002, c. 63, s. 4.

Content.

37.1.  The success plan of a school shall comprise

 1) the measures to be taken based on the aims and objectives of the educational project, in particular, those relating to the supervision of students ;

 2) methods for evaluating the implementation of the success plan.

Review and update.

The success plan shall be reviewed each year and updated, if necessary.

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Then, later on, in writing of the Governing Boards, we see this:

83.  Each year, the governing board shall inform the parents and the community served by the school of the services provided by the school and report on the level of quality of such services.

Educational project and success plan.

The governing board shall make public the educational project and the success plan of the school.

Evaluation.

Each year, the governing board shall report on the evaluation of the implementation of the success plan.

Document.

A document explaining the educational project and reporting on the evaluation of the implementation of the success plan shall be distributed to the parents and the school staff. The governing board shall see to it that the wording of the document is clear and accessible.

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And later on again, in writing of the role of the Principal:

Functions.

96.13.  The principal shall assist the governing board in the exercise of its functions and powers and, for that purpose, the principal shall

 1) coordinate the analysis of the situation prevailing at the school and the development, implementation and periodical evaluation of the school’s educational project;

 1.1) coordinate the development, the review and any updating of the school’s success plan;

 2) ensure that the proposals required under this chapter are prepared and submitted to the governing board for approval;

 2.1) ensure that the governing board is provided all necessary information before approving the proposals made under this chapter;

 3) encourage concerted action between the parents, the students and the staff, their participation in the life of the school and their collaboration in fostering success;

 4) inform the governing board on a regular basis concerning the proposals approved by the principal under section 96.15.

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And finally, the school board’s actual role in this:

Educational project.

221.1.  The school board shall ensure, without encroaching upon the functions and powers conferred on schools, that each school has adopted an educational project to be implemented by means of a success plan.

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