NPA School Trustees call on Minister of Education to end the dysfunction at the VSB

Delaying tactics and public criticism of the work of senior VSB staff by some trustees has made Board meetings and planning sessions “an intolerable, toxic place to be”: NPA School Trustees

Vancouver, B.C., October 17, 2016 – The Vancouver Non-Partisan Association (NPA) School Trustees are calling on the Minister of Education to release a Special Advisor’s Report and take action to end the toxic dysfunction at the Vancouver School Board (VSB). The current School Board, they say, is “a Board of inaction” that has failed to create a positive, respectful work environment for the District’s senior staff.

The NPA School Trustees note that the Minister has granted several extensions to the latest Special Advisor assigned to investigate the VSB: “We want the Minister to act, and to act now. It’s time to release the Special Advisor’s Report and take action to end the dysfunction at the Vancouver School Board.”

Setting aside the recent allegations of bullying and harassment currently being investigated by WorkSafeBC, the NPA School Trustees point to several examples of VSB trustees who have publicly challenged the professional work and recommendations of senior staff, simply because the recommendations did not conform to the political agenda of those trustees. Examples include:

•         Trustees attempting to delay action on the District’s longstanding enrolment realities by demanding that the Board wait for new census data to arrive, even though the historical evidence cited by senior staff clearly indicates that this data is not an effective tool for projecting student enrolment. This year, the District’s enrolment planning tools predicted student enrolment with a 99.95% accuracy.

•         Trustees who have claimed that the consultations surrounding the school closure process were not robust enough, even though District staff went above and beyond in following the Board’s detailed School Closure Policy – a policy drafted and voted into effect by previous Vision-dominated boards.

•         Trustees demanding a report on population projections from the City when every trustee knows full well that District staff already meet regularly with the City’s planning staff in order to gather information about future developments that may impact on school enrollment: Staff already have this information factored into their recommendations.

•         Trustees who have publicly suggested that the removal of the 95% capacity requirement by the Ministry of Education has somehow changed everything despite correspondence the Board has received directly from the Ministry which states that the same school seismic approval process will be followed as before. The previous process did not rely on the 95% utilization target, and several Vancouver schools that were below 95% capacity were approved for seismic upgrading.

•         Trustees who want to revisit the District’s Long Range Facilities Plan planning process despite that fact that none of the underlying fundamentals have changed.

“As trustees who respect the sound advice and well-considered recommendations provided by our senior staff, we (the NPA School Trustees) have found the delaying tactics of other trustees, and the public criticism of the work of senior staff, very difficult to watch. It has made our Board meetings and planning sessions an intolerable, toxic place to be. The current Board is a Board of inaction. The Board has not taken any meaningful steps in the past two years to address the pressing financial and seismic issues before it. Nor has the Board made any significant progress on many of the recommendations from last year’s Special Advisors report.

“Senior staff have found themselves having to deal with the disparate interests of the Board’s nine elected Trustees while also trying to deal with the interests of – and direction from – senior officials at the Ministry of Education. This has put our senior staff in an untenable, unworkable position for which there are few if any easy solutions. The senior staff we have lost were the education experts whose expertise and experience is essential to the proper functioning of the school district and to meeting the Board’s basic mandate, which is to facilitate the effective teaching and learning of students. The time for the Minister to act is now, for the good of our staff and our students.”

ICYMI – Listen to Stacy Robertson on this morning’s Jon McComb Show on CKNW:


Statement from NPA School Trustee Stacy Robertson on Forensic Audit of VSB

Statement from NPA School Trustee Stacy Robertson on Forensic Audit of VSB:

STACY ROBERTSON - NPA SCHOOL TRUSTEEThis morning, the Minister of Education announced that a “forensic audit and full review of the Vancouver School Board (VSB) is being launched by the Ministry of Education in the wake of the board’s refusal last night to pass a balanced budget.”

As disappointed as my NPA School Trustee colleagues and I are that the board failed in its duty to pass a balanced budget, we are nevertheless encouraged by the swift and measured response by the Minister.

My NPA School Trustee colleagues – Fraser Ballantyne, Penny Noble, and Christopher Richardson – and I agree that students are, and need to remain, our first priority. Read more

NPA City Councillors Attend Community Led Rally in Support of Residents who Have had Enough

Vancouver, B.C., June 26, 2016 – NPA City Councillors George Affleck and Melissa De Genova, joined by Councillor Elizabeth Ball, attended a rally today in support of Vancouver residents who gathered at Kits Beach to protest Vision Vancouver’s lack of consultation and wasteful infrastructure spending. In particular, speakers spoke out against the wasteful use of taxpayers’ dollars to further upgrade Point Grey Road, as well as the $3.5 million to be spent on fencing for the Burrard Bridge; a plan rammed through by the Vision majority on City Council without any consultation whatsoever with the community. Read more

NPA City Councillor George Affleck responds to Information and Privacy Commissioner Elizabeth Denham’s damning report on the City of Vancouver’s FOI practices

Vancouver, B.C., June 23, 2016 – NPA City Councillor George Affleck is available today to comment on the report released this morning by B.C. Information and Privacy (OPIC) Commissioner Elizabeth Denham regarding the City of Vancouver’s FOI practices.

Commissioner Denham states in this morning’s OPIC news release: “… there is a need for change to the approach City staff use in processing access requests. We observed shortcomings in almost every step of the freedom of information process – from receipt of the request, to searching for records, to the timeliness of response to the applicant and the content of the response itself. This highlights the need for a move to a culture of transparency and service quality,” said Denham. Read more

NPA delivers on commitment to build new Marpole-Oakridge Community Centre at the existing Oak Park site at Oak Street & 59th Avenue

Motion brought forward by NPA Park Board Commissioner, and Park Board Chair, Sarah Kirby-Yung calls for public consultations to begin in 2016, design and planning in 2017, and ground breaking for new Marpole-Oakridge Community Centre in 2018.

Vancouver, B.C., June 14, 2016 – An NPA campaign commitment to build a new Marpole-Oakridge Community Centre took a big step forward at last night’s Park Board meeting thanks to a motion brought forward by NPA Park Board Commissioner, and Chair, Sarah Kirby-Yung. The motion, which carried unanimously, calls for the community centre to remain at the current Oak Park site at Oak Street & 59th Avenue. The motion also calls for the consultation and planning process to begin as soon as possible utilizing consultation funding already allocated in the 2016 Park Board budget. Read more

NPA School Trustee Stacy Robertson wants the City of Vancouver to step up and pay costs to operate Britannia Centre

Robertson says the VSB cannot afford to provide funding for a community centre outside its jurisdictional mandate when it is cutting literacy teachers, multicultural workers, and making a host of other program cuts that will directly affect student learning.

Vancouver, B.C., June 6, 2016 – With an historic $24 million budget shortfall still facing the Vancouver School Board (VSB), and unprecedented cuts to core teaching staff and services, NPA School Trustee Stacy Robertson says he wants the VSB to look at the Britannia Centre operating agreement with the City of Vancouver and implore the City to step up and properly fund the Centre’s many worthwhile community amenities rather than relying on a tight VSB budget for funding. Read more

NPA City Councillor George Affleck calls on City of Vancouver to re-examine unpopular plan to add fencing to the Burrard Bridge

Vancouver, B.C., May 24, 2016 – NPA City Councillor George Affleck is calling on the City of Vancouver to re-examine the unpopular plan to add fencing to the Burrard Bridge; an internationally recognized masterpiece of the Art Deco style and one of the most important and iconic heritage structures in the City of Vancouver.

Affleck wants City staff to re-examine the design options, including options that would be less visually intrusive and destructive to the heritage aesthetics of the bridge and views from the bridge, as well as re-examining the effectiveness of fencing as a suicide prevention measure within the broader context of suicide prevention and mental health strategies.

“The plan to add fencing to the Burrard Bridge was not presented to the public during the public consultation, and to me that’s a serious omission,” said Affleck. “Professional opinion is also mixed on the effectiveness of fencing as a suicide prevention measure, and I’d like to see a broader discussion of the various opinions.”

In his motion, Affleck notes that the City of Vancouver and its Council members place tremendous value on the city’s historically and culturally significant buildings, monuments, and other sites and structures.

Affleck also notes that many of the people who walk and cycle over the Burrard Bridge do so specifically to enjoy the spectacular views of Vancouver it offers. Creating an enjoyable walking environment, he says, is one of the City of Vancouver’s top priorities and an important part of the City’s effort to become the greenest city in the world by 2020.

For a copy of Affleck’s motion, please click here.


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NPA City Councillors call on the Mayor and Vision Vancouver to do more to tackle Vancouver’s housing affordability crisis

Increased pressures on young families and millennials are making it harder for middle class residents to continue to call Vancouver home

Vancouver, B.C., May 17, 2016 – NPA City Councillors are calling on the Mayor and Vision Vancouver to do more to tackle Vancouver’s housing affordability crisis following a staff report presented today at Council.

According to the report, Vancouver has the highest housing prices and rents, but the lowest median incomes among Canada’s major cities. The report also states that “affordability challenges” have become more prevalent since 2011, despite the efforts of the City, and that it has become even harder for residents to find and maintain affordable housing in Vancouver.

“The Mayor and Vision are attempting to give themselves an ‘A’ with this housing report card, but Vancouverites know housing affordability and access to rental units has gotten worse, not better, over the last eight years,” said NPA Councillor George Affleck. “The City needs to reassess its housing policies because those policies aren’t working, especially when it comes to encouraging the creation of housing – including rentals – families and middle class Vancouverites can afford.”

A recent study by VanCity highlighted the high cost of living in Vancouver and the impact it is having on millennials in particular. The study shows that the wages of Vancouver millennials have stagnated to the point where their average household income is now the second lowest in Canada.

“It’s become clear that affordability in Vancouver is about more than just home prices, it’s also about creating economic opportunities,” said Affleck. “City Hall needs to focus on attracting jobs that will let young Vancouverites stay in the city and ensure that Vancouver remains a vibrant city.”

According to real estate records, the benchmark price for detached homes in April 2016 rose 30.1 percent from just a year ago to a new high of $1.4 million. April 2016 was also the highest selling April on record for homes in Metro Vancouver.

“Vancouver is one of the best places in the world to call home,” continued Affleck. “But if current housing and employment trends continue, living in our beautiful city will become increasingly out of reach for the average family. Vancouverites deserve an opportunity to work hard, provide for their families and stay in this great city. Vision is making that impossible.”

The staff report presented at Council today notes that “affordable housing” for Vancouver families must be of sufficient quality, with the right number of bedrooms to meet the needs of residents, and be found within neighbourhood locations that have access to transit, schools, childcare, as well as cultural and community centres.

The staff report goes on to state that “Attracting and retaining families is an important part [of] being a healthy, diverse and economically vibrant city,” and that many Vancouver families “still aspire to the Canadian dream of owning a home.”

NPA Councillor Melissa De Genova’s recent call for an Affordable Home Ownership Program was also noted in the report, along with Council’s support for an Affordable Home Ownership pilot program: “I was pleased that City Council supported for my Affordable Home Ownership motion last June. Hopefully it will lead to the creation of new housing stock in Vancouver that everyday families will be able to afford, while being respectful of taxpayer dollars,” said De Genova. “The NPA is committed to finding innovative, market based solutions to the affordability issue in Vancouver, and we hope our colleagues on Council will join us in making real affordability for families a priority.”


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