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 School Board Trustees disappointed by tonight’s VSB Budget Vote

Previous Vision-dominated boards were unable to make the tough facility decisions needed to keep teachers in classrooms and support staff working with students

Vancouver, B.C., April 28, 2016 – All four NPA Vancouver School Trustees are expressing disappointment at the result of tonight’s 2016/2017 budget vote; the Vancouver School Board voted 5 to 4 to reject the budget. By failing to pass a balanced budget, the Minister of Education could potentially dismiss the Board and appoint an Official Trustee to conduct the affairs of the district.

Although the next step is unclear, NPA School Trustee Stacy Robertson says he and his fellow NPA Trustees put students first in voting to pass the balanced budget recommendations brought forward by VSB staff. The NPA’s first priority is students and working to ensure that they continue to get the world class education they deserve.

Robertson says he hopes the Minister will consider “ways to work with the elected Board to find reasonable solutions to the district’s systemic budget issues.”

He adds that he and his NPA colleagues heard the heartfelt outpouring from parents, students and other engaged citizens about the 2016/17 budget and that they take the job losses and impacts on programing and students very seriously; but he adds that the Vancouver school district is in this situation because the two previous Vision-dominated school boards were unable to make the tough facility decisions needed to keep teachers in classrooms and support staff working with students.

“Instead of looking at facility needs, the Vision trustees prioritized paying for empty space over paying for teachers and support staff, and now it’s our students who are going to suffer as a result,” said Robertson. “While other school boards around the Lower Mainland have made the tough decisions and acted responsibly in the best interests of students, Vision chose to blame others and refused to take responsible action, leaving the Vancouver School Board in the difficult position it is in now.”

Over the past 10 years, the Vancouver school district has seen a decline of almost 8,000 students and has approximately 30 percent more space per student than any other district in the province. Maintaining that empty facility space costs money; money that is then unavailable to pay the cost of teaching and support staff positions and programs.


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NPA rounds out campaign slate with announcement of Park, School Board candidates

Mayoral candidate Kirk LaPointe welcomes accomplished group to NPA ahead of November municipal election

Wednesday, July 30, 2014, Vancouver BC – Non-Partisan Association mayoral candidate Kirk LaPointe today unveiled four new candidates for Park Board Commissioner and four new candidates for School Board Trustee.

They are:

  • Casey Crawford;
  • Jay Jagpal;
  • Sarah Kirby-Yung; and
  • Erin Shum for Park Board Commissioner, and
  • Penny Noble;
  • Christopher Richardson;
  • Stacy Robertson; and
  • Sandy Sharma for School Board Trustee. Read more

NPA announces former Park Board Commissioner Ian Robertson as City Council candidate

Monday, July 21, 2014, Vancouver BC – Non-Partisan Association mayoral candidate Kirk LaPointe has announced the candidacy of former Vancouver Park Board Commissioner Ian Robertson for City Council.

“I am thrilled that Ian has decided to run for City Council,” says LaPointe. “As a dedicated public servant with deep roots in Vancouver, his knowledge of its issues and his ideas for improving the city will be invaluable.” Read more

NPA announces incumbents seeking re-election in November civic race

Mayoral candidate Kirk LaPointe welcomes the depth of municipal experience of those running for office again  

Friday, July 18, 2014, Vancouver BC – Non-Partisan Association mayoral candidate Kirk LaPointe today unveiled the party’s incumbent candidates who are running for re-election in Vancouver‘s November 15 election.

They are:

  • George Affleck for Council;
  • Elizabeth Ball for Council;
  • Melissa De Genova for Council;
  • John Coupar for Park Board; and
  • Fraser Ballantyne for School Board. Read more

Vancouver students being denied opportunity to attend home catchment schools in Sept 2014

Vancouver, B.C. (April 23, 2014) – Vancouver Non-Partisan Association School Trustee Fraser Ballantyne says the Vision-controlled Vancouver Board of Education is once again playing “smoke and mirrors” with the issue of cross-boundary enrolment.

At last night’s school board meeting, Ballantyne brought forward a motion calling on trustees to support senior staff and immediately allow school administrators to review cross-boundary students in their schools, and if space is needed for students residing within the school’s catchment, to advise cross-boundary parents that their son or daughter may need to be enrolled in their home school catchment for September as per board policy. Read more

Vancouver school board not providing trustees with cross-boundary enrolment information: Fraser Ballantyne

Vancouver, B.C. (March 31, 2014) – Vancouver Non-Partisan Association (NPA) School Trustee Fraser Ballantyne says the Vision-controlled Board of Education is placing the controversial issue of cross-boundary enrolment to a closed meeting rather than having a full and open discussion at a public “Committee 2” meeting.

Ballantyne says he has received a number of calls and emails from unhappy parents who can’t get their children enrolled for Kindergarten in schools right across the street from where they live. He wants to know where other enrolment “hotspots” are and how bad the situation is across the whole city. Read more

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