“Learning Spaces” Facilities Consultations in SD46

School District 46 (Sunshine Coast) wants to hear from our community!

We are embarking on a series of community consolations over this week and next to hear about what YOU have to say about our facilities and how they can best support our students and larger community.

Here’s the Consultation schedule:

Gibsons Area                       Where: Gibsons Elementary School (Library)
                                                         783 School Road, Gibsons, BC
When:  Monday, January 25 from 4-6 pm

Sechelt Area                        Where: Chatelech Secondary School (Foyer)

                                                         5904 Cowrie Street, Sechelt, BC
When:  Tuesday, January 26 from 4-6 pm

Pender Harbour Area           Where: Pender Harbour Secondary (Library)

                                                          13639 Sunshine Coast Highway, Madeira Park, BC
When:  Monday, February 1 from 4-6 pm

Register at:

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/SD46-Learning-Spaces

Hope to see you there!

The Pieceful Coast

Earlier this week, I was traversing the waters of Howe Sound in the metallic bosom of a BC Ferry.  From my car’s vantage point, I had a stellar view as the vessel cut through the stillness of the fjord.   And then it struck me how the calm waters of the Sound were a considerable contrast from the raging typhoons howling in the political arenas of the Sunshine Coast.

Neighbours, I am concerned. The gales that have occurred on our Coast the past few weeks are twisting opinions, pitting us against each other. Citizens are being disrespectful of other points of view, simply because it is not what they feel.  Rather than debating the issue, personal attacks are whipping around, stinging sand in to our community’s heart.

Healthy discourse and disagreement is part of the democratic process.  Running rampant with rumours,  fear mongering and throwing mud may advance your cause in the short term but in the long term, it will only further distance you from it. Negativity disenfranchises voters, especially newer voters, whom are simply trying to disseminate through the information to find the FACTS to make the best, or most palatable, decision for their future.

Coastally, we have some very real challenges facing us over the next few years: aging infrastructure, lack of services for our elderly populace, a deficit in young people and families, the need for affordable, safe housing and economic development to name a few.

We will still be neighbours after November 15, whether it be directly next door, in the same jurisdiction or as Port Mellon and Egmont. This Coast is our home.

Today is the 25th Anniversary of the Demolition of the Berlin Wall.   The significance of this day in our global history should not escape us.   Politics divided families, friends and citizens for decades.  Let us not divide our own community in to separate pieces along opinion and posturing.

I truly believe in the following, and even though it was written in the context of contract negotiation, it fits for election time.

Whether you look from left or right
Your politics do not matter
It’s for our kids we must fight
But not leave each other in tatter

The balance of the modern world is found
in the harmony of success
even arguments can be a sweet sound
In their tangled, ugly mess

At the end of this… we rebuild
relationships, community, schools, our self
We try and forget of animosity that filled
But wait for the next contract to come off shelf

(excerpt from “Poem from a Negotiation Observer”)

In one week from today, we will know the make-up of our municipal governments for the next four years.    And for those four years,  we will continue to be neighbours.

We don’t have to be friends.

But let’s bring some peace to the Coast by treating each other with a bit more respect.

Open Letter to all #SunshineCoastCa Candidates

Open letter to all Sunshine Coast Candidates..

The past few weeks, Voice on the Coast has been heavily concentrated on encouraging members of the public to get involved in the Electoral process. We have held a forum, attended candidates meetings, circulated questionnaires to all candidates (acclaimed and those on the campaign trail)

One of the things that I personally have asked the public to do is to speak directly to those running for office. ASK them the questions that matter to YOU and your family and friends. And the public is doing that! I think that’s AWESOME.

Well, it was brought to my attention that someone has asked repeatedly for questions to be answered, specific to their family situation, and has waited WEEKS now for an answer. This voter has followed up numerous times. And been put off. This is a two-vote household, with both members under age 35.

CANDIDATES – please do not do this.
You are in the interview process right now. Don’t mess it up. November 15 is a few short days away. Are you REALLY interested in being hired?

This opportunity to speak directly to the public about what matters to them is incredible. Embrace it. Learn the stories that shape our coast. Answer the tough questions.

MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC – please keep asking questions. You’re the boss here.
Nervous about asking/not sure what to ask? Send me an email. I’ll help. loripratt75@gmail.com

From
Lori Pratt
CoChair
VOICE on the Coast

Dawn of a New Era? I hope so!

With the dawn of this day, we receive the exciting news of a tentative deal reached between @BCTF and @BCPSEA. The most incredible and promising part of this news is that it was a NEGOTIATED settlement. Negotiation requires both sides to be actively engaged in the process and willing to work together to make a deal happen. There is hope that this is the dawn of new, improved relationships for Education in this province.

Yes, this deal comes much later than any of us like, and although details have not yet been publicized, the bigger picture is a freely negotiated deal was reached.

Many people deserve our gratitude in this, from the mediators involved in this round-Mark Brown, Stephen Kelleher and, of course, Vince Ready; the bargaining team and BCTF table officers, led by Jim Iker for the employees; The BCPSEA team led by Peter Cameron for the government; and for the voice of boards of education (the true employers) at the table, Alan Chell and Silas White.

The process is to now rebuild our relationships and get our students back in schools. There are many logistics issues to work out and I have faith in our team in SD46 that this will move smoothly and as seamlessly as is possible.

Thank you to all of our teachers, support staff,principals and senior management for your continued dedication to our students on the Sunshine Coast. Thank you to the students and parents that call our district home.

Poem from a Negotiation Observer

A hotel deep in Richmond
Is where public focus lies today
We all share the bond
Of waiting to hear what they’ll say

The Hotel corridors, piled
Full of Media, waiting to glimpse
Their Stories soon to be filed
On web, telly and prints

A star of sports, song or movie?
Maybe even Mario Andretti!
No wait, could it be…
The one and only Vince Ready

He crosses the hall to a closed door
To the reporters, a nod of head
They clamour for news of “score”
But he silently enters room instead

The summer that would not end
And continues through this fall
Our kids to school, we’d like to send.
the talks persist, movements small.

At least the teams are at the tables
And even if they don’t share the same space
and continue to use media for their fables
There may be agreement to sign with grace

the public, divided.. a casualty of circumstance
Community, citizens, politicians posturing
Each side shouting their own political rants
Not aware of the bad feelings this is fostering

Our Students are caught in the middle
their futures – clouds- hang in mid-air
To them, this matter is not little
To gamble their lives, not fair

Education in this province should excite
New Curricula, a landscape so opportune
Local boards that take great delight
In the staff and students in each school room.

and outside the Richmond hotel, the Public waits
glued to TV, Facebook and Twitter
to hear of the teachers and their contract fates
Parents, desperately trying not to be bitter

Whether you look from left or right
Your politics do not matter
It’s for our kids we must fight
But not leave each other in tatter

The balance of the modern world is found
in the harmony of success
even arguments can be a sweet sound
In their tangled, ugly mess

At the end of this… we rebuild
relationships, community, schools, our self
We try and forget of animosity that filled
But wait for the next contract to come off shelf

Grad Speech for SCAS June 23, 2014

I had the incredible honour of representing my Board at the Sunshine Coast Alternative School Gradation celebrations earlier today at the SC Golf & Country Club. The students and staff of SCAS are incredible. Their dedication is amazing to get students through school which is why the school motto is “Whatever it Takes”.

I think that would be a great motto for BCEd.

Here’s my speech.

***

Parents and family, staff, community members.
Graduates

On behalf of the Board of Education of School District 46, Sunshine Coast, I bring greeting and Congratulations.

I have to be honest, this is the first time that I have attended the SCAS graduation since I became a trustee. What a great venue and how wonderful to be surrounded by all of your family, friends, community members and teachers.

The Motto of the Sunshine Coast Alternative School is “Whatever it takes”. As trustees at the board level, we do not witness your day to day struggles, triumphs and successes to get you through your coursework and homework.
We do not know of your personal stories – why you chose SCAS, how it works for you and why it kept you in school.
But the teachers and support staff around you do. They have witnessed and coached and struggled with you to get you to this point: graduation.
Your families and friends have been there for you as well and with them you have made it here.

Through the generous donations from our community, you will be awarded bursaries and scholarships. Thank you to the generous support of the entire Sunshine Coast Community for all of our graduates.

Between the staff at SCAS and your families and support system, you have this wonderful network that has brought you to this point and will assist to give you the wings for your next steps.

As trustees, it is our job o create the environment for this to continue through our advocacy and policy directions. We are extremely proud of all of our graduates and for me, especially of our SCAS grads as your path has not always been the straightest line to this finishing point. For me, school was easy – I was the peg that fit in the hole, but many of my friends were not, and they ended up dropping out and not finishing. They did not have the staff and structure of a school like SCAS to do “whatever it takes” to get them to graduation. You have an incredibly dedicated teaching staff that helped you to get you here to this day.

Your success and engagement drives us at the Board table to do better for you all.

We wish you all the best in the next step of your life’s journey.

Congratulations.

Today I am a Mother

This morning I am a mother.

I am comforting my grade seven child. She’s upset that her class field trip to Victoria has been cancelled due to labour disputes. A field trip that has stemmed from her science class talking about the Sakinaw salmon months ago.

The Sakinaw salmon morphed in to a discussion on the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and how the Federal Government introduced legislation to drastically change the structure the DFO. This led to my daughter and a classmate initiating a letter writing campaign amongst their other sixteen classmates to their local, federal and provincial politicians. Their teacher was incredibly engaged, able to use the students’ enthusiasm to promote cross-curricular competencies in social studies.

The students met with their local MLA Nicholas Simons.

Their MP John Weston visited them just last week in their classroom, interviewing a few on their thoughts.

The trip to Victoria was to be a two day event to tour the Legislature and see the seat of government in our province, and experience Question Period. This is a trip that the students have been fundraising for weeks to make happen ; through car washes, sponsorship requests, bake sales, face-painting, and bottle drives.

As a trustee that is involved in local and provincial advocacy, and well versed in the current situation, I can explain all the issues to my daughter. I can tell her how the Province is trying to balance their budget in order to maintain BC’s high financial rating.
I can tell my daughter about how the Liberals campaigned on a ten-year deal with teachers during last year’s election, but how minimally education came up during debates and through all sides during the election campaign.
I can explain how in balancing the provincial books, this means that Education funding is remaining static to districts, which leaves school districts across the province with a shortfall as they try to staff classrooms, cover rising costs of Hydro and BC medical insurance premiums; maintain aging facilities; and deal with the ever-changing provincial directives on cash management and labour policy.
I can tell my daughter about how the publicly elected trustee governance board at BCPSEA (BC Public School Employers’ Association) was fired last summer and how Minister of Education Peter Fassbender appointed a public administrator to oversee the organization, which then resulted in a scramble by BCSTA (BC School Trustees Association) to consult with boards across the province to establish new bargaining structure suggestions prior to legislation regarding BCPSEA was introduced, legislation that has not materialized, nor is it on the immediate horizon.
I can tell my daughter about the bargaining positions of the BCTF and BCPSEA are incredibly far apart, ranging in cost estimates of the millions to billions of dollars, and how depending on which side is presenting the information, the amounts fluctuate.
I can explain how many days the bargaining teams have met since last year, approximately sixteen months ago; how many nights they have spent away from their families, trying to find common ground in the chasm that separates them.
I can explain to my daughter how her teacher is caught between very difficult pressures between his employer and his union, which is why the trip was cancelled.
And even though we have had all of these discussions in my home, the conflicting messages that are circulating regarding strikes, lockouts, and the labour dispute are confusing to us all, let alone my daughter that is missing her trip to Victoria.

But this morning, I am a mother – I have loved up my kids, and given them hugs, cuddles and kisses, and reminded them to be kind to their teachers and fellow classmates, to the staff at their school. I am frustrated for my children, for their teachers, for the trustees and districts across the province, for all of us caught in the middle.

Let’s hope for a negotiated settlement that is fully funded by the province.