1409, 2017

Response to Edmonton Council of Early Years Coalitions Questionnaire

14, Sep, 2017|Comments Off on Response to Edmonton Council of Early Years Coalitions Questionnaire

Candidates receive questionnaires from interested parties.  Here is the Edmonton Council of Early Years Coalitions questionnaire and my responses:

To The Edmonton Public School Board Trustee Candidates:

The Edmonton Council of Early Years Coalitions, representing the seven city coalitions, congratulates you on your candidacy in the School Board election to serve children and education in our city.  There are approximately one hundred provincially mandated coalitions in Alberta comprised of volunteers including parents, grandparents, educators, health providers, librarians, child care providers, agencies and others who are committed to nurturing young children in the community.  These Coalitions focus on increasing public knowledge about the importance of the early years in a child’s development.  They do so by linking with families and other stakeholders, improving collaboration, facilitating local actions, and advocating for enhanced environments and services that help young children attain their full potential.

  • If elected, how will you champion the Early Years in your governance work on the EPSB?  The 2013-2017 Board of which I am a member explicitly added support for Early Years education to the District Strategic Plan.  This decision was in recognition of the critical importance of a child entering Grade One with appropriate emotional, social, intellectual and physical development milestones to that child’s success as a student.  I will continue to advocate for inclusion of early years development as a priority focus for Edmonton Public Schools.
  • How will you support your Board’s current initiatives focused on young children and their families? The Board significantly expanded early learning “Pre-Kindergarten” programming under a new delivery model. The Edmonton Public Schools Foundation raises funds to support provision of full day Kindergarten.  I support expansion of Pre-K and full day Kindergarten based on current research and evidence from our existing programs.
  • Do you have any new or different initiatives to propose that will improve the early childhood development results for young children?  If so, what are they? 1. Early development encompasses a number of development milestones.  I believe it important that Edmonton Public Schools expand its partnerships with health care and other service providers to ensure timely assessments and supports to help children achieve these milestones. 2. Edmonton Public Schools has been working to ensure child care spaces in new and modernized schools.  I would welcome the opportunity to explore greater partnerships to ensure that early years child care services throughout the city incorporate developmentally appropriate early learning programs into their service.
1409, 2017

Bessie Nichols Playground Fence, September 14, 2017

14, Sep, 2017|Comments Off on Bessie Nichols Playground Fence, September 14, 2017

A number of parents at Bessie Nichols School have expressed concerns about safety hazards created by temporary fencing erected near the playground by the private contractor responsible for maintaining the school.  I was able to visit the school to see first hand the congestion and the potential hazards during morning bell.

I have shared the parents concerns with the District administration to work towards resolution.  One challenge is that the school administration and District cannot unilaterally act, as the maintenance rests within the contract between the Alberta Government and the private contractor.  I will update as I receive more information.

1309, 2017

Responding to the Edmonton Capital Club Candidate Questionnaire

13, Sep, 2017|Comments Off on Responding to the Edmonton Capital Club Candidate Questionnaire

Candidates receive questionnaires from interested parties.  Here is the Edmonton Capital Club questionnaire and my responses:


Dear Trustee Candidate,

At over 1.3 million citizens and growing, Edmonton’s capital region, the 5th largest in Canada, is one of the fastest growing regions in Canada. Unique to this region is one of Canada’s youngest populations where issues of diversity and difference are at the forefront of social policies, programs, and community initiatives.

Of its 1.3 million citizens, it is estimated that about 10% – or about 130,000 –identify as sexual and gender minority community members. While 1 in 10 may be LGBTQ, 6 in 10 people have family members, colleagues and friends who are sexual or gender minorities. This represents 780,000 potential LGBTQ allies in the Edmonton region.

The Capital Club believes that diversity enhances economic success and is a vital part of the social fabric of vibrant, resilient, and healthy communities.

The Capital Club is Edmonton’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Queer (LGBTQ) Professionals’ Association. We invite candidates to participate in our third election survey to help us understand your knowledge and awareness of the Capital Region’s diverse sexual and gender minority communities and issues.

We invite you to respond to the following 2017 municipal election trustee candidate survey questions:

  1. Do you support gay-straight student alliances in schools? Yes. 
  2. Do you support human rights and full accommodation for transgender students and staff? Yes
  3. Do you support “outing” LGBTQ students without their express permission? No
  4. Do you support age-appropriate curricular inclusion of LGBTQ topics in the K-12 curriculum? Yes, although the Province, not Edmonton Public, establishes the K-12 curriculum.
  5. Do you support standalone comprehensive sexual orientation and gender identity policies, which support LGBTQ students, staff, and families as a mandatory requirement for all school boards in Alberta? I believe this is a requirement of Alberta Education. I support the Edmonton School Board’s Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Policy. 

Some of your readers may be curious about my vote in the September 12 Board meeting regarding waiver of notice of motion. You can find my explanation here:

My Support for Protecting Kid’s Privacy in joining GSAs

Your responses will be shared verbatim (unedited) and will be made public to help inform voters.

While The Capital Club does not endorse any single candidate, we are committed to ensuring that sexual and gender minority issues are an integral part of municipal election and school board trustee debates.

The Capital Club reserves the right not to publish any defamatory or offensive statements submitted by candidates.

Thank you for taking the time to participate in our survey.

The Capital Club

1309, 2017

My Support for Protecting Kid’s Privacy in joining GSAs

13, Sep, 2017|Comments Off on My Support for Protecting Kid’s Privacy in joining GSAs

A number of constituents have asked me to explain my vote September 12th concerning the notice of motion for the Board to reaffirm the existing Policy on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity.

Many in the community mistakenly thought the motion had to do with creating a new policy. Many also expressed concern that with the waiver of notice of motion meant there would be no chance for input as the decision would be reached in the same meeting of September 12th.

First off, I support GSAs and protecting kids privacy. That is EPSB current policy and yesterday’s vote does not change that at all.

I did not vote against GSAs.  Allow me to explain.

The motion yesterday was simply to affirm our existing policy, which I support and will say so when the motion gets discussed at the next meeting.

What I voted against was a request to waive notice of motion, which would have short-circuited our normal process to introduce a motion one meeting, gather info then discuss at the next.  The reason for my vote to follow normal process was that trustees heard from literally hundreds (about 400 at last estimate) of people, on either side of what they perceived was creating a new policy.  I heard directly from constituents that were not part of an organized lobby, who merely raised questions and concerns that deserve to be heard. Many opposed to what they perceived as the District withholding information from parents were concerned about not being heard, and having a procedural “trick” of waiving notice to not hear them.  I believe it important as a District to honour all input, even those we disagree with.  In this case, it gives the District time to share with the community:

– the policy has been in place since 2011

– it follows the law

– we have had no issues with it

– it protects students privacy, but also continues to require parental notification and approval for any offsite activity.

I made what is called a Request for Information so that the District will develop such a report and we can reassure folks that the current policy is the right policy and works well.

As a parent I believe that students have the right to determine when they inform their parents on this one specific issue. Just as with a physician, personal privacy for safety reasons prevails.  More importantly, this is in fact the law that the District must follow.  The District’s legal counsel explained that on this point FOIP trumps other legislation, including the Family Law Act.

Parents should not be concerned that the Board can withhold any and all information, the Policy in question is very specific to applying to the GSA situation.

The lack of solid information raises people’s fears, which was the whole point in voting yesterday to follow our regular process and to request a report to provide this information.

The Board’s job should be to help educate and bring people together.

I would be happy to answer your questions.


1309, 2017

Michael A Kostek School Council September 12, 2017

13, Sep, 2017|Comments Off on Michael A Kostek School Council September 12, 2017

Delighted to see 20 parents at last night’s meeting – great start to the year. Thanks to Chair Leanne and rest of Council for welcoming me.

Principal Marshall and Assistant Principal Harwood covered a number of topics yesterday:

  • average class sizes are 22-26, lower than last year
  • school assessment plan
  • school calendar for the year
  • how teachers share student results to improve teaching practices
  • redesign of SchoolZone

Kudos for the parents for providing great feedback on what content and features they would like in SchoolZone, including for mobile devices.

1209, 2017

Highlights of the September 12, 2017 Board meeting

12, Sep, 2017|Comments Off on Highlights of the September 12, 2017 Board meeting

The last meeting before breaking for the election period was a busy one!  Some of the highlights in order of the agenda include:

  1. a decision to amend the District capital plan to assign a year one priority to the Westlawn school redevelopment.  After extensive community consultation, the Westlawn proposal was assigned a high priority because it received the highest level of community support compared to Britannia and Rosslyn proposed redevelopments. The District has evaluated the student population trends for neighbourhoods around the south LRT line over a ten year period beginning five years before the station opened and ending five years after the station opened. The student population for Kindergarten to Grade 9 students fluctuated slightly year over year but was relatively stable over the ten year period in all neighbourhoods. The opening of the LRT stations has not significantly impacted the student population in these neighbourhoods. Based on past experiences and the uncertainty regarding the timeline for the LRT project, the District does not anticipate a significant change in enrolment in the Westlawn area in the short or long term.  Nevertheless, the District has implemented two methods that will allow us to accommodate an increase in the number of students if required: a) designed to expand with enrolment, and b) the District has projected the enrolment based on a higher retention of resident students than the current trend for the area.
  2. passage of Board Policy HG.BP Student Behavior and Conduct.  The old policy was revised to ensure compliance with the School Act.  The draft Policy was open for stakeholder review June 7 to July 5, 2017.  The District received 453 responses.  While large majorities of the responses indicated they did not have concerns, a number of amendments were made to address stakeholder concerns.
  3. I have been advocating initiatives to share our limited funds to get a better bang for taxpayers and our students.  One area identified by the District administration is for Edmonton Public to lead implementation of new provincial curricula. The next steps is for the Board to urge Alberta Education to engage with districts to identify effective mechanisms for collaboration and sharing among school districts in preparation for curriculum change, then provide support to implement these mechanisms.
  4. Good work on the District’s Energy and Environment Strategy. Next step is Board advocacy to increase access to Federal and Provincial climate change funding.
  5. The Board’s annual self evaluation.  Each year, the Board conducts a self-evaluation to assess its performance with respect to the Board’s roles and responsibilities. The purpose of the self-evaluation is to review the Board’s performance and determine:
    1. what is being done well, and
    2. what aspects of Board activity require improvement and a corporate commitment to Board development

    The data derived from the survey will be used to inform planning and process improvement. This feedback will be available to the incoming Board to inform their work as they begin their term in October.

  6. Results of the District’s 2017 Feedback Survey. To support monitoring progress toward the goals and outcomes of the District Strategic Plan (2014- 2018) and support a culture of evidence based decision making the District conducts an annual District Feedback Survey to select groups. The District received 31,542 responses to the 2017 District Feedback Survey, including: • 12,456 Grades 3 and 5 students. • 9,340 Grades 8 and 11 students. • 5,444 staff. • 3,873 parents. • 429 community members or partners. The data gathered annually through the survey will support and contribute to the following planning and reporting initiatives in the District: o Three-Year Education Plan/Annual Education Results Report (3YEP/AERR). o Catchment strategic planning sessions. o School/community engagement and reporting (Results Review and Budget Planning).
  7. Update on Engagement Efforts under the District Strategic Plan. The Report outlines initiatives to support of District Governance including establishment of the Student Senate, greater stakeholder involvement in policy review, and engagement regarding District infrastructure.  Responses to the District Feedback Survey questions on governance and engagement suggest more can be done.  For example, I would like to build on the Career Pathways focus to bring more of our parents and community partners to share their wisdom and experience with our students.  This is also a natural initiative to engage the Student Senate.
  8. Notice of Motion concerning Board Policy HFA.BP Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity.  I did not support waiver of notice of motion to honour the requests of parents to not rush the discussion of this motion. While the motion simply reaffirms existing Board policy, not all parents are aware of the legal requirements the District is obliged to follow, the safeguards embedded in District practices, the engagement process the District used several years ago in the development of the policy and District experience since the policy was introduced. I have requested the District develop such a report for the next Board meeting to help inform our parents and constituents as the District affirms the existing Policy.
909, 2017

On the campaign trail September 9

9, Sep, 2017|Comments Off on On the campaign trail September 9

Doorknocking in Parkview today. Lots of interest in volunteers in schools and an interesting idea from Brian W about partnering schools and seniors.  Also a concern about high speeds on 142 Street affecting kids crossing to get to school.

509, 2017

On the campaign trail September 4

5, Sep, 2017|Comments Off on On the campaign trail September 4

I campaigned by every Ward E school throughout today and was very impressed to see the vehicles of dedicated staff at every school.  Our staff showing how much they care for their students!