The School District 69 (Qualicum) board of education voiced their disapproval of Bill 11, the Education Statutes Amendment Act, at their regular school board meeting on Tuesday.
“There are a lot of elements about Bill 11 that are quite concerning,” said trustee Julie Austin.
According to a release from the Ministry of Education, the proposed amendments would focus on setting standards for professional development, facilitating shared services among school districts, changing the accountability framework for student learning and aligning the disclosure of student data with the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.
In a letter to MLA Michelle Stilwell, board chair Eve Flynn asked that Bill 11 not be adopted as written as it currently infringes on the autonomy of local boards of education.
Austin also questioned how student data would be used.
Norberta Heinrichs, acting president of the Mount Arrowsmith Teachers’ Association, also expressed her organization’s disapproval of the bill.
“As teachers, we’re curious as to why there might be such need for control of local pro-D from a government body,” she said, adding that the current pro-D program in SD69 “is the envy of many locals.”
Also at Tuesday’s meeting, Joe Martino presented a petition asking the school board to officially rename Ballenas Secondary School’s field to “John Philip Field” after long-time teacher John Philip. The petition of 281 signatures was organized by the group Friends-of-Philip-Field.
“I’m really hopeful that the board will approve,” said Martino, who helped bring the football program to Ballenas with Philip and other BSS staff.
Philip, who has served nearly three decades as a teacher, coach, athletic director and international student program co-ordinator, will retire from BSS this year. Matino said the community owes “a debt of gratitude” to Philip, who was at the forefront of having the field reconstructed with proper drainage.
In other board news:
• the board approved the annual budget bylaw for 2015/16 in the amount of $49,209,594.
• The board also approved the Annual Facility Grant allocations of $920,520 for use in various up-keeping projects in the district’s schools, such as boiler and security system upgrades, exterior painting and air duct cleaning. The projects also include the removal of the curb at the Oceanside Elementary School bus entrance and a new drop off for parents at Bowser Elementary.