7. SUPPORT MORE ATTRACTIVE PROGRAMS, NOT FEWER (April 13, 2016)

From: Julee Kaye
Sent: April-13-16 12:26 PM
To: ‘educ.minister@gov.bc.ca’; ‘mike.lombardi@vsb.bc.ca’;
‘allan.wong@vsb.bc.ca’; ‘Janet.fraser@vsb.bc.ca’;
‘fraser.ballantyne@vsb.bc.ca’; ‘christopher.richardson@vsb.bc.ca’;
‘patti.bacchus@vsb.bc.ca’; ‘joy.alexander@vsb.bc.ca’;
‘penny.noble@vsb.bc.ca’; ‘stacy.robertson@vsb.bc.ca’;
‘david.eby.MLA@leg.bc.ca’; ‘andrew.wilkinson.MLA@leg.bc.ca’;
‘communications@vsb.bc.ca’; ‘nbrennan@vsb.bc.ca’; ‘jpearce@vsb.bc.ca’;
‘jstewart@vsb.bc.ca’

Subject: 7. SUPPORT MORE ATTRACTIVE PROGRAMS, NOT FEWER

To VSB’s trustees & Superintendents, our Minister of Education, and my local
MLAs:

In addition to cutting elementary band, strings, and gifted programming, the
VSB has proposed to cut the small fractions of teacher time – in many cases
only 0.14 FTE – and office support time that allow each of the VSB’s coveted
‘mini school’ secondary programs to perform as they do. This would be a very
counterproductive move.

First, note that because they are so attractive to families, these in-demand
mini-school programs operate at very high efficiency with large, full
classes. That’s a direct compensatory cost savings to the VSB.

Secondly, these programs are highly effective at retaining top public school
students – students who could have almost 100% confidence of being accepted
at any private school to which they chose to apply, and many of whom might
indeed be offered bursaries or scholarships. Keeping in mind that each of
those students is worth $7,166 to the VSB next year, then if it costs a
fraction of an office support worker to allow these programs to accomplish
what they do you should probably fund that position!

Perhaps an assumption is being made that the program support time can be cut
and dedicated teachers will donate their own time to allow these programs to
go on operating as well as they do. That may have been true ten years ago,
but teachers now are so much more discouraged and demoralized that it is
very unlikely to work this time. Already, the enrichment provided by these
programs is made possible primarily by the volunteer effort and passion of
self-selected, committed teachers.

The same arguments as above may be made with respect to elementary French
Immersion programs. It is a huge fiscal mistake to allow so much demand for
FI placements to go unmet. In contrast to the regular program, I believe
100% of FI kindergarten and grade 1 classes operate at the maximum possible
class size. Moreover, I know firsthand that some families choose to enrol in
private school after their child fails to win the lottery for FI placement.

Instead of cutting attractive programs, the VSB should strive to offer more
of them. Why not expand FI programming if that is what families want? Why
not increase the number or capacity of mini schools? Admission to these
programs is highly competitive and it is clear many more students could
benefit from them than currently get the opportunity.

If the VSB could be seen to support excellence and promote enrichment in its
programming, then it could win back a much larger share of the Vancouver
student market. Alternatively, if the news continues to report the loss of
enrichment opportunities alongside contract disputes and crumbling
buildings, then sadly the Vancouver public school system has nowhere to go
but down.

Julee Kaye
(Parent from QEA, JQ, General Gordon, Kerrisdale, Kitsilano & soon Point
Grey)