Dear Jamieson Families,
Last week, Jamieson PAC met with VSB in response to PAC’s letter and numerous emails from Jamieson families to VSB Trustees. Flo Lum and I met with Magdalena Kassis, Director of Instruction, School Services (responsible for a portfolio of schools including Jamieson) and Adrian Keough, Director of Instruction, Educational Programs (responsible for District Programs including Jamieson’s Mandarin Bilingual Program).
The meeting provided insights into the workings of VSB, the complexities of district programs, and the limitations of budgets and funding. Our concerns were addressed but issues such as extracurricular Strings remain at status quo. (See meeting notes below.)
What can we do? We must continue to talk about the issues. We need to raise our voices – to elected officials, educators, and influencers – and express how much we value the education at Jamieson, and help preserve Jamieson’s legacy for future families.
VSB Meeting, February 28, 2019
Concern: Multiple principals in/out Jamieson in a short period
Goal: establish stability for Jamieson’s administration moving forward
Jamieson’s recent experience with an unusual number of principals in a short period was unfortunate and unintended. Culmination of several factors:
- Attrition – 53 retirements in 12 months in 2017
- Ongoing teacher shortage
- Personal career moves
Principals are installed for 4-5 years, Vice Principals for about 2 years.
To alleviate the situation, Jamieson’s current principal works closely with the VSB and receives ongoing support from past principals.
MANDARIN BILINGUAL PROGRAM (MBP)
Concern: Reduced intake, new admission criteria
Goal: return Jamieson MBP to 5 divisions. Maintain a strong, robust program to feed into Eric Hamber Secondary School’s Mandarin Accelerated Program (MAP).
For 2019-2020, VSB is encouraging applications for Grade 5 (to bump up student #s in this smaller cohort of 14), plus intake in Grade 4 (#s pending availability of classroom space). It is possible there will be 4 divisions only if space is insufficient.
Available classroom space is pending kindergarten intake.
In-catchment kindergarten intake takes priority over District Program intake.
Once Kindergarten intake is finalized in early March, VSB and administration work together to determine MBP intake based on remaining classroom space.
MBP lottery and letters of offer will occur mid-March, close to spring break.
New Admission Criteria
MBP’s admission by lottery (and without assessment) was introduced last year, in keeping with VSB’s non-discrimination policy and educational equity.
Inclusivity opens the doors for greater student diversity in the classroom. VSB recognizes that diversity creates a more challenging environment for teachers. But teachers are required to adapt their teaching to address the broad range of student needs.
Vancouver School District believes in equitable treatment for all. Supports educational equity through the provision of quality programs for all learners regardless of race, colour, ancestry, national or ethno-cultural origin or religion.
VSB Administrative Procedure 170: Non-Discrimination
Challenges for District Programs
- Lack of space for District Programs
- Teacher recruitment especially for specialty areas eg language
When classroom space becomes limited, VSB looks at non-enrolling spaces to convert into classrooms. Non-enrolling spaces are spaces not designated as classrooms eg computer lab, music room, etc. Any available space is prioritized for mainstream curriculum.
If there is insufficient space for District Programs, these programs might be: i. relocated to another school with capacity, or ii. the program is redesigned and shrunken to accommodate fewer students eg Grade 5-7, or Grade 6, 7 only. These options are explored and put forward by VSB staff for consideration by VSB Trustees.
(See French Immersion program at Henry Hudson Elementary)
The VSB’s position is no different today as it was in Spring 2016 when budget cuts were made to District Strings or Band. VSB remains grateful to all teachers who offer extra-curricular programming and does not want to pressure teachers to continue with extra-curricular activities if they are not able to do so.
- VSB cannot inject 0.2 FTE funding back into the budget
- VSB cannot provide additional prep time to cover for extra-curricular programming
- User pay fee for an extra-curricular activity is an option but the instructor cannot be a VSB teacher.