New policy creates more oversight for community schools

Nanaimo trustees want to keeper a tighter leash on the district's community schools programs.

Nanaimo trustees want to keeper a tighter leash on the district’s community schools programs.

They created a new policy partly with that aim in mind.

The biggest change in the proposed policy and procedure is the creation of a community school review committee that would look at what is happening in community schools each year, said trustee Dot Neary.

“It’s kind of more of an ongoing oversight,” she said. “[The program] needs some overall umbrella that continually examines and keeps reviewing what is happening in these schools.”

Neary said the changes are motivated by results of an independent review of the community schools program conducted two years ago, which found that many teachers, support workers and parents with children in these schools don’t have a clear understanding of what a community school is all about.

The review also found the program is missing a strong advocate to keep the schools on track.

The new committee, which would include senior district administrators, would review community schools each year.

The current policy requires a review twice in five years by trustees and members of each community school’s advisory council, which means schools are reviewing their own designations rather than being looked at by someone not directly involved.

“I would like to think it will make a big difference in our understanding of what community schools are doing,” said Neary. “We don’t really know where we’re at with our community schools right now.”

Another change is clearer accounting requirements and a section outlining the need to ensure community school operations do not violate contracts and collective agreements with respect to the use and maintenance of facilities.

“I think that is simply a measure that’s been written down to clarify expectations,” said Neary. “We do have collective agreements in place that have language that limits activities that can take place in our schools.”

For example, custodial work must be done by a district employee, she said.

The proposed changes were approved by the school board as a notice of motion to allow for public comments. To view the proposed policy, please go to www.sd68.bc.ca, click on the Board tab and select Board Policies.

Feedback is being collected until Oct. 31.