North Vancouver School District
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Proposed Competitive (Elite) Hockey Academy

* This academy is proposed for the 2021/22 school year  


Consultation timeline:

March 6 - 13, 2020 - Online feedback gathered from the Seycove Family of Schools.

April 1, 2020 - The public meeting, originally planned for April 1, has been postponed due to the ban on large gatherings by the Provincial Health Officer during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fall 2020 - We will re-engage the consultation process with the intent of holding a public meeting.

Note: Next steps will be determined and communicated to the Seycove community when it is safe to complete the consultation process.


Competitive Hockey Academy – Q&A


On Tuesday, February 25, 2020, at the Public Board Meeting of the North Vancouver Board of Education, the Board gave approval in principle for an elite hockey academy at Seycove Secondary School. Below are the common questions and concerns that the North Vancouver Board of Education and North Vancouver School District have heard from the Seycove family of schools community.

Note: As many people provided similar feedback, many of the comments/questions listed below are synthesized. Some, however, are exact questions/comments that have been submitted to the school district.


Purpose

Why even bring an elite hockey academy to the North Vancouver School District (NVSD)?

The purpose of bringing a competitive hockey academy to the North Vancouver School District is to be able to offer a program where North Vancouver students can stay in our school district if they are high-level hockey players. Currently, 30 students of the 76 students enrolled in the West Vancouver hockey academy live on the North Shore. Many other local students leave the North Shore to attend hockey academies in other school districts. Right now, students living in North Vancouver need to leave our community if they wish to participate at an elite level in hockey.

The proposed hockey academy, like other existing North Vancouver School District specialty academies, supports the school district's vision and strategic goals. Our vision is: We provide world-class instruction and a rich diversity of engaging programs to inspire success for every student and bring communities together to learn, share and grow. Our strategic goals include personalized learning and innovative programs. Two of our six strategic goals are:

  • Develop and promote innovative and sustainable programs.
  • Encourage the growth of collaborative, adaptive and personalized learning environments.


Approval Process

Why has there been a lack of transparency regarding this new academy?

The North Vancouver School District recognizes that communication with the school community has not been adequate. We are sorry that we have not provided clear communication and recognize the concern this miscommunication has caused. We should have better explained the process undertaken in the North Vancouver School District for the consideration, development and approval of specialty academies, so that the entire community was aware of how the process would unfold, along with anticipated timelines and consultations.

The North Vancouver School District currently has 10 academies, and proposals for additional academies continue to be received by the school district. For instance, in addition to the proposed competitive hockey academy, the Board provided approval in principle earlier this school year for a rowing academy, although this academy is not moving forward at this time because it could not secure a teacher-sponsor. The school district was also approached regarding another sport academy this school year, which did not proceed to approval discussion with the Board.

In recent years, introduction of new specialty academies in the North Vancouver School District have been considered and brought forward to the Board in a consistent manner. Initial review of a proposed academy offering is undertaken by school district staff. Staff explore whether or not the academy is feasible, if it meets an identified need within the community, if there is space to accommodate an academy at any of our schools, and if there is probability for success in our school district. If staff determine this to be the case, the identified school and school PAC representatives are advised of the possibility, and preparations are made to inform the Board.

It is at this point that proposed academies are presented to the Board of Education for their approval in principle. This provides staff with confirmation that the Board is interested in the potential offering of the academy and that further detailed groundwork and planning may occur.

From this point, there is opportunity to consult with the broader school community, and operational details regarding the academy can be further discussed with the school administration and the service provider. Once consultation is complete and operational and programming details are clarified, it can then be determined if the academy will proceed. If it will proceed, then an agreement is negotiated with the service provider.

With the competitive hockey academy, we are in the phase of consultation and exploring details.

The concerns brought forward from the Seycove community related to transparency have demonstrated that there is a need for academy approval processes to be clearly laid out and publicly available on the school district website.

Why was it stated at the February 25, 2020, Public Board Meeting that consultation with the PAC had occurred when it had not?

The process of communicating with the school administration and PAC was not clearly explained at the Public Board Meeting. The specific steps taken, and those yet to be taken, should have been described. Prior to the Public Board Meeting, the school administration and school PAC representatives were advised of the potential academy. The PAC representatives responded with feedback, questions and concerns. The intention was to continue consultation discussions with the PAC, addressing their feedback, questions and concerns, following approval in principle for the academy. We apologize for not explaining these steps to the school PAC, school community or at the Public Board Meeting.

Note: The definition of 'consult' in the public participation process is available on the school district website here.

Were other schools considered for the program? If so, which ones? Why were these ones not selected?

Sutherland Secondary School was considered, but the growth rate for that school is too high. The school district's Long Range Facilities Plan anticipates that Sutherland will be operating at 98% capacity by 2026. All other secondary schools do not have the space capacity for the academy, so they were not considered.

How will the decision-making process unfold?

The school district will complete the consultation phase that consists of the online survey and the public meeting on April 1. Questions and concerns raised will be posted and addressed on the NVSD website. This information, and the responses, will be presented and discussed at the public meeting on April 1. A recommendation from staff will be provided to trustees for their consideration.

How will this process be communicated out to the community?

The consultation process has been posted on our website. Updates on the decision making process will be added.

What has the board done since the Seycove parent meeting?

See consultation process above.

Why was the Thoughtexchange survey shut down after a couple of days?

The link to the Thoughtexchange survey was shared on social media with a larger audience than the Seycove community. The NVSD feared that input from outside the Seycove community would not be representative of the intended participants.

Why does the engagement period take place over spring break?

The NVSD is eager to hear from the community, and clarify any misunderstandings as soon as possible. This information will be used to inform the decision-making process.

Has a joint venture agreement and contract been signed?

No. At this point, we are still in the phase of consultation and exploring details.

Will the school administration and parents be a part of the negotiation of the final contract?

The school community is involved in the consultation process that informs academy contract decisions, but not in the actual drafting of contracts between the school district and service providers.


Past experience of the academy

Why is the academy leaving Sentinel Secondary School?

It is important to note that there have been many unfounded rumours and unsubstantiated statements made about the hockey academy and its relationship with West Vancouver Schools.

Discussions the North Vancouver School District has had with West Vancouver Schools and Spartan Sport Group Inc., as well as published reports, regarding the departure of the program from West Vancouver identify capacity, academic success, scheduling and programming issues. Sentinel Secondary School is quite full and space may be required for in-catchment Sentinel students in the future.

Is the school district and school board aware of behavioural concerns of academy students in West Vancouver?

The North Vancouver School District has not been provided with any concerns from West Vancouver Schools or Spartan Sport Group Inc. related to the actions of players. There were no serious behaviour incidents reported in the 5 years that the hockey academy was at Sentinel Secondary School. There were no suspensions or expulsions of hockey academy players for behaviour concerns. The frequency and severity of any incidents of negative actions reported to the North Vancouver School District about the hockey academy players were the same as non-hockey academy players of the same age.

The school district is aware that there were concerns related to the academic success of some students in the academy. The program that the North Vancouver School District is exploring with the academy provider would include additional academic support for academy students, including teaching support and counselling support (academic and social-emotional). We are also aware that the West Vancouver School District indicated publicly that there were capacity, scheduling and programming challenges related to providing the players with an academic program that works with their hockey schedules.

We have, however, now been made aware by the Seycove community of hearsay concerns that have been brought to their attention. There have been some alarming terms used in this conversation, such as "bullying", "harassment", "violence", "aggression", and "toxic masculinity". It is concerning that this stereotype applied to sports teams is being perpetuated without evidence and these teenage hockey players are being tainted with these accusations.

I've read in the press that players in the former academy were causing problems, including issues of bullying:

Bullying is considered a very serious, negative behaviour in public school and is met with stern consequences. There were no suspensions or expulsions of hockey academy players for bullying or harassment in the entire time the hockey academy was at Sentinel.

Has the North Vancouver School District reached out to West Vancouver School District to find out why they didn't renew the contract with Spartan?

Yes. As was quoted in the North Shore News, there was concern that Sentinel would need added capacity for increased enrolment in the future. There were also concerns about the academic support that was required for some of the hockey academy students. The NVSD proposes to address this academic support by adding learning services support that will be funded by the Spartan Sports Group.

Is there a lawsuit involving the academy from its time in West Vancouver Schools?

There is no evidence of a legal action against Spartan Sport Group Inc. relating to its time in West Vancouver Schools.

 

Effect on Seycove Secondary School


The academic requirements for the academy students will need to be in the first three blocks. Will Seycove experience the same scheduling and programming concerns that Sentinel experienced?

Scheduling of academics for academy students will occur in the same manner as all existing North Vancouver School District specialty academies. In our school district, secondary school timetables provide three (3) instructional blocks in the morning and one (1) in the afternoon. Academy-specific courses for all of our specialty academies are scheduled in the afternoon block.

Physically, there is capacity at Seycove Secondary School to accommodate additional students. While the details of how scheduling and programming could work still need to be considered, we do not anticipate any issues with providing academic programming for students in the academy. Provision of academic studies will be similar to scheduling for other academies, including the basketball academy at Seycove.

What about the issue of preferential treatment for these academy students? Will they be guaranteed priority over existing 'non-hockey' students?

The hockey students will not receive preferential treatment. Their presence in the school will increase enrolment in courses in every grade. This increase in enrolment will result in more sections of each course being available. This increased number of sections will provide more flexibility in scheduling to everyone in the course. Hockey players will be limited to taking academic courses in the first three blocks of the day.

How will the introduction of this academy affect traffic around Seycove?

Hockey players from outside the North Shore will likely be bussed to Seycove. The routes have yet to be determined but currently there is a route that begins in South Surrey and then goes to North Surrey, Burnaby, and then to the North Shore. The other route begins in Vancouver and ends on the North Shore. At the end of the day, the players will be bussed to Canlan Ice Sports centre or Hollyburn Country Club for practice.

There are concerns that 76 additional male students will alter the culture of the school:

Seycove is an incredibly inclusive and warm school community. It has a wonderful climate and a culture of success across many areas: academics, athletics, fine and performing arts, and service. It prides itself on being an inclusive environment; it welcomes all students. It also has the physical space to accommodate 76 students for the long-term.

Over the years, other programs have been brought successfully to Seycove. The international education program, for instance, has brought new students into the school. There are roughly 90 international education program students enrolled annually at Seycove. This program has been successful and has enhanced the vibrancy of the school.

Currently, there are also 55 students who attend Seycove who do not live in the catchment and whom have been welcomed into the Seycove school community.

The hockey academy would add between 15-20 additional students per grade to the student population. Seycove has the capacity to accommodate additional students. There are currently 521 students at the school and the school capacity is 700.

Female players are eligible to tryout for the academy teams. The Spartan Sports Group has invited a female player to tryout for one of its bantam teams for next season.

There are concerns about gender imbalance:

Under the Human Rights Code, discrimination based on gender is prohibited. School districts do not have the ability, nor does our school district have the desire, to make enrolment decisions based on gender. Genders within schools fluctuate daily, and they also vary by grade and class.

This academy would greatly disrupt the safe and welcoming environment for students that are historically marginalized (such as introverted students, low socio-economic students, students with mental health issues and LGQBT+ students):

Seycove has an inclusive and caring culture. The North Vancouver School District also places inclusion and social emotional learning and mental health as two of our five educational priorities. All students from all backgrounds and with all types of interests are accepted and supported, and their inclusion contributes to positive school environments that foster a sense of belonging for all students. Acceptance and inclusion work to mitigate marginalization.

There is no clear understanding what expectations the school will have about the elite hockey players' participation in the student community. The academy students will be limited in their participation in school activities and clubs due to their schedules and expectations related to their hockey commitments:

Schools in the North Vancouver School District do not place school-community participation as a mandatory requirement on any students. Good citizenship and service orientation are both components of a well-round education, but no students at Seycove are currently required to participate in school community initiatives. The culture at Seycove, however, is conducive to encouraging all students to be involved and included in the school community.

Is the administration of the school district, administration of Seycove and the management of the Spartan Sport Group Inc. on the same page as it pertains to expectations for student conduct and academics?

Students in academies are held to the same standards and expectations as all other students. Codes of Conduct must be upheld, active participation in an educational program must be maintained, and academic requirements must be met.

This academy does not share the same core values as the North Vancouver School District and Seycove Secondary School:

The mission of the hockey academy while at Sentinel Secondary was: Developing the next generation of values-based leaders and responsible difference makers in an inspiring environment of education, leadership, and sport excellence. The mission of Seycove Secondary is: The Seycove community strives to engage its members in opportunities for collaborative innovation and learning, to build and maintain purposeful connections and relationships, and to create a safe environment in which to develop citizens of integrity. Both of these missions focus on learning, relationships, values and integrity.

There is no clear expectations for parent participation. Seycove is a community school that supports feeder schools. Parents are integral in the community.

The School Act does not provide for any requirement of parents/guardians regarding parent participation. Although parent/guardian involvement is encouraged, the North Vancouver School District, therefore, does not place, nor is it able to place, school-community participation requirements on any parents/guardians. However, the culture at Seycove is conducive to encouraging all families to be involved and included in the school community, and we recognize that there is a large percentage of parents within the community who do so.

What benefit will the academy bring to current Seycove students?

In general, schools with larger student populations are able to provide more robust academic programs through the ability to potentially provide additional elective programming for students, based upon increased available students and increased staffing that comes with higher student enrolment. Seycove is a small school that has not been able to offer as many options to students as our larger secondary schools. While the school district does provide additional support to Seycove to ensure healthy programming, having more students will bolster the programming further.


Effect on the North Vancouver School District

The Elite Hockey Academy will negatively impact the Hockey Skills Academy:

The students served by each academy differ considerably. The two academies will not overlap in terms of students who will take part.

The school district will be compensated $700,000 in provincial funding for this program:

The Province of B.C. funds public schools primarily on a per pupil basis. In other words, the final amount of funding provided to each school district is calculated, in large part, based on the number of students enrolled. The per pupil funding in this current school year is $7,468. Increased funding to the school district will come by nature of the fact that additional students will be added to the school district. Currently, none of the 76 students previously participating in the academy were enrolled in the North Vancouver School District. An additional 76 students at Seycove would equate to an increase of $567,568 to the grant funding received from the Province. (There are some aspects of additional funding that relate to specific programs and situations and not student numbers.)

As noted previously, the academy fees collected from students and families will provide for the costs of delivery of the hockey-specific program. All public school specialty academies in the province of BC are operated on a revenue neutral basis; they do not bring in a profit for the school district.

Why is an elite program being allowed in a public school?

The proposed hockey academy is for high-level, elite hockey players; i.e., students who are playing hockey at an advanced, competitive level. The term "elite" applies, in the hockey context, to the students and to the level of hockey that is played. These students, like all other B.C. resident students, are entitled to a free, public education.

Those accepted into the academy through the tryout process can come from a variety of backgrounds and socio-economic circumstances. To be performing at an advanced level, players have already invested considerable time, effort and energy into their hockey development and their families may have invested considerable financial resources over the course of their hockey experience.

It is important to clarify that all academies are revenue neutral and that the School Act requires that fees charged for specialty academies can recover "the direct costs incurred by the board in providing the specialty academy that are in addition to the costs of providing a standard educational program".

Therefore, the fees that are charged for the academy provide for the hockey-specific parts of the academy program – such as the coaching, ice time rentals, and team/game costs including things like travel and tournament costs. Performance and coaching at levels of higher development incur higher costs than, for example, the non-competitive Hockey Skills academy offered at Windsor Secondary.

All of the speciality academies offered in the North Vancouver School District, with the exception of the Digital Media Academy and Artists for Kids, are run by private, third-party service providers. The basketball academy has a competitive stream that also requires a tryout.

The objective in considering a competitive hockey academy is to offer a program where North Vancouver students can stay in the North Vancouver School District if they are high-level hockey players. Right now, students need to leave our school district for programs offered in other school districts.

This is an elitist academy that also discriminates against females:

Female players are eligible to play for this team and other teams in the Canadian Sport School Hockey   League. This season there was a female goalie for one of the Calgary Edge bantam teams. The Spartan Sports Group is assessing a female player for their bantam team next season.

Are there any conflicts of interest between the Board or senior school district staff and this proposed academy?

No members of the Board of Education or the school district's senior staff are affiliated with Spartan Sport Group Inc., nor have children that would be enrolled in the proposed academy.

We were told that this academy is the same as other North Vancouver School District academies. There are many similarities and differences between this academy and the other NVSD academies.

Similarities:

  • There are currently 10 academies in the NVSD. Seven of these academies (soccer, basketball, volleyball, field hockey, lacrosse, dance, and hockey skills) are run by a private, for-profit, third-party service provider.
  • Two of the NVSD academies (basketball and Volleyball) have competitive streams and players must try out for these streams.

Differences:

  • There are currently 10 academies in the NVSD. Three of these academies (Artists for Kids, Digital Media Academy, and Digital Media Academy Lite) are run by NVSD staff.
  • Five of the NVSD academies emphasize skill developmentand, provided there is space, are open to all registrants.
  • All hockey academy students would attend one site (withthe exception of players who would prefer French Immersion programming).
  • The cost of the proposed hockey academy is considerablyhigher than the other NVSD academies.

Why not fill the seats at Seycove with students living inside the district, through other programs such as PLP?

There is adequate space at Seycove for both programs.

Why should a for-profit business be able to use a public building?

Academies provide an opportunity for students to develop skills in their areas of passion. This experience leads to a strong sense of identity, a network of others with the same interests, and the confidence to takeon new challenges.

NVSD staff do not have the expertise to offer all of the academy experiences in demand in North Vancouver, so third-party providersare contracted to provide a rich learning experience.

Seven of the NVSD academies (soccer, basketball, volleyball, field hockey, lacrosse, dance, and hockey skills) are run by a private,for-profit, third-party service provider.

Any student can attend any school in B.C., provided that there is room.

The B.C. School Act states:

Subject to section 74.1, a person may enrol in an educational program provided by a board of a school district and attend any school in British Columbia if

(a)   the person is of school age,

(b)   the person is resident in British Columbia, and

(c)   the board providing the educational program determines that space and facilities are available for the person at the school in which the educational program is made available.

How many North Shore students will be enrolled in the community?

Currently there are 14 North Vancouver residents and 16 West Vancouver residents enrolled in the hockey academy. These numbers may change with next year's registrations.


Hockey Culture


Hockey at a competitive level is marked by "physical violence," "verbal taunting," "aggression," "misogyny," "homophobia," and "toxic and hegemonic masculinity":

The North Vancouver School District does not subscribe to the belief that all hockey players are violent, aggressive, misogynistic, homophobic, and toxic. To provide this as a blanket statement regarding all competitive hockey players is unfair.

The North Vancouver School District is a leader in supporting diversity and inclusion, as well as providing social emotional education to students, exemplified by the virtues of understanding and managing emotions; setting and achieving positive goals; feeling and caring for others; creating and maintaining positive relationships; and making responsible decisions. These skills are taught to all students.

All students within the North Vancouver School District are required to abide by their school's Code of Conduct. Students participating in the competitive hockey academy will be no different.


 

Public Schooling and Private Enterprise


The proposed academy is not an equal opportunity program that will be offered to all students regardless of means:

All of the NVSD academies have fees. All of the service providers also have a requirement, in the joint venture agreement signed with the district, to provide bursaries for students for whom the cost is a barrier.

The proposed academy is not an equal opportunity program that will be offered to all students regardless of gender:

The CSSHL and Hockey Canada do not restrict female players from playing on their male teams. There was a young woman who played goalie on one of the Calgary Edge teams during this past hockey season. The Spartan Sports Group is considering a female player who resides in North Vancouver for one of their bantam teams for next season.

The proposed academy is not an equal opportunity program that will be offered to all students regardless of ability:

The NVSD currently has competitive streams in two of its academies; the basketball academy and volleyball academies have tryouts for players who prefer that level of development and a more competitive environment.

What is the annual fee of the academy?

Should the proposed academy proceed to implementation, the program fees and budget will be negotiated with the service provider, Spartan Sport Group Inc. The fee while the academy operated at Sentinel Secondary was $22,000 a year.

The proposed hockey academy's base cost is $22,000 and with travel and other fees can range up to $40,000. This is not a public school type program, quite the contrary. The school district would need to adhere to provision in the School Act related to financial hardship:

All NVSD academies are responsible for providing bursaries to families for whom the cost is a barrier.

Is the Board aware of when Spartan tryouts start?

The tryouts for the hockey academy were scheduled from April 3 to 5. At this time the schedule is uncertain. The Spartan Sports group is following their usual steps to prepare for next season, wherever the academy eventually lands.