Dear North Vancouver School District Community:
Subject: New Year's greetings - a message from the Chair and the Superintendent
On behalf of the North Vancouver School District, it is our pleasure to welcome you back from the winter break. We hope there was an opportunity to spend quality time with family and friends over the holidays. So far this school year has been highlighted by innovative teaching and assessment practices that continue to nurture deep learning and success for students. Stories of outstanding teaching and student achievement are shared daily on our school district blogand website newssections. These stories are inspiring, and are just a glimpse into the world-class instruction and learning taking place in our school district.
Over the past 12 months, the North Vancouver School District and North Vancouver Board of Education have been undertaking efforts to improve our support for students, staff and parents. We have been striving to engage with our education community with timely information and further opportunities to connect. Various policies have been created or updated due to collaborative work with our education partners: the North Vancouver Parent Advisory Council, District Student Leadership Council, North Vancouver Teachers' Association, Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 389, and North Vancouver Administrators' Association. New policies include: Policy 308: Use of Physical Restraint or Seclusion, Policy 415: Standards of Investigation, andPolicy 808: Renaming Facilities and Parts of Facilities. Updated policies include: Policy 306: Suspected Child/Youth Abuse, Policy 406: Resolving Concerns Regarding Personnel, Programs or Procedures, and Policy 807: Naming of Facilities and Parts of Facilities. Thank you to all those involved in this important policy work.
Students, staff and parents have been involved in academic strategic planning at their schools. They have been working together to determine educational priorities. The school district has created an educational planning websiteto share this work. To find out more about educational planning, please see this blog postwritten by Assistant Superintendent Pius Ryan.
Other changes and improvements have been implemented over the past year as a result of feedback received via the Employee Engagement Survey conducted in 2017. Schools have undertaken initiatives such as weekly staff sharing and staff recognition, organizing storage rooms, creating resource plans, greater Principal and Vice Principal visibility, "belonging committees", social events and celebrations, health and wellness initiatives, and team building activities. At the Education Services Centre, corporate departments have also made changes to better support staff and the larger school district. For example, Human Resources has initiated a 48-hour response time to staff enquiries, created a Community Hub in the internal staff web portal, are piloting a customer service training module, are revamping the employee recognition program, and are visiting schools to build relationships with staff. The Information and Communications Technology department has redesigned its staff training schedule to better serve staff. Facilities and Maintenance have implemented a new maintenance request system that speeds-up response time and communication with schools. A new online system for Occupational Health and Safety is now live. A district-wide professional development day was organized by Learning Services, which was the first time since the 1990's that all 2,500 employees were brought together on the same day for the same learning. The Communications team implemented new protocols for communicating with staff via new departmental updates, cleaned-up the staff web portal and fixed the search function in the web portal. The Senior Administration have been actively visiting schools to participate, observe, listen to and connect with staff. To follow-up on these improvements and to ensure we continue to move forward with positive change, a second Employee Engagement Survey will be conducted at the end of this month.
Great efforts have been made to improve communication and engagement with parents, students and the community. Public Board Meetings are now broadcast live on our website and archived for people to view at a later date. Parents, staff, students and the community are welcome at all Public Board Meetings and Standing Committee Meetings – please see the scheduleand we hope that you can join us. Communications to parents are now consolidated into updates, which enable more information to be shared but with fewer emails. A new communications tool and app for parents, called Sangha, has been launched. A parent communications evening was held in November 2018 to gather feedback from parents about communications and potential improvements moving forward (a report from the evening is available on our website).
We are now implementing a new online engagement tool, Thoughtexchange, that we hope will improve engagement even further. This tool will enable parents, students, staff and the community to be able to more easily provide feedback and collaborate with the school district. The Board of Education will be using the tool to gather feedback on next year's budget.
Much work was also done throughout 2018 relating to capital projects in our school district. Construction of Argyle Secondary is well underway, and design work for the new Handsworth Secondary is taking place. An information meetingregarding the design of Handsworth is taking place on Wednesday night (January 9, 2019) at 6:30 p.m. at Handsworth in the small gym. Approval was received from the Province of BC for a full seismic upgrade of Mountainside Secondary. Once these projects are complete, all seismically high-risk schools in the North Vancouver School District will be seismically safe.
We are pleased to highlight the work done in the past year in the North Vancouver School District. We would like to applaud all parents, staff, students and the greater community for your efforts in making our school district a great place to learn, share and grow.
We wish everyone a happy and healthy 2019. Thank you for your continued support.
Chair, North Vancouver Board of Education
Superintendent, North Vancouver School District