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Horizon board reviews several new policies

Posted on October 2, 2019 by Taber Times

By Cole Parkinson
Taber Times

The Horizon School Board have been making their way through a number of their policies with the Education Act being put back in place by the new UCP government.

At a board of trustee regular meeting, the board were presented with seven updated policies in need of first readings.

Tymensen explained to the board that the policies were being updated due to the Education Act coming into place to begin the new school year.

“All of the first reading policies are policies that align with the board of trustees behaviour and practices in terms of governance. I think all of you know that the Education Act was proclaimed and the government has fast-tracked it so that September 1 it legally takes effect. Technically, 100 per cent of your policies need to align with the Education Act on September 1. We know that is an arduous task and moving through that process with the board while looking at some feedback may take several months. You will see a large number of policies coming forward over the next couple of months. This particular meeting really just has the board governance policies in it but you will see operational ones coming forward in the future,” he said. “There were 23 regulations also updated over the summer and they were approved about a week ago by the government so all of our policies need to align with those.”

The first document was Policy AD Educational Philosophy which states the board ‘shall establish a vice principal or assistant principal position consistent with the collective agreement. The position may be assigned to one or more professional staff members.’

“There are only a few minor changes in this one to align with the Education Act. We legally have to have a reference to the notion of safe and caring as well as respectful and welcoming. There is a clause that is slightly being updated in that regard. There is also a minor tweaking of the vision for the division,” stated Tymensen.

Next policy up was Policy BBA School Board Powers and Duties which states the board ‘is a corporate body charged with the mandate of providing Kindergarten to Grade 12 educational services within its jurisdiction. The powers of the board may only be exercised by the board in a duly constituted meeting unless delegated by means of board policy or resolution.’

“The big piece here talks about legally what the board is responsible for and what powers you have. These 14 new items come directly from the Education Act. The other piece, I’m not sure if it will come in this policy or if we develop a new policy, but there is a clause in the Education Act that talks about ward boundaries. There is now a legal requirement for school divisions,” said Tymensen.

Policy BBF School Board Member Ethics and Code of Conduct was originally passed when the Education Act was brought forward when the Progressive Party introduced it in 2012. The policy states the board ‘believes that the board and its members will conduct themselves lawfully, with integrity and high ethical standards, in order to model the behaviours expected of employees and students and to build public confidence and credibility.’

“This one does not have a significant change. Certainly, when the Education Act was initially proposed in 2012, we created this policy and built a code of conduct in for trustees. When it didn’t come forward, you felt it was important for trustees to have a code of conduct anyway so we left that policy in place. It pretty well aligns with the Education Act already but the two big pieces are under the Education Act you have to have a reference or statement of some kind connecting the welcoming, caring, respectful and safe learning environments so that is one change. The second is it legally has to have a reference in there around the human rights regulation or Human Rights Act around the notion that trustees will not discriminate,” explained Tymensen.

Policy BCE Board Organization/Committees was next on the list for the board to review.

The policy states the board ‘has the authority, under the education act, to establish committees and have trustees participate in joint committees established through an agreement with other persons or organizations.’

“This one really talks about board organizing and committees. We tried to clean things up and align with the Education Act,” added Tymensen.

A question raised by the board was around the audit committee which was added to the policy.

In 6.22 Membership, it states ‘at least 5 individuals and shall include at least one of each of the following individuals: a member of the business community who is not a trustee, a member of the adult learning community who is not a trustee and a trustee.

With the board allowed to set the membership however they wanted, they suggested just having two trustees as the member as an amendment to the policy.

Next up for board review was Policy BD Board Meetings which stated the board ‘believes that its ability to discharge its obligations in an effective manner is dependent upon a well-organized board structure and efficient and effective board meetings.’

“Although you had an existing policy that talked about the specifics, there were some sections in the School Act that talked about board meetings. What they did was they deleted all of those out so it really doesn’t address board meetings anymore and they developed a whole new regulation specifically addressing board meetings. Most of the changes here are aligning with that new regulation,” said Tymensen. “Now, trustees if they are unable to attend, and they join electronically, they are considered present.”

Policy BF Policy Development states the board ‘believes one of its primary functions is to establish policies and to assign responsibility for their execution and implementation. written policies shall constitute a basic method by which the board exercises its leadership in the operation of the school system. in formulating policy, careful analysis of the subject will be undertaken, alternatives will be considered, and relevant groups will be consulted.’

The final policy on the docket was Policy BFD School Administrative Procedures which states the board ‘delegates responsibility to schools for the development of local administrative procedures. Administrative procedures must be in harmony with current provincial and/or division policies, guidelines, and regulations.’

All first readings were carried.

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