Community Voice Shapes Board Decisions

Posted On Tuesday March 01, 2022

By Heather Grieve, Board Chair

March 1, 2022

In recent months the SD 73 Board of Education and District staff have had opportunities to engage with our community members, employee groups, students, and Indigenous rights holders. These collaborations have highlighted the importance of seeking to understand perspectives and considering those perspectives when making decisions.

Most recently, we had the opportunity for engagement of employee groups, Indigenous rights holders, and parents in sharing their questions on the staff vaccination policy. While the BC Public Sector Employers’ Association (BCPSEA) indicated that the Board could not change their staff vaccination policy template, we could seek questions and provide answers, and offer clarifications on points of confusion as we worked with our committee. Discussions around a difficult topic, one with many perspectives, resulted in increased clarity and understanding of those involved. While not everyone agreed with the final decision, the committee members confirmed that they felt that they had a voice and that they understood what was happening, why, and what the outcome could be.  Our hopes are that this opportunity has improved relationships and given us a solid foundation for discussion and mutual understanding when future issues arise that we may face together.

The development of the District’s Student Dress Code Administrative Procedure gave us an opportunity to review the current procedure. Following an incident that occurred, it presented an opportunity for the Board to pursue a collaborative inquiry into the previous dress code that involved multiple students’, parents’, Indigenous rights holders’, and community groups’ voices. These individuals met repeatedly to collaboratively revise the dress code. After months of review and community input into successive drafts, a final Student Dress Code was approved by the Board. During our recent District Strategic Planning consultations, students reminisced about their positive experience discussing the current Student Dress Code, and they emphasized that this was an example in which student voice in decision making was privileged. 

As we continue to engage in the co-development of the foundational framework of our newly emerging District Strategic Plan, we have involved 1300-1400 students, parents, employees, Indigenous rights holders, and community groups over several months to name values of importance to them. We have narrowed them from 134 values to four values with the Seven Grandfather Teachings at the center. We will continue to review and revise our mission and vision statements through a similarly iterative process, and our ultimate goal is to re-present what matters most to everyone in our district community. We aim to reach the “Collaborate-Empower” stages of the IAP2 continuum.

Community voice at all levels is foundational to the success of our Board of Education’s decisions. As trustees, we recognize the importance of hearing from our community members whom we are privileged to represent. We appreciate every person’s investment of their time, energy, ideas, and heart into what we do for the betterment of our children and future generations. 

This column appeared in Kamloops This Week: View from SD73 on March 1, 2022

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