Diary of a Mad Trustee Open Board Meeting October 21st 2009

Our Trustee Eden

Our Trustee Eden

Principiis Obsta…Finem Respice


Resist the Beginning…Consider the End


Tonight’s report is odd …more odd than usual. It is about what did not happen at our regular board meeting. We were expecting a draft of a rather rudimentary strategic plan which we have been tangling over for months. I should tell you this has been a most unconstructive and bizarrely irrelevant process – we spent time galore under the cheery camp counsellor style of our ministry babysitter trying to hatch  a proposal we can use to provide evidence we are viewing our district through a long term lens. What we are really doing is pretending we have the resources to meet the needs of our community over the next 3-5 years and can therefore righteously plan with confidence and foresight. We can’t but we are doing it anyway because it keeps us off the streets. Oh right and out of the schools God help us all.

As if all of this was not a crude and obvious distraction – we did not even review the draft plan at this meeting because there was confusion over what we had agreed to examine and the wrong document was photocopied a zillion times … we grumpily refused to look at it and that was that. We had after all already expressed our dismay with the over orchestrated jumble which had been plumped in front of us at the last working session by our nannies. I don’t blame us – you would be grumpy too if after months of sitting in these damnable working sessions -which are supposed to be public but are not adequately promoted –after playing word games and using coloured felt pens in profusion we could not even get to the point of debating some of the finer points of our cunning plan in a properly constituted board meeting before the whole shebang is rerouted to a high school graphics class to be tarted up.

Seriously -this is it…the sum of our time and some pricey direction from a ministry consultant (evidently the ministry is happy to pony up for real important stuff). And by the way – I learned over and over not to bother mentioning our dire funding issues because apparently in this part of the forest it is just plain rude to bring it up.

As follows:  






  • Nurture academic, fine arts, physical education and trades/technical programs
  • Improve transition and graduation rates
  • Strengthen curriculum and teaching that reflects the Hwulmuhw language and culture 
  • Support at-risk students and students with special needs
  • Expand trade and employment training programs
  • Enhance program opportunities for small secondary schools
  • Strengthen the French Immersion K-12 programme
  • Support Early Learning opportunities



  • Increase transportation opportunities
  • Incorporate outreach and technological opportunities



  • Establish an ongoing cycle of meaningful community engagement
  • Create and implement a communications plan that includes strategies to improve communication
  • Strengthen the families of schools
  • Update the School District website



  • Build an elementary school in Lake Cowichan
  • Establish district standards for maintenance and custodial services
  • Prepare to replace Cowichan Secondary at Cowichan Place
  • Develop a long term plan for the use of school facilities



  • Advocate for increased public funding
  • Develop a long term sustainable budget model
  • Explore new revenue opportunities


I don’t even know how we arrived at this – and I have real concerns about some of the content. But because we have to accommodate the schedule of our ministry guide we must at last finish so it can be trotted out for a handful of stalwarts to view at an open house later this month. I can’t see any reason to hurry – we can’t actually do most of this – so why not linger a little longer over the deliberations – maybe if we wait long enough the last moments from the Book of Revelations will render it largely immaterial.

But I did think we do need a community plan – and all of this should have happened in the embrace of our board committees and during the messy chaos of actual board meetings in front of everyone preferably without a government escort making sure we stayed out the nasty parts of town.

So – just for the hell of it and because I can and because it makes as much sense as the damn silly way we have cranked out this undistinguished document – I have an offering. Homage to John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath inspires – in my opinion-a much more practical and timely strategic plan. The ‘we’ is us- your elected representatives in our most honourable incarnation. The ‘us’ is definitely not consultants, administrators and watchful distant government. No drum roll, soothing graphics or colourful motif … this is my idea of our strategic plan as a pledge to community which works no matter how strapped we are from above. After all the whole point of a strategic plan should be to recognise the operating reality and yet strive to transform that reality in order to nurture our dearest aspirations.


Whenever the government does anything behind closed doors- we will be there.

Whenever the government pressures us to cut academic, fine arts, physical education and trades/technical programs- we will be there

Whenever the government fails to meet the long unrecognised needs of the Aboriginal communities for language, culture and equality in our schools – we will be there.

Whenever the government imposes unrelieved austerity and neglects children who are at risk or have special challenges- we will be there.

Whenever the government treats some schools and neighbourhoods differently from others- we will be there.

Whenever the government falls short in talking and listening to the priorities of employees and families in our district – we will be there

Whenever the government neglects our buildings and grounds at all our schools whether open or closed – we will be there.

Whenever the government urges us to bridge the enormous gap in public funding with business schemes, parent fundraising or private donation -we will be there.

Whenever a mad ideologically driven provincial government rides roughshod over all of us – we will be there.

Whenever the government upholds poverty as a permanent condition of life…we will be there.

We will be there in the way kids learn best when they have the warm attention of skilled teachers.

We will be there in the way people feel when they know they are doing an important job well – safe and healthy and respected.

We will be there in the way families and staff feel when they are all together with enough for everyone to enjoy the best learning and working conditions and no one is sidelined or forgotten.

And most important – we will be there when we fight together as a community to force powerful people to heel and heed our interests without fear and without division.

Your Trustee Pal


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