Friday, November 23, 2012

Name a New K-8 School at UBC!

Its finally happening!  After years of lobbying, political action, and community pressure two new schools are finally going to open in the UBC area. I've covered this saga on my In Support of Public Education blog and was very active in the campaign as a member of the U Hill Parents Advisory Council (2004-2009).  Now we are getting a chance to suggest a name for the new K-8 school being built on the site of the Old University Hill Secondary School!

My family and I first lived on campus in 1996. My sons started in kindergarten at Ecole Jules Quesnel, named after a European adventurer who accompanied the Scottish merchant explorer Alexander MacKenzie on his transcontinental voyage to the Pacific.  Soon thereafter one of my boys transferred to a school named for a British Monarch - Queen Elizabeth.  For highschool one went to University Hill Secondary and the other went to a school named after an English prime minister, Churchill.  In 2001 our family moved out of the Acadia neighbourhood, named after an area in Greece that was itself transplanted and placed over top of Mi'kmaq lands on the east coast, into an area of campus that eventually was named Hawthorn Place, after the anthropologists Harry Hawthorn (who incidentally made his career studying Indians and collecting aboriginal objects).

A close survey of the nearby schools presents the following list of illustrious Imperialist, warmongers, monarchs, and notable old white men: Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth, Jules Quesnel, General Gordon, Henry Hudson, Lord Kitchner, Lord Byng, Lord Tennyson, and Prince of Wales.

Others are named after locations, a good many of which are themselves the names of illustrious aged imperialists, country estates or places of  battles: University Hill, Trafalgar, Carnarvon, Bayview, Kerrisdale, Shaughnesey.

Only two schools carry names derived from aboriginal origins: Kitsilano and Quilchena. Kitsilano is derived from the name of a Coast Salish chief. Quilchena, however, is derived from a place name related to an interior indigenous community.  There are no school names on the west side of Vancouver's school district that honour the people upon whose unceded and traditional territory we are all living.

Unrestrained development at UBC has created the need for more schools - but the combination of jurisdictions - UBC, VSB, UEL, Metro, Province . . . etc. made finding a solution almost impossible. It was a minor miracle to finally get an agreement for the location of the new highschool, to get approval for design, and then the go ahead from the province to actually build the school. Through this process several generations of school boards and many different trustees worked hard to bring this to us.  Finally we get to one of the most enjoyable aspects of the process -suggesting a new name for the school.

For me this process is even more exciting as after all of these years of lobbying for the new school I have been fortunate enough to find myself a member of the advisory committee of stakeholders that will help select a name for the new school.  The criteria are fairly broad and can be found on the VSB name the school we page. I am looking forward to being part of the process that will consider a wide variety of suggestions.  Ultimately I am hopeful that we will be able to suggest to the School Board a name (or names) that honour the people upon whose lands our new school is being built and all the people who have worked to make education possible and meaningful throughout our great province!

Tweeting the UNA Board of Directors Meeting, Nov. 13, 2012.

 The following are a direct quote of my tweets from the last UNA Board of Directors meeting Nov. 13, 2012.  Apologies for delay in posting them here - was away at a professional conference.  The are posted in reverse chronological order.  So, if you want the as it happened flow, scroll to the bottom and then read toward the top! Tweeting and other forms of live broadcast has become a standard practice in most government bodies with everyone from MPs to school board Trustees tweeting during meetings.  At the same time the media are also doing this as well as many members of the general public.  It's an interesting form of direct reporting that allows for an expanded circle of engagement in the democratic process.

UNA meeting over. Will have to think about this one. What's the deal with democracy? It should be a simple answer. Go for it. But. . .
Director Franks suggests thermostat setting as a fiscal cost savings.
Parking issues continue as an issue with . Public consultation coming up Nov. 20
OUR directors flub on major commitment to openness in vote.
What's the deal with Directors fear of being in the open?
Concerns expressed that only media would attend. Talk of only making committee meetings open to UNA residents.
Motion to make standing committee meetings public fails, with only one vote in favour
Very interesting. not a democratic organization?
UNA voting down democratic practice due to fear of openness
Beyer now jumping in saying we need to have informal meetings - we can have too much openness. Need private time.
Debating proposal on holding standing committees in the public domain. Chair Alexander suggests need to have private discussions.
Community delegations: Bill Holmes presents a proposal for electoral change. Suggests 3 yr terms along with all civic elections.
Maria Harris talking about needed rapid transit line along Broadway Corridor to .
Maria Harris, Electoral Area A Director, gives report. Focusing on eco-depot idea for the area.
Who manages the Chair Alexander asks the AMS rep: "they say we don't like students" says Alexander. We don't control them says rep.
Transportation and traffic issues around the new school discussed. Director Frank suggestions free candy to encourage walking !
Noise by-law issue brought up by Director Beyers - Exec Directore JF met with to discuss MOU for noise enforcement.
Listen In report that will be discussed later in the agenda - yup, posted to my blog
A bit of a kerfuffle regarding letter writing on behalf of the UNA - referred to the governance committee to go through the process.
Menzies' says, in response to Beyer, that the only way to have accountability is have public reporting as Chair, Secretary, etc.
Director Beyer takes issue with Menzies' issuing a secretary's report and with posting items on his blog.
Office space versus government centre - Knight says that multipurpose rooms in Centre could be repurposed once building is done.
UBC Admin Nancy Knight cautions that making a government space in the CC would derail the entire process. . . . . Not a surprise here.
Feeley responding to Beyer's question about UNA offices in Centre. Discussion of 'office' space in building versus government centre.
"Are squeals of joy acceptable?" asks Director Frank as she studies the artist's conception of the planned community centre.
Site plan of new community centre being presented. Will remove most, if not all, of remaining 2nd growth forest.
Abandoned LEED certification saves $50,000 out of $10million capital budget. . Interesting.
Going 'LEED' Gold equivalent; but not LEED. Rather a desinged process.
New community Centre planned to be open Summer 2014 Let's hope target deadline is realized!
Extra daycare space being added to community centre - over&above the 30000 sq ft planned centre.
Mike Feeley presents on the new Wesbrook Place Community Centre and related development process
UNA meeting in U-Town about to start. Live-tweeting through the meeting tonight.