Langley Advance Times is offering this weekly feature called it “At Your Service.”
It’s another forum in which to put questions to our local politicians about key issues facing our community and its residents.
Using a basic question-and-answer format, elected officials will be asked one question at a time and given the opportunity to respond (to a maximum of 250 words) on that said issue.
Alternating between elected groups, Langley City and Langley Township councils, Langley School Board, Langley MLAs, and Langley MPs each have a chance to participate.
The answers provided will be published in their entirety online Sundays.
Each school trustee was asked: What can the school district do next year to help students who fell behind because of the disruptions of the pandemic?
Board chair Rod Ross
A. What I love about Langley and our schools is the value and prudence we put in thinking differently.
We created the Langley School District Foundation when we saw funding challenges ahead.
Now, the foundation, some 13 or so years later, has contributed to our schools and students with over $10 million in flow-through funding. With over $3-million in the bank and a separate community board of directors, the foundation is an example of how Langley thinks differently – we act, we try things.
Langley schools see the challenges of today and the future, and will continue to act in a prudent manner.
Our district is rich with data on many fronts. With literacy and numeracy assessment data, schools and teachers will review previous data and compare it with the current assessment of student work and plan associated strategies to ensure student success.
Our staff are world class and will meet the learning challenges of its students with a “whatever it takes” response.
The district has funding in place for learning loss with respect to additional staffing including ELL, counselling, and teacher support.
Trustee Shelley Coburn
A. This trustee did not reply before the online deadline.
Trustee Charlie Fox
A. Firstly let me state that I believe that each and every teacher wants every student in their class to achieve at the highest level they possibly can.
My experience, while working in the educational system for so many years, is that teachers in September do assessments on their students to determine their learning levels. This is done to not only give the teacher a perspective of the child’s learning abilities and level, but this gives them valuable information to design curriculum and adapt their teaching style so students achieve at the highest level.
At the early years, students who are struggling and are behind may require Early Learning Intervention (ELI) support. This program is designed to support students who are significantly behind in their learning profile.
Students who are significantly behind may require support from the resource program. This will be determined in consultation with the resource teacher, classroom teacher and the school-based team.
In addition, there may be other learning support activities provided by the teacher, such as after school tutorials, homework clubs, and the like.
Lastly, the Langley School District has been very proactive in providing ways parents can assist their child in supporting student learning. Through the use of social media tutorials and the like, there have been many interactive opportunities to give parents tips and ideas to support their child’s learning at home.
I believe every teacher wants every child to reach their academic potential, and will support and advocate for them in every way possible.
Trustee Suzanne Perreault
A. The question calls to an evaluation that really is a deep reach into the district to which our leadership alongside their team of staff operate, whereas our role is primarily budget and the long-term facilities plan.
However, being a data-rich district and like others we are performing assessments on going which are critical tools to evaluate the academic health of our students.
That being said, we cannot ignore the conversation of our vulnerable students, students with learning disabilities, and interfacing with their own mental health journey that need additional supports.
We have hired additional counsellors, ELL, and teacher supports who will be supporting our students through our teachers – who are ready to put into place activities to create enrichment learning where loss occurred.
Our district leadership team is also working with a focus to target additional funding to support families with food and technology gaps.
Recognizing our full turn around out of COVID is unlikely immediate, my hope is that in 2022/23 – which will come with the introduction of the new online learning model and will provide additional support to our families to meet their students goals (https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/education-training/k-12/support/classroom-alternatives/online-learning/model).
Trustee David Tod
A. Thanks for this question! This has been a concern of the board since the pandemic was declared. Our vulnerable students may have been adversely impacted, and we know that learning has been disrupted.
The province has given us targeted funding to add counsellors, and additional teaching staff to help deal with this emergent issue.
Students will be assessed quickly and a learning plan will be developed for those who are struggling.
As trustees, we tend to not get involved as much with operational matters and specifics, but we have been assured by our superintendent that we are data-driven, and will respond in a kind and thorough way so that all students are on track to be successful.
Trustee Tony Ward
A. The COVID-19 pandemic has hit individuals and society hard.
In addition to loss of life, health, jobs, and businesses, COVID has put strain and stress on all aspects of regular life including education, and more specifically, individual student learning.
Although students are, broadly speaking, resilient and resourceful, new tools like online/virtual learning and distant learning have provided significant challenges for many.
Questions emerge: What is the transition going to look like between remote and classroom learning? How do we address pandemic learning loss? Reasonably many parents may have come out of the school year wondering where their kids stand and whether they are going to be ready for the upcoming school season.
Fortunately, teachers do on-going assessments to gauge where individual students are positioned (along their educational journey) so they can get targeted help catching up when they don’t understand something.
Educators have access to rich amounts of student literacy and numeracy data from previous years, and are, therefore, well equipped to assist students from where they are to where they need to be.
Though remediation is important, predictably students may get bored going back and redoing/relearning previous elements. Therefore, educators may provide little scaffolding pieces so that individual students can advance to grade-level standards.
Lastly, staff has informed us that districts will be receiving more funding for teacher support, English Language Learning, and counselling. Furthermore, senior leadership is looking to direct additional dollars to support students with technology challenges, as well as with food, thereby helping reduce educational inequity.
Trustee Marnie Wilson
A.The district will work diligently to identify the learning gaps and assess best practices for developing supports to address those gaps.
We are fortunate that our district is a leader in data collection and analysis.
This will only be the beginning of solving the issues that the pandemic has caused.
Mental health is heavily intertwined with all aspects of learning and will take many more resources than are currently available in our very stretched system.
Education is grossly underfunded and the majority of every school district’s budget is allocated to wages.
If we take money from one area, it means there will be cuts to another area for example, laying someone off to use those wages would mean having a classroom without a teacher, or a group of diverse students without support, or a school not being cleaned [as it would be] without a custodian, etc. I would never support that.
The federal and provincial governments need to step up and allocate more funding to COVID recovery.
Last year the ministry announced $18 million to address learning loss.
Langley’s share was $640,000 to support more than 21,000 students. It is completely inappropriate.
I, as a trustee, will advocate to the ministry for more funding. With extra funding we could create positions and resources to focus completely on the learning loss and mental health crisis caused by COVID.
Next week’s Langley MLAs are being asked: Should the province be ready to compensate businesses if their bottom line is adversely impacted by the new passport rules?
Watch for the politicians’ answers online Sundays.