Friday June 18, 2021 | LANGFORD, BC
by Mary P Brooke, Editor | Island Social Trends
Working together for families is the aim of the memoranda of understanding (MOU) that the Sooke School District (SD62) Board of Education has recently signed with three municipalities in the west shore: the City of Colwood, City of Langford and District of Sooke.
This announcement originally came June 1, but now there’s a first obvious example of the power of the MOU, as seen in the excitement of SD62 Superintendent Scott Stinson at a recent online meeting.
At the June 15 SD62 Education Committee of the Whole meeting — during which the new strategic plan of the school district was discussed in fairly great detail — Stinson was clearly pleased, calling this a perfect example of where the MOU would play a role in achieving a goal to the betterment of all signatories to the MOU: he was responding to a public question as to why the City of Langford meetings don’t have an acknowledgement of Indigenous lands, and felt the MOU could serve to help fix that.
The primary objective of the individual MOUs is to work together to continue to expand facilities and programs, strengthen public education and the well-being of children and families in the communities that SD62 serves. Schools are physically located in Colwood, Langford and Sooke while students attend from an even broader geographical footprint including Highlands, Metchosin, East Sooke, parts of View Royal, and west of Sooke out to Port Renfrew.
“This pandemic has been challenging for our communities and has reminded all of us we are strongest when we work together. As a school district serving a growing and diversifying community, we are pleased to take steps to formally establish and strengthen our partnerships with our local Mayors and Councils,” says Ravi Parmar, SD62 Board Chairperson.
“These MOUs enable us all to pool our resources to create world class amenities with fantastic programming, shared-use facilities and community hubs for all residents. It’s a win-win for students, staff, families and the general public at large,” said Parmar in the June 1 news release.
SD62 says the four parties (three municipalities and SD62) have shared interests in delivering their mandates, including, but not limited to, community planning, school sites, shared use facilities, libraries, safe and healthy environments, sport and recreation, etc.
In the works for a while:
SD62 Superintendent Stinson says the coordination of the three MOUs has been in the works for a while. Each municipality was approached by the school district, and each municipal council had to pass the agreement at one of their council meetings, such as Langford did at their March 15, 2021 Council Meeting.
This could be seen as a significant achievement by Stinson, who has been at the SD62 administrative helm starting with the 2018-2019 school year. The first SD62 strategic plan was just coming into effect at that time, covering a three-year period of 2018 to 2021. The new strategic plan will cover four years, said Stinson at Tuesday night’s ECOW meeting.
Supportive & collaborative communities:
The MOU acts as an agreement on collaboration, cooperation and communication between SD62 and the municipalities. Above all, the MOU will ensure that the school district and local government work together to provide resources and programs for both students and the communities that maximize public dollars.
For decades, the parties have worked together to bring programs and shared facilities to the different Westshore and Sooke communities. Examples include:
- Nature playground at École John Stubbs Memorial School, funded by the City of Colwood.
- Turf field and shared field use, contributed by the City of Langford.
- Sport box for sporting events paid for by the District of Sooke.
Quotes from the three mayors:
- “Children and families thrive when they have supportive communities working together to pave the way for their success,” says Rob Martin, Mayor, City of Colwood. “We’re pleased to formalize the strong working relationship Colwood and School District 62 have built as our community grows together in exciting new ways.”
- “This agreement solidifies City of Langford’s ongoing partnership with School District 62, and we look forward to continuing our collaborative work in our community,” says Stew Young, Mayor, City of Langford.
- “We have a strong history with School District 62 and this formalizes our relationship, which is so important to our community,” says Maja Tait, Mayor, District of Sooke. “Projects like the Little River Crossing, which will provide a multi-use trail connection and sidewalk expansion through School District property, and sport and recreation opportunities through projects such as the multi-use sports box in Sunriver, are some of the initiatives with considerable mutual benefits to Sooke residents and local schools alike.”
Joint working groups:
As part of the implementation of the MOU, SD62 will establish joint working groups with the respective city and district that will meet twice a year to help bring items forward that meet the community needs as represented by both entities. Those groups of four are to be comprised of SD62 Board Chair and Superintendent, meeting with mayor and CAO of each municipality.
Joint meetings between the Board of Education and Mayor and Council will also take place on an annual basis being co-chaired by the Board-Chairperson and the Mayor, it has been stated by SD62.
Final meeting of the year:
The final SD62 Board meeting comes up next week on Tuesday June 22 at 7 pm. The agenda includes final passage of the budget for 2021-2022.
Board meetings and committee meetings have been presented online during the pandemic.
Today Superintendent Stinson told Island Social Trends that board meetings in September will likely go back to having all board members in the room (instead of sharing an MS Teams screen) but that meetings will be livestreamed so that parents and others in the school community can still easily attend.
Links to the MOUs between SD62 and the three west shore municipalities can be found here.