North Vancouver School District #44

Notes from the desk of John Lewis, Superintendent of Schools

North Vancouver School District #44

Welcome to 2014/15: a Message from the Chair and the Superintendent

September 26, 2014

It’s with great pleasure that we welcome everyone to a new school year. The delayed start created several tense weeks and we are glad the situation was resolved with a negotiated agreement that allowed teachers to return to work and students to return to class. The enthusiasm everyone showed at the beginning of this week was inspiring to see, and we hope it is sustained and grows in the months ahead.

Once again, we would like to thank you for your patience through what was a very difficult time. We believe that the six-year agreement will bring a considerable measure of stability to our public education system. Of course, there are still many impacts to work through, and we will ensure you are kept informed as these are addressed. As always, if you have any concerns about your child’s learning or how curriculum will be delivered as the year unfolds, please contact your child’s teachers directly. Ongoing parent-teacher communication is essential to supporting student learning and success.

An exciting year is ahead! Already, we are preparing for a number of announcements to share recent accomplishments and new opportunities in our school district. We know that great work is done in our schools, and we take pride in the achievements of students as they learn, share and grow in life. Thank you again for your support and your commitment to public education and, most of all, to your child’s learning. We wish everyone an excellent year.


Franci Stratton
North Vancouver
Board of Education

John Lewis
Superintendent of Schools
North Vancouver
School District

Return to school

September 19, 2014

I am delighted to report that the British Columbia Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) has now ratified the tentative agreement with the British Columbia Public School Employers’ Association (BCPSEA).  While we await ratification of the Agreement by Boards of Education later this afternoon, we will proceed with the start to the 2014/15 school year with school opening on Monday.   

All schools in North Vancouver will open on Monday, September 22nd, for students in Grades 1 through 12, with a shortened first-day schedule.  This will enable our schools to confirm student enrolment, review classroom organization, update student timetables, where necessary, and prepare for full days of instruction on Tuesday through Friday.  Parents should check school websites and posted notices for school-specific schedules and operating hours.

Kindergarten students will be welcomed to our elementary schools starting on Tuesday, September 23rd with the Gradual Entry process established within the School Act.  The first week of Kindergarten is an important transition for our youngest children.  During the Gradual Entry period, Kindergarten teachers are able to work with smaller groups of children for shorter periods of time to help them develop independence in classroom and school routines. The details of the schedule for attendance of Kindergarten students will be provided by each elementary school. 

Our main priority for the coming week is to welcome back our students and staff and to re-establish normal operations as quickly as possible.  We appreciate your continued patience and understanding as we strive to achieve a smooth start to this school year. 

I will be providing a further update next week as additional clarification is provided by the Ministry of Education regarding instructional time and decisions related to report cards from last June.  There are numerous other details to be communicated in the coming weeks ahead. 

We look forward to welcoming everyone back to school and a productive week ahead. 

A print copy of this letter is available here.

Planning for next week

September 18, 2014

As noted in my letter on Tuesday, the members of the British Columbia Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) will conduct a ratification vote on Thursday to determine whether or not they support the tentative agreement with the British Columbia Public School Employers’ Association (BCPSEA).

If the agreement is ratified by the BCTF membership, all schools in the North Vancouver School District will open on Monday, September 22nd, with a shortened first-day schedule as per standard practice. The shortened first day allows us to welcome students in Grades 1 through 12, begin to address immediate enrolment and classroom assignments, and complete other essential preparatory work.

The first full day of school for all students, and the first day of gradual entry for Kindergarten students, will then be Tuesday, September 23rd.  Where necessary, further adjustments will be made to school schedules to provide for full days of instruction for the remainder of the week, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, September 24, 25, and 26.

I will be in touch again on Friday, following the results of the BCTF ratification vote.

A print copy of this message is available here.  

September 16, 2014 update: tentative agreement announced between BCPSEA and BCTF

September 16, 2014

As announced through the media early this morning, September 16, a tentative agreement has been negotiated between the British Columbia Teachers Federation (BCTF) and the British Columbia Public Schools Employers’ Association (BCPSEA), with the assistance of Vince Ready.

Details of this tentative agreement will not be available until later today with both parties expected to report through the media. The BCTF has indicated that teachers will vote on Thursday before the agreement may be ratified. In the meantime, pickets remain in place at all school locations and are expected to continue until the agreement is confirmed.

At this time, we are unable to provide confirmation of the start to the school year, as these details may be included within the tentative agreement. We expect to start our school year with the traditional procedures of welcoming students back for a shortened first day to enable confirmation of enrolment and class organization. Details will be provided to parents as soon as possible.

We look forward to a positive return for our students, parents, teachers and staff in each and every one of our classrooms and schools. Everyone has been deeply affected by the disruption of the labour dispute and we are relieved that a tentative agreement has now been reached.

We sincerely appreciate your continued patience and understanding as we move toward the opening of schools for the 2014-2015 school year.


September 1, 2014 letter to parents/guardians

September 1, 2014

Dear Parents and Guardians:

Subject: schools not opening for instruction on Tuesday, September 2, 2014

This letter is to confirm that North Vancouver schools will not be open for instruction on Tuesday, September 2.  We expect that teachers will not report to work and that our schools will be behind picket lines.  This is deeply disappointing news for our students, families, staff, and Board of Education.

Efforts over this past weekend to achieve a settlement of the ongoing labour dispute between the BC Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) and the BC Public School Employers’ Association (BCPSEA) were unsuccessful.  As the distance between the two parties continues to be significant, the resolution of this dispute remains uncertain.  We remain hopeful that progress will be achieved in the near future to work towards a settlement.

We encourage families to make alternate arrangements for their children, as necessary, during the continuing strike action. Although principals and vice-principals will be in schools, they will be unable to provide students with instruction or supervision.  We respectfully ask that parents do not bring children to schools for the duration of the strike.

It is our current understanding that pre-schools and daycares operating on school sites will be open and parents will be allowed to cross picket lines to escort their children to daycares and pre-schools.  Please contact your daycare and/or pre-school provider to review opening and closing times and procedures.

Thank you for your continued patience and understanding during these difficult times.

We will continue to keep you informed through direct messages and through our school district website at



Superintendent of Schools, North Vancouver School District

August 29, 2014 letter to parents and guardians

August 29, 2014

Dear Parents and Guardians,

RE: Preparing for September

This letter is a follow-up to my message of August 25th to update you on the current labour dispute and provide information about the potential for schools to open, or not, on Tuesday, September 2nd.

The possibility of mediation

Representatives of the British Columbia School Employers’ Association (BCPSEA) and the British Columbia Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) met yesterday, and are meeting again today, with mediator Vince Ready. The intention of these talks is to assess the readiness of both parties for mediation. Depending on developments over the weekend, there is a possibility that school may open on Tuesday for our standard shortened opening day.

When will parents know if schools will open?

Please visit on Monday evening for an announcement to confirm whether or not school will be open on Tuesday the 2nd.

We realize and respect that teachers have not been at work for a long time and that schools are not fully prepared for our regular opening procedures. However, as soon as this year’s opening date is confirmed, we will welcome staff and students back, go through our first day and begin the work of the year ahead. Teachers and support staff are experienced and skilled in addressing the demands of this time of year, and principals and vice-principals have well-developed routines in place.  Attached please find a FAQ for further information on this year’s start-up procedures.

Keeping informed

I will write again next week and school principals are also in the process of sending important information and direction for the start of the school year. Whether or not our start date is delayed, please take the time to read these messages in order to assist us with our opening procedures and the smoothest start possible for students under the circumstances.

We appreciate your continued patience and understanding.



Superintendent of Schools, North Vancouver School District



September 2014 start-up


Q: Is it still possible that schools will open on September 2nd?

A: Yes. If an agreement is reached for a negotiated settlement, or a lifting of strike/lockout action while mediation is underway, then we will be ready to open schools on September 2nd.


Q: How will I know if school will open on September 2nd?

A: We encourage you to follow the media for any updates that may occur in the discussions scheduled for the weekend. We will also post any information to our website, as soon as it has been confirmed. Other information sources available to consult are:


Q: Who should I contact to voice my concerns regarding the current labour dispute?

A: You may wish to express your concerns to:


Q: If school does not open on September 2nd, can I bring my child to school anyway?

A: We cannot provide instruction or appropriate supervision without our full staff complement, and therefore ask that parents do not bring or send children to school until our staff teams are once again in place and school is fully operational.  Please make alternate arrangements, as necessary.


Q: How can I get more information on registering my child for school?

A: Student registration information is available at:


Q: If the labour dispute continues, can I still register my child for school?

A: Yes. Please ensure you have consulted our registration information for directions and guidance on what to bring to register your child/children for school.





A message to all parents and guardians of Grade 12 students

August 28, 2014

While uncertainty around the start date of the school year is ongoing, I have an important safety advisory for parents of students preparing to enter their senior year in our schools.

The Labour Day weekend has typically been a time when some youth, particularly those in their “grad year” participate in unauthorized/illegal social gatherings. These have been disruptive to neighborhoods and harmful to the young people involved. Youth vandalism and other risk-taking behaviours are some of the challenges our neighborhoods may be faced with at this time of year.

Underage drinking is of particular concern as alcohol is a drug that can negatively impact thoughts, moods and judgments. With young people in particular, it can create a sense of immunity or invincibility that is the prelude to a host of risk-taking behaviours.

These types of social activities are not sanctioned by schools and we want to support law enforcement in their work to keep our communities safe. With this in mind, we are joining the RCMP, local fire departments, the District of North Vancouver and the City of North Vancouver in sending this advisory.

The RCMP has expressed a zero tolerance and straight enforcement of all laws and regulations pertaining to social gatherings over the Labour Day weekend. Penalties for youth who violate laws will include, but not necessarily be limited to, being directly ticketed with fines of $115.00 or more.

In closing, thank you for your attention to this important safety message, I hope it helps facilitate family conversations about youth social responsibility and safe celebrations.


Two Carson Graham alumni in women’s World Cup rugby final

Congratulations to Team Canada and especially to Carson Graham alumni Andrea Burk and Hilary Leith, who both started in the women’s World Cup rugby final on Sunday.

Andrea Burk graduated in 2000 and continued her studies at Acadia University.  After graduating from Acadia she moved back to North Vancouver to play for the Capilano Rugby Club and has been a fixture on national teams over the last 6 years.  She continues to give back to the game by volunteer coaching at various levels of rugby including Carson Graham.

Hilary Leith graduated in 2001 and continued her studies in the USA on a wrestling scholarship. After graduating from university Hilary also returned to North Vancouver to play for Capilano Rugby Club. In recent years she has been playing at Saracens Rugby Club in England.  Hilary has been a member of national teams since 2000. She also volunteers her time coaching girls’ rugby.

Finishing second place in the World Cup final was a great moment for Carson Graham and Canada. As district administrator Brad Baker shared with me,  “I coached both Andrea and Hilary while they attended Carson Graham, and I am extremely proud of how hard they have worked to achieve their dreams of playing for Canada in the World Cup.  The Carson Graham Girls Rugby program is proud of what these players have accomplished. They are an inspiration.”

hil #1

Hilary Leith and her dad

andrea 2

Andrea Burk

Artists for Kids Receives Generous Donation

At the Public Board Meeting on June 17th Board Chair Franci Stratton was presented with a cheque in the amount of $50,000 by Richard Savage, Smith Foundation Board of Directors Vice President. Founded in 2002, the Gordon and Marion Smith Foundation for Young Artists was established to support the North Vancouver School District’s Artists for Kids Program. To date, the foundation has directly contributed over $750,000 toward this quality art education program. We thank the Gordon and Marion Smith Foundation for their ongoing support of Artists for Kids  and its enrichment opportunities for our students. For more information, please visit:


Board Chair Franci Stratton, Smith Foundation Board Vice President Richard Savage, Smith Foundation Exective Director Astid Heyerdahl

International Aboriginal Day Celebrations

Thank you to Brad Baker for providing this post:

Queen Mary, Norgate and Westview hosted the first ever combined schools Aboriginal Day Celebrations on Thursday, June 12th. The event took place at the new Queen Mary Elementary School with over 800 people in attendance which included students, staff, community members and elders.

The day opened with all participants gathering in the gym to hear a traditional welcome from the Squamish Nation.  Students were then led through workshops hosted by various First Nations and Metis people. Student leaders from Carson Graham assisted the younger students as they moved from station to station.  Workshops included: lacrosse, bracelet making with beads, cedar necklaces, story- telling, drumming and singing.

The afternoon ended with a performance by the Eagle Song Dancers followed by the Metis performance group Compaigni V’ni Dansi.

It was a great event enjoyed by all. Special thank you to the planning committee, Bill Reid, Barbara Leigh, and Lisa Upton, and to all those involved in the celebrations.