Message from VWSS Board of Trustees
Our Board meeting on Wednesday, April 12 was a busy one, and we managed to work through a lot of business. A summary of our meeting is below.
- Susan Connon-Wilby updated the Board on the School’s activities over the past month, and presented us with updated financial information for the period ended March 31. We are very pleased to report that we are now projecting that the VWS will end the year in a small surplus position, as opposed to our budgeted deficit. Our March results were achieved through a combination of March revenues exceeding budget (the result of our receiving approximately $21k in additional government grants (gaming grants and new learning grants) that were not included in the budget), and lower than expected expenses as we continue to benefit from our operating efficiencies and disciplined spending. The Board is thankful for all the hard work and contributions by all members of the School community that resulted in this financial turnaround, and would especially like to acknowledge the efforts of Huy Pham, our remarkable Finance Manager. If you would have told me two years ago that we could be turning a profit in 2016-2017 I would have laughed at you, but here we are. Updated financial statements will be circulated to the community soon.
- We reviewed and approved a new salary grid for our Early Childhood Education faculty members (we previously implemented a new salary grid for Grade School and High School teachers in October, 2016). A massive amount of time and effort went into this project, which was led by Trustee Geoff Woodfield. Now that this phase of the salary review has been completed we are happy to report that we now have transparent and competitive salary structures in place for all of our excellent teaching faculty.
- We discussed the recent follow up visit to our school by AWSNA (the Association for Waldorf Schools of North America). The regional AWSNA representatives spent Monday and Tuesday at our School to assess our progress since their last visit in early 2016. Lorna Fortin, our interim Principal, and others spent a great deal of time preparing for the visit and we are extremely happy to report that it went very well and we received very positive and encouraging feedback. The AWSNA representatives were impressed with our activities and the strides we have made in the last two years, and in particular the progress made in the last year. The change in energy at the VWS is apparent. If we keep doing what we have been doing we are solidly on the path to gaining AWSNA charter membership, the highest membership level for Waldorf schools in North America.
- That being said, AWSNA did offer some areas we could improve on. They made two principal suggestions, the first being to increase the number of Waldorf-trained teachers at the high school, and the second to consider upgrading to more appealing physical facilities. While increasing the number of Waldorf trained teachers at the high school will be a requirement for AWSNA charter membership, the suggestion that we improve on our facilities was offered as a means to help with marketing our School to prospective new families.
- With respect to the issue of increasing the number of Waldorf-trained teachers, this has long been a priority for the Board. So at the meeting the Board formalized its commitment to increase the number of Waldorf trained high school teachers by resolving to offer financing to allow our existing high school teachers who are not currently Waldorf-certified to obtain Waldorf certification. This process involves intensive studies over 3 summers at a facility on the east coast of the United States. The loans given to the teachers obtaining certification will be forgivable over time on the condition that they remain with the VWS. The desire for more Waldorf trained teachers at the high school is not a new issue for us, and we have always heard the community’s concern in that regard. To date we have been hampered by all the competing demands for our limited financial resources, but we are very excited to now be in a financial position to make this happen. We see this initiative as a very important investment in our High School and we are already aware of a number of teachers that would like to participate.
- In terms of facilities, prior messages from the Board have mentioned we have already formed a committee looking into possible alternative sites. Geoff Woodfield reported on continuing discussions with the District of North Vancouver on two potential locations. Efforts remain ongoing, but this is a longer-term project that will take time to complete.
- We discussed the status of the search for a new Community & Resource Development Manager. The job has been posted since February and we have received a number of resumes. We have identified a group of strong applicants and will soon be scheduling interviews.
- Finally, Chloe Gow-Jarrett updated the Board of on the progress of the Strategic Planning project, and the Board approved an updated timeline for completing the process. Special thanks go out to Rachel Garratt and the other members of the Strategic Planning & Visioning Committee for their work on this important initiative. Further information on the Strategic Planning project will be presented at the upcoming community forum.
Thank you for taking the time to read this update; like our meeting on Wednesday, it has gone a little long. I hope it is clear that there are a lot of positive things happening at our School, and we look forward to sharing more news with you in the future.
Eric Doherty, VWSS Board Chair