Message from VWSS Board of Trustees
The Board of Trustees meeting held on April 11 dealt primarily with our continuing evolution from a working board to a board that is focused on oversight, governance and longer-term strategic thinking. We decided that we would begin gathering information and thoughts on how we can restructure our meetings to place less emphasis on day to day business, which is now more than ably handled by our outstanding administrative team, and instead encourage blue-sky thinking on ways to improve the VWS. Of course, it will be important for the Board to remain vigilant in its oversight role and attentive to potential areas of concern, but with the current infrastructure in place we are in a position to think about the VWS on a macro level and take advantage of the considerable talents of the Board members to improve it. This will be an ongoing process of learning and reframing, but the fact that we have the freedom to undertake the process is exciting. As part of our learning, we have arranged for Beverly Amico, AWSNA’s Director of Advancement to come workshop with us in June on how to run an effective Waldorf board. We also decided to invite the boards of the Whistler and Squamish Waldorf Schools to participate, as it is in everyone’s best interests to support each other and promote strong Waldorf schools.
An important first step in the Board’s evolution occurred last night when the Board approved the appointment of Chloe Gow-Jarrett as Co-Chair of the Board of Trustees. Chloe has a strong background in leadership and organizational development, holding senior development positions with Lululemon Athletica for 13 years and now running her own leadership and organizational culture consulting company, 3fold Partners. She has the ideal skillset to play a key role in the Board’s transformation, and Chloe and I will work together collaboratively in our roles as Co-Chairs to utilize our respective strengths. We are thankful to Chloe for agreeing to take on this position.
In terms of management updates, our Principal Lorna Fortin and Pedagogical Manager Malcolm Nash talked about the decision by the College of Teachers, after careful consideration, to close the graduating class of 2021. It was a hard decision to make, and not made lightly, but in the end, it was the best decision for the School as a whole. Management and the College are exploring education options with the affected parents and the four affected students in that class. The School, of course, remains committed to supporting and offering Waldorf education from parent and tot through to grade 12. This was a highly unusual confluence of unfortunate circumstances, and we are saddened but this step was necessary.
Community and Resource Development Manager Mary Henley updated us on some of her work during the last month, including helping to plan the New Moon Social being held on June 13. Mary also briefed us on the status of the Gift Card Program. Currently, we have raised approximately $6,500 from the purchase of gift cards, short of the $10,000 goal but there is still time left. 14% of the VWS families participate in the program on a consistent basis, a number we would like to raise for two reasons: (a) it raises money for parent-led initiatives to improve the school, and does not go towards general operating expenses; and (b) while it is completely painless on the part of participants– it is money you are already spending so it doesn’t cost you a dime – it is not painless for our tireless volunteer program coordinator Rachel Garratt, and we want to make all her work worth her while. You can now order online (https://www.vws.ca/online-ordering-for-the-grocery-card-program/), so please consider participating if you don’t already.
Finally, Business Manager Susan Connon-Wilby reviewed our business operations over the last month. We continue to track towards realizing another small operating surplus (approximately $100,000) for this year. Q3 financial statements should be available for circulation to the community soon. While we are starting to earn small profits, it is important for us to continue to manage our finances diligently given that under our new compensation structure salary costs will increase every year, and the fact that we have some significant plans moving forward, including (potentially) building a new school whether it be on our current site or elsewhere. So while things are going well we don’t want to be complacent. We will all need to continue focusing on providing an exceptional educational experience and a positive community environment so the Vancouver Waldorf School can continue to grow and thrive. Thank you all for your efforts in that regard.
Eric Doherty, VWSS Board Co-Chair