We sent the following 4 questions out to all of the Candidates for School trustee both for EPSB as well as ECSD, please see below for their responses.
1) The system to book the gyms through the Joint Use Agreement is archaic, slow, painful and arbitrary. What can be done and will you advocate to review this process?
2) With adult groups playing competitions getting priority, the inventory for gyms for youth practices are shrinking. How do you propose to balance inventory and provide the opportunity for our children to practice?
3) For some reason there is animosity between school staff and soccer teams. How do you propose to resolve this?
4) If a soccer team makes a custodian or a principal mad, they can arbitrarily (and without appeal) reject the permit for soccer to be in the gym. Why is this and will you ask for an inquiry into this?
Michelle Draper – Acclaimed:
I will inquire about the points raised in your message.
I have heard feedback from multiple people that the Joint-Use Agreement with the City can use improvement. It sounds like it is time to start looking for a new partnership that meets our communities’ needs. As a parent, I think it is important to prioritize organizations that are offering sport opportunities to children. If you had any suggestions for changes to the Joint-Use Agreement, I think that would be wonderful to hear.
I’m afraid that I have not heard much about the difficulties in relationships between soccer teams and principals/custodial staff. I’d be happy to learn more about this if you have some information to share or ideas to help. I think that it is important to promote positive community relationships so I’d love to hear your ideas.
I believe its important to always review our agreements on a yearly basis, especially if there is difficulty, to ensure they reflect what they are to achieve. Its my understanding there is a Steering committee that does this. I would certainly advocate for this and for the Board to be update on the results.
I would have to do some learning about priorities for bookings and how they manage this before I can answer this question any fuller. However, I would be curious as to how this is balanced as well as the Joint User Agreement is to provide opportunities for children and adults.
There is direction within the Joint User Agreement which suggests how conflict is to be resolved. I would suggest that is a good way to start. I am a supporter of a restorative process to resolve conflict as well.
I am certainly interested in how conflict is resolved and who has decision making authority within the Joint User Agreement. I am a strong supporter of policy to protect all parties involved. It would be my position that the Joint User Agreement needs to ensure a way to process and manage these issues respectfully.
Let’s develop a new system after consulting with soccer associations and the city that better meets the damands of our players and is accessible for our organizers. I will advocate for any system that gets the most cleats on the field with the least amount of hassle.
Football is everyone’s game. More fields and more indoor facility agreements need to be made in order to house the ever growing demand for the sport in Edmonton. That is unfortunate. A clearer understanding of expectations is most likely required. I would be very happy to assist in the dialogue betwee football teams and school administraton. As a renter of school gyms, I am familiar with situations like this. It is also unfortunate. I will gladly take the concerns of soccer associations to the board and work with organizations to help resume play as fast as possible.
I have heard from a number of community organizations that say the process to book school facilities could be simplified and improved. I am a firm believer that our city’s schools should be community hubs not just for the students who attend the school but also for neighbours and community sports leagues and organizations who could use the space during out of school hours. Reviewing and also improving the Joint Use Agreement is a process that requires commitment from all trustees, Edmonton Public Schools administration as well as the unions whose members would be affected. I support a review and welcome the opportunity to improve relations between our local, community schools and the organizations who seek to make Edmonton’s neighbourhoods vibrant, engaged and healthy. It’s also worth noting that I am a parent of two children who have both participated in community soccer leagues, so I know first-hand how important soccer can be to the lives of players and their families as well as the connectivity of local communities.
The current system where competitions and games are being given a higher priority over practices is happening because of a shortage of space. I would hope that a review and encouraging additional schools to participate in opening their doors to soccer teams would help alleviate this problem. I’d like to know more about how much soccer space overall there is in Edmonton, including indoor and outdoor facilities (fields, schools, rec centres, etc.). I would like help to remove barriers that prevent frequent use of such neighbourhood-based facilities.
The resolution of any conflict begins with a willingness to listen on behalf of all parties. This is a principle I plan to continue to live by as an EPSB Trustee. I’m not aware of any specific cases of animosity between school staff and soccer teams, but I think sports and community organizations like schools need to work collaboratively towards their common goal of improving quality of life for people and in particular children in Edmonton. In any specific case I would seek to connect with the school’s principal, to begin to understand identified concerns. Then I would suggest the two parties meet to discuss the issue, with the elected trustee attending. It’s important to note that the Joint Use Agreement is in place for two reasons: to govern the amount of work that school staff have to do to accommodate out-of-school groups, and to ensure that community organizations have access to school facilities. A strong Joint Use Agreement is imperative in maintaining and improving relationships between community organizations and the schools they wish to use. This is an important part of my campaign platform as I believe very strongly that schools are the heart of Edmonton neighbourhoods, and they should be accessible for community use.
I am sympathetic to the concerns of school staff, including principals and custodians, who are under a lot of pressure to run their schools effectively and with limited resources. The current Joint Use Agreement does outline dispute resolution steps which should provide a fair process to resolve disagreements. Again, it all starts with listening. I believe open communication between all parties combined with adherence to a mutually acceptable Joint Use Agreement offer the best opportunity to address this kind of concern.
I believe we need to review the Joint Use Agreement as a whole, and so I would support community sports group consulations as a part of that review process. The booking system for gyms is managed by the City of Edmonton, but we may need to review how prioritization is decided to ensure equitable access for children and adults to gym facilities.
I believe this is a issue of needing to balance the need to protect school facilities and not impose undue workloads on custodial staff with the needs of teams. To answer this question and the one below, we may need to consider a mechanism for dispute resolution between schools and booking groups to ensure that we resolve issues before they become a major conflict.
I have not had any of these situations come to my attention, and so I can’t speak to the causes or prevalence of these issues, but I believe a dispute process should be clear so that schools and groups can resolve issues before they become major conflicts.
I was not aware the process was so difficult and complicated. It definitely needs some attention. I know the value of sports as I played on many teams and coached as well – fighting for gym and ice time. Will look into this if have the chance. Do remind the board in a couple of months, because it is crazy busy to get Initiated into trusteeship.
Edmonton Catholic School District
I read your attachment and I have no doubt that soccer, like many other activities is a positive tool to reduce social isolation, increase integration, increase diversity, increase opportunities of gender equality and public safety.
I can honestly say at this point I am unfamiliar with the Joint Use Agreement. In order to fairly answer this question, I would have to review this agreement and speak to some administrations to see what the state of affairs are in regards to renting out the gym spaces for practices. Should I be elected and find there is an issue between the Joint Use Agreement and the administrations within schools, I would look to make changes.
To answer this question, a lot of speculation and liberties would have to be taken. The question is not only about the shrinking availability for the use of gyms for practices, it is also why the preference is for adult competition. Is it because the belief is adults are more responsible? Is it because the adult competitions are in and out? Is it because there is city officials present who ensure gyms are left in the same if not better conditions?
Opening the lines of communications between the administrations and the teams looking for practicing space would be important. Trying to come to a consensus as to what is acceptable for each side would be key. This also leads to amending the Joint Use Agreement as well.
For any animosity between two parties, it is important for both parties to sit down together and possibly have a third neutral party to talk about what the issues are. The best course of action to dispel any preconceived notions on either side would be to have them laid out on the table for discussion. When both parties come together with the goal of reconciliation and cooperation, the outcome should be positive.
It seems odd that because a custodian or a principal is upset that they can arbitrarily reject the use of the gym facility. More information should be given to those who have been rejected. This could be the trigger of the animosity you speak of in the previous question.
As I stated it’s about opening the lines of communications and coming to a table with everything laid out. Each side must be willing to take accountability for their own actions and be willing to hear the other party. As long as both parties are willing then all answers and problems will be answered and solved. I realize that how I answered these questions is not definite and is situation based. It is difficult to tell what action to take as both parties have not been heard. It is also difficult to say what I could do without proper knowledge of these policies and practices. Upon reflection and after reading your attachment, it seems like facilities outside of schools need to be addressed by the City of Edmonton. So this issue is a combination of bringing to the table the city, our administrators and those teams who wish to use those facilities. This is a much larger issue. It is difficult to know what the Catholic Board can do and the limitations that we are afforded.
I have answered your questions as honestly as I can. I hope I have been able to give you some insight as to the kind of trustee I wish to represent.
I agree that the system is inadequate. Both of my girls have played soccer for Lago Lindo and on multiple occasions our teams have shown up to gyms only to be told that there is no record of the booking. I actually enjoyed the old system of booking directly with the school for practices. As a trustee I will attempt to launch an investigation and analysis of the current system as it is failing.
I think it is just a matter of giving kids first crack at the gyms. If the kids’ team is sponsored by a community or registered club, then perhaps they would have the first option to choose gym times. Adults have a lot of other facilities where they can enjoy their sports such as the YMCA.
Having managed teams of custodians in the past, I can empathize with some of their concerns, particularly when groups are disrespectful of the work they do. Custodians are under pressure in the evenings to ensure the facilities are clean for staff and students the next day. Having a lot of groups in the schools at night can really interfere with this objective. That being said, I ensured that my custodial staff were trained in customer service, and understood that tax payers support the school system and their groups are welcome in schools. As Trustee, I would filter the message down to the custodians that their attitude should be “welcoming” and not adversarial. If a situation is bad I would suggest sending me a note of a specific incident and we could deal with it individually. Tensions and disagreements can often be worked out with a sit down between a coach/manager and school staff.
As noted above, if a situation gets this bad, then fire me off an email and we can find out what the specific issues are. It could be that the relationship is strained between a particular group and the custodial staff, and everyone is made to suffer by an outright refusal of all groups. Principals are busy and will often side with the custodial staff to alleviate their concerns. That being said, most principals would be willing to resolve a specific situation if approached with a genuine desire to address concerns and make improvements.
I am doing my Masters in Public Health. This should reveal exactly where I stand.
Physical activity is critical to emotional and physical well-being. 31 % of Canadian children are over weight or obese. Children are now being diagnoses with diseases formerly associated with the elderly, including, but not limited to, high colesterol, osteoporosis, corinary disease, adult onset diabetis, osteoaritis, increased mental health issues, reduced quality of life and premature death. Children need a minimum of 60 min/day of vigorous activity to meet recommended levels to support health.
Whatever it takes, i will be advocating for increased opportunities for children to be active. So, consider me an advocate.
Yes absolutely I will advocate to have this process reviewed to lessen the frustration for all involved.
Hopefully we will see changes as we have new schools that have opened this year , hopefully this will help the inventory and alleviate some of the pressure when scheduling times for practises.
We need open and honest communication with the staff, the organization, the school and the school board that is involved so that we can pinpoint where these issues are and hopefully they can be resolved.
We need to have all parties involved in open communication when is situation arises and permits are being rejected, we need to be sure that school boards are following all of the guidelines from the JUA if the school is not participating and they do not have a valid reason then we need to have this investigated and dealt with appropriately.