Opinion » Editorial


The next 12 months will bring some substantial changes to the way school boards operate, and consequently, changes to the way school programs are designed and delivered. Education Minister Art Charbonneau’s plans to cut the number of school boards in the province in half has shocked many, but some kind of radical restructuring is inevitable. Charbonneau has said he is willing to listen to alternatives but whatever changes are decided upon must be in place by the time of the next civic elections, in November 1996. Even if there is a change of government before then, the Liberals have said they too are looking to restructure the whole school board system. Change is inevitable. Charbonneau’s proposal is for school boards to follow the same alignment as health units. That would mean the Howe Sound School District would join with the Sunshine Coast and Powell River districts; three distinct regions united through the navigational skills of BC Ferries captains. The changes will likely mean the loss of some administrative jobs and a reduction in the number of trustee seats. Whistler will probably have less representation on a new school board. Such a change will also require some changes in attitude. It has always been difficult to get all trustees, staff and parents to think about the Howe Sound district as a whole, rather than as individual towns. The issue could increase in magnitude when three districts are brought together as one. Not only will there be more towns competing for funding, it may be less money per student than was allocated this year, according to some early predictions. Moreover, the regions differ economically and demographically. The Squamish-Lillooet Regional District is the third fastest growing regional district in the province. Whistler’s high school population increased 60 per cent from September 1994 to September 1995. And these structural changes are proposed at a time when the curricular demands by the Ministry of Education are growing. What these changes point to is a greater role for parents and the local communities within their schools. The positive side of these changes is supposed to be cost savings. The goal of the next board should be to see that those savings benefit education in the classrooms.

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