This letter was addressed to the board of school trustees of
School District 48. A copy was forwarded to Pique for publication.
I would like to commend all of you on what could only be described as a board meeting filled with an enormous amount of heartfelt, passionate and very lengthy debate on the issue of school closures and moving the March break in 2010. I hope I speak for the seven or so people who attended the meeting that it was clear that this decision by the board was not made without a tremendous amount of discussion, consideration and ultimately some compromising and a whole lot of procedural co-ordination.
It was certainly unfortunate that more people were not at the meeting last night as I believe it would have been made extremely clear that the board has heard what parents have to say and that you are trying to balance the needs of the parents with the needs of the children at what can only be described as a very unusual time.
Although I am not personally in favour of closing the schools for an extended period of time during the Olympics I do believe the school board has established a good and equitable solution that will at least allow parents and teachers to begin planning for the winter session in 2010. I fully agree that the mandate of the board is not to provide childcare but if some consideration could be given to offering up some of the school space (perhaps one elementary school in each community) to be utilized during the Olympics for "Olympic Spring Break" programs it would go a long way to assisting other organizations to develop and manage programs that would ensure children of working parents have a place to participate in activities that would occur during a normal spring break.
Although I have nothing to base this theory on I feel that despite the fact that part of the reasoning to move the spring break to February from March in 2010 and extending the school closure (particularly in Whistler) is to consider the educational needs of the students in order to ensure they will not miss school time because they may or may not be pulled out/opt out during the Olympics you may discover, in the end, that many families choose to hunker down through the Olympics to work/host/volunteer, with a plan to take a week to 10 days at the end of March, April and into May for family time and to recuperate. I would think this would have a greater impact on attendance than the Olympics.