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New school year brings new challenges for PAC

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Absence of school librarian generates heated debate

Students will be starting and finishing school at new times when Spring Creek Elementary School opens in November.

For Whistler Secondary students, Principal Ken Davies told the first Parent Advisory Council meeting of the year, that means dropping them off for an 8:35 a.m. start and picking them up at 3:05 p.m.

Students at Myrtle Philip will start at 8:45 a.m. and finish at 2:52 p.m. while Spring Creek students will begin at 8:30 a.m. and finish at 2:37 p.m.

Each of those times also incorporates an extra seven minutes into the day to allow for ‘Collaboration Days’ for teachers.

A new idea this year, it will allow teachers to get together with other teachers to talk about how to improve student outcomes and explore ideas about their profession.

"Teachers are pleased with the opportunity to work with other teachers on issues such as social responsibility… to help improve learning in the classroom," Davies told the PAC.

Social responsibility was outlined by Whistler Secondary’s School Panning Council last year as one of two goals the facility must work toward achieving.

The second goal was to improve math computation skills. The hope is that the school will work on creating a culture of success where no student is left behind or is allowed to drop out without every effort being made to prevent it.

Trustee Don Brett also reminded the PAC that the school district has adopted its own goals.

They are increasing achievement for all students and developing socially responsible students.

As part of the move toward these goals a voluntary teacher evaluation is also being introduced this year, said Brett.

The aim of the evaluation is to support the teacher’s professional growth.

Several topics generated heated debate during the PAC meeting, including the fact that the school has no teacher-librarian.

Parents questioned this strategy, born out of the school’s need to work within its budget and the announcement in August that Whistler Secondary’s librarian was taking another posting.

Some wondered why the school district could not fund the position.

Brett pointed out that under the current organization it is up to each school to allocate its funds as it sees fit.

The reality, said Brett, is that the government has created this problem in part by granting teachers a pay rise but refusing to fund it.

He urged parents to write or e-mail MLA Ted Nebbeling and voice their concerns over how the tight budget is affecting their schools.

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