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PAC Notes

Parents vote to help district get better computers.



Parents at Myrtle Philip Elementary voted last night to put over $14,000 of their fundraising money into a district-wide pool to help purchase new technology for the schools which need it most.

The PAC money will be used to get matching funds from the Whistler Blackcomb Foundation, which recently donated $250,000 over three years for technology in the Howe Sound School district.

At the packed meeting this week parents were told of two plans under discussion to distribute the Foundation funds, which can only be used to purchase computers and permanently attached peripherals.

The first proposal, termed the trickle down plan, would see the money go to the schools which need it most — the high schools.

The computers from the high schools would then be refurbished and given to elementary schools

This was the option chosen by the Myrtle Philip parents and recommended by the school district.

"I believe as a good neighbour it is the right thing to do," said PAC chair Cathy Jewett at the meeting.

The second option allows each individual school to spend their PAC money and the matching Foundation funds as they wish as long as it fits in with the district’s technology plan.

However, this plan could mean that a school unable to raise much money would be unable to improve their technology very much.

In both cases the most a school can claim in matching funds is determined by the number of students at the facility.

Jewett will now present the results of the vote to the next district PAC meeting on May 31. The DPAC is one of the stakeholders in the process, which will ultimately determine how the Foundation money will be spent and distributed.

Parents throughout the district are currently voting on the two proposals.

"I am delighted the PAC voted this way," said school trustee Don Brett after the meeting.

There were serious concerns raised by parents at the meeting before the vote was taken.

Chief amongst them was how the school board was going to manage the process, install the computers, purchase them and maintain them.

"There is some concern that the school district is already challenged in this area," said Jewett.

But school superintendent Dr. Rick Erickson, who was at the meeting to tell parents about the proposals for accessing the Foundation money, said plans are being put in place.

And, he added, if the trickle down plan is adopted the old high school computers, which suck maintenance time and funds will be replaced with new machines vastly reducing the amount of energy expended on keeping them going.

"We are aware of the concern," said Erickson.

Parents were also reminded that the district would be looking for funds from other sources to help reduce the amount, which must be raised through the PACs.

The issue of E-classrooms was brought up again at the meeting. Currently this technology, which would allow students in two different locations to do one class or links students with newsmakers around the world, cannot get funding trough the Foundations’ funds.

But Brett said he could raise the issue with the Foundation.

"I can go to them and see what they say," he said.

Erickson added that he has also emailed the ministry of education reiterating the district’s interest in pursuing E-learning and requesting assistance with the project.

Parents at Whistler Secondary will be able to vote on how they think the Foundation funds should be distributed at the next PAC meeting May 25 at 7 p.m.

Spring Creek parents also voted to support the trickle down proposal at their last meeting. But they also voted to support an amendment be added stating that any shortfall in funds raised because some schools did not manage to reach their targets should not be made up for by schools with strong fundraising operations.