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School board scales back review of corporate sponsorship policy

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The Howe Sound School Board has scaled back its review of corporate sponsorship policy in the district following parental objection.

The board voted at its meeting Dec. 13 to axe the idea of setting up smaller sub-committees in the three main corridor communities of Whistler, Pemberton and Squamish that would seek input and report back to a larger umbrella committee.

Outgoing board chair Amy Shoup said the review will now be undertaken by only the district committee, comprised of two trustees plus representatives from the Principals and Vice-Principals Association, the District Advisory Parent Council, the Howe Sound Teachers Association and Local 779 of Canadian Union of Public Employees.

The issue was brought back onto the agenda this month by Whistler trustee and new board chair, Andrée Janyk.

After being lobbied by Whistler parents, Janyk reviewed her position and asked the board to reconsider its stance.

The District Parent Advisory Council feels big business is not beating on local school doors now and that the current policy on corporate advertising in schools is sufficient.

The board, on the other hand, wants to plan for the future. Shoup said she has little doubt the corporations will come knocking.

"We had a lengthy discussion," said Janyk of the last board meeting. "I brought forward the fact that we already have a policy so there was acknowledgement of its existence, which is something I felt wasn’t there before."

Janyk said the board then confirmed that the intent of the review was to tighten up the existing policy, not create a new one.

"And we decided that going out to sub-committees might not be the most appropriate course of action because people had already come and given their presentations."

The key stakeholder groups will have another opportunity to make a presentation in April, noted Janyk. "We decided there should be a fairly lengthy period of time to get some further submissions. There is no hurry."

Shoup noted Marjorie Reimer of the Howe Sound Teachers Association, who was at the meeting, was concerned that the board was back-tracking. The teachers union is opposed to the concept of corporate sponsorship in general.

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