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Traditional school proposal still smoulders Advocates of a traditional school for the Howe Sound School District are wondering why the local board is taking so long to address the issue. A group of parents, most of them from Squamish, appeared before the board last January asking for direction toward starting a traditional school to serve Howe Sound students. Assistant Superintendent Judith Knapp was directed to work with the parents, but according to a spokesperson for the group very little headway has been made. Marcia Martin of the traditional school group says the last time the traditional school idea was discussed was at a school board meeting in April. Since then nothing has happened, so Martin sent a letter to board chair Don Wilson and the issue was on the table at Wednesday’s school board meeting, after Pique went to press. Last September, the Surrey Traditional School opened its doors to students and eager parents, against the wishes of the Surrey Teachers Association. Complete with flag-raising ceremonies and uniforms, the school was heralded by organizer John Pippiths as a breakthrough in a system which overlooked the educational basics and lacked parental input. "It’s really frustrating, they had the idea (in Surrey) and in less than a year the school was up and running," Martin says. "The school board here said they needed more information, but they haven’t asked us for any more." A traditional school, with its focus on structure and recognizable uniforms, is actually a "tailored facility" much like the French immersion schools already operating in the district at Mamquam Elementary in Squamish and Brackendale Secondary. The aim, Martin says, is to create a variety of educational choices throughout the district so parents can choose a facility tailored to their children's needs. The local traditional school proposal contains a mandate which says some children "require a structured, consistent, teacher-centred environment with high expectations for behaviour and academic work." Martin says the number of names on an "enrolment interest list" has increased from 90 to 200 since April. The number, she says, would be even higher, but some parents are worried that supporting the traditional school proposal could have negative effects on their kids. "Parents are really worried about the fact that if they support the idea there may be retaliation by teachers," Martin says. Martin says a traditional school opened up in Williams Lake this fall after a parental movement forced the school board to opt for the traditional school model in an existing facility. Doug Courtice, Howe Sound superintendent, says the board of trustees passed a policy dealing with "major changes to the delivery of education" in the district about a year ago. He says it is possible the traditional school proposal could be evaluated under the policy. "There is a process to follow and it involves the community of course," Courtice says. "The board encourages a creative approach to the delivery of education, but the pros and cons of every proposal have to be looked at and discussed at length."

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