News » Whistler

Trying to keep up



Parents, teachers have hands full dealing with education cuts; little time for changes to School Act

Digesting the latest changes to the education system is proving almost too much for some local parents.

Earlier this week Christy Clark, minister of education, proposed a series of amendments to the School Act which guarantees a greater voice for parents in schools, give students the right to attend any school that has space, and gives school boards the right to engage in entrepreneurial activities.

But some parents, said Myrtle Philip Parent Advisory Council chairwoman Kris Shoup, are past absorbing any more changes because they’re struggling to understand how the government’s funding cuts are going to impact their schools.

"I think that telling them they also changed the School Act was kind of like: ‘We don’t want anymore right now. We’ve had enough to swallow. Don’t give us anymore,’" said Shoup.

Parents at Myrtle Philip have also just learned that they have lost funding for the Challenge program, which helps gifted children.

And the on-again off-again funding for the Community Grant is now definitely off.

The provincially funded grant has been cut for good as part of the cut backs by the Liberal government.

The grant was used to pay for programs like student call-back, the supervisor safety aid, the behaviour support program, the library accessibility program, which keeps the library open at lunch hour, and the field trip cost assistance program.

Many of the programs run with the grant were related to safety.

"I think the parents were pretty much in shock over what happened last night," said Shoup referring to the reactions of those who attended Tuesday night’s regular PAC meeting.

"With one hand we were telling them this is what we would like to do but on the other we were telling them there is no money and the teachers are still in job action.

"We have lost our community grant – that’s huge. So we have huge impacts."

The cuts will also mean larger class sizes, fewer teachers and teaching assistants, and neither Myrtle Philip nor the new elementary at Spring Creek will have vice-principals from now on.

Shoup believes the newly proposed changes laid out in the amended School Act will have little affect in Whistler if the bill is passed

Parents here, she said, have always had a good relationship with administrative officers in schools. The formation of a three-parent, one teacher, one principal council for each school may only strain the resources of parents.

"And to be honest with you it looks to me like it is another group where you are going to probably ask the same parents to participate," said Shoup.