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Wanted: parents to vote on how school district should spend computer money

Myrtle Philip PAC meets next week to vote on spending proposals



Parents of students at Myrtle Philip will decide next week how they think the school board should spend money donated for computers in the district.

"This meeting is very important," said Parent Advisory Council chair Cathy Jewett, who urged every parent to attend.

"We will take this information and go to the District PAC meeting on May 31 and say, ‘our PAC wants to see this.’ That is how a consensus will be reached amongst parents."

The Whistler Blackcomb Foundation has offered to give the Howe Sound School District $250,000 over three years for technology.

In order to access the funds, which can only be spent on computers and permanently attached peripherals, matching funds must be raised.

Initially the school board had suggested the greatest need was in the high schools and it had suggested the money go there first and then technology would trickle down to the elementary schools.

However, since it is likely the Parent Advisory Councils of every school will have to come up with thousands of dollars in matching funds many felt that plan was unfair.

Recently the school board suggested that the money be accessed by each school depending on how many students attended the facility.

School superintendent Dr. Rick Erickson will speak to Myrtle Philip parents about the two proposals – the trickle down versus the student enrolment.

"It is really important that parents come and listen to Dr. Erickson," said Jewett.

The meeting will be held at a special time, 6:30 p.m., on Tuesday, May 18.

The meeting will also look at another thorny issue in the district – how little is being done for gifted students.

There are several reasons the PAC should be considering this said Jewett.

Local students leave the Whistler school system every year to attend private school. While there are several reasons parents choose to do this one of the main ones, said Jewett, is because the system does not challenge the students enough.

"That is costing the district about $80,000 to $100,000 a year in lost funding from the government," she said, adding that this trend has the greatest effect at the high school level.

The ripple effect of that is that there is even less money to offer courses to high school students in the resort.

It also removes the most academically motivated students – who are usually great role models – from the class.

"I think what the school board needs to do is focus on what parents want and see what is happening in other schools and how they are providing that kind of service without increasing spending or teaching time," said Jewett.

"What is there for gifted children?" said Jewett.

"There is nothing in this district…. So those kids aren’t reaching their potential."

Meanwhile Myrtle Philip principal Ron Albertin, in discussion with other staff, decided this week that kindergarten classes will follow the traditional pattern for next year: There will be half-day classes in the morning and afternoon five days a week.

It really came down to staffing in the end, said Albertin, who will be making more information available soon.

"It ended up pushing a lot more teaches out of their area of expertise, which in the end didn’t make sense for the rest of the school," he said.

But the idea hasn’t gone for good.

"I think we have to look at it if that is what people want, and I did give it a serious look this year, it just didn’t work for us," said Albertin.