Parents need to lobby 

government for school funds, says district parent body

Real work on improving course selection will start next year

Optimizing high school course selection options in the Howe Sound school district will be a priority for parents and educators over the coming year, according to the District Parent Advisory Council (DPAC).

Around 40 parents and district education staff attended a special meeting Wednesday, June 6 to discuss parental concerns that students at small schools may be missing out on the range of courses available at larger schools.

DPAC chair Chris Platz says the good turnout indicates parents are anxious to ensure their children have the best opportunities to go on to university and higher education.

But he says the meeting also helped parents understand that school staff have been doing the best job possible with limited resources.

"It is good for parents to see the reality of what schools are dealing with," he says. "One consensus reached in the meeting was the need for parents to lobby government directly for the appropriate resources."

Other options for increasing course selections were also suggested.

"Scheduling neighbouring schools together is a possibility," he says. "For example Howe Sound and Brackendale secondary schools are only seven kilometres apart so classes could be shared between the pair."

However Platz says it would mean significant structural changes in some cases. "Currently Pemberton and Whistler secondary schools, for example, are respectively on a semester and modified quarter system, which means one is holding 45-minute block courses and one has half day courses. Obviously sharing courses under these conditions would not work."

Currently small schools such as Whistler secondary offer certain courses on a biennial basis, so students can take two consecutive courses on the same subject in a single year.

While parents are keen to explore new options for increasing course selections, Platz says real work on the issue won’t start until next year.

"Elections for the new DPAC are in October and it was agreed the new group would look into putting together a committee to work with parents and the school district." He says the actual scholastic performance of students in the Sea to Sky Corridor was not really discussed, but generally the district does well.

"There are advantages and disadvantages to being in a small school, such as possibly less course choices but more individual attention from teachers than you would get from a larger institution." Platz says last week’s meeting was just a preliminary discussion to get ideas flowing for maximizing the return from existing funding levels.

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