Schools out for Games 

Proposal to close schools for Olympics prompts parents to conduct their own survey

click to enlarge No Class? Parents are questioning school board's decision to close school during Winter Games.
  • No Class? Parents are questioning school board's decision to close school during Winter Games.

The parents of Myrtle Philip students will conduct their own survey following the Howe Sound School District’s proposal to close schools during the 2010 Olympics.

“I think we want to know what parents think,” Suzanne Thomas said Tuesday at the school’s monthly Parent Advisory Council meeting.

The school district announced Monday that it is proposing to reschedule spring break from March to Feb. 22-26 in 2010, to coincide with the last week of the Winter Olympics. As well the school board is proposing to close Whistler’s two elementary schools and secondary schools in Pemberton and Squamish for the week of Feb. 15-19, the first week of the Games. Whistler Secondary would be closed an additional week, starting Feb. 8, 2010.

“This proposal is based on information we have at the present time,” said board Chair Dave Walden.

That includes a survey of parents conducted at the end of the last school year, investigations by the board of past Olympic experiences, and consultations with Olympic stakeholders and security officials.

The results of the survey, which Walden described as “inconclusive” will be available to the public after the board’s Sept. 26 meeting.

The Myrtle Philip parents’ survey arose partly out of concerns that the school board’s survey lumped both high schools and elementary schools together.

If the results of the parents’ survey come back against closing the schools the Parent Advisory Council has the opportunity to come up with a new calendar — but it must be approved by both the school administration and the school board.

It’s likely a new calendar would involve extra bussing charges for the school board and other challenges, said school board trustee Chris Vernon-Jarvis, making it an unattractive option.

“We are still listening,” said Walden adding that the board wants feedback on the proposal before adopting it as the official calendar for the 2009-2010 school year.

The board is still working out how best to get the feedback, said Walden, but it’s likely it will be channeled through the PAC for each school as well as consultations with teachers and other employees at the schools.

School groups can consider the calendar and either agree that it works for the school or they can come up with an alternative calendar. Any new calendar would have to be endorsed by the school staff and principal and it would have to be proved that it would work for the school.

It is hoped that a final decision can be reached on the calendar in October, but if more time is needed for feedback then the deadline will be extended.

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