Whistler secondary losing principal 

Whistler secondary school lost its vice principal last summer and it is now losing its principal.

Rick Smith, WSS administrator since the high school opened doors to students in September, 1996, will be transferred to Brackendale secondary school effective July 1, 2001.

Howe Sound School Board Chair, Amy Shoup, said Smith will take over from current Brackendale principal, Tom Croft, who is retiring after 39 years of service in Sea to Sky country.

Shoup said Smith requested the transfer.

She said the move has nothing to do with the high-profile law suit filed by the Dufour family against Smith and the school board.

In a claim filed in the B.C. Supreme Court in October last year Bob and Leanne Dufour and their daughter Jamie accused Smith and the board of gross negligence, willful misconduct and breach of statutory duty, for allegedly failing to prevent bullying and harassment against Jamie Dufour while she was a student at Whistler secondary. No court date has yet been set.

Shoup said principals request transfers for many reasons. "They may have been at a school for a long period of time and they may just want another challenge. They may want a bigger school or a smaller school. Sometimes they want to transfer from elementary to high school," said Shoup. "I think Rick just felt it was time for a change."

Shoup noted the school board doesn’t automatically grant a transfer request. "But we thought he would be a good fit with Brackendale secondary."

Brackendale, a Grade 8 to Grade 10 school, currently has capacity for 400 student. The facility is undergoing major renovations which are due for completion around the spring break. Once complete, the school will have capacity for 600 pupils.

The board started advertising for a new WSS principal Jan. 13. Shoup said there may yet be requests from other administrators within the district for a transfer to Whistler.

The next step will be to hunt for a vice principal.

Lynn Maksymchuk resigned as WSS vice principal during the 2000 summer vacation and the timing presented a challenge in finding a suitable replacement for the 2000/2001 school year.

The board received 20 applications after it went into the marketplace in the middle of last summer but after the long-listing process, it was felt the list of candidates was not strong enough to bring before the school board for interviews.

Two teachers, Gaily Rybar and Mitch Sulkers, were temporarily moved into administrative assistant positions for the remainder of the school year with the goal of advertising for a full-time replacement for Maksymchuk in the spring.

Smith noted last year that the move presented a "terrific opportunity" for the two teachers to test administrative waters.

The high cost of living in the resort has played a role in attracting school staff in the past.

Smith said since the Whistler high school has been built, a number of people have decided not to accept jobs once they came and looked at affordability in Whistler.

The Howe Sound School Board will also be looking for a new principal for Squamish elementary. Current principal Trevor Harris, who has been with the district since 1963, is also retiring.

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