Trustees feel parents not being heard

The Central Okanagan school board will deal directly with parent advisory councils and school planning councils until the district-wide parent group can attract more parents, trustees decided Wednesday.

  • May. 13, 2011 11:00 a.m.

The Central Okanagan school board will deal directly with parent advisory councils and school planning councils until the district-wide parent group can attract more parents, trustees decided Wednesday.

Despite the protests of two Central Okanagan Parent Advisory Council members, school trustees say they no longer feel they are getting the input of local parents to their decision-making process.

So the board has opted to bypass COPAC until such time as that group can start holding meetings with enough members in attendance to proceed under its own bylaws.

“For some time now we’ve been asking what we can do in order to have more input from parents,” said trustee Moyra Baxter, noting COPAC’s failure to provide feedback has held up the process on major decisions at times.

“I don’t think we should look at this negatively,” she said, noting the board is still going to parents for feedback.

“This is about how we receive that information and take it as reflective of a parent group.”

As board members filed into the school board meeting room on Wednesday, a new board member from the B.C. Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils, the provincial umbrella organization under which COPAC operates, approached Baxter and told her the trustees had no right to even raise the issue.

His attendance had not been scheduled into the meeting, however, and he had to leave before he could formally address the rest of the board.

Board chairman Rolli Cacchioni said he had received a call from BCCPAC president Ann Whiteacker prior to the meeting who made the same suggestion.

But those protests were largely dismissed as trustees pointed out they were not challenging COPAC’s right to exist so much as finding an interim measure to deal with its absence.

Current COPAC president Sharlene Drohomereski told the board she believes the trustees simply need to bare with the organization as it tries to restructure and adapt to changing times.

“It might even be after the restructuring we might not have (quorum) at the COPAC meetings,” she said, asking whether feedback in the form of email wouldn’t be just as good for the board.

In order to have a quorum, just over 50 per cent of the schools must have a parent representative present at a COPAC meeting. With the inception of school planning councils, which have added more time commitments for busy parents, and the number of dual-income households increasing, Drohomereski says they just are not getting people out.

But trustees indicated the problems goes beyond the numbers.

Repeated calls and emails from the Capital News to the COPAC office went unanswered.

jsmith@kelownacapnews.com

 

Kelowna Capital News