Some parents concerned about new Comox Valley school calendar

Dear editor,

As concerned parents, we are discouraged by the process undertaken regarding the motion passed by the school board April 8.

Dear editor,

As concerned parents of students in School District 71 (SD71), we are discouraged by the process undertaken regarding the motion passed by the school board April 8 to schedule professional learning community meetings on alternate Wednesday afternoons during school hours.

This decision has the potential to account for up to 22 hours per student of lost instructional time in SD71.

We understand and agree that professional learning communities (PLCs) may offer value to the quality of education and remove the silo’s in which teachers often feel they are working in. However, setting aside time away from instructional time for this is unacceptable and ineffective.

The development of PLCs should conducted not within a silo as an event every other Wednesday, but ongoing within the structure already set in place in which teaching staff have the opportunity to collaborate and interact, thus the term community (or community of practice).

Literature suggests that creating a culture of collaboration does not occur as an event, but is an ongoing shared process within the realm of the environment in which teachers are working in.

Additionally,  information related to the goals and objectives, processes, measures, accountabilities related to this proposed activity and the potential impact it may have on the achievement contract have not been presented to parents of SD71.

We strongly disagree with limited valuable educational time being forfeited for this activity.

We are disappointed that due process has not been undertaken and in our view parents have not given informed consent for this activity. Parents have not been fully consulted (as per Bill 36, item 87.01, subsection 7) or allowed to discuss the ramifications of this decision.

The notification, sent out was just before the spring break and provided little to no information about the proposed significant changes to this year’s calendar, including the rationale for the reduced instructional time.

During the 20-minute board meeting on April 8 parents attending were not permitted to ask questions or provide comments before or after the vote was taken by the board. It was declared that some 600 emails had been received from parents (a very small representation of the close to 8,400 students) on the matter but no clarification was offered as to how many of these were for or against this proposal.

Despite these egregious examples of lack of due process, the motion to schedule these sessions during school hours was passed unanimously.

The need for additional daycare for families every other Wednesday afternoon is one immediate problem caused by this scheduling. This is in addition to the existing school disruptions for professional development days and already existing early dismissal days.

We also have concerns that the already-limited hours for direct education for our children is being reduced, thus negatively impacting the achievement contract set out by SD71.

We support and encourage the administration and staff’s desire to improve how education is delivered in the Comox Valley and feel that this good work should be done within the realm of the work-day and outside instructional time.

We are asking Education Minister Don McRae to advise us of the process the school district must follow to make a change to the SD71 school calendar as per Bill 36 item 87.02, subsection 1.

Please do not allow the current calendar for the 2013/14 academic year to go through without any further consultation.

Dr. Jason Wale, Dr. Margaret Manville, Maureen Clarke, Dean Nilsen, E.R. Clarke,

Comox Valley

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