Speak up on schools

Local school board working hard to attract more people to meetings, district issues and activities; facing longtime problem of inattention

The board of trustees of School District 69 (Qualicum) are looking for more input from the public, and while they aren’t getting much yet, they are optimistic they are laying a good foundation.

Board chair Lynette Kershaw was elected in November running largely on the idea of making the board more transparent and open to the community — and in the wake of fear that Kwalikum Secondary School might be closed. She said the coming budget process will be the first real test of community response.

Last week they introduced an interactive public forum on the district website and this week they are sending out an open letter thanking the public and inviting more involvement.

“Those great ideas you shared in public forums, OCPs, over coffee and on your doorsteps were heard. Now we’re going to need your talents and enthusiasm to make sure they get implemented,” the letter says.

It also talks about making local schools “centre’s of excellence” and “learning centers that help redefine the educational experience,” which Kershaw admitted are buzz words.

Yet she said the boards wants to focus on the existing strengths of schools and distinguish this district from others.

That might be through things like Ballenas Secondary’s football program, jazz at Kwalikum Secondary or the more independent Brent Morrison Golf Academy.

She said there are many opportunities and changes on the horizon, like the provincial 21st Century Learning initiative, in which they hope the public will be involved.

Superintendent Jim Ansell pointed out that they tend to get the most response when there’s a controversy or problem, so the low level of feedback could be a good sign and he expects to see more feedback as people become aware of the new avenues.

He said he and Kershaw met recently with area high school students to get their perspective on the current system and got a lot of intelligent and valuable feedback.

As of Wednesday morning there were just over 20 comments in seven categories on the web-forum at www.sd69.bc.ca, including responses from the district.

They encourage people to check it out and join in when they have questions or constructive criticism.


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