Field trips and Hardship Policy

There was a recent article in the Tyee about students self-excluding from field trips, due to financial concerns:

http://thetyee.ca/News/2014/04/10/Students-Self-Exclude/

A public school system is intended to provide all children with an equitable education, regardless of their family’s income. That means school fees should never stand in the way of a good education.

Sometimes, however, it’s students or their parents standing in the way. Faced with having to admit poverty, or knowing that asking for their parents’ money will elicit an “I’m sorry, we can’t afford it,” students exclude themselves from field trips, courses, or other educational “extras” that come with a price tag.

 

As a reminder to parents, school district 57 has a financial hardship policy for students:

http://www.sd57.bc.ca/fileadmin/cao.sd57.bc.ca/Policy_Manual/Policies/5101.pdf

The Board of Education of School District No. 57 (Prince George) is committed to ensuring that no student is denied an opportunity to participate in a course, class or program because of financial hardship.

The administrative procedures as laid out in policy are as follows:

  1. All communication with students and/or parents regarding fees and deposits must include a statement that explains that fees will not be a barrier to student participation in school activities.
  2. Schools will publish, at the beginning of each school year, a schedule of fees and deposits. This schedule shall include reference to the procedures that can be followed by students, or parents on behalf of students, who would otherwise be excluded from the course, class or activity because of financial hardship.
  3. Schools will establish a hardship application process that is clear to students and parents. All staff members should be aware of this financial hardship provision and be able to advise students and parents with regard to access.
  4. The procedures for addressing financial hardship must be clearly communicated to parents and students and should be conveyed in such media as the student handbook, the parent handbook, student planners, newsletters and/or the school’s website.
  5. The hardship application process may be formal or informal. The process must always, however, respect an individual’s privacy and dignity and adhere to strict principles of confidentiality and fairness.
  6. All requests for support will be considered by the school. The school should consider, but not be limited to, the following options: deferred payment, payment over time, partial waiver or full waiver.

 

Schools that are not following these policies should be reminded of policy 5101.

Resource Materials for Parents on IEPs and Speaking Up

At last night’s DPAC meeting, reference was made to two BCCPAC resources for parents. Links to these resources are here:

http://www.bccpac.bc.ca/resources/individual-education-plans-guide-parents

JUST UPDATED in 2014 – Many parents are not sure what to expect at an Individual Education Plan (IEP) meeting. When they meet school staff on behalf of their child, they may feel vulnerable or even frightened. Often, they don’t know what to do and are not clear about their role in the process. In this guide, our focus is to help you understand how an IEP meeting works and how you and your child, working together with the school, can get the most out of this process for the benefit of your child.

 You know more about your child than anyone else. The school needs this information to tailor its teaching to your child’s way of learning. A good IEP brings together your knowledge about your child with the school’s knowledge about teaching. The IEP meeting will produce a plan of what the school will do to teach your child and help her succeed.

http://www.bccpac.bc.ca/resources/speaking

A step-by-step guide to resolution advocacy for parents who want to become better advocates for their children. This guide gives information on:

  • details on how the school system works,
  • outlines parent and students rights and responsibilities,
  • provides strategies for advocating for children, and
  • supports student self-advocacy

Call for Nominees for DPAC Executive

We are looking for willing people to step forward and be nominated for a rewarding position on our DPAC executive.  Meetings occur on the first Monday of the month with an executive meeting one week before.  Positions include the Chair, Vice-chair, Secretary, Treasurer, Directors, and District Associate.  Executive Members have the privilege of sitting on School District committees which provide an interesting insight into the operations and decision-making processes of the Board and District.
Please nominate someone you feel will contribute to encouraging and supporting parental involvement in our public education system, or nominate yourself if you would like to be involved.
Please contact either Chris Finke (cfinke@shaw.ca) or Jacqueline Dockray (jacqui@webartz.com) (DPAC Nominations Committee) with nominations before our May 5th AGM.
Thank you,
Chris and Jacqui

Last call for interested attendees for BCCPAC Conference in Richmond

Are you interested in attending the BCCPAC Conference and AGM in Richmond?

We currently have two people interested in attending, and we will be finalizing this decision for April 15th. If you are interested in attending, please let us know before April 15th - email chair@sd57dpac.ca for more information.

More information: http://conference.bccpac.bc.ca/

The full schedule and speakers list is just being updated now – please check back soon for more details and a full list of speakers and sessions.

 

BCCPAC Resolutions Meeting – April 27th

Join us at a resolutions workshop to discuss how to vote at the provincial BCCPAC Conference. We will be starting at 11am at the Van Bien Training Centre. As food will be provided, we ask that you register.

Register: http://dpacresolutions2014.eventbrite.ca
Agenda:

Nominations: http://www.bccpac.bc.ca/sites/default/files/nominationsonly2014_0.pdf

Resolutions: http://www.bccpac.bc.ca/sites/default/files/articles/resolutionsonly2014.pdf

As we will be providing food, pre-registration is required – no registration, no food, no fun.

 Why attend?

Various school PACs in this district are members of BCCPAC, and have the right to vote at the AGM. DPAC will be sending representatives, and can vote for members by proxy at the AGM. PACs may wish to give specific instructions to proxy holders on how to vote, or may wish to generally educate themselves about some of the provincial issues that PACs will be discussing.

 

Who can attend?

Any parent in the district. Your PAC can only vote if you’re a member of BCCPAC, but we encourage all parents to be informed.

 

Is my PAC a member of BCCPAC?

If you’re a member of BCCPAC, you should be receiving notices from BCCPAC.

 

Any questions?

Please email info@sd57dpac.ca

BCCPAC Conference – May 29-June 1, 2014

http://conference.bccpac.bc.ca/

The full schedule and speakers list is just being updated now – please check back soon for more details and a full list of speakers and sessions.

Note: DPAC will be sending representatives to the BCCPAC meeting in Richmond – if you’re interested in attending, please let us know in writing. Email chair@sd57dpac.ca for more information.

Fraser Institute Elementary School Rankings released

http://britishcolumbia.compareschoolrankings.org/pdfs/Fraser_Institute_Report_Card_on_British_Columbia%E2%80%99s_Elementary_Schools_2014.pdf

Some useful links that discuss the Fraser Institute methodology, and debate around these scores:

http://www.bccpac.bc.ca/news-blog/finding-information-about-bc-schools

I recently interviewed a Vancouver realtor about how house-hunting parents obtain information about K-12 schools. He said those relocating within the province often get advice from friends and relatives, but many families moving to B.C. from elsewhere use the Fraser Institute’s report cards.

Although controversial, they offer the only overview of B.C. schools, he said.

That’s not entirely true.

Earlier this year, the Education Ministry created a website (discoveryourschool.gov.bc.ca) in response to parents’ requests for more information to help them make educational choices. A news release went out in March, but based on conversations I’ve had with several people, I don’t think it circulated well.

The website provides data about class size, the school’s seismic rating, student and parent satisfaction and results from the annual Foundation Skills Assessment (FSA) in Grades 4 and 7. Unlike the Fraser Institute’s report cards, it does not rank schools and – not surprisingly – doesn’t mention shortcomings. It also includes this qualification:

“The data shown here is just a starting point. The best way to get to know a school is to go there. Talk to the principal. Meet the teachers. Get a feel for the school first hand. Go to the school’s website, which will give you much more detail about what is going on.”

The ministry says the website is evolving and it welcomes feedback about what other information should be included. What do you think parents need to know about B.C. schools?

http://www.bclocalnews.com/news/153687255.html?mobile=true

Parents need to make an informed enrolment choice. On April 30, the Fraser Institute released its 2012 school rankings, a controversial report of public sector and independent schools in B.C.

The first consideration parents should make when selecting schools, said Helen Raptis, researcher into the history and sociology of education at the University of Victoria, is to disregard the rankings.

The rankings are a distortion of the foundation skills assessments, tests administered in Grades 4 and 7 to measure basic reading, writing and numeracy skills, Raptis said, noting how factors such as number of students who abstain from writing the tests are combined with test results to determine a school’s ranking.

Raptis uses the example that in 2011, Torquay elementary scored higher than Pacific Christian in FSA test scores, but ranked lower in the Fraser Institute rankings than the independent school.

“Despite the flaws, (the rankings) have managed to have credence over the last 10 years,” Raptis said. “Parents continue to rely on flawed information … (The Fraser Institute) adds variables that haven’t been tested to have any merit in terms of measuring student achievement.”

Know your child

Is your child thriving in their current setting? And if they’re doing well academically, but are unhappy, is that OK? Monitoring achievement is an integral step in the process of finding the right educational fit.

Schools, public or private, are generally interested in opening their doors to prospective students, but before parents take that step, Raptis said, they should already know in which arts, sports, or academic pursuits their child is most interested and which schools have a proven reputation in those areas.

“There’s nothing worse than having a bad school experience and having a bad fit,” she said. “We want our kids to thrive and pursue goals, to come out of their experience contributing positively to society. They can’t do that if the fit isn’t right.”

Raptis warns of switching a child out of any school – public or private – should they be enjoying a positive social setting.

 

 

A DPAC member also wrote an interesting report on the Fraser Institute reports last year: http://sd57dpac.ca/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Fraser-institute-report.pdf

Spring Break and April 4th Pro D Day activities – City of Prince George Flyer

During each Professional Development Day, the City of Prince George helps to coordinate a listing of all the fun activities for children to enjoy during their day off school.  This is an opportunity for kids, parents and educators to discover all of the great events and programs that are available on Pro D Days.

Children can stay active, meet new people and learn some cool things by participating in all sorts of programs, special events and activities put on by our favourite local organizations and businesses - especially for kids on Pro D Days!

Pro D Days 2013/2014 are September 27th, October 25th, November 29th, January 31st, and April 4th and Spring Break (March 17th to 28th).

http://www.princegeorge.ca/cityliving/recreation/youthprograms/Documents/Spring%20Break%20and%20April%204%202014%20flyer.pdf