School District 91 organized a meeting on May 8 at William Konkin Elementary in Burns Lake to propose a new form of the Professional Learning Communities program, however only a small number of parents attended. (Lakes District News file photo)

Low turnout at SD91 meeting irritates parents

An attempt by School District 91 (SD91) to inform the public in Burns Lake about a new educational program left many parents frustrated.

Officials from SD91 had called a meeting on May 8 at William Konkin Elementary (WKE) to propose a new form of the Professional Learning Communities (PLC) program.

However, the meeting was poorly attended and some Burns Lake parents who were at the event said officials hadn’t properly publicized it and very few people showed up.

The PLC scheme involves teachers meeting together at various times for professional development to explore ways to enhance students’ learning experience.

In Burns Lake, PLCs have been in place at WKE and Lakes District Secondary School for several years. In the wider region the program is also done in Fort St.James, Smithers and Prince George.

SD91 has been running PLCs since 2014.

The meeting at WKE was held so that a new model in which students would be sent home early on PLC days could be proposed to the parents, said Mike Skinner, assistant superintendent with SD91.

Skinner admitted that the meeting’s execution was inadequate.

“Given the low turnout at the meeting, it was evident that our efforts have fallen short for advertising and sharing information. After reflecting, we are renewing our consultation process to ensure broad parental involvement that includes several more opportunities and ways to provide feedback,” he explained.

“This will include proposal information and a survey on each school website and at least one more parent meeting. The consultation process will continue into the fall of 2019.”

In the PLC model currently used at schools in Burns Lake, students are dismissed from class early but remain at school and are supervised in various activities by support staff.

The school board is proposing the shift to the new model so that “support staff can spend more time with teachers and so that there are more opportunities for cross-school collaboration between teachers,” Skinner said.

Schools in Fort St.James went through a consultation process for the new model and began piloting it in January of 2018. They have been running the released-from-school model every month since then, for one afternoon per month.

Skinner said that more information about the proposal will be posted in a week or 10 days on each school’s website.

But some residents are already unsure about the new bid and are eager to learn more because they worry that sending students home early will put pressure on working parents.

Blair McBride
Multimedia reporter
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