With the changes to education governance announced by Premier MacLauchlan and Hon. Hal Perry, Minister of Education, on November 5, 2015, home and school members – parents, guardians, teachers, administrators and staff at schools across the province – have new opportunities for engagement with and influence over the conduct of public education. It is both an exciting time, and one which will require new levels of commitment to the values that home and school has always held dear.
The most immediate action required by home and schools is the selection of a representative to the new Family of Schools District Advisory Councils.
Each of these councils – one council per family of schools – will include one representative from each school in the family. This representative should be selected by democratic means by as much of the school community as possible. Any member of the school community is eligible to be the school’s representative: it can be a parent or guardian, a teacher, the principal or vice-principal, or other staff member. There are details about the councils, including their mandate and more guidance on the selection process, on the Federation website at http://peihsf.ca/councils.
Representatives must be selected by December 31, 2015 to allow participation in the first council meetings in January. This is a tight timeline which may require holding a special home and school meeting, or other special measure, to allow the representative to be selected in time. The benefit to this timeline is that District Advisory Councils will start working early in the new year, without delay, and will have an opportunity for immediate input as changes to education are developed.
Another way that PEI Home and School Federation members contribute to public education is by recognizing those within the school system who go above and beyond the call of duty to support our students. Nominations for Extra Mile Awards are due on January 15, 2016. Details and nomination forms are available online at http://peihsf.ca/extramile and awards are handed out during Teacher-Staff Appreciation Week in February.
Next spring, another way to recognize excellence will be introduced with the new School Crossing Guard of the Year Awards. Details will be available in the early spring and nominations will be accepted from all home and schools, with the awards being handed out during Safe Kids Week from May 30 to June 5, 2016. Watch for details in the new year.
Members are reminded that the English Language School Board, although destined to be aligned with the Department of Education in the new year, continues to operate under the leadership of Ricky Hood, the newly-appointed Official Trustee, and continues to hold regular monthly meetings. Meetings are open to the public; the next meeting is December 8, 2015 at the board office in Summerside; presentations from members of the public are possible by request to the board office up to 7 days before each meeting.
The provincial board of the PEI Home and School Federation has a number of subcommittees that meet bimonthly to help support the work of the board. Committee membership is open to any home and school member; if you have interest in anything from computers and technology to school food there is an opportunity for you to contribute in a meaningful way to the development of home and school projects and policy. See the list of committees and contact information online at http://peihsf.ca/committees.
A reminder that the deadline for policy resolutions to be considered at the 2016 Annual Meeting in April is January 31, 2016. Members are encouraged, at their December or January meetings, to consider issues in education of broad provincial importance where home and school could influence policy that could become resolutions. Assistance with writing resolutions is available online at http://peihsf.ca/agm/resolutions or from the Federation office at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at (902) 620-3186 or, toll-free, 1-800-916-0664.
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Home and School and You, December 2015
Written by Peter Rukavina, President of the PEI Home and School Federation
This column appears in The Guardian newspaper during the school year on the first Wednesday of the month.
Posted by Shirley Smedley-Jay on Wednesday, December 2, 2015.