Link between education and health explored at Home and School AGM

The close link between education and health was at the forefront of the P.E.I. Home and School Federation’s annual general meeting at the Charlottetown Rodd on Saturday.

The federation’s 60th AGM saw five resolutions passed, including one calling for Health P.E.I. and the English Language School Board to cross-appoint ex officio members to each others' boards.

Federation president Pam Montgomery said the resolution developed because of the crossovers between health and education. The resolution followed discussions between the federation’s board of directors and chair of the Health PEI public engagement committee Dr. Kinsey Smith.

“There’s a big link (between education and health),” Montgomery said. “It’s not to secure a vote on either board, it’s so information can be shared between the two boards.”

The link was present in other resolutions, including a request for the province to ensure all school-based data is reported to parents and teachers of every school.

Montgomery said the driving force behind the resolution was the SHAPES-PEI (School Health Action Planning and Evaluation System) survey, which provides valuable data regarding student mental health, nutrition, fitness and substance abuse issues.

The data is made available to parents at the discretion of individual school principals, many of whom have opted not to share the data.

During a question and answer session with Education Minister Alan McIsaac, the concern was raised about principals having too much individual power over their schools.

McIsaac said the province is “working on a project with regards to leadership and training for principals.”

A resolution submitted by the Stonepark Home and School Association also called for a peer-to-peer drug awareness program to be offered to students, and that the province initiate another comprehensive “drug use survey.”

“They would also like to see a broad release of that data so groups like ourselves know what specific actions we can take,” Montgomery said.

The resolution also called for the province to provide resources and training for all Intermediate and High School based student services teams in the area of signs of usage and education, and that personnel from Addictions PEI be made available to schools needing support.

Other resolutions passed at the AGM increased the number of existing regional directors from eight to 10, and for the department of education and early childhood development to “formalize communication between the federation and department of which committees are active, inactive and which have been suspended.”

Montgomery said the amalgamation of the Eastern and Western School boards and changes at the department level saw many of the committees disbanded.    (The Guardian April 15, 2013)