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BCCPAC thanks three departing directorsMay 28, 2015

Author: Webmaster

As the school year draws to a close, BCCPAC will bid farewell to three volunteers who have been members of the board of directors for the past four years.

John Puddifoot of Vancouver, Bonnie Krisher of Comox Valley and Susan Wilson of Kootenay Lake have served as first vice-president, director and treasurer respectively. They will be replaced by Farah Shroff, Shelley Courtney and Gordon Byers, who were elected at the annual general meeting last month.

Puddifoot, a father of two, first became active as a parent volunteer at Queen Mary elementary in 2007 when he was elected PAC president. He held that position for three years, at a time when the group was lobbying hard for seismic upgrades for the school.

As PAC president, he also became interested in BCCPAC and volunteered for committee work before winning election as a director in 2011 and first vice-president the following year.

Krisher, who has four children, was also involved with her school PAC before joining the BCCPAC board. Her interest in the organization was sparked by a personal experience that she said made her acutely aware of the importance of parent involvement in the education system.

Wilson became a PAC volunteer as soon as the first of her three boys entered kindergarten in 1996. “I just assumed that’s what you did when you had children in public schools,” she recalled.

She joined her district PAC that same year and began volunteering on BCCPAC committees in 2008, including serving as chair of the Governance Audit Implementation Committee, which was charged with reviewing the organization’s constitution and bylaws and recommending reforms.

Her work on that committee, along with her professional book-keeping experience, brought an invitation from the board for her to run for treasurer, a position she held for two terms.

Asked about highlights during that time, Wilson said she is most proud of the work she and Lisa Cartwright, BCCPAC’s internal accounting supervisor, undertook to establish proper and efficient accounting procedures for the organization. The result will be a smooth transition for incoming treasurer Gordon Byers, she added.

Krisher said she is pleased with her work on the ERASE Bullying Advisory Committee and BCCPAC’s efforts to change Sec. 177 of the B.C. School Act that allows school officials to order individuals – including parents – off school grounds indefinitely.

BCCPAC has lobbied for revisions that would require schools to report any such bans to police or other authorities to ensure they are appropriate, include an expiry date in every case and allow for appeals. Although changes have yet to be made, the issue is on the government’s radar and regulatory remedies are expected soon.

Puddifoot also identified progress on Sec. 177 as a highlight of his time on the board and said he will continue to work in that area.  “What happens in districts varies quite widely,” he said. “Some districts were never using this section . . . but other districts were using it routinely.”

He said he was also pleased with BCCPAC’s involvement in the creation of the B.C. Teachers’ Council and the B.C. Teacher Regulation Branch to replace the discredited B.C. College of Teachers, and the development of a new student information system called MyEducation BC.

Expected to be fully operational by fall, the new software will dramatically improve the ability of parents to communicate with their schools, providing their district fully embraces its potential, Puddifoot said. “I’m hoping they will,” he added.

In looking to the future, the three departing directors are hoping for a stronger parent voice in B.C.
“Parents need to know that what they have to say is important and I don’t know that they’re actually hearing that,” Krisher said. “They don’t know how much power and influence they could have.

In a perfect world, it would be mandatory that the parent voice be considered in all decisions.”
That voice must also be independent, Puddifoot added. He noted, for example, how BCCPAC declined to take sides during the 2014 teachers’ strike and instead developed its own proposal for a new Classroom Resources Framework to address needs.

That idea is now under discussion with partner groups, including the B.C. Teachers’ Federation.

Wilson wishes for greater cooperation among education stakeholders and less negativity about education in general.  Reasons for optimism include proposed changes to the B.C. curriculum that will reduce the number of prescribed learning outcomes and give teachers more flexibility in meeting students’ needs, she said.

BCCPAC president Nicole Makohoniuk thanked the three for their work and said they will be greatly missed, prompting Puddifoot to say he’s not about to disappear. “I intend to continue volunteering and supporting BCCPAC, as all parents should consider doing.”

PHOTO – 2014-15 BOARD OF DIRECTORS. Back row, L-R: Bonnie Krisher, Darlene Campbell, Angie Carlyle, Tracy Wright, Susan Wilson. Front row, L-R: John Puddifoot, Ayesha Haider, Nicole Makohoniuk, Terry Berting.

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