Sea to Sky School District officials are extending a program to help high-school-aged students whose situations prevent them from attending regular classes to the northern part of the district.
For the past few years, the Reconnect Alternative Program (RAP) has been operated out of Squamish for the benefit of those in the southern part of the district who can’t attend regular classes for a variety of reasons like sports training, employment, health issues and family situations.
Lisa McCullough, District 48 superintendent, said on Friday (Aug. 31) learning programs are designed to meet the needs of individual students and often include a distance-learning component and regular check-ins with an instructor either in person or by electronic means.
“It’s acknowledged that some students will have unique needs and may be more at risk from time to time,” she said. “It may be because of mobility issues, health concerns, employment — and that program may not necessarily be offered at our secondary schools.”
McCullough told trustees last Wednesday (Aug. 29) that District 48 officials and their counterparts at Ts’zil Learning Centre have discussed having the Mount Currie facility serve as the meeting place for RAP instructors and students in the Pemberton-Mount Currie-Birken area.
She said RAP program officials hope to reach school-aged youths, whom she described as “missing in education” — i.e. they’re not attending school at all.
“In some cases we don’t know why, but the objective is to go to them, find out why, and re-engage them,” she said. “The message we want them to hear is that we want to find you and work to build a program that works for you.”
The extended program is set to launch on Monday (Sept. 10). For information, call Ryan Massey at 604-892-5220 or Peter Jory at 604-892-5228.
Second French class welcomed
Officials at Pemberton’s Signal Hill Elementary School were expected to welcome their second French immersion class this week. The school launched the program with a single Grade 5-6 class with 29 students in 2011-12, and 23 new students were set to begin the program for 2012-13.
Before the program was launched, parents and some faculty members expressed concern that bringing French immersion to Signal Hill might result in most Aboriginal students in those grades being in the English program and non-Aboriginal students being mostly in French.
Two Aboriginal students took part in French immersion last year. McCullough said this week, some Aboriginal students have signed up as part of the new French immersion class. She couldn’t say precisely how many, but admitted the number doesn’t match the percentage of Aboriginal students in the school.
“We are in public education so our classrooms are there for the learning of anyone who wants to be there. In no way would we be building something that would segregate,” she said.
Bus cash credited
The Ministry of Education has agreed to let District 48 keep $90,000 in school bus funding that ministry officials had threatened to withhold, secretary-treasurer John Hetherington told the board.
The district received that amount in insurance money from ICBC after three school buses were lost in June 2011 — one to a fire resulting from an engine malfunction in Squamish and two as a result of vandalism to buses that were parked at the district’s bus facility in Pemberton.
Hetherington said after ministry officials indicated they planned to withhold the money the district was to receive in the insurance settlement, District 48 officials responded they felt that was unfair. In a recent letter, ministry officials agreed, drawing praise from the board.
It cost the district about $90,000 to lease three replacement buses for the 2011-12 school year. New buses to replace the ones lost in 2011 are to arrive this fall, Hetherington added.
‘Carbon neutral’ study in works
The board approved spending $7,317 for a feasibility study into possible carbon-neutral projects involving school district facilities.
As provincial government bodies, each of B.C.’s school districts is required to be carbon neutral and if it’s not, is required to pay the Pacific Carbon Trust money for carbon offsets. For each of the past two years District 48 has paid out about $50,000 for that purpose, said Hetherington. All districts are receiving $7,317 this year to help identify potential carbon-neutral facility upgrades, Hetherington told the board.
Hetherington and Rick Hume, the district’s facilities manager, plan to meet with Fortis B.C. officials in their attempts to identify possible projects. For example, one such project might be construction of a passive geothermal energy field to help meet the energy needs of neighbouring Howe Sound Secondary and Squamish Elementary schools, he said.