What was supposed to be its general annual meeting has become the forum to freeze the activities of Ponoka Secondary Campus School Council and transform it into an advisory body.
Less than a dozen interested parents and one student representative took part in the meeting at the school on the evening of Wednesday, Oct. 14, when the lack of adequate parent engagement as well as that of a clear orientation led to the decision.
Principal Ian Rawlinson said right at the start of the meeting that he would like to have an item added to the agenda to discuss what the parent council would like to do in the course of the year and what kind of role the council sees for itself.
A few parents said they found the parent council meetings useful due to the information made available to the participants, but not many ideas came out as to what the school council’s functions should be and what kind of activities it should undertake. In the course of the meeting, it was pointed out that in its current form, the council would not be able to get involved in any fundraising activity due to its status.
Lack of engagement from the parent community was cited as a significant drawback to keep the council going. No parent attending the meeting volunteered to take on the positions of chair and secretary while the vice chair said she would want to know what she would be doing if she came forward as a candidate for the chair.
Following discussions, a motion was carried to transform the school council to an advisory body for the school administration. Under the new arrangement, it will be the administration’s responsibility to call meetings and draw up the agenda and solicit ideas and feedback from the advisory body.
New realities at PSC
Rawlinson then went on to brief the participants at the meeting about how the new school year has been proceeding.
The total enrolment at the PSC now stands at 620 and more than one third of the student population, 37 per cent to be exact, are First Nation students, according to the figures given by the principal. He said 51 per cent of all Grade 10 students were First Nation students and most of them were residing in Ponoka. Rawlinson added that the current situation made the focus on FNMI (First Nations, Métis, Inuit) education an important priority.
Rawlinson also added that due to the changing funding modalities and the reserves having been spent, the school was facing significant funding shortages, including with transportation of athletes to games and competitions.
He added that grade level literacy remained a significant issue to be tackled and that they had acquired a special program called Read 180 to address the problem.