Parents: a valued voice in education system

All parents who have a child attending school are a member of their school’s Parent Advisory Council

Parents of School District No.73 students are encouraged to get involved by becoming active in their children’s education, according to Willemyn Dekker, Chairperson of the District Parent Advisory Council (DPAC).

DPAC is the district-level Parent Advisory Council that holds monthly meetings to inform parents about their children’s education, and get feedback.

Dekker has seen a marked improvement on parent attendance at district-level general meetings, but would like to see more parents involved because the parent voice is so important.

“While the students are certainly important, by default we are their voice as well,” Dekker said.

When students come home to their parents, they often share issues they are having at school. Dekker wants parents to know that they can speak up about those issues.

Meghan Wade, an SD73 Trustee, is one of the two appointed representatives that liaise between DPAC and the School Board. Wade has been an active member of DPAC since her daughter was in Grade 1, and as a trustee, always volunteers for the position.

“To come to DPAC is to come to the table on behalf of all students and parents,” Wade said. “DPAC has always been very close to my heart because I think parent voice is our most important and valued piece in education. It’s the voice of the parent for their child in the classroom, the voice of the parent for planning for their school, the voice of the parent in the district.”

DPAC is made up of two representatives from each Parent Advisory Council (PAC) in the district. Two school trustees attend the DPAC monthly meetings, along with Superintendent Dr. Terry Sullivan, to get feedback from parents. The School Board ensures that DPAC and its executive are given opportunities to discuss any upcoming changes in SD73 so that parents can give their input.

“We’re not held back in speaking up. We can certainly be passionate about specific situations and causes, and just be the parent voice,” Dekker said.

The more parents that get involved, the greater the voice.

“We need to know what parents are passionate about, or what they’re concerned about.

It’s all about the kids,” she said. “We just want to help make sure they have opportunities for successful educational careers. Parents are huge for that.”

DPAC’s goal is to provide useful information and keep the parents informed. In the past they have reviewed the transportation plan, school calendars, and were involved in the reconfiguration of the district. Recently they co-sponsored a speaker to help educate parents.

But, they lack parent participation from the secondary school level. Dekker said there are valid concerns at the elementary school level, but, because there is not as much secondary level involvement, those concerns might continue and not be addressed.

All parents who have a child attending school are a member of their school’s Parent Advisory Council (PAC). Dekker encourages parents to attend PAC meetings. Parents can also visit the DPAC website (dpac.sd73.bc.ca) where they can send DPAC an email, find out when the next general meeting is scheduled, and find information on scholarships and bursaries. She wants parents to be active and not stay silent.

“If there’s a concern, bring it up,” Dekker said. “We can’t help if we don’t know what the concern is.”

For more information please contact: Meghan Wade at 250-319-6516 or mwade@sd73.bc.ca  or  Willemyn Dekker at Sd73dpac@gmail.com