At its November 13 meeting, Powell River Board of Education trustees heard a presentation from educators Leanne Gahan and Kristina Crookshank, who asked trustees to support a proposal to extend kindergarten gradual entry. The proposed changes would mean kindergarten students would not attend the first day of school, and that teachers would receive support from educational assistants for September. The gradual entry period itself would also be extended from five to 10 days.
Trustees also heard a presentation from regional social planner Meriko Kubota and early learning coordinator Rita John, who presented case studies relating to the regional community’s child care planning project. Kubota asked for the board’s engagement with the project.
Trustees received a correspondence from Kamloops-South Thompson MLA Todd Stone, who called for support for action to address high levels of vaping in schools. Trustee Dale Lawson noted buy-back programs underway in some jurisdictions for vaping products, and wondered what kinds of new actions Powell River School Board is taking.
Superintendent Jay Yule also addressed the topic in his report, noting that several workshops on the issue took place last year. However, he added, “we just want to be a little more systematic to ensure that we’re hitting all the students.”
Awareness programs are also due to take place in elementary schools, he added. “We’re just determining the grade level, but what we’re thinking is that in the first year we might spread it right across all the students.”
Yule pointed out some of the challenges associated with buy-back programs, such as difficulties determining how much should be paid and the question of who takes ownership of returned vaping products.
Lawson said any action the district takes on vaping should be proportionate to the actual scale of the problem.
“What action we might want to take will depend on how big is the issue,” she said.
Youth bus passes
Trustees voted in favour of sending a letter to the city expressing support for the All Onboard campaign, which advocates for free public transit for all children and youth aged 0-18.
“We understand it’s obviously a funding issue…but we’ve had this conversation for a long time,” said Yule. “Given the environment and with the rates of students on buses, it really makes sense to look at some way of working together to have a capacity of having regular bus passes.
“What that looks like, I don’t know, but I think it’s certainly the right direction.”
City of Victoria recently announced plans to roll out free transit passes for young people by December.