Parents and students protest cuts to schools and industrial arts
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This article has been published 3/14/2013 (3,138 days ago), the information it contains may therefore no longer be up to date.
Students and parents in Turtle River School Division are unhappy that home economics and industrial arts will not be offered to grade 7 and 8 students next year.
More than 70 people came to protest the division’s 2013-14 budget this week at McCreary, which passed by a 3-2 vote. This will be the second year that intermediate years courses will not be available.
Craig Terrick, chair of the McCreary Parent Advisory Council, said the main message the picketers wanted to send to the school board was that school counselors “are starting to listen to what people need and want – students, parents and your taxpayers ”.
“They are voted on by us and they are supposed to represent us, but that representation is not taking place,” Terrick said. “It would have been understandable if they had a real logical reason why they did this… there is absolutely no reason in my mind that it should not have been restored.”
McCreary is located east of Riding Mountain National Park, approximately 130 kilometers northeast of Brandon.
Kindergartens and industrial arts for grades 7 and 8 were originally cut from the 2012-2013 budget. Terrick said there had been a lot of uproar last year and a petition had been organized that garnered more than 350 signatures. Despite their efforts, the cuts were approved in the budget.
“Whenever we find out it’s always too late, they don’t interact or communicate with parents or students or even taxpayers,” Terrick said. “Everything is quiet and low-key, and it’s not just us. We’ve been talking to the others (parent’s advice) about the division and they all feel the same.”
Terrick said the home and in-store classes provide valuable life skills that will be used by students in the future.
According to the parent council, it was believed the province would end the division’s tax incentive grant ($ 460,000), which led to the decision to cut classes. But Terrick said the grant was never reduced, and overall budget funding actually increased.
Turtle River School Division President Fabian Gingras said the decision was made with “the best interests of the children” in mind.
“The idea was not to reduce staff last year, it was to refocus staff,” he said.
Gingras said the basic subject marks in TRSD are not where they should be.
“Provincially, math and English scores are poor,” he said.
They decided to cut back on high schools and stores, and refocus resources to improve student grades.
“We know that a foundation is formed for math and English before they enter high school,” he said. “If the children have a good foundation, they do better in high school, that is to say better grades, that is to say more graduates.
Gingras pointed out that home and in-store classes are still offered to students in grades 9 to 12.
The division plans to keep the plan as is for the next several years, which Gingras admits is something they may have forgotten to mention to affected parents.
“We have to give this road a fair chance,” he said. “We knew we weren’t going to get instant results.”
Gingras said they would reassess after a few years. If grades have improved overall, the plan will likely continue. However, if there are no positive results, they can go back home and shop and go a different route.
As for the protesters, Gingras said he understood that the group was exercising its right to freedom of expression.
“Which was good, but at the same time there are a lot of variables that come into play that the public is not aware of,” he said. “It sounds very simple from the outside, but our decisions are… always based on the recommendations of our superintendent and administrators and anyone else involved, and always in the best interests of all children. ”