Communication with education ministry 'frustrating' - InfoNews

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Communication with education ministry 'frustrating'

Denise Harper, chairperson of School District 73 Board of Education.
Image Credit: SOURCE/SD73
April 08, 2013 - 3:13 PM

A letter sent to the Ministry of Education last week from the school district bluntly points out some serious concerns the board has over lack of communication between the two groups.

Board of Education chairperson Denise Harper sent the letter last week to education minister Don McRae, as well as Premier Christy Clark, MLA Kevin Krueger, MLA Terry Lake and the British Columbia School Trustees Association to be distributed to all education boards.

Harper notes the serious concern over what the board considers a breakdown in communication that leaves them unable to properly answer questions from the media or the public.

“In our district we are frequently contacted by local media with questions regarding a news release or announcement from the Ministry of Education. With increasing frequency we have not received copies of the releases they reference. We are left scrambling for details and find we must ask the reporter to send us a copy of the release they are referencing,” the letter states.

A nearly 10-year-old protocol agreement between the province and the trustees association outlines the need for the province to notify and consult with the trustees association and the individual boards of education on matters affecting them.

Harper says this protocol has been “hit and miss” and while she has been aware of the communication breakdowns for several years, already recent events guided the decision to send the letter. Recently she received a call from media wanting a comment on something she and staff at the district had no information on.  When attempting to get details, they found no one at the province was immediately available to provide the information.

“It's frustrating for them (the media) and for us,” she explains. “I don't have to personally receive information, but I expect them to inform my superintendent and executive assistant.”

“Trustees do not expect to receive each announcement personally but hope that when we turn to our district leaders they would be aware of the matter at hand and be prepared to offer advice on how the local school district might be affected by the news,” Harper says in the letter.

Scott Sutherland, a communications officer for the ministry, recently said a separate email list for school boards would be too onerous. Harper says that is quite surprising. “Surely the ministry has an existing data base which includes the email addresses of all superintendents and secretary-treasurers in the province.”

Harper says she spoke with the trustees association and was informed the communication breakdown has been an ongoing issue and decided to write the letter in support of the association and School District 73.

To contact a reporter for this story, email or call (250) 819-3723.

News from © iNFOnews, 2013

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