News Local

A voice on behalf of the schools

TINA PEPLINSKIE

tpeplinskie@thedailyobserver.ca

A relatively new group to serve as a liaison between the Catholic school board and school councils is reaching out to committees across Renfrew County.

Last year, the Parent Involvement Committee (PIC) was formed to enhance the parent involvement and advocacy with representatives from across the county to be a voice on behalf of schools at the board level.

To date the committee consists of chairwoman Hazel Mitchell-Power of Arnprior, who made a presentation to the Renfrew County Catholic District School Board Jan. 30, Lisa Cuypers, the Ontario Association of Parents in Catholic Education representative, Heather Levac from the Pembroke/Petawawa family of schools and recording secretary Nancy Schimmens-Kirton, along with board trustee Andy Bray, with director of education Michele Arbour and superintendent of education Peter Adam serving as resources.

Ideally the committee would like to attract two representatives from each family of schools being the Madawaska area, Renfrew/Arnprior and Pembroke/ Petawawa, up to a maximum of eight people, Ms. Mitchell-Power told the trustees.

"We are like a school council for school councils," she added.

Ms. Mitchell-Power believes the face-to-face contact is the key to the process, especially for a new group looking to attract members and explain its roles and responsibilities and gather feedback.

The committee is planning three meetings in the month of March to meet with school councils to see what they need to be more efficient in serving the children at their schools. The members are hopeful student council members will attend the meetings to open up the dialogues so the PIC can operate to its full capability.

The meetings will be held at St. John Bosco March 6, St. Thomas the Apostle March 20 and Our Lady of Lourdes March 27.

Last last year, the PIC addressed the need to update the school council directory so the contacts for each school are known to the group. That process has been completed.

In April, two members of the PIC will be attending the third annual PIC symposium in Toronto. The conference will provide members with an opportunity to learn about the Ministry of Education's parent engagement policy and other new initiatives, programs and resources. Those attending will also have a chance to meet the new Minister, Laurel Broten, Ms. Mitchell-Power noted.

The PIC is also preparing for a school council evening in May, when motivational speaker Rosita Hall will be the guest speaker.

Ms. Mitchell-Power told the trustees she is looking forward to a continued working relationship between the committee and the board.

Tina Peplinskie is a Daily Observer multimedia journalist