By Dauna Ditson
The District Parent Advisory Council (DPAC) for Rocky Mountain School District 6 was revived last spring after years on hiatus and has been moving forward carefully since.
“It’s very positive as we start to gain momentum. Because it had been dormant so long, steps are slow,” said DPAC chair Chenoa Paccagnan.
DPAC partners with parents, schools, school district administration and school board trustees to help ensure information is being shared with those who need it. DPAC is already seeing results on this front. In the fall, DPAC conducted a survey with all Parent Advisory Councils (PACs) in the district to gauge where they would like the new DPAC to focus. Of the 11 PACs that responded, nine said they would like school board trustees to attend their meetings. When DPAC shared that desire with the school board trustees, DPAC secretary Nadine Hale said the trustees responded that they would be happy to attend if they were welcome.
“We want them to know they’re invited,” she said, adding that DPAC wants to help facilitate communication within the district. (Ms. Hale said the other two PACs reported already having trustee representation at their meetings.)
“It sounds small, but it’s a really big deal,” Ms. Paccagnan said, adding that everyone shares the same goal – a top-quality education for students – and that DPAC is eager to work with its partners to build relationships and to increase collaboration and positivity.
Each school in the district can have one voting member on DPAC. There are six representatives in the Windermere area. DPAC is currently recruiting additional members in Kimberley and Golden.
“We’d like every school to have a rep,” said Ms. Hale. Representatives can be parents, grandparents or caregivers.
Paul Carriere, superintendent of the Rocky Mountain School District, said he is pleased to have the DPAC’s input on big-picture policies and efforts. Mr. Carriere said DPAC and the school board have been discussing the school district’s direction for the coming years and the student success plan.
“It’s nice to have a group of parents that want to be engaged with the school district and want to have this kind of communication with us, so I do see it as a really positive thing,” he said.
In November, Ms. Paccagnan and Ms. Hale attended the B.C. Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils conference.
“We basically went with big open ears,” said Ms. Hale, adding that she was grateful for the connections they made and the information they received.
“We learned the most important thing we can do is to connect with the membership,” said Ms. Paccagnan.
Ms. Paccagnan and Ms. Hale talked with the Mission advisory council and received permission to replicate their website rather than building one from scratch. They said the DPAC website will contain content to help parents understand their rights. However, the website is in line with everything else: baby steps. It will also provide access to each local PAC’s constitution and bylaws.
“We are very conscious of taking baby steps… Every step is really important for us,” said Ms. Paccagnan.
“By enhancing school for every child, it makes our community stronger,”
Ms. Hale invites anyone with questions or suggestions about DPAC to reach out to her at email@example.com or 250-341-7057.