Back to School – PACs help influence a variety of issues at schools

Having a child in the local school system is the only requirement to join a PAC, short for Parent Advisory Council

Audrey Smith

Audrey Smith

Do you have a child in elementary, middle or high school? If so, you’re a member of the school’s PAC, whether you know it or not.

“Often times, you’ll hear parents go, ‘Oh, I’m not on PAC,’” said Audrey Smith, president of the Victoria Confederation of PACs. “Well, they are, they just don’t engage at PAC meetings.”

Having a child in the local school system is the only requirement to join a PAC, short for Parent Advisory Council. Every school has a PAC, which works to connect parents with teachers, the board of education and other groups that have a stake in the local school system.

“The PAC is an advisory group to the rest of the education partners at the school, advising them on all things to do with our children: Educational, social, structural,” said Smith. “Parents advocate for the best things for their kids at the school level.”

Smith said the issues that PACs can discuss are limitless, including such matters as class composition, nutrition, lunch times, after school sports and school clubs. Everything is on the table and PACs allow parents to influence how their children experience different things at their schools.

“The opinions of parents are full spectrum on anything you can think of educationally,” she said. “Individual parents will have their ideas, different groups of parents will have their opinions and philosophies. All of that comes together at the PAC, and then the parents will debate and discuss and perhaps survey their school community to determine how they will proceed.

“If there are parents who have an expertise in something, they’ll usually come through the PAC and get other likeminded parents aware of what’s happening and they can get behind it.”

When a PAC wants to make a change to their school, that’s where the VCPAC comes in. The VCPAC – the district PAC for Greater Victoria – represents local PACs at the district level and primarily advises the school board on “any matter relating to education in the school district.”

“We’re not a political group, although we do interact with political groups like the board of education,” said Smith, adding that the group is made up of nine executive members who are elected annually.

She noted that school PACs can go straight to the district themselves if they’d like, referencing one school that successfully lobbied for a temporary change of learning environment while construction took place at the school.

“One school was having asbestos issues when they were having seismic upgrades and they didn’t like the way it was done at that time, so they came up with a petition to get the government to make a ruling across the province that when construction or seismic upgrades are being done that the kids not be present,” she said.

“That came out of parents being active and vocal about how they wanted things done for their kids.”

Smith said the role of PACs isn’t just beneficial for parents, noting the schools appreciate the input from parents and the ability to gauge them on different issues.

“The more parents that know what’s happening at the school, the more students participate,” she said. “It’s the PAC’s job to get the parents engaged to know what’s going on at the school.”

With the start of the next school year just around the corner, Smith said many schools have open houses prior to the first day of school, which can be a great opportunity to communicate with the school’s PAC if the group is present.

“Parents are the experts for their kids,” said Smith, “[and] being involved and staying involved is really important for the success of their kids.”

 

For more information about VCPAC or your school’s PAC, visit vcpac.ca.

 

 

Just Posted

An example of the forest land in the Port Renfrew and Fairy Creek area of Vancouver Island is shown on May 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jen Osborne
Old-growth logging opponents launch hunger strike as arrests continue at Fairy Creek

Zain Haq says the hunger strikers will gather today at Burrard Street in downtown Vancouver

The City of Victoria is hoping to ring in the summer by celebrating local art and offering some distanced, live music to surprise people in parks, plazas and other public spaces. (Photo courtesy of the City of Victoria)
Live, pop-up concerts and local art being showcased in Victoria this summer

People will see surprise serenades at 16 locations throughout the summer

An example of the forest land in the Port Renfrew and Fairy Creek area of Vancouver Island is shown on May 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jen Osborne
Old-growth logging opponents launch hunger strike as arrests continue at Fairy Creek

Zain Haq says the hunger strikers will gather today at Burrard Street in downtown Vancouver

Jada Benwell and Connor Larkey are the valedictorians of the 2021 graduating class at Parkland Secondary School. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Pandemic taught lessons in perseverance for North Saanich high schoolers

Parkland Secondary School to release 2021 grad ceremony video on June 25

The 14th annual Oak Bay Young Exceptional Star (YES) awards June 3. (Christine van Reeuwyk/News Staff)
Oak Bay celebrates its Young Exceptional Stars with outdoor award ceremony

Nine young people recognized in 14th annual awards

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Premier John Horgan speaks as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, right, and health minister Adrian Dix look on during a press conference to update on the province’s fall pandemic preparedness plan during a press conference from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials to provide details on Step 2 of COVID reopening plan Monday

Step 2 could allow for larger gatherings and a resumption of recreational travel

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Most Read