by Ralph Plath
Northern News Services
FORT SIMPSON (Feb 14/97) - A public meeting in Fort Simpson on proposed changes to the school calendar drew many questions and recommendations Tuesday night.
Residents packed the library at Bompas elementary school to voice their opinions to a group of teachers who want a shorter summer and more breaks for both schools in the community.
"This forum is held to share our thoughts openly," chairperson Barry Clarke told those at the start of the meeting.
The teachers who brought up the idea, which was debated and turned down by the community education council in the past, say students would receive a better education with a shorter summer, and teachers won't be stressed as much.
Information they gathered from other educators who work in an all-year schooling environment and related studies indicate the longer the break from the classroom the more a student will forget, the teachers said.
"Students are getting lost and they get further and further behind in their education," group spokesperson and elementary teacher Gerda Hazenberg explained.
But many parents said they want more information before a decision is made by the community education council.
Others told the group that all community partners should be involved in looking at the issue, and that any new calendar year should be constructed around traditional hunting times.
"I don't like the idea, but I'm open-minded," said parent Shane Thompson. "When it's all said and done, I want my children to graduate and go on to university."
The teachers admitted the proposal will be a tough sell, and at least one is still undecided about re-working the school year.
The group heard many other concerns, which were recorded and will be presented to the local education authority. The more research on the issue before getting back to community residents.
Hazenberg said she was pleased with the turnout to the meeting, which lasted nearly two hours. "It tells me people are concerned with education," she said.
That's something both the teachers and parents have in common. "All we're saying is that we want to improve education," Hazenberg added.