In five days, local parents will be hustling their kids off to the first day of school.
For those about to enter public education in Chilliwack, we salute you.
Even though the average student could go from kindergarten to Grade 12 without ever having to deal within anyone beyond the school level, the Chilliwack school district is a pretty big outfit with a lot of people involved in deciding what goes on in the classroom.
We at the Times think it's a good idea for you to know who's who and what's what.
So here's a quick look at the big picture for this year.
The Chilliwack school district, a.k.a. School District No. 33, is a growing district-one of the few in the province.
Almost 14,000 students attend its 31 schools in Chilliwack, Sardis, Yarrow, Cultus Lake, Vedder, Rosedale and Greendale. There are 19 elementary schools (kindergarten to Grade 6), one elementarymiddle school (kindergarten to Grade 9), four middle schools (Grades 7 to 9), two secondary schools (Grades 10 to 12) and one middle-secondary school (Grades 7 to 12), as well as three alternate schools and one distance learning school.
Working at those schools are about 1,800 teachers and support staff.
The people ultimately responsible for what goes on in the district are the seven trustees on the Chilliwack Board of Education who were elected last November: Walter Krahn (interim chair), Silvia Dick (interim vice-chair), Doug McKay, Heather Maahs, Barry Neufeld, Martha Wiens and Louise Piper (who has been off on medical leave since January). Trustees are elected every three years, with the next election coming up a little over a year from now in November 2014. Some trustees are educators, but they don't have to be.
They hire an education expert, the superintendent, to manage the district for them. Last August, they hired Evelyn Novak from the Prairie Spirit school division near Saskatoon.
The other big player on that team is the district's chief financial officer, the secretary-treasurer. New to that position this year is Gerry Slykhuis, lately of the Peace River South school district, who will take over Sept. 3 from outgoing secretary-treasurer Maureen Carradice, who will step back into her role as director of human resources after being at the helm of the district's finances since February 2011.
As Chilliwack's biggest employer, the school district employs workers from two major unions: the Chilliwack Teachers' Association (a local of the B.C. Teachers' Federation) and the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) local 411, which represents school support staff like teaching assistants and custodians.
Central elementary teacher Clint Johnston has been the main man in the CTA office since last July, while school custodian Rod Isaac is the local CUPE president.
For parents, the most important regular face at public school board meetings, which happen once or twice a month at the school district office, is the president of the District Parent Advisory Council (DPAC), which represents all the school PACs in the district.
Gord Byers, a Chilliwack secondary school and Strathcona elementary school parent, is Chilliwack's current DPAC president.
To see how these people work together, drop by a school board meeting. The first is scheduled for Sept. 11 at 7 p.m. at the district office at 8430 Cessna Dr. For more information online visit www.sd33.bc.ca.
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