Request to school board regarding playgrounds

On October 26th, our PAC chair, Sally Connon, addressed the school board trustees during the public input session of the school board meeting to identify concerns with play equipment and outdoor supervision.
This has now gone to the educational services committee, which unfortunately is not open to the public. We will be following up with the committee to ensure that our concerns are acted on – their next meeting is November 8th. Note: the educational services committee is chaired by Roxanne Ricard.

At the board meeting, we gave the trustees the following letter:

October 26, 2010
The École Heather Park Elementary Parent Advisory Council has two major concerns that we wish to bring to the board’s attention:
•    the shortage of play equipment for students at École Heather Park Elementary, and the unused play structures at Austin Road and Springwood
•    the lack of resources for outside supervision, activities, and prep time

We respectfully request that the School District #57 Board consider the following questions:
•    What are your long term plans for accommodating play needs and safety concerns outdoors at École Heather Park Elementary?
•    How soon would you be able to bring the newer playgrounds from Austin Road and Springwood schools to the École Heather Park Elementary site?
•    What can we do together, as partners, to make this happen? We have concerned parents in our community who are engineers, contractors, consultants – what can we provide to help?

We would like to receive a response in a timely manner, and would welcome a board or district representative to speak further to this at our next scheduled general PAC meeting, on November 10th.

In support of our request, we would like to provide you with some background information.

As you will be aware, we are now the largest elementary school in your school district, with 689 students. Of these students, 428 are in Kindergarten to grade 5, 97 in grade 6, and 164 in grade 7. As of September 30, 2009, there were 316 K-5 students at Austin Road, and 137 K-5 students at Springwood Elementary.
Austin Road had two large play structures, swing sets, and other older play structures for the 316 students. The most recent play structure was installed in 2007. Springwood had a similar layout for 137 students, with the most recent play structure being installed in 2009. Both the new play structures should be moveable. École Heather Park Elementary had one new play structure, which was installed before school started, and some older metal structures. The Austin Road an Springwood play structures were funded by parents, while the new École Heather Park Elementary play structure was funded by the district – thank you.

To summarize, the 453 K-5 students at Austin Road and Springwood had 4 modern play structures available, as compared to the 1 modern play structure available to the 428 K-5 École Heather Park Elementary students.  This play structure is inadequate for the size of the school, given that the school grounds were never designed with this intended use. The next page shows pictures illustrating this situation.  (removed from web version)

Our recommendation is to relocate two playgrounds – one from Austin Road and one from Springwood to École Heather Park Elementary.  One playground from each school is built by Henderson and installed to facilitate relocation, while still CSA approved.  These playgrounds are readily available and underutilized. 
Our Playground Working Group has surveyed the surrounding neighbourhoods of the closed Austin Road and Springwood school sites to assess community reaction to the transfer of playgrounds to École Heather Park Elementary, conducting 19 surveys of homes surrounding Austin Road, and 11 surveys of homes near Springwood.  This represents almost all of the homes located adjacent to the two closed schools.  Ninety (90%) percent of the respondents supported moving one of the existing play structures to the École Heather Park Elementary school site.

As part of our research into alternative solutions, we have consulted with the school administration as to options such as staggered recess and lunch breaks. Unfortunately, this option – which could make this huge school feel little – has turned out to be impossible to put into practice, given issues such as scheduling blocks for gym time, bus schedules, the interruption of the bell, and requirements for teacher preparation time.

Our further recommendation is that you ask your senior administrators to look at the shortage of supervisory and prep-time staff. We had been assured that resources were going to be plentiful in this big school, but the resources provided to date have yet to be sufficient.

Thank you for your attention to this matter. We appreciate the attention you have paid to this school to date, and realize the challenge we all face. Please consider the École Heather Park Elementary School PAC a partner in this matter.


Sally Connon
École Heather Park Elementary PAC Chair

Playground Working Group meeting – October 20th at 7:30pm

The Playground Working Group is having our first meeting on Wednesday evening, October 20th, at 7:30pm at Heather Park school.

Interested parents are invited to attend. We are not currently planning on having childcare at this meeting; please email Sarah at if this is a problem.

School Newsletters – October 2010

School Newsletter 10.10.04a

School Newsletter 10.10.18

Allergy Awareness Plan

We’re pleased to announce that the school has developed an Allergy Awareness Plan:

The school anaphylaxis plan is designed to ensure that children at risk are identified, strategies are in place to minimize the potential for accidental exposure, and staff and key volunteers are trained to respond in an emergency situation.

If you  have any questions or concerns about this plan, please contact the school.

Pumpkin Carving Contest

Mascot Design Contest

Volunteer update

There is lots going on at EHPE and we need your help to make things happen!  Whether you are able to help out on regular basis or just have an hour or two to spare, your help is appreciated! Below is a list of our current volunteer needs. If you can helpplease send me an email ( and I’ll get you more information.
In this post:
1. Pumpkin Contest Helpers needed (before and after school on Friday Oct 29)
2. Help with Newsletter Distribution (1-2 hours every second Monday)
3. Teacher Appreciation Baking on October 20
4. Safe Start Volunteers needed (one morning per week for 45 minutes)
5. Someone to start thinking about school T-shirts (longer term, no set time)
6. PAC Bylaw Development (no set time)
7. Working Groups Formed – new members welcome!
8. Criminal Record Check Forms

1. Pumpkin Contest Helpers needed (before and after school on Friday Oct 29)
The School Pumpkin contest will be held on Friday October 29. Students are asked to bring a precarved pumpkin to the school to display in the foyer for the day.  A few volunteers are needed on the morning of October 29 (approx 8:00 am – 9:00 am) to help receive and organize the pumpkins, and a few volunteers are needed in the afternoon (approx 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm) for pick up and clean up.  If you have an hour to help out, please send me an email. We’d love to have your help with the event!
2. Help with Newsletter Distribution(1-2 hours every second Monday)
A volunteer is needed once every two weeks (approx 1-2 hours) to assist with the printing and distributing (to class rooms) of the PAC and school newsletters.   This individual could work directly with Bev in the office.  The preference is to distribute the newsletters to the classrooms during recess or lunch time so as to minimize disruptions to class time. 
We also need one volunteer for a one time job (2-3 hours) to work with Dolores in the office to establish a mail carrier list to eliminate duplicate copies of communications going to each family.  Dolores would print out a BCISIS report and the person would just need to go through the report to check for errors and delete the names of families who will receive the report via e-mail. This will help both the school and the Environment!
3. Teacher Appreciation Baking on October 20
At EHPE we are fortunate to have a very dedicated staff of teachers, specialists, administrative and support staff who have definitely ‘gone the extra mile’ in the last several weeks.   We would like to show our appreciation by providing the staff with baked goodies on Wed Oct 20th as a special Thank you.  If you’d like to help out by providing some baked treats on this day, please bring them to the PAC kitchen (adjacent to the Multipurpose room) before school on October 20 (anytime after 8:00 am). We will make sure it is delivered to the staff rooms for the staff to enjoy.
4. SafeStart Volunteers Needed (one morning per week for 45 minutes)
The school is running the Safe Start follow-up phone call program each morning.  The purpose of the program is to ensure that children have arrived at school safely and are accounted for.  After morning attendance, the school makes a phone call to the home of any students who have unexplained absences. One volunteer is needed each morning from approximately 9:15-10:00 am to phone the homes of each child with an unexplained absence to ensure that they are accounted for.   The calls are made from a phone in the school office.  We would love to have one regular volunteer for each day of the week.
5. Someone to start thinking about school T-shirts (longer term, no set time)
Is someone interested in getting the ball rolling on school T-shirts, hoodies etc?  This is still at the “Idea stage”, and no discussions have happened yet regarding what, who, how much, when or how many.  If someone is interested in taking a lead on this, it would be great to get you involved right from the initial discussions.  Please send me an email if you are interested!
6. PAC Bylaw Development
At last week’s PAC meeting, the EHPE PAC’s initial Bylaws were approved
Bylaws are necessary to allow the PAC to function, and this first set of bylaws were drafted quickly and adopted for this purpose. However, a more detailed set of bylaws, tailored specifically to the EHPE PAC should still be drafted and put forward at a future PAC meeting for discussion and approval.  Sarah Holland has volunteered to work on this.  If anyone is interested in joining Sarah on this task please send me an email.
7. Working Groups Formed – new members welcome!
At our recent PAC meeting we had a number of parents volunteer to help with various groups that were identified as important priorities by you, the parents. These groups were broken down into the top six priorities as follows:  Recess safety and activities, Playgrounds, Social activities and dances, Food and related issues, Safety and Traffic, Fundraising.  These groups are just getting going and welcome new members.  Send me an email if you would like to join these groups in developing and implementing a plan to address these priorities.  More info is on the PAC website
8. Criminal Record Check Forms
As a safety precaution, all volunteers in the school are required to complete an RCMP Criminal Record Check. These checks are valid for 3 years.  All volunteers/visitors must also sign in at the office and wear a volunteer badge when they come to the school.Criminal Record Check forms are available in the school office and each applicant needs to fill them out and take them to the RCMP office in person, along with photo identification. I can also email you a pdf of the form if you need one.  If you are not sure if you have a current check on file, please call or stop by the school office and staff will check your status. 
Thanks again!  Whether you can spare two hours a week or two hours a month, it is all greatly appreciated. Our children are the ones who benefit!
Looking forward to seeing you in the coming weeks
Yvonne Parkinson
PAC Volunteer Coordinator