The first elected Representative Advisory Council (Medezeggenschapsraad) of Sacred Heart (SHS) primary school met Friday morning for a working brunch at Scout’s Place to get acquainted with each other and discuss the statutes of the entity and its responsibilities. This writes The Daily Herald. The council is a replica of similar entities throughout the European Netherlands, explained SHS board member Lynne Johnson. The Catholic School Board SKOS on Saba initiated the council’s establishment in January through videoconference consultancy facilitated by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science. Consultants visited Saba in March and instructed SKOS on how to conduct council elections. Johnson explained that elections were conducted this month, both for teachers and parents.
Teachers elected Miranda Simmons and Camille Blackman to serve as their representatives. Parents of the 155 SHS children received one ballot per family, even if they had multiple children at school. The response was a healthy 80 ballots in the election of parent candidates. Parents Ann Leter-Lake and Jasper Oei will serve on the council on a three-year mandate from September, when the statutes are to be adopted in a formal meeting. The Council will then elect a chairperson, vice-chair and secretary, and meet with SKOS at least twice annually. Johnson said the council is to voice the concerns and perspectives of various primary education stakeholders, especially parents and teachers. “It is designed to promote positive constructive communication, aid with feedback on administrative challenges, and provide positive solutions for these,” Johnson said. “It seeks to promote the wellbeing, safety and respect for all parties concerned.
SHS Principal Diane Wilson explained that a questionnaire had been carried out amongst parents about their perceptions of the school’s performance and on the four-year plan drafted by the administration. It emerged that parents dislike aggressive behaviour among children, highlighting bullying as a priority issue. Following the survey, consultants spoke on this topic in each classroom. This is one area on which the Representative Advisory Council will be asked to help develop a community-wide project, incorporating all stakeholders, said Wilson.
Leter-Lake also served in a similar council in Holland and hopes to bring in her experience. “It is something positive to have in any school or organization, because when you listen to your people, you are better equipped to help guide them. There are at times challenges and everybody must be part of the solution,” she said. “This board promotes togetherness and discussions of challenges not otherwise voiced” teacher Blackman said of the council, which is to “serve to the betterment of children.” SHS’ internal guidance counsellor Jarmila Wilson-Berkel hopes the council will be seen not as a vehicle to voice criticism, but as a place where suggestions can be made and solutions discussed.