Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 11/10/2011 (3581 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The Brandon School Division’s board of trustees has stood by its nutrition policy, despite recent public criticism that called some of its regulations heavy-handed.
The policy, first implemented in December of 2007, lays out, among many other food-based rules, a requirement that no school can undertake the sale of chocolate bars or candy as a fundraiser.
In light of recent public comment that such a rule makes it difficult for parent councils to raise any significant sum of money for their initiatives, the board’s policy committee recently reviewed its nutrition policy and recommended that the division leave the sale of chocolate bars to the discretion of each school’s principals, with parental feedback.
“The final decision for fundraisers should be undertaken by the parent councils, (it) should rest with the parent councils themselves,” committee chair Kevan Sumner said in presenting the proposed changes at last night’s board meeting. “However, we feel it’s very important to encourage parent councils to look at healthy food options and provide them with the information they need to make those choices.”
However, trustees believed the changes provided too much free rein to parent councils and undermined the work done by previous boards in developing the policy.
“People worked hard at this over a period of years and sought community feedback — the community feedback was that we shouldn’t be having chocolate bar sales,” trustee Marty Snelling said in opposing the changes. “I really feel that we need to come back and look at our nutrition policy and our nutrition practices, period.”
“I think the work that was done on the previous nutrition policy sent a solid message to people about what we felt about nutrition in our schools, particularly around the chocolate bar sales. I think the policy (we have) made that a consistent message,” trustee Jim Murray added. “I think (the amendments) sends a mixed message and puts too much onus on the principal — I think it says we aren’t going to support our own policies, so we’re going to expect the principal to stand up and do that for us. I don’t like where it places the principal in all this.”
School principals will be contacted in the coming days to ensure their respective parent councils understand the policy’s requirements surrounding the sale of chocolate as fundraisers.
Those that don’t could be in hot water, Supt. Donna Michaels says.
“We will be drawing to the principals’ attention that the policy has not changed, that it is to be implemented and that it’s expected that school councils will not use chocolate bars as a fundraiser,” she said. “Where there are violations, I will need to address that with the principal.”
Meantime, another policy that recently garnered the division unexpected public attention will soon be up for debate at the board table.
Amendments to the division’s use of certified service dogs policy will be debated at the board’s Oct. 24 meeting.
The changes provide for a comprehensive plan to be followed if a request to have a service dog brought into the school is received, including the requirement that the animal be certified by the Office of the Fire Commissioner.
Clarifications were precipitated by the fight undertaken by former Brandon resident Joanne Wilkinson in the fall of 2010 on behalf of her disabled son, Sam, and his service/therapy dog, Hart.
Wilkinson fought for more than two months to have her son’s dog — which was trained in the United States by the Kansas-based Canine Assistance Rehabilitation Education and Services organization — allowed into Brandon’s J.R. Reid School.
At the time, division administration would not recognize the dog as being trained unless it was recognized by the Office of the Fire Commissioner.
Wilkinson eventually filed a complaint with the Manitoba Human Rights Commission, which ultimately ruled that the division’s policy was lacking.
“They said that the parents had a really good basis for a complaint,” Michaels admitted. “Clearly, the human rights commission saw that the lack of direction with our policy ... was something that we needed to address.”