Beaver Creek school council resigns, citing staffing issues

All four members of the Beaver Creek school council have resigned in protest, saying that students at Nelnah Bessie John School are not being given the support they need.

All four members of the Beaver Creek school council have resigned in protest, saying that students at Nelnah Bessie John School are not being given the support they need.

The K-9 school in the small community is down to six students from 12 after two families pulled their children out of the school in January.

One family is even moving out of Beaver Creek because of the issue.

Shasta McNamara and her husband have lived in Beaver Creek with their two children for the past two years.

She said they were told about problems at the school from the start.

“We heard they were using

iPads with non-educational games, giving the children unhealthy snacks and not letting them out for recess,” she said.

“It was a free for all. My husband went to a few meetings and asked why the children weren’t receiving education according to the curriculum.

“It was brought to the attention of the superintendent but nothing was done about it.”

There are two staff positions at the school, one principal/teacher and one education assistant.

McNamara, a former school council member, said staff are over-worked and often have to deal with other tasks such as building maintenance issues or administrative duties.

They’re also dealing with some students who have learning disabilities, she added.

Last fall, she pushed for more staffing at the school but was ignored by the department, she said.

She ended up pulling her children from the school for the first time in October in favour of homeschooling them.

Then, there was a staffing change at the school and a glimmer of hope, she added.

But the situation failed to improve and she pulled her children a second time last month.

“They even sent someone from the department to Beaver Creek to see how things were going, and he admitted he’d never seen so many learning gaps,” she said.

McNamara and her husband are moving to Nova Scotia before the end of the school year.

They’re not the first to leave the community because of the school, she said.

Tristian Nieman, another former council member, had three children enrolled at the school.

When her daughter first entered the school about five years ago, Nieman noticed her daughter’s behaviour went downhill.

“It was being affected by being in the same class as teenagers,” she said.

“I brought it up and said it was important for them to be split up. But I was told we didn’t have enough students to have a second teacher.”

Nieman’s son entered kindergarten last fall. She pulled both her children from the school because she felt they weren’t getting a proper education.

“If they’re in Grade 3, they’re doing Grade 1 work,” she said.

“My daughter now struggles with math and reading. There isn’t enough staff in the school.”

Tired of being ignored by the department, both Nieman and McNamara approached the Yukon child and youth advocate last month with their concerns.

Soon after logging their complaints, an extra teacher was dispatched to Beaver Creek on a temporary basis.

But Nieman said that she and her husband have “lost complete faith” in the Department of Education, and they won’t be enrolling their kids in public school ever again.

Kate Todd, former chair of the council, said the issues have been ongoing for years.

She said she met with the school’s superintendant, Penny Prysnuk, last fall to request extra staffing at the school.

“I pleaded,” Todd said.

“My goodness, all of a sudden in January they can give us extra staffing. It’s unfortunate timing – why couldn’t we have had this in September?

“It’s too little, too late for some children who have aged out of the system.”

The council members’ resignations were meant to send a message to the department, she said.

“We felt inconsequential but by resigning we become important,” she said.

Education Minister Doug Graham said there have been difficulties with staffing in Beaver Creek in the past.

He hopes to get the school council back together again, he added, so the department can hire on a more permanent basis.

The department is also looking at putting together a working group made up of school council members from rural communities.

Contact Myles Dolphin at

myles@yukon-news.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Are they coming?

One of COVID-19’s big economic questions is whether it will prompt a… Continue reading

Yukon MP Larry Bagnell, along with Yukon health and education delegates, announce a new medical research initiative via a Zoom conference on Jan. 21. (Screen shot)
New medical research unit at Yukon University launched

The SPOR SUPPORT Unit will implement patient-first research practices

Yukon First Nation Education Directorate members Bill Bennett, community engagement coordinator and Mobile Therapeutic Unit team lead, left, and Katherine Alexander, director of policy and analytics, speak to the News about the Mobile Therapeutic Unit that will provide education and health support to students in the communities. (yfned.ca)
Mobile Therapeutic Unit will bring education, health support to Indigenous rural students

The mobile unit will begin travelling to communities in the coming weeks

Premier Sandy Silver, left, and Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley, speak during a live stream in Whitehorse on January 20, about the new swish and gargle COVID-19 tests. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Swish and spit COVID-19 test now available in Yukon

Vaccination efforts continue in Whitehorse and smaller communities in the territory

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police detachment in Faro photgraphed in 2016. Faro will receive a new RCMP detachment in 2022, replacing the decades-old building currently accommodating officers. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Faro RCMP tagged for new detachment

Faro will receive a new RCMP detachment in 2022, replacing the decades-old… Continue reading

In a Jan. 18 announcement, the Yukon government said the shingles vaccine is now being publicly funded for Yukoners between age 65 and 70, while the HPV vaccine program has been expanded to all Yukoners up to and including age 26. (1213rf.com)
Changes made to shingles, HPV vaccine programs

Pharmacists in the Yukon can now provide the shingles vaccine and the… Continue reading

Parking attendant Const. Ouellet puts a parking ticket on the windshield of a vehicle in downtown Whitehorse on Dec. 6, 2018. The City of Whitehorse is hoping to write of nearly $300,000 in outstanding fees, bylaw fines and court fees, $20,225 of which is attributed to parking fines issued to non-Yukon license plates. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City of Whitehorse could write off nearly $300,000

The City of Whitehorse could write off $294,345 in outstanding fees, bylaw… Continue reading

Grants available to address gender-based violence

Organizations could receive up to $200,000

In this illustration, artist-journalist Charles Fripp reveals the human side of tragedy on the Stikine trail to the Klondike in 1898. A man chases his partner around the tent with an axe, while a third man follows, attempting to intervene. (The Daily Graphic/July 27, 1898)
History Hunter: Charles Fripp — gold rush artist

The Alaskan coastal town of Wrangell was ill-equipped for the tide of… Continue reading

A man walks passed the polling place sign at city hall in Whitehorse on Oct. 18, 2018. While Whitehorse Mayor Dan Curtis is now setting his sights on the upcoming territorial election, other members of council are still pondering their election plans for the coming year. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Councillors undecided on election plans

Municipal vote set for Oct. 21

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decicions made by Whitehorse city council this week.

A file photo of grizzly bear along the highway outside Dawson City. Yukon conservation officers euthanized a grizzly bear Jan. 15 that was originally sighted near Braeburn. (Alistair Maitland/Yukon News file)
Male grizzly euthanized near Braeburn

Yukon conservation officers have euthanized a grizzly bear that was originally sighted… Continue reading

Most Read