Sunnyside Elementary parents (from left) Gina Lawson

Sunnyside Elementary parents (from left) Gina Lawson

Sunnyside sign ‘divisive’

South Surrey school principal proposes mediation to solve disagreement between parents.

Parents at Sunnyside Elementary say a quest to erect an electronic sign board at the South Surrey school created a divide in the community over something that would do little to better education for the students.

“It’s divisive and it’s not good for the school community,” Josee Worth said last week of the project.

“There are so many other things the school needs educationally.”

The sign – projected to cost about $40,000 – is an initiative of the school’s parent advisory council that has reportedly been in the works for a number of years.

Opponents argue it was being pushed through without proper process, and cited concerns ranging from student safety to light pollution.

Worth said the PAC was touting benefits including better communication with parents.

A request to speak with a PAC representative initially referred Peace Arch News to the council chair, but noted she is out of the country.

“In the meantime, we are working with all of our parent group to take care of any unresolved issues,” a Feb. 27 email states.

Last Thursday – following mediation that morning that was proposed by principal Faizel Rawji – spokesperson Jessica Wilson said only that parents are “moving forward and working together to come to a resolution.”

Prior to the mediation, Rawji agreed the issue had raised “some controversy” at the school, but he was optimistic the matter could be resolved. He said he asked both sides to attend the mediation “with your olive branch” – prepared to compromise, and “move forward to a greater good.”

Following the meeting, he said all sides “are moving forward together.”

It’s unclear, however, if a sign is no longer being considered.

Worth said parents are “still in discussion and are moving in a positive direction.”

Rawji said he believes “the issue is being re-examined and will be discussed further at the next PAC meeting.”

New to the school in September, Rawji said he “inherited” the sign issue; it was on the previous principal’s wish list.

While sign opponents said a second playground is among items that should be higher on the priority list for a school where the student population is “exploding,” Rawji said his wish list is less about “stuff.”

“I don’t want things, I want a culture,” he said.

“If we can create a community, that’s more important than anything.”