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By Hilary Cox
If an advisory panel formed to examine the provision of extra-curricular activities is successful, students at Ontario highschools may be offered more after school then just a detention.
Dave Ross, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Education, said the Minister's Advisory Group on the Provision of Co-Instructional Activities was formed Wednesday to advise Ontario Education Minister Janet Ecker about possible approaches to providing extracurricular activities.
He said the five member panel, which includes a former principal as well as grade 12 student Colin Hood, the executive director of the Ontario Federation of Secondary School Athletic Associations, is expected to meet bi-weekly with the Minister, and will submit its interim findings in mid-February, followed by a final report due by mid-March.
Ken Coran, president of the Thames Valley district of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation, agreed that the problem of extracurricular activities needs to be addressed, citing the Thames Valley as a perfect example. "As of Dec. 6, 2000, considering eight major high school sports, only 11 of the board's 1,790 teachers have remained involved," he said.
Coran said secondary school teachers cancelled extra-curricular activities in response to the Harris government's Bill 74 passed in June 2000.
The bill, Coran said, increased the number of courses conducted by each teacher, increasing their teaching time by approximately 25 minutes per day. When the increase in planning and marking time is factored in, teachers are left without time to lead extra-curricular activities, he said.
The void created by the teachers' absence has, in some cases, been filled by parents and community volunteers, Coran said, but added this only provides a short-term solution.
Kevin Turcot, student council president at Sir Frederick Banting Secondary School in London, said he would not mind volunteer-led extra-curricular activities, if it was the only alternative, but would prefer the return of teachers.
As it stands, he said, only about two or three of the teachers are picking up extra activities.
Coran said he questioned the panel's ability to find a creative solution to the problem, speculating the group would be stacked with staunch Tory supporters.
Hood, the student panel member, said he disagreed with Coran's speculation. "I'm not affiliated with the Tories," he said "If they were choosing politically, I would be the last choice."