Parents Vote Against Wi-Fi in B.C. Schools

May 28, 2012. 9:54 am • Section: Report Card

Parents attending a weekend meeting were deeply divided over whether wireless technologies pose a health hazard for children. But 

The latter resolution was held over from last year, when the BCCPAC decided the issue needed further study and struck a committee to conduct a review. But that group was also divided and did not make a recommendation to this year’s AGM.

“[Some] members of the committee do not consider Wi-Fi a significant health risk and believe there is no need to exclude the use of Wi-Fi in any school until it is conclusively declared as being harmful by Health Canada and the World Health Organization,” the committee says in a report. Others, though, say some students have experienced headaches, dizziness, fatigue and impaired concentration when exposed to radio frequency emitted by wireless devices, it adds.

BCCPAC president Ann Whiteaker said parents decided to err on the side of caution. I reported that the vote was close, but was told Monday morning that it wasn’t that close. I will add the vote count once I have it confirmed.

According to news reports from around the province, Saanich is the only school district that has taken steps to restrict Wi-Fi in elementary and middle schools. A few schools have made similar decisions individually, and the Ontario Catholic Teachers Union has also called for a halt to Wi-Fi installations.

Whiteaker, meanwhile, is about to retire as president, to be replaced by Terry Berting of Burnaby. Berting has a 15-year-old daughter and two sons, aged 18 and 25.  He works in the land surveying industry and, in the BCCPAC agenda, describes his greatest strength this way:

“I think I’m a reasonably personable guy whose strength is building positive relationships with those around me. I believe that mutual respect is at the foundation of any good relationship; once that’s in place, just about anything is possible. I can provide a fresh and informed perspective on the way this organization can move forward, but will need your input if we are to really flourish.”

Whiteaker, who will remain on the executive as past president, deserves credit for rescuing the organization during its darkest days. She took the helm after Ron Broda departed, leaving BCCPAC in turmoil, and worked for four years to repair the organization. There continued to be challenges: In 2010-11 the first and second vice-presidents resigned; in 2011-12, the first vice-president was removed and the second vice-president resigned.

But now there is a new executive in place, with Berting as president, John Puddifootas first vice-president and Nicole Makohoniuk as second vice-president. (I will add the names of the directors once I get them.)

Financial statements show that BCCPAC had $322,033 in revenues in 2011 and $339,997 in expenditures – leaving a deficit of $17,964. The revenues included $150,000 in provincial grants, $50,000 in gaming grants, $56,260 membership fees and $44,730 from conference exhibitions. Operating expenses were $164,072, with another $90,159 spent on conferences and $40,832 on the board of directors.

More to come on the AGM.

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