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Prince Rupert School District tables corporate donation policy

What is acceptable for schools in Prince Rupert to accept as donations, and from whom?

Those are questions the Prince Rupert School District is asking following a discussion at last Tuesday's monthly meeting.

The conversation began because the district is in the midst of updating its policies, which includes the corporate sponsorship policy.

The draft policy said the board encourages "positive relationships and partnerships between the school district and the business/corporate sector that benefit students and enhance the educational experience of the school community", but the donations must be respectful of community standards and of the educational setting and have to be consistent with school district policies and procedures.

While it was to be approved at the meeting on Tuesday, board chair Tina Last had some concerns about its content.

Last said that past boards she was a part of had issues with corporations donating to schools in the district in exchange for advertisement within the schools or on donated equipment. Last made a reference to a recent donation to Port Edward Elementary made by an LNG company, saying she was happy the school received contribution but it did raise some questions.

"Who do we decide is an OK sponsor?" she said.

"We're all in favour of helping the students, don't get me wrong. But if we are willing to accept donations from a liquified gas company then why would we not, if given the opportunity, accept a donation from [an oil] pipeline company?"

Trustee Barb Gruber said a policy on acceptance of corporate donations to school should be created, which was supported by her fellow board members.

"It's nice that Port Edward's school got [the donations], but who knows what other school is going to be given something that the district knows nothing about at the time and it goes against community standards. I think we have to come up with a policy for acceptance of gifts in schools," Gruber said.

The policy was tabled and will go back to the policy committee for further review.

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