The 2022-2023 school year is almost at an end, and I would like to start by thanking our teachers and school staff, the school management, our APEEE representatives, and not least our APEEE staff for all their efforts this year to educate, guide, support, represent, transport, feed, and provide after-school activities for EEBIV pupils and their families. It is no small task to meet the many different needs of a school community the growing size and growing diversity of ours. Although there undoubtedly remains room for improvement in several areas, it is also quite important to keep in mind the difficulty of this task, particularly in the face of a rapidly changing external environment like ours in Brussels…
In terms of the APEEE’s services, both the “hard” ones (transport, canteen, extracurricular) and the “soft” ones (pedagogy/parent representation), it has been another challenging year in certain respects and a smoother year in others. As many families know, there were ongoing problems with the bus service on several lines. This was due largely to an unanticipated shortage of drivers and accompanying staff on-and-off throughout the year, partly because some drivers and bus companies view the length and complexity of EEBIV bus routes as too inefficient and no longer cost-worthy. Moreover, bus companies have increased their prices by more than 16% this school year (indexation), which has been an added source of concern in the operation and planning of our transport service this year and next. As of September 2023, the APEEE will therefore be consolidating its bus routes to make the routes as efficient, reliable, and fair as possible for EEBIV families. The exact routes and new stops will be communicated to parents during the last week of August. The APEEE Transport office will also introduce a new app, “Together School,” that will allow the office to track bus locations in real time, manage bus routes, monitor students on the bus and communicate with the bus in the event of delays or when urgent assistance is required. Parents will also benefit from some of the monitoring services of this app.
As regards the APEEE’s canteen service, despite some communication difficulties with parents regarding the payment of canteen subscriptions, the year has run rather smoothly. Canteen management was able to navigate its relationship with its major food suppliers quite successfully this year, which meant that the canteen was able to avoid a big increase in the cost of supplies and thus meet its budget goals without increasing the price of meals for 2022-2023 school year. Moreover, in keeping with the school’s new Eco-School label, the canteen has now eliminated plastic bottles in favor of filtered water fountains.
The APEEE’s extracurricular service has been able to offer more improved services following the hiring of a new staff member in the beginning of the year 2023. Since it has been very challenging at times to find replacement monitors, staff have focused on creating a solid pool of substitute monitors to resolve this ongoing problem. It has also been working hard on improving the visibility of APEEE extracurricular services, not least at the Open Day for new parents on 24th May and at the yearly Performing Arts Day in early June, which drew roughly 600 visitors. Finally, this year the extracurricular service was able to double the capacity of the APEEE Summer Camp for S1-S4 students to 112 students to better serve families with children in lower Secondary.
As regards its “soft” services, pedagogy and parent representation, the APEEE Board’s pedagogical team underwent a reorganization in the Spring. Diane Werhert stepped down as co-VP Ped to step into a new role as Community Affairs VP, and Dana Puia Morel assumed the lead as VP Ped. Although communication between the APEEE and parent Section Representatives has become rather firmly established through online monthly meetings of the Ped Team Working Group, the role of parent Class Representatives and their relationship to parents in their classes, their Section Representatives, and to the APEEE at large remains quite weak in many cases. This can mean that parents lack access to useful information about APEEE services, activities, and initiatives at critical moments during the school year. This is something that the APEEE will focus more on, then, next year: how to activate parent Class Representatives more and keep them connected to the parents in their classes, to their parent Section Representatives, and thus to the APEEE at large.
Together with Section Representatives this year, the VP Ped has also identified 6 priorities that the APEEE will focus on next year in its dealings with the school:
- seek to create an environment of greater trust and communication among all school community stakeholders that empowers students and parents to seek solutions together with the school, where appropriate
- seek to engage more parents in the APEEE
- seek to strengthen the relationship with teachers and support the cause of LRT’s
- seek to create actions to support inclusion and diversity
- seek to support learning in all its forms, in particular curiosity-based learning
- seek to ensure better class support materials
By way of closing, let me wish everyone reading this message the same thing I will wish you every year—a restorative summer break with the chance to do whatever it is that you like to do and that brings you joy. 😉
And for our graduating S7s this year, congratulations on completing the BAC! What an accomplishment. I wish you all the best now as you move into adulthood and seek your own path forward in this sometimes-familiar, sometimes-strange world. Find your meaning in life, be of service to others, kind to yourself, and good to family, friends, and strangers alike.
Take care, everybody!
Stephanie Buus, President of the APEEE of Brussels IV-Laeken
P.S. Please do remember to inform the APEEE of any changes to your personal e-mail address, if you are using any of the APEEE’s services. This is important for information, communication, and billing purposes. Thank you!