The long-time chair of the Revelstoke Board of Education has stepped down from his post, though he will remain on the board as a trustee.
Alan Chell stepped aside as chair at the school board meeting on Wednesday, Dec. 9.
“I think it’s time,” he told the Review. “I’ve been the chair for over 20 years and I think sometimes this might be a time where the district will benefit from a different perspective.”
Trustee Bill MacFarlane, a retired teacher, former city councillor, and former president of the Revelstoke Teachers Association, took his place at the head of the table after serving the past year as a trustee.
“For me it’s an opportunity to take on that leadership role and work collaboratively with a group of people that want to do good work for the system,” MacFarlane said.
Chell has been on the Board of Education for 31 years — the last 20 as chair. Under his tenure, the Revelstoke School District has gone from middling to one of the tops in the province. The district has emerged as leaders in early childhood education and has some of the highest graduation rates in the province. He also helped bring in $53 million to build two new schools.
Chell said his decision to step down was due to his rising role in education at the provincial level. He is a director with the BC School Trustees Association, on the board of the Public Education Benefits Trust, and an advisor to the BC Public School Employers Association.
These roles aren’t entirely new for him. He’s been involved in education at the provincial level for several years and has been part of the province’s negotiations with the teachers’ union in the past.
“I’ve got a pretty good feel in the 60 school districts and I know how things work in the government,” Chell said.
Chell’s move was also made possible when MacFarlane expressed an interest in being chair. Chell said they decided to wait a year to provide a transition period.
“During that year Bill has shown he’s very passionate about education,” he said.
MacFarlane said he will seek to continue the good work happening in the school district.
“I don’t think there’s going to be changes,” he said. “I think a good system will continue to be good.”
He noted the big issues will be implementing the new curriculum and advocating for increased funding for education.
“The new curriculum is going to be a huge challenge to make sure it’s properly implemented,” he said. “Always make sure we do what’s best for the students in the classroom.”
MacFarlane will also have to deal with the sale of the districts three old school sites — Big Eddy Elementary, Mountain View Elementary and Mount Begbie Elementary.
Chell was quick to deny any suggestion he would look to get into provincial or federal politics.
“I have a lot of admiration for people who step forward provincially and federally. That’s a whole life change,” he said. “I’m not a big fan of partisan politics where you have to take positions you don’t necessarily believe in, holding the party line and the whole life change involved with it, so that won’t be happening.”