CSRD directors are concerned with the implications of a five-trustee school board as recommended by acting School District #83 official trustee Mike McKay. File photo

Five school trustees a concern for CSRD

Regional directors worried about democratic representation

The region’s political representatives will be meeting with School District #83 trustee Mike McKay to discuss concerns regarding the number of trustees proposed for a revamped school board.

At their last meeting, the Columbia Shuswap Regional District board of directors discussed McKay’s recommendation to the province to set the number of trustees at five: one trustee to represent the North Shuswap, Carlin and Sorrento area; one trustee to represent Sicamous, Malakwa, Enderby and Grindrod; two trustees to represent Salmon Arm and one trustee to represent Armstrong, Spallumcheen, Falkland, Silver Creek and Ranchero.

The previous board consisted of nine trustees, including: one from the North Shuswap; one for Sicamous/Malakwa; one for Enderby/Grindrod; one for Sorrento/Carlin; two for Salmon Arm; two for Armstrong and Spallumcheen and one for Falkland, Silver Creek and Ranchero.

That board was dissolved by the province’s education minister in 2016 after being criticized for mismanagement and infighting – part of which revolved around trustees advocating solely for their own area, rather than putting the best interests of all the students in the North Okanagan-Shuswap as the primary objective.

Related link: Trustee recommends reducing school board to five members

CSRD board chair and Area E Rural Sicamous/Malakwa director Rhona Martin said she was shocked when she heard the number of trustees could be reduced to five.

“I kind of thought they might go down to seven trustees,” said Martin. “I was quite shocked to see that it’s been reduced to five, and I think that some of the areas are very large and I wonder how disconnected it would be? And what concerns me is if the representative is too distant, people do not connect and what will be the cost to our community education?”

The reduction to five trustees would save the school district approximately $60,000 due to reduced compensation and expenses for trustees.

Martin said she’d read McKay’s report and recommendations and, in response, suggested it’s not just the business case that needs to be looked at, but also what’s best for students and the impact on communities. She empathized with previous trustees who, like CSRD directors, at times would make decisions with their hearts, voting from a community perspective. But she also stressed the point that, like directors, trustees would also vote for the greater good of the region.

“Mr McKay has done a good job, but in some respects he’s had a pretty easy job because he doesn’t have the discussion around the table. I know I talk to myself, but I don’t think he would be doing that at a public school board meeting,” joked Martin. “Anyhow, I want him to come here because I think this is something that’s really important for every part of the Shuswap.”

Directors suggested McKay make a presentation to the board. He’s scheduled to do so during the board’s Feb 15 meeting, which begins at 9:30 a..m. in the CSRD boardroom.


@SalmonArm
lachlan@saobserver.net

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