SD85 seeks public input

School Board pushes on after disappointing start to community consultations.

The School District vowed to keep pushing on after its series of Community Consultations got off to a disappointing start in Port McNeill last Wednesday. The District is seeking public input on two potentially far-reaching issues: strategic planning and trustee composition.

On the first issue, by answering five key questions on our schools and our education goals, participants will kick start a thoughtstream process which identifies common themes and ideas, eventually providing the Board of Trustees with priorities that each community values.

This information will be used as a decision-making tool by the School Board, for example in defining budgets.

NISS held the first of five scheduled meetings across the North Island last week, but failed to draw in the public. The presentation and meeting were adjourned after a half hour when it became apparent that public engagement was not on the cards that night, something several Board members described as “disappointing”.

“It’s about moving the District along in a transparent way,” said School District 85 Superintendent Scott Benwell. He explained that, by getting a sense of the public’s expectations and priorities, the board will be better equipped to create a tailored vision for education in the coming years, and a plan of action to deliver the mutual vision.

Interested community members can either attend one of the other scheduled meetings or contact their local school for more information on how to get involved.

The second item up for discussion is potentially more divisive. The composition of the Board of Trustees itself is up for review, and with it the levels of representation each community has at the board tables.

Treasurer John Martin explained that the issue is somewhat overdue for consideration — the current make-up was established 23 years ago — and with the 2011 census providing recent, accurate population figures, the topic is ripe for discussion. “We’re just trying to ensure we have fair representation,” explained Martin.

The underlying factors are complex. In the years since the current configuration was established the North Island has undergone many changes, and some once-populous areas have lost inhabitants as industries have moved or slumped. An overarching theme, not only locally but globally, has been one of urban migration, as people move from smaller rural areas to comparatively urban centres.

With the representation based on outdated numbers, some areas are now disproportionally over- or under-represented at the table. The District is asking if the public wants to see a change.

All options are available for discussion, from maintaining the status quo to redrawing boundaries or holding elections at large.

Another possibility includes changing the number of trustees on the Board. By reducing the number of seats from seven to five, the District could save $25,000 each year, but fewer trustees makes equitable representation more challenging.

After gathering the public’s input, the board will make a recommendation to the Minister of Education, who has the final say in any legislative change. Any changes could then be in place for the next election in Oct/Nov 2014.

The next meeting is slated for tonight, Dec 12, in the Alert Bay Elementary Gym, with Port Alice and Port Hardy scheduled for Jan 16 and 23, respectively. A meeting took place last night in Sointula, after this issue of the Gazette went to press. Alternatively, parents who wish their voices heard on the electoral issue can pen a letter to the School Board.

 

Just Posted

People’s Party of Canada plan to have a candidate in the North Island-Powell River riding

Elections Canada formally recognized the North Island—Powell River PPC Association

NVIATS takes over NIEFS space in Thunderbird Mall

“We were approached by NIEFS, they’re going to be downsizing”

Port Hardy Reigns compete in Nanaimo at Island Championships

“We are very fortunate to have this opportunity for our youth in Port Hardy”

Derina Harvey Band – Heartfelt, Energetic, Celtic rock comes to Port Hardy

Front-woman Derina Harvey leads this Celtic-rock act, who offer an authentic east-coast experience.

OPINION: Urgent care room will cost lives

“Seniors, of any demographic, are the most vulnerable to the loss of emergency care.”

VIDEO: Driver in bizarre hit-and-run at B.C. car dealership turns herself in

Police believe alcohol was a factor in incident causing estimated $15,000 in damages

B.C., Ottawa talk 50/50 split on abandoned bus-route service

B.C. has paid $2 million on a bus service for the northern part of the province

‘B.C. cannot wait for action’: Top doctor urges province to decriminalize illicit drugs

Dr. Bonnie Henry says current approach in ‘war on drugs’ has criminalized and stigmatized drug users

B.C. woman, 76, challenges alcohol-screening laws after failing to give breath sample

Norma McLeod was unable to provide a sample because of her medical conditions

New report on 2017 wildfires calls for better coordination with B.C. First Nations

Tsilhqot’in National Government documents 2017 disaster and lists 33 calls to action

B.C. youth coach banned amid sexual harassment, bullying scandal: Water Polo Canada

Justin Mitchell can’t take part in Water Polo Canada events or clubs

Wilson-Raybould: Feds want to just ‘manage the problem’ of Indigenous Peoples

Former federal justice minister speaks at First Nations Justice Council meeting in B.C.

Female real estate agents warned of suspicious man in Metro Vancouver

The man requests to see homes alone with the female agent, police say

Can you put your phone down for Mother’s Day?

#DiningMode campaign encourages people to leave the phone alone while eating

Most Read