SD85 to gather input on trustees and planning

School District 85 kicked off a tour designed to gather public input on its strategic plan and the makeup of its board of trustees.

School District 85 kicked off a tour of local communities this week designed to gather public input on its strategic plan and the makeup of its board of trustees.

The first of five public meetings, which will take place through Jan. 23, was held last night at North Island Secondary School in Port McNeill.

The next sessions will take place next Tuesday and Wednesday in Sointula and Alert Bay, respectively. The tour wraps up with meetings in Port Alice and Port Hardy in January.

“Our strategic plan is out of date, and we’re going to the community for feedback on how we might deal with that,” said Scott Benwell, SD85 superintendent.

Treasurer John Martin will also lead a discussion on the number and representation of trustees going forward.

“In the last census we found we have a trustee in one area representing 200 people while another trustee represents 2,500,” Benwell said. “Do we want to do something about that?”

Benwell said the responsible thing for the school district to do is to gather that information in advance of the next civic election, as it would have to approach Elections BC about and changes to the makeup of trustees’ areas.

Information from last night’s meeting was not available, as it took place after the Gazette went to press.

The meetings are not designed to roll out strategic plans or even necessarily to formulate them, Benwell said. Additional public input toward an eventual strategic plan update will include an online forum, with families encouraged to provide its input through school-specific sites accessible through the district’s web page.

“We feel people relate more closely to the school their children attend,” Benwell said. “This way will also help each of the schools develop their own school plans. When we get that thought stream going at each school, then we’ll push those up to the district level and try to find themes and the high points we want to hit with the resources we have available.

“I think that’s a more responsive way to do it than at the district level.”

Next week’s meeting in Sointula will be held at 5-6:30 p.m. in the A.J. Elliott School gym Tuesday, and the Alert Bay meeting Wednesday will take place beginning at 6:30 p.m. in the Alert Bay Elementary gym.

The final meetings are Jan. 16 at Sea View Elementary in Port Alice and Jan. 23 at the Port Hardy Secondary School library.