School District 85 jumped right into the thick of it after holding the inauguration ceremony.
Seven trustees were elected by acclamation on Nov. 19 during their first meeting, which started off with an inaugural ceremony. Four of the trustees, Jeff Field, Leightan Wishart, Eric Hunter, and Carol Prescott, returned to Vancouver Island North’s school district. The incumbents live in zone one, the District of Port Hardy and Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw First Nations, and zone two, Village of Alert Bay and Village of Port Alice.
The board of education now consists of Leanne Farrel, Field, Wishart, Hunter, Prescott, Paul Cann, and Lawrie Garrett.
Nominations were quickly made as trustees finished their swearing-in. Wishart stands as the chairperson. The vice-chair position went to Field. B.C. School Trustees Association (BCSTA) provincial council position was given to Prescott. Hunter was nominated for BCSTA alternate position. Field was also nominated as a BCSTA representative. First Nations Education Council (FNEC), which was originally an appointed position, was designated to Prescott and Hunter.
Following nominations, trustees then discussed issues relating to Pathfinder Development Corporation’s proposed housing project. Trustees expressed concern about architectural designs and the project’s impact on student safety. The project proposed building a roadway near Eagle View Elementary School.
Chairperson Wishart alleviated trustees’ concerns on what could be increased traffic: “I almost guarantee that that road is just going to be the fire access road and there will be posts there so you can’t go through there (the proposed roadway).”
“I suggest the school board withhold the letter of support until we see a new traffic plan,” one trustee noted.
“I wouldn’t recommend that,” Wishart replied, “the District of Port Hardy is in the process of getting a new multiplex and there’s a (proposed) skatepark now by the (recreation) centre and the multiplex will infringe on (the current) skateboard park. The past council and current council made a promise to the young people who fundraised to build that project, that we replace that project.”
The letter included details on a new skatepark, which the board of education will then decide whether to support it or not. Chairperson Wishart made mention that without the board of education’s support the funding for the skatepark may not be possible.
Other discussions included extending spring break to two weeks from the original one week off school for students.
Board of education has a number of standing committees, which include budget, personnel, policy, administrator hiring, long term planning, committee of the whole, scholarship, and student suspensions. The board also attends joint commmittees such as First Nations education council, Vancouver Island North Teachers Association (VINTA) professional development,
Trustees and staff also meet with representatives of other groups in joint committees to discuss issues of mutual concern.
Joint committees include FNEC, VINTA professional development, Candian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) labour management, VINTA and CUPE grievances, as well as VINTA and CUPE bargaining. Trustees are members of regional bodies like B.C. Public School Employers’ Association and BCSTA.
After a review of remunerations last June 11, payment for each trustee is $11,570 annually. The vice-chairperson receives $12,725 and the chairperson receives $13,882 annually. The school district has a budget revenue of $18.6 million coming out of provincial grants from the Ministry of Education, as noted in SD85’s 2017 statement of financial information.
Board of education’s next public meeting is Dec. 10 in Port McNeill’s North Island Secondary School at 6:00 p.m.