To endorse or not to endorse was the question the School District 20 (SD20) board of education had to answer regarding a trustee electoral review committee report on Monday night.
The committee, made up of former and current school trustees, SD20 staff and union representatives made a number of recommendations, the most discussed being reducing the number of trustees from nine to seven.
“We looked at a lot of data the first two meetings,” Kim Morris, current secretary treasurer and committee member said. “We tried to look at ourselves as a unique district with unique needs.”
More than 10 years ago, School Districts 9 and 11 amalgamated to form SD20. Nine trustees represent areas in Trail, Castlegar, Rossland and areas in between. A more common number of trustees per district in B.C. is seven.
“There’s still a lot of stuff on this board that appears to be two separate school districts fighting amalgamation,” trustee Vince Morelli, who also sat on the committee, told the board.
The second recommendation was to elect two trustees to each of two different wards and have three trustees elected at large to cover the rest of the areas, therefore reducing the number of trustees needed from nine to seven.
Some trustees were apprehensive about endorsing the report before it went for public consultation, which frustrated Morelli.
“You guys have appointed a committee, we’ve done the work for you; please have the courtesy to endorse the work,” he said.
But trustee Bev Maloff said it should be up to the public which way the board goes.
Trustee Mickey Kinakin agreed.
“You can’t have it both ways,” he said, adding the board can’t put the report ‘”in your back pocket” while going to the public for consultation.
“We’ve been accused of endorsing [previous reports] when we haven’t so why don’t we?” Morelli asked.
“Why go to the public if we’ve already endorsed it?” Maloff rebutted, receiving the answer from board chair Gordon Smith that it’s legislatively required to go to the public.
Smith went on to say that he believed if the board endorsed the report, the public would likely believe the board already has an agenda.
“I don’t remember seeing this argument when an outside committee brought you guys your raises,” Morelli said. “Not accepting the committee’s recommendation I think is a disgrace.”
“Just because a committee makes a report doesn’t mean the board accepts it,” Kinakin said.
After a long discussion, the board was split in their vote to endorse the report, and instead voted to receive the report and go ahead with public consultation.
The report is available on the SD20 website for information.