How many school board trustees are too many trustees?
Based on feedback received from the public, School District 20 will soon begin looking inward as they attempt to figure out the best way to organize and elect school trustees. Triggered by responses during the Planning for the Future public consultations and building on past reports, the district is in the process of establishing a committee to examine the way trustees are elected.
“I think it starts actually before my time,” explained board chair Gord Smith. “There are some reports that have been on file for a few years at the school district but more recently the catalyst for the committee would be some of the feedback we picked up at the past Planning for the Future consultation. Even though we had asked the community to provide us feedback on the actual set of scenarios that were included in the last document, we still got a lot of feedback just talking about the number of trustees and the way in which the trustees are elected.”
That unplanned feedback spurred on the establishment of a terms of reference for a committee to look at process in which trustees are currently elected and come back with a series of recommendations for potential improvement. Vince Morelli, representing Fruitvale, proposed a motion to establish the committee.
Currently a ward system is in place. Another possibility could be voting in trustees in an at large concept in which boundaries are not geographically-drawn but rather a group of people from the district working for the district.
Within the context of the current ward system, the committee will also be examining the total number of trustees, the number, boundaries and names of the district wards, number of trustees for each ward and the ratio of trustees to electors.
To answer their questions and develop their recommendations the committee will be engaging with the public, municipal councils, regional board officials and other relevant stakeholders. Upon completion of their recommendations their findings will be presented back to the board of education of School District Number 20.
Tasked with the mission will be seven representatives, including the former secretary treasurer or City Administrator, three former trustees and or former local politicians, two current trustees from SD20 and one representative from the district parental advisory committee.
While there has been no timelines put on the project, Smith noted that if the board chose to make some changes , they would have to be made in advance of the next municipal/school board election in November of 2011.
“If the Board decided to make a change–if I understand it correctly–that change has to be approved by the Minister, so there needs to be enough time that if there is a proposed change the Minister has time o consider the proposal,” explained Smith.
With the terms of reference passed by the Board, the project now sits with school district staff who are charged with pulling together and launching the new committee.
In terms of the desired outcome he’d like to see, Smith closed adding, “Personally? I’ve been answering these questions in my role as the Board chair, but as the Rossland trustee I would say that I’m waiting to hear what the committee’s recommendations will be and finding out what specific concerns Rossland may have. And then I’ll take it from there.”