I read with interest the article by Andrew Hudson in the Haida Gwaii Observer of Dec. 28. He was sharing with the public news that the newly elected board of trustees to SD50 had learned on the day of their second board meeting that the Ministry of Education had appointed a special advisor, a former superintendent Piet Langstraat, to oversee the school district for the rest of the school year.
I am Pat Moores, trustee for Masset/Tow Hill since Nov.9, 2018, and the former superintendent of SD50 and SD92. Not all trustees understand why the minister appointed the advisor, me being one of them. I was elected by my constituents to: see about the amalgamation of Tahayghen Elementary and GTN; hire a new superintendent; seek new sources of funding for the budget; advocate for students; represent parents; finalize the strategic plan and the policies; and tackle a myriad of duties to govern the school district that a trustee must and should do in collaboration with the other four trustees.
Although six weeks does not seem enough time to deal with all of these tasks, I immediately got in touch with Jennifer Rice, our MLA, and made a suggestion about merging post-secondary programs with the high school and building a small school on the Tahayghen site. I strongly advocated for a certain process for hiring a superintendent. I suggested a new program for foreign students be considered to help subsidize the budget and attract new tourists, and perhaps a summer outdoor education program. I also informed staff and trustees about extra funding available for the hiring of special education assistants. As well, I discussed policies and strategic plans carried over from the former board but not finalized and agreed with the other trustees that they looked fine but seemed to need a bit of updating.
Then the news of the special advisor’s appointment arrived, the explanation in the education minister’s letter being that the “ministry has identified a range of issues with the board’s governance of the district” and that he is “concerned that these challenges continue to undermine the district’s ability to focus on student learning.”
In my experience as a superintendent of schools, I believe that it is the usual practice of the ministry, if concerned about a school district, to write a letter specifying what the board is doing incorrectly, how to mend its ways specifically, and designating a timeline for the corrections to occur. Where is that letter? Was the concern with the former board? Had the new board, in its six weeks of existence, given the ministry cause to worry? About what specifically? These are questions this trustee is wondering about. I expect the people of Haida Gwaii want to know the answers as well.
Patrick A. Moores, BA, BEd, MEd