Something spooky happened at a Haida Gwaii school board meeting on the night before Halloween — four of the five school trustees failed to appear.
After a half-hour with no word from the missing trustees, the Oct. 30 meeting at Sk’aadgaa Naay Elementary was cancelled.
Waiting in the room at Sk’aadgaa Naay were the school district superintendent, secretary treasurer, and representatives for Haida Gwaii parents, teachers, and schools staff. Elizabeth Condrotte was the only trustee who made it, and with bats on — she dressed as a vampire.
Missing were Chairperson Harmony Williams, Vice-chairperson Kim Goetzinger, Trustee Denise Husband, and Trustee Wilson Brown.
At least three of Haida Gwaii’s five trustees are needed to vote on school board decisions. First elected in 2014, the current board has always had at least three trustees present for public meetings, although one or two have been absent for over half the meetings so far.
French immersion ending
Haida Gwaii’s only French immersion program will stop at the end of this school year.
Because fewer than 12 students were enrolled in the Sk’aadgaa Naay program by the end of this September, the school district gave notice to parents that it will close the program in June 2018. Any French immersion students finishing Grade 6 this school year will take a regular English program next fall.
A majority of school trustees voted last June to phase out French immersion on Haida Gwaii. At the time, trustees noted that Haida Gwaii is unceded Haida territory, and their aim was to advance the process of reconciliation.
Enrolment in Haida Gwaii public schools has declined slightly from last year, falling to 506 students with another 29 in the distributed learning program.
GidGalang Kuuyas Naay Secondary and Sk’aadgaa Naay Elementary are tied for the highest number of students this year, with 141 at each school. In Masset, Gudangaay Tlaats’gaa Naay Secondary has 93, while Tahayghen Elementary has 62. Port Clements Elementary has 35 students this year, and Agnes L. Mathers Elementary has 34.