School board declines to approve basketball team trip to the provincials, for now

  • Jan. 29, 2014 10:00 a.m.

The school board has delayed a decision on approving the Queen Charlotte senior boys’ basketball team’s trip to the provincial AAAA tournament, with trustees saying they have serious concerns about a portion of the planned journey. Trustees discussed the team’s field trip application at the school board meeting in Masset Tuesday night (Jan. 28). The proposed trip would see the 12-member team leave Haida Gwaii on March 10, and compete at the provincial tournament in Langley from March 12-15. AAAA is the top tier of secondary school basketball in BC, and Queen Charlotte may be the smallest school ever to reach this level of competition. Trustees said they had no problem with this portion of the trip, but balked at approving a return date of March 23, as proposed. In the field trip application, coach Dave Wahl explained the additional week off-island would allow the entire team to proceed from Langley to the Junior All-Native basketball tournament in Kamloops during spring break, then return to Haida Gwaii from Vancouver at the end of that event. Although not all the players on the Queen Charlotte Secondary team are Haida, the Skidegate Saints have offered to cover the costs for all the athletes, regardless of cultural background, and allow them to travel to the Junior All-Native as a team, Mr. Wahl said in the application. The school district will be buying the plane tickets for the team to fly to Vancouver and back, if the trip is approved, as it has a policy of paying the travel costs of any athletes or teams who qualify for provincial championships. The other costs – an estimated $7,000 – will be covered by the team and the Gwaii Trust, according to the field trip application. Trustees, however, said they did not have enough information about the Junior All-Native portion of the trip and who would be responsible for the students during this time. The board first voted against approving the trip, with Old Massett trustee Warren Wesley and Graham Island South trustee Carla Lutner voting no and the other three trustees not voting at all. Chair Elizabeth Condrotte then re-opened the discussion. Trustees aired several concerns, and voted finally to table a decision on the trip until they receive answers to several questions and legal advice. “I’m very uneasy to say yes, even though I think it’s a wonderful opportunity,” said Masset trustee Sharon Matthews. “I am very anxious to hear what the lawyers have to say about this.” Ms Condrotte said given the high cost of plane tickets to get on and off Haida Gwaii, it made a lot of sense to combine the two trips. However, she said, the situation is unprecedented in the district and it was important to figure out the scope of the school board’s responsibility when it came to the second week of the trip. Trustees asked superintendent Angus Wilson to find out who the chaperones will be for the Junior All-Native, what kind of legal responsibility the board has if it approves the trip and buys the plane tickets, and what would happen if there were any kind of incident on the All-Native portion of the trip. Mr. Wilson said he would try to get the information by the end of the week and circulate it to trustees by email. Trustees will then vote by email on whether to approve the trip, Ms Condrotte said, as the issue is too important to wait for the next school board meeting in late February.

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