School board likely to have new look after fall election

  • Feb. 25, 2005 9:00 a.m.

There’ll likely be an entirely new make-up to the school board after the election in November, if the process known as trustee variation continues as expected.
The board has been looking at the change for more than a year, after the two band councils on island suggested that more Haida representation is needed, since more than half the students in the schools are Haida.
About a year ago, the board hired a consultant and held public meetings on the issue, but the process dragged to a standstill this fall while the board searched for more money to continue it.
That needed money was recently found, thanks to the Gwaii Trust and the BC School Trustees’ Association. And now, two options are being looked at by the school board, Old Massett Village Council and the Skidegate Band Council. Both draft proposals, which still need to be adopted by the school board and the band councils, reduce the number of trustees from the current seven to five, and change the areas from which they’re elected:

Option A, one trustee from each of Old Massett, Skidegate, North Graham Island, South Graham Island and Central Graham Island (which would include Moresby Island under this proposal).

Option B, One trustee from Old Massett, one from Skidegate and three elected at large from the rest of the islands.

Haida Education Director Vonnie Hutchingson, who is working on the plan for the board and the band councils, says dropping the number of trustees makes financial sense when enrolment is dropping.
She says both options are well within the guidelines of the school act, and that two more public meetings on the issue will be held, one in the north and one in the south.
At the school board meeting in Masset on February 22, Superintendent Mike Woods said he expects there’s enough time to make the changes before the fall. “I expect approval prior to the election,” he said.
That election is held with the other municipal elections, this year on November 19.
The trustee variation process is expect to cost $28,820 by the time it’s finished, all but $1,320 from grants received for it.