School board waits for input on possible changes

  • Jun. 4, 2004 5:00 a.m.

The school board is waiting to hear from the Skidegate Band Council and Old Massett Village Council before deciding how to proceed with the issue of trustee variation, says chair Andreas Uttendorfer.
Mr. Uttendorfer said he expects to hear from the councils within the next two weeks. Meanwhile, trustees are mulling over the report they received from consultant Inder Mehat, who held seven public meetings last month to find out what islanders think about increasing the number of Haida trustees.
“We really need to digest this information,” Mr. Uttendorfer said, adding that the board would like to meet with the public again before making a final decision about how many trustees should be on the school board, and which communities they should represent.
Currently, there are seven trustees, representing the seven communities on the islands. However, Old Massett, Skidegate and the Council of the Haida Nation have been asking the school board to change this set-up so that at least 50-percent of the trustees represent Haida communities.
The public has been divided on the Haida proposal, however, with some backing it, some opposing it, and some saying they do not want increased Haida representation to come at the cost of losing a trustee dedicated to their community.
Mr. Mehat, the consultant, said five viable models emerged from the public meetings. The school board gave the public until May 28 to suggest other options, but Mr. Uttendorfer said he didn’t think any submissions were received.
Once the school board makes a decision about which option it likes, it will send a recommendation to the Minister of Education, who has the power to change the board. The next school board election will be held in November 2005.
The decision will be difficult, Mr. Uttendorfer said.
“To please everybody is going to be pretty near impossible,” he said. “I see this issue as an opportunity to look into the future and say, okay, where can we build something that is going to help us in the futureÂ… It’s difficult but it’s also exciting.”