By Alex Rinfret–The two most experienced trustees on the new school board were elected to its executive Tuesday night at a meeting in Queen Charlotte (Dec. 13).
Trustees elected Skidegate representative Wayne Wilson as chair (he was the only one nominated), and Sharon Matthews of Masset as vice-chair. Ina Biron of Old Massett and Lisa Gyorgy of Central Graham Island were also nominated as vice-chair, but both said they didn’t want to run for the position.
Trustees then watched a powerpoint presentation on the Queen Charlotte senior boys soccer team’s recent trip to the provincial championships in Nakusp, where they placed 10th.
Coach Kevin Borserio thanked the school board for its financial support, which allowed the team to fly to Vancouver, then drive to Nakusp.
“It’s critical that we fly the majority of the way,” Mr. Borserio said, adding that the team would have been in no condition to play if they had travelled the entire way by road. “I know it’s a significant cost to you, but you’ll see from these pictures, it’s a meaningful one.”
Mr. Borserio said private schools took all the top spots at the tournament, which is unusual and indicated to him that the two-week teachers’ strike might have had an effect on the team.
“We were right up there in terms of our calibre,” he said. They were also one of the most sportsmanlike teams there, one of just four teams out of 12 which never got a yellow or red flag. Team member Justin Abbott won the “Golden Boot” award for the most goals, having scored four times in five games, he said.
Mr. Wilson congratulated the team and thanked Mr. Borserio and the parent volunteers for their commitment to soccer.
“I just want to say thank you too,” Ms Matthews added. “What you do for our school district, it’s really appreciated.”
Soccer remained on the agenda, however, with another delegate, former student Derek Brady, telling the board that the Queen Charlotte school field is the worst one he’s ever played on and urging them to fix it.
Mr. Brady, who described himself as passionate about soccer, said he has played on about 30 fields all over western Canada, and that the Charlotte field is clearly substandard.
“I think the youth of this community really deserve an adequate field to play on,” he said. “It’s just so soft, I think it’s dangerous.”
Jimmy Reilly, a longtime volunteer soccer coach and organizer, echoed those comments.
“What we have there is a dangerous, dangerous place for the kids to be,” he said, estimating that it would cost around $25,000 to fix.
The Port Clements soccer field is one of the best in the northwest, he said, and school district officials should talk to the contractor who built that one, Craig Beachy.
“You need to talk to somebody who’s actually done the work to get answers,” Mr. Reilly said.
Mr. Wilson told him the board would be discussing the field situation in the closed portion of the meeting.
In other school board news:
o It was the very first meeting for three out of the five trustees, and Queen Charlotte principal Elizabeth Condrotte warned them that they will be tackling some hard issues shortly.
“In the next four months you will be facing some of the toughest decisions” this board has ever faced, she said. “Hard decisions that are going to affect communities very seriously… No matter what you do, somebody is not going to be happy.”
Both local high schools are close to the point where they won’t be able to offer a full program, she said. In addition to that, it is getting harder to offer adequate service to the many students diagnosed with learning difficulties (many more have difficulties and aren’t diagnosed).
“We’re getting tot he point where we’re gong to see our students, as they did 30 years ago, taking off for their grade 11 or 12 year,” she said.
Ms Condrotte said she was disappointed that the board appeared to have abandoned the idea of having a task force made up of community members help the board come up with solutions to these challenges.
Trustees said they had no illusions about the challenges ahead, but felt they did not need a task force.
“We’re going to be looking forward for a lot of direction from our senior staff,” Mr. Wilson told her. “We’re going to have to really get down and roll up our sleeves… Like you say, come up with some creative and good methods to help us out.”
Ms Matthews said the board wants to hear ideas from the communities.
“I have a lot of faith in the public,” she said, adding that new technology like broadband internet may help in the high schools. “That doesn’t mean we’re going to have enough money… It’s not like we don’t know we have trouble.”
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