The Campbell River School District has a new chair and vice-chair following Tuesday night’s inaugural meeting.
It was the first meeting for the new board of education since last month’s local government elections. Trustees pick their chair and vice-chair as the main order of business.
Going ahead, Richard Franklin will serve as chair after winning the position by acclamation, taking over from Susan Wilson, who continues to sit as a trustee.
John Kerr will step in as vice-chair after winning a vote among trustees over Daryl Hagen. Boards do not typically make the voting results public.
Both positions run until Oct. 31, 2019.
The meeting also marked the debut of new board members Kat Eddy and Shannon Briggs, who will join Franklin, Wilson, Kerr, Hagen and Joyce McMann.
Wilson and Briggs won positions by acclamation to represent Quadra Island and the Sayward Valley, respectively. The other five trustees were the top finishers among a field of 12 candidates in Campbell River.
Following the inaugural meeting, Franklin talked with the Mirror about some of the priorities for the board for the near future. One such practice is a change in how the district puts together its strategic plan. At present, the practice has been for board’s to work on a plan for the succeeding term, but Franklin said the new practice will be for each board to work on the plan for its time in office.
“I want the board to have complete ownership of the plan,” he said.
The new chair said one of the priorities for new superintendent Jeremy Morrow as identified during the hiring process is to collect the data the board will need to form the district’s strategic plan.
“It’ll be evidence-based decision-making,” he said.
Another challenge, Franklin said is around funding for education from the provincial government. At present, with more students this year, School District 72 is in good shape, he said, but it has had to use previous years’ surplus to balance the budget.
“That can’t continue forever,” he said.
This will become all the more a priority because of expected changes to the funding formula the province uses for district operating grants. In responses, as Franklin puts it, the district will need to find “adequate, sustainable and predictable” ways to operate the system. There are many areas where the district could use more resources in classrooms, such as funding for special needs students. In general, trustees will have to do more, he said, to support vulnerable students.
The district also faces capital funding issues too.
“Another big priority for us is the rebuild of Cedar school,” Franklin said.
The project, he added, is in the district’s 10-year capital plan. Franklin had worked as principal and vice-principal school at the school and knows Cedar is a unique community, but said the building was built decades ago during the baby boom and needs to be replaced. One consideration would be to find ways the school could serve as more of a community hub for its families, he added.