Nanaimo school district is looking into implications of reducing the board from nine to seven trustees. (News Bulletin file)

Nanaimo school district examines reducing number of trustees

Nanaimo school trustees receive reports on board composition, ward system and student trustee

Nanaimo school district will examine decreasing the school board from nine to seven trustees for the 2018 municipal election.

On May 10, the district business committee received a report on board reduction and entering into geographical representation, or ward system. Reports on trustee remuneration review and adding a student trustee were also received.

The B.C. Ministry of Education specifies that school boards must be comprised of three, five, seven or nine trustees. Reasons for reducing trustees would have to be given, input from the public, stakeholders and local governments needed and the district would have to correspond with the ministry by Oct. 1, according to the report.

A reduction to seven trustees would net the district an annual savings of close to $46,600 based on an yearly stipend of $16,342 and expenses, averaging about $6,950 a trustee annually.

Stephanie Higginson, trustee and board vice-chairwoman, recommended consultation with results to be presented at the business committee meeting in September.

“I think it’s worth having a consultation,” Higginson said at the meeting. “It doesn’t have to be in-depth. I think we can reach out to our partner groups and I think we can reach out to our First Nations partners and our community groups easily, to hear how people are feeling about this. It’s not guaranteeing anything, it’s just hearing what people think and be ready, if we need, to submit something for October.”

Similar to trustee reduction, going to a ward system would require the board to give reasoning for the change, identify problems and how the changes would address those. Consultation would be needed and the ministry would need to be notified with the request.

A report on potential changes to trustee financial compensation policy was also received. If approved, it would see trustee remuneration reviewed every September, with similar-sized districts used as a comparison.

A student trustee, if approved, would not hold voting power, but would provide input to the board.

The recommendations will be forwarded to Wednesday’s (May 24) regular meeting for approval.