School trustees focus on leading

NANAIMO: Changes to the way school trustees govern the district are spelled out in a new set of policies and procedures.

chool trustees govern the district are spelled out in a new set of policies and procedures available for public comment.

The board has been working with a consultant for months on moving from a management board structure to a strategic policy governance model.

Jamie Brennan, school board chairman, said the board will now focus on setting broad objectives and goals rather than day-to-day operations.

“For trustees, it clarifies our role as one of not playing with trains, but managing the railroad,” he said. “We’ve spent nearly a year meeting for the purpose of redefining our role. I think trustees are quite happy with how this has developed.”

Previously, the board was getting involved in numerous management activities such as hiring vice-principals, principals, assistant superintendents and other managers, said Brennan.

“We felt that that was kind of intrusive,” he said. “We’re letting our managers manage now. It will free trustees to take that broad look at how the district is doing. I think [managers will] feel freed up to do their jobs.”

The new policy requires the board to annually monitor the effectiveness of both itself and the superintendent in implementing the goals outlined in the strategic plan currently under development.

Brennan said the board will review the superintendent and obtain help from the B.C. School Trustees Association to self-monitor its own progress.

He said the catalyst for change was a review trustees commissioned of the effectiveness of the district’s governance structure.

The consultant’s report, made public in the fall of 2011, found that trustees and staff were spending too much time attending committee meetings, discussions were sometimes repeated at different meetings, some trustees were suspicious of other trustees’ motives and senior staff sometimes felt that their advice was not believed or valued.

After the report was released last year, trustees eliminated most of the district’s committees on a trial basis and created two standing committees that included all board members instead of a handful.

Brennan said the new policy formalizes this decision on an ongoing basis.

The public is invited to comment on the new governance policies and procedures, which can be found at


Comments on proposed policies must be sent to the Board’s Secretary, 395 Wakesiah Avenue, V9R 3K6 or by fax at 250-741-5309.

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