Trustees make it difficult to change school board size

Changing the number of school trustees who hold office in Nanaimo will be more difficult following approval of a new bylaw.

Changing the number of school trustees who hold office in Nanaimo will be more difficult following approval of a new bylaw.

Trustees approved the Trustee Variation Bylaw at last week’s board meeting.

The new rules set out a more in-depth consultation process and require an individual proposing to change the number of trustees elected to Nanaimo school board to submit in writing a detailed rationale for the proposed change to the board.

Trustees must request the views – again in writing – of about a dozen local groups, including local municipalities and school district employee and parent groups, and hold at least one public meeting before deciding whether to ask the province to vary the trustee numbers.

Final approval by the Education Minister was already necessary.

Policy committee member Nelson Allen said in recent years, reducing the number of trustees has been suggested by various trustees around budget time as a way of saving money.

In 2008, trustee Ron Dale suggested reducing the number of trustees from nine to seven.

After a 22-day consultation period, the district received 32 responses, half opposing and half in agreement, and several people made presentations to the board.

Allen said the district sent out letters to various groups and community members without any type of context or rationale for the move.

He said this bylaw will ensure the community is adequately consulted before a decision is made.

“The public should have an opportunity to make specific representations over time rather than read in the newspaper that we’re going to reduce the number of trustees,” said Allen. “I believe in due process.”