Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools will fill a vacant seat at the board table in the new year.
At Nanaimo-Ladysmith school district’s board meeting Wednesday, Oct. 27, trustees unanimously approved a motion which sets the wheels in motion for a byelection to replace former trustee Lisa Marie Barron, elected as Nanaimo-Ladysmith MP in September’s federal election.
As the school district encompasses a number of municipalities – City of Nanaimo, District of Lantzville, Regional District of Nanaimo and Town of Ladysmith – SD68 will have sole responsibility to run the election.
At Wednesday’s meeting, Mark Walsh, school district secretary-treasurer, said the district is planning to hold the byelection on Jan. 15 and preparations have begun with interviews already having been conducted for people to assist with logistics.
“Are we going to lease electronic devices? Are we going to do it by paper, etc.? … The board has the ability to seek a bylaw to limit the amount of advanced voting opportunities. Right now it’s two,” Walsh said. “Again, in this environment and given the expense, we’re not quite sure that that’s something we should be doing and then [Education Minister Jennifer Whiteside] can actually allow us to do either none or one as required.”
Walsh said a majority of voting will take place at secondary schools. The district plans to open the nomination period the first week of December.
The byelection is mandated by the B.C. School Act as Barron resigned prior to January of a municipal election year.
The district opted not to contact the B.C. Ministry of Education to request an exemption from holding a byelection.
“I know that we entertained the possibility of seeking an exemption,” trustee Stephanie Higginson said at the meeting. “I think we understood that that was literally impossible and may have just ended up being for optics … I look forward to welcoming a new member to the board and look forward to the election.”
Asked about the byelection, Barron told the News Bulletin it is important that people who are invested in students and the future of the school district become school trustees.
“It can be a challenging role, but as long as your heart is in the right place and you’re there for the right reasons, it can also be a very rewarding position to be in, to advocate for students and families, and to be able to steer the school district in the direction to help provide enriched and equitable educational opportunities for students,” she said.
A staff report from earlier in October estimated the cost of the byelection at $100,000.
The district is also expected to hold information sessions for prospective candidates, although dates have not been scheduled yet.