Sooke District School Board chair Bob Phillips has resigned after 18 months in the position.
Before his tenure as chair, Phillips, 70, served as vice-chair for several years and as a trustee for 15 years. Prior to his resignation, he was nearly halfway through his second one-year term as chair, but will now continue as a trustee instead.
“It’s a good time for our board to take a look at some other options for the person as the board chair,” he said, adding his resignation is timely to allow the board to follow through with succession planning.
Phillips pointed out the main reason for leaving is not in any way controversial, but due to personal and family matters, which will otherwise impact the amount of time required from his role as chair.
“The board chair position has time requirements to it and people expect faster responses,” he said, hoping this will nudge the board to bring younger blood into the mix. “I really think we need to take a look at some younger options on the board. How do we see that younger people are part and parcel of the significant delivery of services, be it public or private.”
The Sooke school district is certainly caught in a volatile phase. With 500 teachers and around 10,500 students, it is also one of the fastest-growing school districts in the province, creating space and accommodation challenges for new students.
Phillips isn’t the only one leaving, either. Sooke school district superintendent Jim Cambridge told the board last week he plans to retire once his five-year contract expires next fall, though Cambridge said it’s not yet official.
For the time being however, Cambridge said he’s happy to work with any of the existing seven board trustees, some of whom have previously filled the chair position.
“Bob’s been an amazing board chair, he’s been great to work with, he’s very experienced and great trustee. I’m happy to work with whoever the board decides to be the chair going into the future,” he said.
As far as carrying to torch forward, Phillips said that while the chair has an important role, the corporate board makes decisions in unison by all seven members.
“It’s the group that makes the decisions.”
Though Phillips’ motives for stepping down were not controversial, his initial tenure as chair started off shaky, after previous board chair Wendy Hobbs abruptly backed out of re-election due to not having the full support of the board.
A new board chair will be elected at this coming June 27 board meeting.