Trustee resignation leaves Chilliwack school board with six

Chilliwack school board seeks permission to avoid a byelection following Trustee Louise Piper's resignation

Chilliwack Board of Education has requested the Ministry of Education allow the district to operate with six trustees instead of seven for the remainder of the term.

After nine months of medical leave, former Board Chair Louise Piper issued her resignation with the board on Aug. 23.

Typically the school district would be required to hold a by-election as per section 36 of the school act. (Had Piper waited until 2014 to resign, a by-election would not be required as it would have fallen within an election year.) But because the current board is nearing the end of its term with the next election in November 2014, and because of the costs a by-election would incur, “we are currently in correspondence with Minister of Education Peter Fassbender requesting the extraordinary circumstances of our school district be considered,” said Board Chair Walt Krahn.

“The rationale behind that is we are very close to the end of this term … we also are so very, very aware of costs, we want to avoid the cost of conducting a by-election.”

Krahn would not go into specifics of how much a by-election would cost as it will be discussed at the public board meeting Tuesday evening.

The Chilliwack board has been operating unofficially with six trustees since last December when Piper first took medical leave. And while the workload has increased significantly, Krahn is confident district operations will not be impeded if the board is allowed to continue as is.

“The moment Trustee Piper indicated she was unable to serve on the board, we immediately re-juggled various responsibilities … we’ve all rolled up our sleeves and helped out,” said Krahn.

“In my view, we have been working well within the last nine months with only six trustees.”

The board chair also noted Piper’s resignation came as a surprise.

“We had always believed Trustee Piper would be rejoining us in August,” said Krahn. “We, as a board, are genuinely saddened that Trustee Piper has made the decision to resign from the board. We have sincerely appreciated her contribution and wish her a full and complete recovery.”

The board will be further discussing their options regarding a by-election at Tuesday’s school board meeting.

Related story: Walt Krahn takes over as interim chair of school board

Chilliwack Progress