The Vernon School District is holding a byelection for a school trustee May 29, 2021. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)

LETTER: Vote for a new SD22 trustee

Morning Star reader says educate yourself and cast your ballot May 29

We have a real opportunity to improve our schools’ governance in Vernon. Even though it’s due to tragic circumstances, there is now an empty seat on the SD22 school board.

We need citizens of Vernon to come and vote, have your say on shaping our communities school system on Saturday, May 29.

Currently, the SD22 board of trustees is filled with caring people with a good group of diverse backgrounds – a retired teacher and bus driver that know how to improve the systems from the inside, a counsellor that is a good leader and cares greatly for the community’s well being, an insurance agent skilled in policy and environmentally concerned, a daycare owner and a rural town councillor.

Thank you for all your hard work and effort that you put into our school system, it is appreciated.

However, none of the current trustees has been trained and skilled in finance, and only one has a child in SD22.

From the BCSTA website, ‘School trustees listen to their communities, guide the work of their school district and set plans, policies and the annual budget.’

The gap we need to fill is with someone that has financial and business acumen with children enrolled in SD22 schools.

Someone that can hold the administration accountable and deliver more detail on the budget.

The new trustee should have financial experience so they can ask the right questions on the operations. They need to look at things financially from a different angle to improve the operational financials to the benefit of the school system. Also, transparency is sorely lacking in the current school board.

Board meetings need to be transparent, with recorded meetings that are made available to the general public, and detailed, accurate minutes that are more readily available. The way the board trustees vote on motions needs to be recorded in the minutes (this was changed in the bylaws to not be recorded by the previous trustees). Parents’ concerns need to be treated with respect, heard and acted on. Relationships with key stakeholders need to be improved – parents, DPAC, OKIB, Teachers Association, CUPE etc.

Why is the school district charging up to $310 per student for bussing, in a discriminatory two-tiered system, when each year there has been a surplus, this year being $2 million?

The district PAC ran a task force, and put forward a fair and equitable solution, with support from parents across the schools, proposing a max of $250 per family with two or more children catching the school bus. This was ignored.

They could have run with this for the first year to see the actual results of the ridership and fee changes.

People of Vernon please read up on the candidates and vote on May 29, to increase the financial breadth of our school board, to provide the best possible education we can give our children and community.

Karen Smith

Vernon Morning Star

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