Central Okanagan Public Schools administration building in Kelowna. Photo Credit: Barry Gerding/Black Press

School board rejects adding trustees

Support lacking to expand West Kelowna/Kelowna representation

The Central Okanagan Board of Education rejected separate proposals Wednesday to expand the direct representation of West Kelowna and Kelowna on the board.

Trustees Rolli Cacchioni and Chris Gorman were the lone supporters of both resolutions, which Cacchioni had initially brought up at the last school board meeting in response to a letter from West Kelowna council requesting all of the Westside be merged into one zone and West Kelowna be given a second trustee at large.

Julia Fraser, the current lone West Kelowna trustee, spoke against the idea of including Peachland, Westbank First Nation and rural electoral area within the West Kelowna zone, saying Kelowna already holds a majority vote on the school board and the existing electoral system provides better accountability of the trustees to those who elect them.

Fraser says Peachland, West Kelowna and Lake Country residents know who their trustee representatives are.

“I think if you asked people in Kelowna who their representatives are on the school board they would have a hard time answering. Perhaps what Kelowna needs is some sort of ward system so there is more accountability,” Fraser said.

“Otherwise, this would be I fear the start of a slippery slope that would put Lake Country’s elected trustee representative at risk and moving ultimately to an at-large system where Kelowna’s population determines who sits on the board.”

Related: Do we need more trustees on school board?

Board chair Moyra Baxter said she doesn’t feel there is a need to re-invent the wheel, saying this issue came to a resolution after considerable debate seven years ago.

Back then, a proposal to add two West Kelowna trustees was rejected by the minister of education, followed by a consultant’s review which led to recommendations for the current board alignment adopted in 2011.

Baxter said Kelowna has a majority vote on the board with four locally elected trustees, saying she has no problem with that.

“If they vote in a block they can get whatever they want but I would hope all trustees make decisions that are in the best interests of all students in the school district and not just those from their particular communities,” Baxter said.

“It’s not about where you come from, it’s what is best for our students. I think if you eventually go to a seven at large elected system, which I think is behind all this, accountability goes down the drain.”

Cacchioni said his argument was not seeking proportional but fair representation on the school board given Kelowna’s population.

He also acknowledged Baxter’s comment that all trustees do what is in the best interests of all students regardless of what area you might represent.

“As for the cost, I think you can reduce travel allowance or reduce the honorariums that trustees receive to have nine trustees on the board without adding any additional cost,” he added. “Again, my point was just about fair representation.”

David Grabavac, a Lake Country resident, wrote a 6-page response opposing changes to the current trustee electoral format.

He said electing trustees from zones increases accountability to their constituents, allows for better personal direct communication between trustee and local voters, presents a more sensitive viewpoint to issues facing a particular community or zone, has the potential to increase participation interest in school district activities and ultimately more public inclusion in the education decision-making process.

“Trustees, like all politicians, are accountable to the people who vote them into office,” Grabavac said in his letter.

“There is nothing wrong with this—it is simply politics. Having seven trustees elected at large could lead to decisions being made which only benefit Kelowna and do not benefit Lake Country, West Kelowna or Peachland. That would be wrong.”

To report a typo, email: edit@kelownacapnews.com.


@KelownaCapNews
newstips@kelownacapnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

United Way Southern Interior and local partners announce Sustainable Recovery Grant Recipients

The 2020 recipients will receive one-time grant funding for customized coaching and support

Family key to 60 years of marriage for Vernon couple

Syd and Emily Smith were married July 16, 1960, at the young ages of 18 and 19

AlleyCATS Okanagan: Pet of the week

Add a little Spritz and Cider to your summer

Lake Country beachgoers reminded to maintain distance amid COVID-19

Signage, park rangers, park patrol students in place to monitor busy beaches in Central Okanagan

Okanagan farm turns fruit into drink production

When residents support Farming Karma, they support local orchardists

COVID-19 gives B.C. First Nation rare chance to examine tourism’s impact on grizzly bears

With 40 infrared cameras deployed in Kitasoo-Xai’Xais territory, research will help develop tourism plan with least impact on bears

NDP wants Lower Mainland MLA removed from BC Liberal caucus for alleged homophobia

BC Liberal leader, some MLAs apologize for Christian magazine ads but Laurie Throness doubles down

B.C. health officials pleased with likely extension of Canada-U.S. border closure

Health Minister Adrian Dix says the situation is ‘very serious in the United States’

Shuswap residents see aircraft dropping fire retardant in direction of Falkland

BC Wildfire Service says no fire, crews in two air tankers and a bird dog were just practising

Expansion project to nearly double the size of Okanagan school

“With 10 new classrooms on the way, students are one step closer to saying goodbye to portables”

Lifesaving Society urges caution after two drownings in Central Okanagan

The warning comes after a drowning incident on July 9

Children suffer swollen eyes, burns while playing at Lower Mainland spray park

Mission RCMP are investigating incident that injured several children

‘Resistance’ from Interior Health puts races in Penticton on hold

It’s unknown if races planned for this weekend at the Penticton Speedway will take place

Most Read