Divisions within board surface as trustees resign

North Okanagan-Shuswap School District moves towards by-elections

  • Apr. 12, 2016 8:00 p.m.

TRACY HUGHES

Black Press

Two North Okanagan-Shuswap School District trustees have resigned, citing dysfunction among the board.

Barry Chafe, who represents Sicamous-Malakwa, and Jenn Wilchuk, from Carlin-Sorrento, both tendered notices of resignation to the board in advance of Tuesday’s regular meeting.

In his letter, Chafe, who is also chairperson of the budget advisory committee, said he was making the choice following consultation with his doctor.

“Over the past number of years, it has become evident that my vision and view for the direction of the board has not been consistent with a majority of my fellow trustees. This has caused me great distress and stress, and over time this has had a negative effect on my personal health,” he wrote.

“Unfortunately, I do not foresee any changes that will reduce this stress.”

Wilchuk’s letter goes further, stating that the process of effective governance within our board of education has collapsed, she is not optimistic for its restoration.

“In light of recent events,” she writes, “I can no longer in good conscience, maintain my seat on this board. I feel that I have unintentionally let students teachers an support staff across the district down and there is no longer any ‘trust’ in trustee.”

Both Chafe and Wilchuk were advocates of the school district taking a “programs over buildings” approach to the upcoming budget reductions, in light of this being the defining message from the public to trustees at a series of open houses conducted in January.

Other trustees disagreed, with the majority of them voting to delay the consultation process on closing Silver Creek and Armstrong Elementary for another year.

Community consultation on the creation of a single K-12 school in Sicamous is proceeding, with a public meeting set for April 20.

The school district has also been the subject of a recent budget controversy when it was revealed that $10.5 million over the past five years had been transferred from operational budgets that fund student services into a capital fund. The district used this capital money, in part, to pay for the $9 million District Education Support Centre and a $1 million operational works building in the Salmon Arm Industrial Park.

The board will introduce a motion at Tuesday’s meeting to election officers for a by-election to be held in 2016. A proposed election date has not been set.

Wilchuk and Chafe state they will remain as trustees until this fall or until an election can be held.