Number of trustees could be chopped

Budget cuts could ultimately have two trustees packing their bags

Budget cuts could ultimately have two trustees packing their bags.

The North Okanagan-Shuswap School District board voted Tuesday to review the number of trustees, with the possibility of decreasing from nine to seven.

“We’ve talked about it many times in the past,” said Michel Saab, Salmon Arm trustee.  “Lets commit to the process and then figure out how.”

Public input will be part of the process.

“We will listen to the communities,” said Kelly Rowe, Armstrong trustee.

However, Rowe admits to having some reservations about reducing elected officials.

“It’s a large time commitment on one person,” she said. “If Armstrong-Spallumcheen was trimmed to one trustee from two, it will be an enormous undertaking.”

By cutting two trustees the district would save about $25,000 a year

“The cost between one and two trustees is like tossing a deck chair off of the Titanic. It’s minor in the entire budget.”

The motion Tuesday was opposed by Larissa Lutjen, North Shuswap trustee.

“My trustee position is an obvious one to cut because there are so few students in the North Shuswap, maybe 140 total, but geographically it covers a huge area and I believe our school is farthest from the centre of any of the schools in the district,” she said.

“Losing a trustee position is similar to losing a school. Once it is gone it won’t come back so it would be a loss to our community. Asking seven people to do what we are currently doing with nine people without a pay raise is not fair. My vote was somewhat of a protest on the short warning of the discussion and somewhat of a show of community loyalty but it doesn’t forecast how I will vote at the end of the process.”

In 2014, the board presented two options for reducing trustees.

One was to combine the Enderby and Sicamous regions (one less trustee), as well as the Carlin/Sorrento area with the North Shuswap (one less trustee). Armstrong/Spallumcheen would have been be combined with Falkland/Deep Creek/Ranchero (one less trustee) and Salmon Arm would have got three trustees instead of two.

he second option was to combine Carlin/Sorrento with North Shuswap (one less trustee) and remove one trustee from the Armstrong/Spallumcheen area (which now has two).

At that time, trustees voted not to take action.

Chris Coers, Enderby trustee, isn’t sure if options should be presented this time.

 

“Perhaps we need to make the process a little more open-ended question,” she said. “We currently have nine trustees we need to get to seven. What do people think this might look like?”