Armstrong Elementary School had been targeted for closure by the former North Okanagan-Shuswap school board.

Armstrong Elementary School had been targeted for closure by the former North Okanagan-Shuswap school board.

Representation questioned after North Okanagan-Shuswap trustees fired

One individual will now make up the board that covers Armstrong, Spallumcheen, Enderby and Falkland

Questions over community representation are surfacing after school trustees were sacked.

On Wednesday, Education Minister Mike Bernier fired the entire North Okanagan-Shuswap School District board, replacing it with a single individual, Mike McKay, for at least a year.

This means there won’t be any direct representation from Armstrong, Spallumcheen, Enderby, rural Enderby, Falkland and communities throughout the Shuswap.

“I hope there will be an opportunity for them (McKay) to meet with the community and have all concerns addressed,” said Shirley Fowler, an Armstrong councillor.

The previous board had been considering closing Armstrong and Silver Creek elementary schools. Now that the trustees aren’t there, Spallumcheen Mayor Janice Brown wonders what will happen to these schools.

“I hope the new person will be able to get processes in place,” she said.

“It’s our communities impacted.”

The former board was fired after special adviser Liz Watson looked into the district’s activities. Among them was shifting $10 million from the operating fund to pay for a $9 million board office, while programs were being cut.

“I was sort of expecting this when you’re not minding the money,” said Herman Halvorson, rural Enderby director.

“You have a responsibility to your taxpayers.”

Greg McCune, Enderby mayor, doesn’t believe Bernier had a choice but to replace the trustees with McKay, a former Surrey superintendent.

“The trust had been diminished. If you are going to build trust, you have to start from square one,” he said.

“None of the trustees intentionally did anything wrong, but you operate as a board.”

McKay could remain in place beyond a one-year contract, with Watson recommending the special trustee stay until 2018 civic elections.