The Kootenay Lake School District unanimously voted to rejoin the British Columbia School Trustees Association (BCSTA) at the Tuesday night meeting, just over half a year after they decided not to renew their membership as a form of protest.
“I believe the district made its statement when it removed itself—we felt the BCSTA needed to be more inclusive and we wanted to have a stronger voice being presented to the ministry,” said school board chair Lenora Trenaman.
She said those concerns have now been addressed. Previously, representatives from the BCSTA traveled to the West Kootenay to personally meet with them.
Trustees Rebecca Huscroft and Dawn Lang were absent from the meeting, but the seven present all voted in favour.
The motion was introduced by Sharon Nazaroff. She shared her recent experiences at the BCSTA AGM, where she was convinced the body was moving in a positive direction.
Before the vote, former trustee Penny Tees spoke passionately in favour of returning to the BCSTA as well.
Trenaman noted that SD68’s Stephanie Higginson, a new member to the BCSTA board, was elected at the AGM, and there are other new members. That gives her hope. She believes the shake-up will result in better communication and a better relationship.
BCSTA president Teresa Rezansoff told the Star she’s thrilled SD8 has returned to them.
“A big part of this was being willing to listen and hear what was being said. We understand that in any group dynamic you’re going to have varying opinions. What gives strength to an organzination is the diversities of thought.”
She made a point of emphasizing that the BCSTA sides neither with the government or the opposition, but is an advocacy organization. SD8 had originally expressed concern the BCSTA had abandoned their advocacy role, but she said that’s not the case.
“A lot of the unhappiness coming from the boards is not necessarily with the BCSTA, but is more a feeling of being upset in general with the things coming from the government.”
She said the government’s failure to consult properly with school boards about the introduction of Bill 11 was particularly contentious.
As part of the reunion, SD8 will be required to pay their 2014/15 fees. There had previously been some question of whether or not that would be the case.
“When we submitted our letter of resignation, it arrived at the BCSTA after a deadline we weren’t aware of, which means that in order to move back to the BCSTA we have to pay our membership fees.”
Trenaman said the reunion is good news.
“We believe there’s strength in numbers, and we believe it’s important the provincial body have a unified membership. We need to be able to have a voice at the provincial level, because it impacts our classrooms and our students.”