The school board faced some strong emotion at last Tuesday's public meeting.

Kootenay Lake School Board powerless

As the 2011-12 school year winds down, earlier this week teachers and parents were getting wound up.

As the 2011-12 school year winds down, earlier this week teachers and parents were getting wound up.

Not since the controversy surrounding Grade 6 French Immersion classes has the Kootenay Lake School District boardroom seen a packed house. On Tuesday night, it was once again standing room only.

At issue was the board’s budget for the upcoming school year which will see several teachers lose their jobs and service levels drop throughout the region. During an emotionally charged two hours, teachers and parents let trustees know they are worried about what lies ahead for students.

Once the meeting broke, those who took the time to cram into the Johnstone Road board office were left feeling empty. School board chair Mel Joy offered little hope.

“When the majority of trustees vote for a decision, it’s made,” she said. “This is the hardest budget I’ve ever been a part of. There isn’t a decision we make at this table that doesn’t affect somebody in the district, but we still have to make those hard choices.”

But there are other choices.

Currently the Cowichan Valley School Board is risking the wrath of the provincial government. The law requires that school boards pass balanced budgets. In a 5-4 vote a few weeks ago, the Vancouver Island trustees passed a $3.7 million deficit budget to avoid cutting services.

Education minister George Abbott has told the trustees they will be fired by June 30. Bolstered by raucous supporters and BCTF president Susan Lambert, the board is refusing to back down. They are willing to be fired.

We’re not saying this is the course of action our local school board should take, but too often trustees throw up their hands and say “we’ve done our best and our hands are tied.” Ultimately elected trustees have very little control when it comes to the bottom line. Unlike city council, they have no power to raise taxes to sustain or improve services. They are handed their envelope of cash from Victoria and told to deal with it.

It begs the question: Is an elected body that is left powerless when it comes to budget decisions really an effective form of governance?

 

Just Posted

Kootenay fires grow — more evaucation alerts

Syringa fire prompts evacuation alerts plus HWY 3 closure and U.S. fire crosses into B.C.

Evacuation alert for Syringa and Deer Park

The Syrigna Creek Fire grew Saturday resulting in evacuation alerts.

‘Beauty amongst such tragedy:’ B.C. photographer captures nature’s trifecta

David Luggi’s photo from a beach in Fraser Lake shows Shovel Lake wildfire, Big Dipper and an aurora

Smoke scraps MS Bike Challenge

The annual fundraising event cancelled its cycling Saturday because of poor air quality

Nelson’s mural festival: scenes from opening night

Crowds wandered the streets and alleys finding delightful surprises in unlikely places

‘We will not forget:’ Thousands attend funeral fallen Fredericton officers

Hundreds of officials marched in the parade, which included massed band, several police motorcycles

Lions give up late TD in 24-23 loss to Argos

B.C. falls to 3-5, fumbling away last-minute chance in Toronto

Eagle tree cut down legally a 1st for B.C. city

Planned eagle preserve ‘a first for City of Surrey’

Smoky skies like a disappearing act for sights, monuments around B.C.

Haze expected to last the next several days, Environment Canada said

Canadians react to death of former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan at age 80

Nobel Peace Prize-winning former UN leader died early Saturday following a short illness

44 drownings so far this year in B.C.

Lifesaving Society urging caution to prevent deaths while on lakes, oceans and in pools

Some of B.C.’s air quality levels worse than Jodhpur, India

Okanagan, northern B.C. seeing some of the worst air quality globally

VIDEO: Ground crews keep a close eye on largest B.C. wildfire

Originally estimated to be 79,192 hectares, officials said more accurate mapping shows smaller size

Most Read