B.C. school trustees worry, wonder about their futureNovember 12, 2013
Ever since the Liberals were elected in 2001, there have been rumours that they intend to replace locally elected boards of education with regional boards, similar to those found in the B.C. health sector.
Nothing of the sort has happened, of course, but many trustees remain anxious about the future – and a recent speech by the president of their provincial association suggests they have ample reason to worry.
Addressing a B.C. School Trustees’ Association meeting in late October, Teresa Rezansoff said she fully expects that the government’s search for cost savings through a core review of services will include an examination of education governance.
“We cannot and will not be complacent about the core review,” she said in her speech, a copy of which was released Thursday as part of the Provincial Council synopsis. “It is our opportunity to build a strong case for the importance of locally elected boards of education and to dispel the myths of easy economic gains that amalgamation or regionalization might bring.
“We cannot afford to let these discussions happen without our full and strong input.”
The past few months have been anything but normal, she continued. There is a new education minister (Peter Fassbender), a new deputy minister (Rob Wood) and a new approach to bargaining, with the firing of the board of directors of the B.C. Public School Employers’ Association (BCPSEA) at the end of July.
“It has been a hectic and stressful few months for all of us.”
Then she added: “It seems that every year we say that these are critical times for education, but that seems like such an understatement now. In reviewing the history of our association and speaking with several past presidents, it is clear that we are on the precipice of unprecedented change for BCSTA and boards of education.”
While saying she doesn’t know what’s ahead, Rezansoff urged trustees to be “fully engaged” as events unfold.
“One of the greatest strengths of BCSTA, one that has maintained us for 108 years, is our ability to embrace our differences while we work together for our common goals. I have asked a lot from you and you have delivered. I will be asking more. Today is an important benchmark in moving forward. Tomorrow we will get up and turn our heads to the work ahead.”
Another recent change for the Education Ministry is the departure of Claire Avison, an assistant deputy minister. Now with the Advanced Education Ministry, Avison had been responsible for education governance and legislation, teacher regulation, international education, independent schools and labour relations. She was a member of the BCPSEA board before it was disbanded.
Teacher bargaining is set to resume Nov. 13.