Re: “No answer yet on Q&A quandary at Greater Victoria school board,” Dec. 8.
Following the release of the Greater Victoria board of education review of public engagement practices in selected school districts, I invited the chairpersons of all 60 school districts to complete a survey concerning similar information.
The responses demonstrate that boards are far more engaging than had been initially reported, numerous districts exceeding Greater Victoria’s efforts at stakeholder and public engagement. Continued adherence to the status quo, particularly when it falls so far short of comparable bodies, should be an embarrassment for all concerned. That the neighbouring board in Saanich scored 100 per cent for every measure of public engagement examined only emphasizes the inadequacy.
The board chairwoman’s assertion that public engagement is satisfied through committee meetings ignores the fact that in past years, such key items as the annual budget (this year in excess of $194 million) and class-size reports were presented at board meetings alone, neatly avoiding any opportunity for public comment or inquiry. Indeed, the current process for meeting agendas ensures that the deadline for public presentations passes before the public even knows what topics are to be discussed at the next meeting.
It bears noting that the trustees who have been opposing public question-and-answer periods at board meetings are the same individuals who fought the recording of their votes until media scrutiny shone a spotlight on their conduct. Were it not for the persistence of four junior trustees, this issue, like that of voting records, would never have been raised in the first place.
Candidate for the GVSD board in the 2011 election
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