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Student may be invited to join Greater Victoria school board

The Greater Victoria school district is to explore the possibility of giving students a non-voting position on its board. Trustees have asked administrators to investigate the idea and determine whether students want a greater say in board decisions.

The Greater Victoria school district is to explore the possibility of giving students a non-voting position on its board.

Trustees have asked administrators to investigate the idea and determine whether students want a greater say in board decisions.

“We are interested in having the student voice at the table if that’s what the students want,” board chairwoman Peg Orcherton said Tuesday. “We just have to see how best to do that and whether the students are actually going to be able to fulfil that.”

A high school student recently began sitting on the Vancouver school board as part of a one-year pilot project. The student, who is elected from the Vancouver District Student Council, cannot vote or introduce motions, but can take part in debates and provide the student perspective.

The Edmonton school board decided recently to test the idea during 2014-15. Ontario school boards have had student trustees for years.

Greater Victoria trustee Diane McNally had wanted the district to follow Vancouver’s lead and establish a non-voting student trustee position on the board and its standing committees. Her motion had called for student trustees to receive an honorarium or a credit for a one-year term running from September to June.

“I knew going in that it was a tremendous amount to deal with in one motion, but I wanted to get it right out there,” she said.

“Hopefully, [an administrator] will report back to the board in January with at least some preliminary information and maybe more firm information about how to proceed.”

Orcherton noted that the board already allows parent and union representatives at the board table, so there is concern about elevating a student above those positions by giving them the trustee title and an honorarium.

One of the other concerns is that there is no district student council in Greater Victoria from which to elect a student trustee, Orcherton said.

lkines@timescolonist.com