Translucency? Transparency?

Letter to the Editor:

I was pleased to read your article about our School Board becoming “a tad more transparent” (September 18, 2014).  According to Successful Governance, a resource for B.C. school trustees which acknowledges Board Chair Alan Chell for his assistance with the editorial committee, boards should be “actively engaging parents and the public in board processes and decisions.” School District 19 Policy 2.3 Public Participation states:  “The Board will use a variety of methods to encourage public participation.”  However, since I started regularly attending board meetings in January, I have been the sole “member of the public” in attendance.  This past March, I had concerns regarding data from a local student survey so I referred to Policy 2.15:  “Citizens wishing to address the Board may be placed on the agenda by notifying the Secretary-Treasurer in writing at least one week prior to the meeting or by resolution of the Board.” Despite following these procedures, my item was not included in the agenda for the March 12th meeting nor was I given any reason for being excluded.  Subsequently, a letter to the Board was written so my concerns could be included under the correspondence portion of the upcoming meeting.  The Superintendent addressed some of the concerns in my letter then the Board passed a motion to revisit their policy with regard to recommendations from the Safe Schools Task Force (March 14, 2014, Minutes).  As you observed, this occurred without any acknowledgement of my presence.

The Board should rightfully give members of the public opportunities to assist with our “trustees’ key work:  improving student achievement through community engagement” (Successful Governance).  Having questions and comments from the public at the end of each meeting should allow for more transparency in the future instead of the translucence of the past.

June Sedola Wiley
Revelstoke, BC