Trustees discuss increasing school board size
Rocky View Schools (RVS) board will not be increasing in size anytime soon.
Trustees discussed adding two additional board members, one for each of the communities of Airdrie and Chestermere, at length during RVS’ Feb. 7 meeting.
The topic was introduced by Trustee Sylvia Eggerer, who argued despite the estimated expense of about $100,000 per year, adding two trustees is necessary to ensure fair representation for Airdrie and Chestermere.
“We knew three years ago that we had a problem,” she said. “What we didn’t know is what our growth would be like, so we made a Band-Aid-type solution to try to even things out. (Now) the minority of the electors could outvote the majority of electors.”
Trustee Don Thomas was in favour of the additional representation, and spoke at length on the importance of representative democracy.
“The time is now to do something,” he said. “We are in a situation where the tail can wag the dog. I think it leaves us open to a lot of difficulties.”
According to a board report, the City of Airdrie has an estimated 22,642 students represented by two trustees. Chestermere’s trustee represents 14,847 students. The remaining five trustees have a total of about 32,000 students.
The majority of trustees were against adding two trustees including Trustee Norma Lang who said she has received feedback from a number of constituents suggesting they prefer smaller governments.
“It’s an assumption to assume that everyone living in this area is OK with increasing local school government,” she said. “A lot of people buy into minimizing government.”
Chestermere-area Trustee Bev LaPeare agreed.
“I don’t think we should be increasing local government,” she said. “We are in a tough time fiscally, that is part of the equation because it would cost more to have nine trustees sitting at the table.”
LaPeare added when she votes, it is with the whole division in mind, not only the students she represents.
“I don’t believe more government makes better government,” she said. “I believe we need to respect our electorate, (by) not making a decision and ramming it down their throats. For us to make this decision ourselves … is wrong.”
After the discussion, Eggerer’s motion was defeated 4-2, with Trustee Helen Clease being absent from the meeting.