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EDITORIAL: New board chair

Rocky View Schools' Board of Trustees has a new chair.
Editorial Stock Photo

Our newsroom sensed some competitive spirit during the most recent Rocky View Schools (RVS) Board of Trustees meeting.

On Sept. 22, during the public school board's organizational meeting, trustees conducted their annual secret-ballot election among themselves to determine who would serve as the RVS board's next chair.

As per the vote, Cochrane's area trustee Fiona Gilbert was replaced in the position by north Rocky View County-area trustee Norma Lang, who served last year as the board's vice-chair. Lang remarked during the meeting she feels ready to fill Gilbert's shoes. 

We found the comments respective trustees made during the meeting quite intriguing. It seemed Lang and Gilbert had fundamental differences as to who should get to serve in the role of board chair. 

For those who don't know what a board chair does, their role is to direct the proceedings of each board meeting under Robert's Rules of Order and act as the trustees' spokesperson to the media or other stakeholders. They tend to liaise more often and more personally with the superintendent and division staff, and are often privy to information before other trustees are. It's not dissimilar from a mayor's role on a Town or City council. 

Lang seemed more or less of the opinion that trustees should serve as chair for a year or two at most, allowing more members the opportunity to take on the role at some point during their four-year term. 

Gilbert, who served as board chair the last three years, differed from Lang. She said it's not about "sharing" the role between trustees or taking turns, but rather having the most qualified person available to perform the chair's responsibilities. 

It's an interesting two-sided debate, and we feel both Lang and Gilbert's opinions have merit. On one hand, bringing in a new chair every year results in a fresh perspective, and prevents any kind of "power" from going to a trustee's head.

On the other hand, having continuity can be a good thing, and a chair would likely improve in their role each year they serve.

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