Mixed feelings about byelection call for November of 2013

Ryan Bruce -
Ryan Bruce
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Members of the fired Cowichan School District 79 board of trustees on both sides of the balanced budget scenario aren't exactly on board with Minister of Education Don McRae's decision to hold a "mid-term election'' in November of 2013.

Former board chairwoman Eden Haythornthwaite, who favored submitting the illegal deficit budget that got her board fired, was pushing for an immediate byelection.

"It's a compromise, but it's a disappointing one,'' she said. "It doesn't fulfill our soon-as-possible wishes.

"Quite frankly, everyone who wants to run is raring to go. The timing is disappointing. In many ways, it suppresses the situation a bit.''

The election in 2013 means trustees will be elected for one year and then the process will be repeated all over again the following year at the normally-scheduled voting time.

Essentially, it's only six months for any decision-making, Haythornthwaite said, by the time you factor in when the inaugural meeting is held and the school year ending in June.

"It's a considerable barrier, I think, to the public interest,'' she said. "I think we should have done it right and done it as soon as possible.''

Haythornthwaite wouldn't commit herself to running next year just yet.

"I can't say,'' she said.

Ryan Bruce, who was among the minority of trustees favouring a balanced budget, didn't exactly welcome the 2013 election with open arms, either.

"I've got some mixed feelings,'' he said. "I'm a little concerned we're going to end up in the same situation.''

Bruce pitched an idea of reducing the number of trustees from nine to five as a cost-saving measure. The large Surrey school district operates with seven and Bruce didn't like the fact only 10 people ran for nine Cowichan trustee positions in the last election.

"I think the district could be managed with five and it would help save some money that we could put back in the classroom,'' he said.

"The cost of the byelection is another concern,'' Bruce added (see related story).

He's also not sure yet about running again.

"I'm definitely thinking about it,'' said Bruce. "I haven't decided about it either way.

"I have been involved. I was just getting to understand what the role was and 'boom,' we were gone.''

Bruce would like to see more parents with kids in school and other newcomers step up to run for positions.

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