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New faces coming to Board of Education

The winds of change likely won’t blow down Patricia Boulevard this October, but Ferry Avenue is another story.

With no burning issues smouldering away, eight of the nine current city councillors (including the mayor) indicating they are running again in the fall, and the ninth considering whether to seek another term, the next city council will likely look pretty much like this one (making the assumption, of course, that incumbents have an easier time at the polls).

In comparison to the city, however, the School District 57 Board of Education will look quite a bit different.

Firstly, vice-chair Trish Perrin announced earlier this year that she will not be seeking re-election, so that means at least one new face on the board.

Trustee Brenda Hooker, who moved to the Peace Country about a year after the 2014 election and has been tele-commuting, likely won’t seek re-election. However, there is nothing stopping her from running again. So, probably at least two new faces.

Trustee Sharel Warrington is completing her fourth term on the board but has yet to indicate whether she will seek a fifth term. Trustees Tony Cable, Bruce Wiebe, and Bob Harris have also yet to declare their intentions.

Board chair Tim Bennett has put his name forward to sit on the B.C. School Trustees’ Association board, so there is no doubt he is running again.

But then there is also the big change coming to the board. After years of lobbying by the communities involved, the province has agreed to institute a ward system for the district. That means voters in Mackenzie and the Robson Valley will each elect one person to the board while votes in the rest of the district, primarily Prince George, will elect five members.

Theoretically, with Perrin not running and Hooker likely not, those two seats could be taken up by the two new rural board members and the five remaining board members could be back (making the same assumption that incumbents are likely to be re-elected).

However, I suspect there will be more changes than just those two on the board. I would be surprised if Warrington runs again.

However, other than Bennett, they are all keeping their cards close to their vests.

In the meantime, the district is going to have to adapt to the new ward system as well. Boundaries haven’t yet been strictly determined. The Robson Valley is fairly easy … all they have to do is follow the regional district boundaries already determined. If they do that in Mackenzie, however, Bear Lake would be in the Mackenzie ward even though students from there are bused to Prince George.

Plus, there is the district will have to look at establishing a way to have trustees attend meetings remotely. Luckily, today’s technology makes that pretty simple and pretty cost effective.

One thing is certain, the board of education will look substantially different come November.

My only hope is that the residents of Mackenzie and the Robson Valley embrace their newfound electoral success and have meaningful elections.

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