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School trustee pushing to cut out free lunches
Bumping back school board committee meetings from midday would help attract better people to office and save thousands of dollars a year in meal costs, according to the trustee pushing for the change.
“I just think we’re in an election year and you want to encourage good people to run, and when I talk to people the first question is: what’s the commitment?” Trustee Tracy St. Claire of the Okanagan Skaha School District said in an interview.
“And if I say two or three lunchtime meetings a month, they’re like, ‘I can’t do that because of work schedules.’ So you’re disenfranchising people with regular jobs.”
St. Claire, a project manager at Shared Care, tabled a notice of motion at this week’s board meeting to have the scheduling concerns added to the agenda for discussion at the next board meeting in February.
Standing committees allow trustees more time to explore issues and make recommendations to the board at large.
Two committees are scheduled to meet once a month around the noon hour and two more meet more infrequently at midday. A fifth committee began meeting at 3:30 p.m. this school year as a result of St. Claire’s earlier request to do so.
“I honestly haven’t heard a lot of reasons not to do it, other than preference. And we are a board, and if the majority like it how it is, then it stays that way,” she said.
St. Claire would prefer all committee meetings be scheduled consecutively at 3:30 p.m. on Mondays two weeks prior to board meetings, which she said would also eliminate the need to provide lunch for staff and trustees at the midday gatherings.
Secretary-treasurer Bonnie Roller Routley said the district budgets $2,500 annually to cater committee meetings.
Committee meeting schedules were changed to the current format to suit the board of the day, said superintendent Wendy Hyer.
“I know that the (current schedule) worked well for the previous board because several (members) worked and they could attend meetings at noon, but not during their work day,” she said via email.
Hyer also noted that having meetings in the late afternoon could be problematic for district staff who need to be available to get together with other administrators and teachers who are busy during school day.