Former Penticton principal tapped to lead school board

Bruce Johnson picked as new chairman to replace Ginny Manning

Bruce Johnson

A former Penticton school principal has been tapped to lead the board of the Okanagan Skaha School District.

Bruce Johnson was elected to the position Monday by fellow school trustees in an annual vote.

He replaces Ginny Manning, who opted out of the job.

The new chairman said he’ll rely on his experience as a school administrator to help guide his decision-making and cope with challenges facing the education system.

“Being a school principal for two decades, you certainly learn to roll with the good times and the bad times,” said Johnson, who worked for 34 years in the district before retiring in 2006 from Princess Margaret Secondary School.

Johnson was first elected as a school trustee in 2011 and served last year as the board’s vice-chair.

He sees the new job as “sort of a natural progression,” now that he’s been able to learn “about the role of a trustee and kind of get the pulse of the district.”

On his to-do list is exploring scheduling changes for the board’s committee meetings, which typically take place during noon hours and are thought to be difficult for trustees with day jobs to attend, plus fostering closer ties with the local MLA and continuing to improve transparency of the board’s work.

Johnson was nominated by Tracy St. Claire and defeated Linda Van Alphen in the secret vote of the seven-person school board.

Manning, who’s been a trustee since 2002, said the time is right for new leadership.

“I had been in that position for four years and I just felt it was time for somebody else to have that opportunity,” she said.

“It’s a difficult job, but it’s a rewarding job.”

Manning said she hasn’t decided yet if she’ll stand for re-election when voters go to the polls next year. Okanagan Skaha Teachers’ Union president Leslea Woodward is pleased to see Johnson, who was a teacher prior to shifting into administration, take the helm.

“He was well respected among the teachers,” Woodward said.

The union leader also praised Johnson’s predecessor.

“Some (chairpersons) are more outspoken, but she did her homework,” Woodward said of Manning.

“She was very quiet but took her direction from her other board members.”

The board chairperson earns $13,290 a year, the vice-chair makes $12,220, while regular trustees are paid $10,620.

 

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