What Policy Committee?

In my opinion: A single unelected person will transform policies

If you say the word policy to most people — and I was certainly one of them — you can cure insomnia in a flash, but as a school trustee, I learned very quickly policy creation, revision and improvement are the heartbeat of any elected body.

For those elected to care for our schools, policy rescues us from our prejudice, our self interest and our lesser inclinations. Policy is exciting. Over the years, Cowichan School District has nurtured a wide range of policies and bylaws which help us govern and provide our community with a profound sense that  we can all expect equal process.

Every child, parent, employee and community member stands in the shelter of these policies. Hand in hand with the School Act, civil and criminal legislation and collective agreements, the policies of an elected body — if followed — serve us equally.  In Cowichan, it has been the practice for trustees to develop and revise policy with our partners in the school system (our employees, our parents, our students and more recently aboriginal organizations) all under the wing of a Policy Committee which met monthly.

This collaboration has been valuable. It allows our policies to reflect the diversity of interests, experience and knowledge we are lucky enough to enjoy in our valley. Our trustees — I am one of them — are no longer at the table. We have been fired for simply attempting to appeal the allocation we received from our province as inadequate. Of course the Ministry of Education has put their own man in place to sign off on the decisions now made by senior staff. You would think they would satisfy themselves with having free reign without the inconvenient interference of community but evidently, that is not sufficient.

It is the intention of the current unelected people to gerrymander our policy book. In order to appear to be doing this appropriately, they are set on Oct. 3, to pass amendments to Policy 1500: Policy Development which will place the authority for changing all district policy strictly in the hands of the board.

In times past, if a revision was to be made or deemed necessary it would be referred to our Policy Committee. The Policy Committee would consider the changes and seek further comment from the community before making recommendations and sending them back to the trustees. Thus, by the time trustees saw the changes they could be assured the outcome had been the result of consultation.

The draft changes now being tendered by the senior staff include a provision which would allow modifications to be made to any policy without any public consultation (and it actually says this in so many words) as long as a two thirds majority of the board can be achieved to this end. These very changes had already been suggested by senior staff to previous boards who rejected them as undemocratic. Apparently, the efficiencies this course offered was not as enticing to those who were elected by the community as it now is to those who are not. We will now witness unilateral changes to our precious policies and practices.

A single unelected person who will have no trouble securing a two-thirds majority of himself will transform policies created and honed over many years. How can anyone truly believe the changes the current unelected managers seek will improve on the views of those who are most effected by the codes the district has operated under?

However, there is still an opportunity. We have been allowed to comment on this harsh path and if you think you cannot entrust unfettered changes to our school closure, property disposal, delegation and committee membership policies among many others, to people who will never face the citizens in an election, tell the Cowichan School District. And do it before Sept. 26. It may be your last chance for some time to come.

-Eden Haythornthwaite, Former chair of the Cowichan School Board

 

 

Just Posted

An example of the forest land in the Port Renfrew and Fairy Creek area of Vancouver Island is shown on May 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jen Osborne
Old-growth logging opponents launch hunger strike as arrests continue at Fairy Creek

Zain Haq says the hunger strikers will gather today at Burrard Street in downtown Vancouver

An example of the forest land in the Port Renfrew and Fairy Creek area of Vancouver Island is shown on May 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jen Osborne
Old-growth logging opponents launch hunger strike as arrests continue at Fairy Creek

Zain Haq says the hunger strikers will gather today at Burrard Street in downtown Vancouver

“About a year after it was last used for a bottle drive, Lake Cowichan’s derelict Scout and Guide Hall came down Monday, June 6. Girl Guides have since moved into different churches and halls around the area. Town council has yet to decide what will be done with the now vacant town-owned site.” (Tyler Clarke/Lake Cowichan Gazette, June 8, 2011)
Flashback: A.B. Greenwell, Lady of the Lake, good and bad news for the Lake News

What was making headlines this week around Cowichan Lake in years gone by

Conner Gilkin, 5, shows of some of his newfound loot to buddy Jax Dul, 7, during the Lake Cowichan treasure hunt on Saturday, June 5. (Kevin Rothbauer/Gazette)
Weekly hunt has Lake Cowichan digging for treasure

Gold? Silver? Candy? Andrew Braye has stashed away a range of prizes for eager treasure hunters

A new laundromat is opening in the Peters Centre in Lake Cowichan. (file photo)
Peters Centre getting all cleaned up

Laundromat being developed at the Neva Road site

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

Most Read