Excerpt / Board Report from an Open School Board Meeting November 18th 2009

This is an excerpt from a board report way back from an open school board meeting in November 2009 … it speaks to the efforts of the Lake community to preserve and defend their schools and their kids. May our words tomorrow at the public meeting at the Lake reflect this spirit.


“If you think of yourselves as helpless and ineffectual, it is certain that you will create a despotic government to be your master. The wise despot, therefore, maintains among his subjects a popular sense that they are helpless and ineffectual.” – Frank Herbert

Sometimes board meetings are about what I can learn or clarify. Sometimes… but you have to listen carefully – like a high pitched whistle only dogs can hear. Occasionally you can even hear the unmistakable sound of others learning too. Sometimes…

Tonight I learned the parents in the Friends of Cowichan Kids are much better than the board at determining exactly what they need to advance the public education system out at the Lake. Frankly, their plan is as useful and cogent as anything the board has managed to cobble together for the district. I think their secret is not having the ministry act as a ball and chain around their ankles. In other words – they have refused to see themselves as hapless victims of an irreversible ominous power. We could all do worse than follow their lead.

They have presented to the board before and they will be here again but this time it was in response to the community meeting the board held out at the Lake on October 28th. Finally, it has percolated through to most of their school community that there will be a long wait for a new school. Now is the time to tackle medium to long term problems which must be addressed if the Lake communities are to keep their kids in schools in their own neighbourhoods. The Friends of Cowichan Kids have created their own ‘strategic goals’ and I think we could as a board learn quite a bit from their forthright and simple approach. The presenter asked the board to consider these goals in their decision making regarding the schools at the Lake so as time passes these places will not deteriorate or disappear while the families and staff wait for a new school. Logically-they reason- if the schools out there are not nurtured this will result in a migration of Lake students to Duncan which will seriously undermine the likelihood a new school will ever be built. They have thought this through- God bless them.

Towards this end, they have crafted the following to guide our work and theirs:

  • Fully resourced, fully funded quality public education for all our children
  • Open, accurate and consistent communication between the school board and our whole community
  • Maintenance of all our current schools as well as new facilities as required
  • The right to enroll at our own neighbourhood schools.
  • Improved bussing
  • Ongoing communication with the board and provincial government regarding the community expectation for a new school

In addition,they are looking for a commitment from this board that we will neither close nor sell any more schools in their communities – it is a simple question and I would like to give them a simple answer.

Your Trustee in Exile


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