‘Academic excellence’ an issue in school board election 

Five candidates for two Whistler trustee positions

Academic excellence will be a central issue for Sea to Sky’s next school board, if one candidate has anything to say about it.

Chris Vernon-Jarvis, who has served a term on the board of the Howe Sound School District, is running a second time to represent Whistler on the Sea to Sky corridor’s board of education. He’s one of five candidates jostling for two Whistler school trustee positions.

Other candidates for the two Whistler seats include Amy Allen, Christine Buttkus, Rachael Lythe and Connie Rabold, who lives in Squamish.

Candidates for the Pemberton seat include incumbent Dave Walden, who most recently served as chair of the school board, as well as John Burleson, who lost against Walden in the previous election.

The two Squamish seats are being contested by three people: incumbents Rick Price and Andrea Beaubien, and challenger Terrill Patterson.

A father to five children who’ve attended Whistler Secondary School, Vernon-Jarvis told Pique in an interview that there’s “unfinished business” he couldn’t attend to in his first term.

“Typically the board has to look at an awful lot of business,” he said. “In other words, keeping schools running, management stuff. I think the board is now looking at what it can do directly to improve academic success.”

Generally, Vernon-Jarvis said, a board of education spends a lot of time managing the business of a school district — matters such as the district’s budget, policies and capital plan.

“It has to deal with everything from the drains on the soccer pitches to the heating in the schools to bus drivers and everything,” he said. “Without all these people and all these things, the business doesn’t work.”

Now, however, he said the board has come to a place where it can focus more closely on improving academic success. And he said the board is already discussing ways it can do that, though he wasn’t specific on the matters.

“I wouldn’t want to rule out anything the board could do by suggesting something else,” Vernon-Jarvis said. “I think the most important thing is to engage our partners in this idea that academic success is the main criteria of schools.

“School boards very rarely sit down and discuss what academic success looks like, what would make you proud of it and how to improve it as a whole.”


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