School district renamed 

Board not drawing much attention, interest from candidates

The Howe Sound School District will be no more, starting in 2009, as its name is being changed to the Sea to Sky school district.

The announcement came on Sept. 22 parents, teachers and stakeholders identified the need to find a name that reflects the geography of the region. Howe Sound ends at Squamish, but the school board’s jurisdiction goes all the way up to Pemberton.

“I am happy to see a name for this school district that is more representative of the families and communities it serves,” Joan McIntyre, MLA for West Vancouver-Garibaldi, said in a news release.

The Sea to Sky school district includes several communities reaching all the way from Furry Creek up to D’Arcy, and several areas in between. The name change has the support of local governments, parent advisory councils and aboriginal groups within the corridor.

“The board has consulted with the community and agreed on a name that reflects the makeup of the district,” B.C. Education Minister Shirley Bond said in a statement.

It won’t be long before the Sea to Sky school district has to fill its rank with new school trustees.

The school board election will take place on Nov. 15, the same day as municipal elections throughout the province. Just like before, the board will be composed of two representatives from the Resort Municipality of Whistler; two from the District of Squamish; one representing the Village of Pemberton; and one each for Areas C and D of the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District.

Dave Walden, the Pemberton representative and chair of the board, has already confirmed he will be running again.

Speaking in an earlier interview, he said the board doesn’t get a lot of public interest in its work and he is thus not aware of any particular issues the next board will be dealing with.

“I’m not sure what people are concerned about,” Walden said. “I can look at some of our achievements and the direction that we’ve taken and things like that, but I’m not aware of any burning issues out there that people are concerned about.”

Andree Janyk, one of the representatives for the RMOW, said she would not be running after holding a seat for 12 years.

She, too, feels there’s not enough public awareness of the board’s work, but attributed that to the fault of Sea to Sky media.

“I think that the local newspapers have to take more of an interest in educational issues,” Janyk said. “We’re there to inform, but we also have to have the press taking an interest on behalf of the citizenry.”

She said a lack of interest in the school board is making it difficult to find candidates for the upcoming election. Even in the last election, Janyk said one candidate had to have his “arm twisted” to get involved.

“If we in Whistler don’t take an interest in the two trustee positions that we have, this is an important thing, the board will be considering moving it down to a board of five trustees,” she said. “I don’t think that’s a road we want to go down.”

Squamish representative Andrea Beaubien confirmed she was planning to run again. If she wins this time out, she hopes to spend more time getting into the “meat and potatoes” of the job after spending her first term learning the ropes of public education in the corridor.

“I think when I first signed on in my mind it was going to be at least two terms,” she said. “There’s such a long learning process that goes into this thing, I don’t think anyone would do justice to the job by going only one term.”

Chris Vernon-Jarvis, currently a Whistler representative, has not yet decided whether he’ll run again but said academic success will be a prime focus for him if he’s elected.

“It’s my opinion only that we haven’t spent enough time paying attention to academic success,” he said. “I think in future we have to get parents more involved. Not involved in the sense of always turning up in the school, but we have to become a kind of self-generating success.”

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