School board approves budget and discusses east/west representation
The East Boundary/West Boundary divide reared its ugly head this past Tuesday at the School District 51’s (SD 51) Board of Education meeting held at the school board office in Grand Forks. The meeting, which was centered around the approval and ultimate application of the amended annual budget for the fiscal year 2010/2011 took a quick turn for the worse as the portion of the agenda that dealt with committee representation came forward. West Boundary Trustee Vicki Gee triggered the east/west divide when she questioned the trustees sitting on the district development team. Neither of the two individuals – Trustee Ken Harshenin nor Trustee and Board Chair Theresa Rezansoff – are from the West Boundary area. Gee was concerned that the West would not be represented at the table. Rezansoff responded that she felt that the members of the Board of Education “were representatives of the entire district, not just of the West of East Boundary,” a statement that Trustee Sally Garcelon echoed. The issue arose from the agenda item “committee representatives” dealing with which individuals were to sit on each committee or sub-committee of the larger board of education. A breakdown of these committees included personnel, policy development, operations, community engagement, and several others. Gee made a motion that asked that at least one member of the two member committee be from the West Boundary, however, Rezansoff would not accept the motion stating that it would be in contempt of their current policy. Rezansoff did recommend that if Gee’s motion came back through the policy development committee that they could deal with it then. Gee further argued that one of the reasons that trustees from the West do not sit on that many committees was due to the fact that they are not compensated for mileage and that it was easier for someone in Grand Forks who lived five minutes away from the Boardroom to sit on these committee than someone from the West. Rezansoff commented that she had not considered mileage issues in the committee structure. “That’s why you need someone from the West Boundary on these committees,” Gee pointed out. The discussion ended with no changes to those individuals who sat on the committees. Other agenda items The annual budget bylaw of $16, 669,957 was approved with no opposition or discussion. Another decision had the Board approving the spending of $68,000.00 to support wireless technology in the area schools. This will be the next step in making all SD 51 schools wireless.
Of note: John A. Hutton Elementary School’s enrollment dropped from 251 students to 243, a loss of eight students in the month of January. Grand Forks Secondary School’s enrollment increased by two in the same month, while Christina Lake Elementary Schools added one student as did Boundary Central Secondary School. West Boundary Elementary School is down one student while Big White is up 16 students. All other SD 51 schools remained the same in the month of