The Chilliwack School Board was recently faced with a decision whether to remain in their professional organization, the BC School Trustees’ Association (BCSTA).
Long-time Trustee Barry Neufeld made a motion to the board to cancel their membership to the BCSTA, providing a written rationale for the move. He said the board hasn’t always been a member of the organization, and that financially it’s not worth what they get out of it.
“Having attended these meetings for over 20 years, I have noted that seldom is anything new presented in these expensive conferences that could not be learned from reading educational magazines and journals or articles on the internet.”
But several of the new trustees said they have learned plenty from attending BCSTA conferences since being elected, and that they couldn’t have learned so much in a condensed time without attending.
Neufeld also said the BCSTA is just an arm of the government and doesn’t allow for debate on issues.
The cost of membership in the BCSTA fluctuates but was $48,037 for the 2018/19 year, out of a total governance budget of about $404,000. There are also costs that are reimbursed by the district for trustee expenses.
Trustees do get a chance to vote on motions made during the BCSTA annual general meeting, but have to pay a $500 registration fee to be there. Prior to the discussion, Trustee David Swankey outlined the costs of being in the BCSTA and the benefits membership brings. Currently all 60 school districts in the province are members of the BCSTA.
The only support Neufeld’s motion had was from Trustee Heather Maahs, and the motion did not pass.