Two Chilliwack school trustees are bringing new items to the table at the next meeting. One wants to bring back a question period that has no limits in topics, and the other wants to cancel their membership in the BC School Trustees Association. (Jessica Peters/ The Progress)

Chilliwack trustees worrying about public participation and cancelling BCSTA membership

Furgason wants second question period restored, and Neufeld wants board to leave trustee association

Two Chilliwack trustees made notice of motions at Tuesday’s meeting, announcing their intention to bring business to the board at the next meeting.

Firstly, Trustee Darrell Furgason gave notice that he intends to ask the board to amend the public participation portion of the meeting. Earlier this year, changes were made to eliminate the first question period at board meetings, which had no limits on topic, but did have a two-minute time limit per question. There is still a question period at the end of the meeting, and those with questions are asked to limit questions to the items on the agenda.

Furgason said that portion “disappeared” during the amendment to the policy. However, he was in attendance when the amendment was voted in, and abstained from voting admitting he didn’t have time to read the meeting package prior to the meeting. Furgason was also in attendance at a meeting where the wording was hashed out beforehand.

READ MORE: Question period pared down at Chilliwack school board meetings

The revised policy states: “The public Board meeting is the formally designated means of transacting Board business. One public participation period is therefore provided solely as a means for ensuring that community members who are present in the audience have an opportunity to ask questions about business or issues pertaining to the Board.”

Earlier in the meeting, Furgason argued that policy amendment work had “nothing to do with student achievement” and as such shouldn’t be bothered with. He did not make clear how his motion would improve student achievement, but will have a chance to argue for it at a future meeting.

Trustee Barry Neufeld also made a notice of motion. His was in regards to the BC School Trustees Association (BCSTA). He brought up a recent motion the BCSTA made to take away lifetime memberships from trustees who do not reflect the values of the association. He stated that he assumed they were talking about him.

Neufeld then said his motion would be to cancel being in the BCSTA, a move that would save the district about $60,000. The BCSTA holds annual conferences with forums on leadership and governance. They also provide support to boards that need assistance, as well as new and struggling trustees.

Neufeld has suggested to a past board at least once that they leave the BCSTA.

Both Neufeld’s and Furgason’s motion will likely be brought forward at the next public meeting, set for May 14 at 7 p.m. at the district’s boardroom.


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