School district budget consultations no longer public

Chilliwack school district will not be engaging the public this year via open meetings with its budget review process.

Chilliwack school district’s budget consultation is not a public process like it has been in the past, but officials say no one will be turned away.

However, there is a catch.

Any community member who wants to attend the budget meeting on March 27 must apply to the school district and must be prepared to present at the meeting, said secretary treasurer Maureen Carradice.

For the last five years the school district has held an extensive review of the budget, which included several consultation meetings open to the public.

This year, however, they’ve decided not to go that route stating those meetings were poorly attended.

Instead, they are holding a more inclusive meeting, inviting partner groups that include the District Parents’ Advisory Council, Chilliwack Teachers’ Association, Canadian Union of Public Employees, students, etc.

The school district will also be gauging public input through an online questionnaire that is currently posted on the district’s website.

While this news was relayed at the Feb. 28 board meeting to no opposition, it was brought back at Tuesday night’s meeting by trustee Silvia Dyck who wanted more clarification as to how the process would operate this year.

Trustees Heather Maahs and Martha Wiens were opposed to the new way.

“We cannot be in the business of excluding people,” said Maahs.

However, trustee Barry Neufeld felt the opposition was a sign of “pandering to the media,” given there was no opposition prior to news reports that were published following the last meeting.

“Are we on this board to satisfy voters or to do what’s best for the children?” Neufeld asked. “Always pandering to the media isn’t always what’s best for the children.”

kbartel@theprogress.com

twitter.com/schoolscribe33

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