Walt Krahn was one of two newly elected school trustees out of 24 candidates during this year's municipal election.

Top Stories of 2011: Race for Chilliwack school board draws a crowd

he school trustee election in November was unprecedented for Chilliwack.

he school trustee election in November was unprecedented for Chilliwack.

Twenty-four people put their hats in the ring, vying for just seven available seats. It was the most amount of school trustee candidates in all of B.C., and a 300 per cent increase from the 2008 election, where there were only eight candidates on the ballot.

Parents, grandparents, teachers, retired principals, representatives from the District Parents’ Advisory Council, a university student, and members of the business community were all aiming for trusteeship.

The only incumbent not running for re-election was John Henry Harter.

In an interview with The Progress prior to the November election, Harter cited ongoing infighting and micromanaging at the board level as one of the main reasons for not seeking re-election.

For several of the new candidates, however, those were the reasons why they were running.

Chilliwack’s last board of education was repeatedly conflicted over what its role was, which often resulted in heated debates around the board table.

Some trustees quoted the school act, which is legislated by the B.C. Education Ministry, that states the role of the board of education is to set and maintain the school district’s budget, create policy to guide the school district, and hire a superintendent. Others, however, believed their role should be more involved.

Last April, trustee Heather Maahs requested the board revise policy 300 to give school trustees more authority in the hiring decisions of all senior executive staff, principals and vice principals.

Multiple requests made by The Progress for a status update on where that policy currently stands were not returned by school district officials prior to press deadline.

The last three years also saw the departure of several senior executive staff. Two assistant superintendents retired; the secretary treasurer took a position in Abbotsford; the director of finance quit; and superintendent Corinne McCabe tendered her resignation last June.

Some of the candidates believed “micromanaging” at the board table was the reason for those departures.

But while there seemed to be a clamoring for change, given the number of candidates on the campaign trail, the polls showed otherwise.

All incumbents running, except for Darlene Wahlstrom, were re-elected.

The incumbents did not gain the most votes though. Newcomer Walt Krahn, a retired school principal, topped the polls with 3,923 votes – nearly 1,500 more votes than the seventh seat. Fellow newcomer, Barry Neufeld, a former school trustee, was second in line with 3,505 votes.

In 2008, trustees Silvia Dyck and Martha Wiens topped the polls, but in this election, they were number three and four respectively.

Less than 14 per cent of Chilliwack’s voting population voted.

Following the election, failed candidate Kirsten Brandreth quit the District Parents’ Advisory Council (DPAC). Not only was she disappointed with the election outcome, coming in 10th of all candidates, she was disgusted that no real change had occurred.

After more than 16 years advocating on behalf of parents, the former DPAC president felt her time in the district had come to an end.

The current DPAC president is Gord Byers.

One of the top priorities of the new board is hiring a new superintendent. Current superintendent Michael Audet was hired on a one-year, temporary contract after McCabe quit.

The board will be searching for a new superintendent in the new year.

kbartel@theprogress.com

twitter.com/schoolscribe33

Just Posted

New Chilliwack school board sworn in after divisive election

Incumbent Dan Coulter acclaimed as chair with Willow Reichelt winning a vote for vice-chair

Judge to decide on mental fitness of man accused of Chilliwack River Valley shooting

Two psychiatrists disagree on fitness of Peter Kampos but Crown and defence agree he is unfit

Around the BCHL: Surrey Eagles sliding and Cassidy Bowes flows

Around the BCHL is a look at what’s happening in the league and around the junior A world.

BC Ferries passengers wait to leave Vancouver Island after Remembrance Day

Traffic aboard BC Ferries slows after Remembrance Day long weekend

Chilliwack Mayor Ken Popove on the first 100 days

One-on-one discussion with the new mayor paints a picture of what’s in store for Chilliwack

VIDEO: Amazon to split second HQ between New York, Virginia

Official decision expected later Tuesday to end competition between North American cities to win bid and its promise of 50,000 jobs

Kuhnhackl scores 2 odd goals as Isles dump Canucks 5-2

Vancouver drops second game in two nights

Fear of constitutional crisis escalates in U.S.; Canadians can relate

Some say President Donald Trump is leading the U.S. towards a crisis

B.C.-based pot producer Tilray reports revenue surge, net loss

Company remains excited about ‘robust’ cannabis industry

Canada stands pat on Saudi arms sales, even after hearing Khashoggi tape

Khashoggi’s death at Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul further strained Riyadh’s already difficult relationship with Ottawa

Feds pledge money for young scientists, but funding for in-house research slips

Canada’s spending on science is up almost 10 per cent since the Liberals took office, but spending on in-house research is actually down

Stink at B.C. school prompts complaints of headaches, nausea

Smell at Abbotsford school comes from unauthorized composting operation

Disabled boy has ‘forgiven’ bullies who walked on him in stream, mom says

A Cape Breton teen who has cerebral palsy was told to lie in a stream as other kids walked over him

Letters shed light on state of mind of B.C. mom accused of daughter’s murder

Trial of South Surrey mother Lisa Batstone begins in BC Supreme Court

Most Read