Trustee calls for greater say in school district hiring decisions

Chilliwack board of education should have more power than its superintendent on certain hiring decisions, says school trustee Heather Maahs.

Chilliwack board of education should have more power than its superintendent on certain hiring decisions, says school trustee Heather Maahs.

Maahs wants the onus of hiring senior executive staff and principals and vice principals put in the hands of the board – not the superintendent.

Maahs presented a motion, at Tuesday’s board meeting, to change the wording of Policy 300, which deals with the hiring and movement of senior executive and administrative staff, to give the board more control.

“The changes I made would give us the last word,” said Maahs. “The board now has nothing to do with the hiring of these positions, or very little involvement … so at this point, our job is just kind of decorative.”

Maahs said she was concerned with the number of senior executive who have left the district in the last two-and-a-half years, including two assistant superintendents who retired, a secretary treasurer, who lived in Mission, and took a position in Abbotsford last August, and most recently the director of finance who is moving to the Interior.

“The bottom line is we’ve had a lot of people who have left our school district, a lot of good people,” said Maahs. “I am really concerned with the amount of high-level staff who have left in such a short time. I am concerned this could be an issue.

“It’s the board of education’s responsibility to make sure we hire and keep the best people we can in our school district.”

The current policy states that the board is in charge of hiring the superintendent. The hiring of assistant superintendents, secretary treasurers, directors, principals and vice principals is made by the board on the recommendation of the superintendent.

All other district-level supervisors and managers are selected solely by the superintendent.

Board chair Doug McKay said that’s exactly how it should be.

“Our governance principals state that our responsibility is the what not the how,” said McKay.

“Our senior administration, who are informed about what’s going on in the school and are trained professional educators, evaluate these people and make decisions based on what is best for the schools, the kids, the parents, the administration and the whole district. They don’t just look at one little chunk of it.

“I think we have the best, most progressive policy in the province … where trustees get the initial input into who gets appointed, and once we’ve done that, we say to our educational experts now go run the school district,” said McKay.

Maahs believes that she is just as qualified, maybe even more so, than staff to make those decisions.

“We are elected by the community to represent the community,” she said. “And that puts us in a position to know the people in our community a lot of the time better than our senior executive staff who came here from other communities.”

The motion was referred to the policy planning committee.