The Vancouver District Students' Council pitched the concept of student trustees at Monday's management coordinating committee meeting. Leah Bae, the council president and a Grade 12 Lord Byng secondary student, appeared at the meeting with a handful of student council members.
They noted student trustees exist in Ontario where the provincial government mandates school districts have at least one and up to three student trustees. They earn a $2,500 honorarium for serving a full term and are elected directly or indirectly, such as through student councils.
(For details see the onlineonly story "Student trustees may attend Vancouver school meetings" at vancourier.com)
Ontario student trustees aren't board members, so they're not entitled to a binding vote, according to regulations.
While their vote doesn't count, a student trustee can request that a matter before the board or any of its committees be put to a recorded vote, in which there must be two votes. One is a recorded non-binding vote that includes the student trustee's vote and the second is a recorded binding vote that doesn't include their vote.
There are also limits on student trustees attendance at in camera meetings.
Vision Vancouver trustee Mike Lombardi said Tuesday the committee expressed "overwhelming support for the idea."
The Vancouver District Students' Council was asked to return with a specific proposal in the fall. The district will seek a legal opinion on whether the board can move forward on its own without a provincial framework. "The feeling of the students was if we could go forward on a pilot basis in Vancouver that might set the scene provincially," Lombardi said. "So we're going to explore if that's possible."
The board may also move a resolution with the B.C. School Trustees' Association calling for a legislative change to enable student trustees. "[Committee members] thought it was a really good opportunity to expand student engagement in policy-making in Vancouver," Lombardi said. "People thought it was a bright, fresh idea that they were very excited about."
The B.C. Public School Employers Association and B.C. Teachers' Federation face off once again May 30 at the ongoing Labour Relations Board hearing on whether withdrawing extracurricular activities constitute strike action.
The parties are expected to conclude their arguments Wednesday, which means the hearing could go late into the evening. The employers' association told me it doesn't expect a decision until next week, although it could come earlier.
It's not the only battle being fought regarding the teachers' dispute.
The BCTF's B.C. Supreme Court challenge of the Ministry of Education's appointment of Dr. Charles Jago as mediator in the dispute is set for June 7 and 8. The employers' association won't comment on that matter, saying it's an issue between the BCTF and provincial government.
The mediation period is supposed to run to June 30. If there's no agreement by that date, Jago will issue a report with non-binding recommendations.
Minister of Education George Abbott told reporters last week the contract must be settled before the school year or the government will impose a settlement.