Re: “Class notes: Seeking Stability,” April 18.
The Vancouver School Board is losing Deputy Superintendent Jordan Tinney to Surrey, as per Naoibh O’Connor’s “Class Notes“ article.
Over the past number of years, we have lost a number of excellent superintendents such as Chris Kelly, and associate superintendents Eric Thomas, Pat Mitchell, Tom Grant, Gary Little, Sonia Hudson, Paul Wlodarczak, and now this year, along with Mr. Tinney, Associate Superintendent Valerie Overgaard is retiring. Due to the new leadership model supported by the past Vision/Cope Board, we have replaced these vacancies as realigned Director positions or cut the position outright. So how do we build in capacity for long-term succession in Vancouver along with an incredible work load that has increased incrementally with the few remaining positions left?
It’s my opinion the Vision dominated Board needs to consider seriously where our next associate superintendent comes from. Since the Vision dominated Board has been in power, the vacancies at the most senior levels, have all be hired from outside the district. However, historically, the above named Supers, have all come from our own district except for Chris Kelly. This really does make common sense, as the backbone of the Vancouver system are our very own exceptional teachers who have shown leadership within the classroom, within the school, and within our district through Professional development. Who else knows the complexities of Vancouver schools better, than our elementary and secondary principals? They’ve lived the problems and dilemmas associated with our unique neighborhoods in a number of schools and have worked tirelessly on behalf of Vancouver students and teachers establishing strong relationships over the years. How an outsider makes the shortlist and competes with the Vancouver experiential base that our administrators have, is my question, unless of course, our Vision and/or current superintendent want another outsider.
O’Connor noted from Patti Bacchus’s comments that succession planning has been lacking over the past years and thereby implying that we need to hire outsiders to stabilize the management team. In other words, our homegrown talent just doesn’t cut the mustard and are not the caliber of those we could get from smaller communities such as West Van, Kelowna, Campbell River etc. This is simply not true. We have a vibrant group of very capable techno-savvy principals who could transition into the job at a moment’s notice. I can attest as a retired human resources manager, I am aware of many worthy candidates within our organization presently.
Our organization, which includes parents, Vancouver teachers, students and the unions, deserve a strong internal candidate as an end result. Anything less is insulting and potentially destabilizing to the leadership in the district as these newbies continue on their career paths using the Vancouver experience as a stepping stone.
Fraser Ballantyne, Vancouver School Board Trustee