Neutral or neutered?

Vancouver school board chair Patti Bacchus said yesterday she's disappointed the British Columbia School Trustees Association is staying out of the dispute between her district and the provincial government. That dispute came to a head on Thursday when Education Minister Margaret MacDairmid order the district's board to prepare a balanced budget by the end of next week. This, despite Ms. Bacchus telling The Vancouver Sun's Janet Steffenhaggen such a budget would mean "horrendous" service cuts. Speaking on Public Eye Radio, the board chair said, "Well, I've been disappointed (by the association) and I've let them know that. I think this is an attack on all local elected school boards and their role. I know other districts are nervous. If you poke your head out of the foxhole, you get exactly what Vancouver just got. And I can tell you this is rough play. This was a full-on political attack."

"And I know other districts, in the past, they've told me they're nervous to speak out about the impacts because they are fairly powerless up against this local government and what it is trying to do to schools. I encourage them to speak out. I can't speak for them. And I think that's a question only the BCSTA representatives representatives. But I certainly have let them know that this is not just a Vancouver issue - this affects all boards and the governance of boards. And as the representatives of trustees I do expect them to take a much more strong role in really protecting that role. They claim they like to work behind closed doors and do things quietly. But I'm concerned about that too."

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