School District 27 trustees sworn in at inaugural meeting

Superintendent Chris van der Mark oversees the swearing in of school trustees at the inaugural school board meeting Tuesday evening, Nov. 22. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)Superintendent Chris van der Mark oversees the swearing in of school trustees at the inaugural school board meeting Tuesday evening, Nov. 22. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Williams Lake First Nation cultural coordinator David Archie sings a leadership song for the new school board Nov. 22. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)Williams Lake First Nation cultural coordinator David Archie sings a leadership song for the new school board Nov. 22. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
School District 27 trustees Willow Macdonald (from left), Mary Forbes, Anne Kohut, Linda Martens and Mike Franklin. Trustees Ciel Patenaude and Angie Delainey attended the inaugural meeting virtually. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)School District 27 trustees Willow Macdonald (from left), Mary Forbes, Anne Kohut, Linda Martens and Mike Franklin. Trustees Ciel Patenaude and Angie Delainey attended the inaugural meeting virtually. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

It was a quiet affair at the inaugural meeting of the Board of Education for School District 27 Tuesday, Nov. 22.

The evening was kicked off by David Archie, cultural coordinator for Williams Lake First Nation (WLFN), who took to the podium on behalf of WLFN.

“School District 27 has really turned a lot of heads and changed a lot of hearts and opened a lot of minds with everything that you’ve done with our children, but also the awarding of the Poplar Glade area,” Archie said, referring to the board’s decision earlier this year to sell WLFN a highly sought-after six-acre parcel of development land in the city, despite not being the highest bidder. “So our leadership is very excited for the new steps forward and I’m here to represent our community.”

Archie congratulated the board once again before singing a leadership song for the trustees.

With six trustees acclaimed and only one elected during the October 15 election, Superintendent Chris Van Der Mark conducted a brief swearing in ceremony for trustees Ciel Patenaude, Angie Delainey, Mary Forbes, Anne Kohut, Linda Martens, Willow Macdonald and newcomer Mike Franklin.

Following the swearing in, the board elected Patenaude as board chair and Delainey, who also holds a city councillor position, as vice chair, though Franklin was also nominated for each position by trustee Martens.

Franklin was, however, elected to represent the board on the B.C. School Trustee Association (BCSTA), with Martens elected as an alternate.

Martens was elected to represent the board on the BC Public School Employers’ Association (BCPSEA) with Macdonald serving as the alternate.

The board was quick to get down to the business at hand, working their way through the agenda items including the superintendent report and committee reports.

Van der Mark welcomed the board, and commended them for their previous work.

“It will be hard to duplicate the volume of work the previous board engaged in or stewarded as we have continued on our journey of improving systems, and ultimately, outcomes for students,” van der Mark said.

“We have highlighted the ongoing work reflected in the improved financial performance of the district that has allowed for numerous innovations to occur. We have also seen improved trends of student outcomes over this time, including some of highest completion rates for all students. It should be noted, this has happened during two-and-a-half years of COVID-19. We still have a long way to go, but if the new board is able to continue on a similar path, students will continue to flourish.”

The superintendent also noted meetings are continuing to advance the Columneetza daycare project in Williams Lake.

He said the design phase is being led by Chernoff Thompson Architects while Lauren Brothers will be leading the construction manager role.

Committee reports highlighted work underway in finance, transportation as well as policy and education, with Martens voicing her support for Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI)-inclusive education.

The recommendation is that the board prepare a statement of support of inclusive learning and working environments for all students and staff.


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School District No 27 (Cariboo-Chilcotin)