Academic excellence will be a central issue for Sea to Sky’s
next school board, if one candidate has anything to say about it.
Chris Vernon-Jarvis, who has served a term on the board of the
Howe Sound School District, is running a second time to represent Whistler on
the Sea to Sky corridor’s board of education. He’s one of five candidates for
two Whistler school trustee positions.
Other candidates for the two Whistler seats include Amy Allen,
Christine Buttkus, Rachael Lythe and Connie Rabold, who lives in Squamish.
Candidates for the Pemberton seat include incumbent Dave
Walden, who most recently served as chair of the school board, as well as John
Burleson, who lost against Walden in the previous election.
The two Squamish seats are being contested by three people,
incumbents Rick Price and Andrea Beaubien, and challenger Terrill Patterson.
A father to five children who’ve attended Whistler Secondary
School, Vernon-Jarvis told
interview that there’s “unfinished business” he couldn’t attend to in his first
“Typically the board has to look at an awful lot of business,”
he said. “In other words, keeping schools running, management stuff. I think
the board is now looking at what it can do directly to improve academic
Generally, Vernon-Jarvis said, a board of education spends a
lot of time managing the business of a school district — matters such as
the district’s budget, policies and capital plan.
“It has to deal with everything from the drains on the soccer
pitches to the heating in the schools to bus drivers and everything,” he said.
“Without all these people and all these things, the business doesn’t work.”
Now, however, he said the board has come to a place where it
can focus more closely on improving academic success. And he said the board is
already discussing ways it can do that, though he wasn’t specific on the
“I wouldn’t want to rule out anything the board could do by
suggesting something else,” Vernon-Jarvis said. “I think the most important
thing is to engage our partners in this idea that academic success is the main
criteria of schools.
“School boards very rarely sit down and discuss what academic
success looks like, what would make you proud of it and how to improve it as a
Rick Price, who served as vice-chair of the previous school
board, is running again as a Squamish trustee. A former principal of Myrtle
Philip Community School and a father to two grown children who attended school
in Squamish, he feels that a single term on the school board isn’t enough for
him to make a valuable contribution to the district.
“There’s quite a learning curve to being on a school board,”
Price said. “It seems to make sense that you serve at least a second term in
order to take advantage of that.”
One of the biggest issues for the next school board will be the
budget, according to Price, who said that the board will need to focus on
providing a “quality education” to students with reduced budgets.
“Planning a budget means deciding what to cut or what not to
fund in a lot of ways,” he said. “It’s a challenge to maintain all of the
essential services in classrooms while still maintaining a reasonable infrastructure
“You’ve got schools and school bus facilities which need
upgrading and at the same time we have direct services to students in the way
of class sizes, which need a good healthy budget.”
Starting in 2009, the Howe Sound School District will be renamed the Sea to Sky School District in an effort to more accurately reflect the communities represented by the district. The district includes areas from Furry Creek to D’Arcy and several areas in between.