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Janyk steps down as school board chair



Whistler school trustee Andrée Janyk says she might well go down as having served the shortest term as chair in the history of the local school board.

Janyk was voted chair of the Howe Sound School Board at the board’s monthly meeting held Dec. 14 last year, making her the first Whistler trustee to hold the post.

She took the reins from Squamish trustee Amy Shoup at a time Whistler’s elementary school parents are calling for more representation at the district level.

Janyk said she was frankly surprised at having been nominated along with Shoup for the chair position and she let her name stand in the interests of democracy. "I feel it is democratic to have a vote and not have someone get in by acclamation."

She won.

But, at the next monthly meeting of the board, held Jan. 10, Janyk resigned and Shoup was once again voted in as chair.

This time around, Constance Rulka and Shoup were both up for the position. With only six trustees present at the January meeting, there was a three-three tie. On the second vote Shoup won.

Janyk said she resigned in the interests of the board.

When she was named chair in December, there was no one who stepped up to the plate willing to serve as vice chair, a post she held herself last year. She said she felt neither she nor the board would function efficiently without the back-up of a vice chair.

"I was thinking of the health of the board foremost," said Janyk. "It’s a corporate body and it needs a chair, a vice chair and committee members."

She said Shoup was still willing to be chair and she knew she would be happy to again be nominated for the vice chair position.

But she lost the vice chair seat in the January vote to Pemberton trustee Betty Connell, who this time around did decide to let her name stand for the back-up position.

The vote was a three-three tie between Connell and Janyk. A second vote was held and again there was a tie. As per the regulations, the board could choose either to delay the vote until the seventh trustee was present, in this case Judy Bourhis, or the vice chair could be drawn by lot.

Janyk said she felt resolution was needed as soon as possible and offered to put her name into a hat along with Connell’s. It was Connell’s name that was drawn by district parent advisory council chair Chris Platz.

"This seemed to me to be the only solution," said Janyk of her resignation. "My approach is always to look at the problem, consider the options and find a solution. You must be able to present a solution."

She said that for the month she did serve as chair, she managed to open up valuable discussion about the role of board chair, the need for team work and sharing district leadership responsibilities.

"Next year there might be a better opportunity," noted Janyk. "Who knows, maybe the conditions will be more favourable. I would still like to have the chance."

School boards must elect a chair before the end of each calendar year. In this district, the same person can be voted in for consecutive terms.

Janyk will also know whether she will serve another term as a director of the British Columbia Public School Employers' Association after the BCPSEA AGM slated for Jan. 19 and 20 in Richmond.

She served as a trustee representative on that provincial body last year and has put her name forward for nomination again this time around.

If she is successful, her position will serve to give the Howe Sound district a voice at the provincial table in bargaining for a new teachers’ contract.

The professional development program component of the AGM will focus on teacher bargaining objectives.

The AGM was due to start with a plenary session Friday, Jan. 19 designed to bring focus to the teacher talks and present feedback on school boards' responses to the teacher bargaining discussion paper. A series of workshops was also due to be held to examine issues expected to be at the forefront of collective bargaining.

Those attending the BCPSEA workshops will also be attending the Teacher Bargaining Conference scheduled for Feb. 23-24.

BCPSEA was created in 1994, prior to which collective bargaining in the education sector was conducted on a district-by-district basis by individual school boards. It was felt there was a need to provide a unified voice for employers as a balance in the system. The association was thus established to manage employee relations in the public school system on behalf of B.C.’s school boards.

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