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School trustees mix experience with fresh perspective

Chris Vernon-Jarvis and Rachael Lythe to be sworn in Wednesday Dec. 7



Of the nine incumbents on the election ballot — seven for council, two for school trustee — Chris Vernon-Jarvis was the only one to get another chance this time around.

He was elected school trustee for a third term on Nov. 19.

"I'm not sure whether that's a vote of confidence or they held their nose and voted for me anyway," joked the father of six.

"I have no idea why they voted for me. I'm just enormously grateful."

He is joined at the school board table with the newly elected second Whistler representative Rachael Lythe, who lost the bid in the last election but was successful the second time around.

"I feel very privileged to be serving the community, and the province, in this capacity," said Lythe.

"I've got a lot to learn. I'm looking forward to expanding my horizons and learning on the job."

When asked this week about their agenda's for the coming three-year term, Vernon-Jarvis and Lythe bring an individual focus to the table.

Newcomer Lythe sees communication as the top priority — between the school trustees and the parents, between the schools and the community.

Improved communication would help, said Lythe, when controversial issues arise, like the school calendar. This year the district approved a two-week March break, a change many parents balked at given the nature of business in the resort town.

"Even if the outcome was still the same," said Lythe, " just better communication with the reason why could help parents feel better about the decisions or understand them more."

While communication is critical for incumbent Vernon-Jarvis too, he has his eye on another target — an education plan that works.

"One that we can make work that makes every single student in our district graduate and opens the doors to the future for all our graduating students," he said.

Whistler's graduating numbers are good, added Vernon-Jarvis; it's the neighbouring First Nations numbers that give him some concern. While the province has not released the most up to date figures, he said the graduation rates are about 60 per cent, varying from year to year, with the district's First Nations students.

"I also make decisions as a part of the board for the whole district," he said, of School District 48, which covers the corridor. "And we do have a concern for aboriginal students in Squamish and Pemberton and we're going to do absolutely everything we can to get them to have the same results as the rest of our students."

As for communication, Vernon-Jarvis said that's a two-way street and parents need to get involved at the schools too.

Vernon-Jarvis and Lythe will be sworn in at the school board office in Squamish on Wednesday, Dec. 7. Representing Squamish at the school board are Rick Price and Andrea Beaubien and from Pemberton acclaimed trustee Pat McKenzie. Laura Godfrey was acclaimed to represent Area D of the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District and Rebecca Barley was elected as the trustee for Area C.

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