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Howe Sound School District trustees met Wednesday night to decide what their final submission to the Ministry of Education will be regarding reducing the number of trustees. The trustees are presenting their recommendations to ministry officials today (May 31). But earlier Wednesday the trustees were told again that any reduction is opposed by the north end of the district when Whistler council passed a motion to that effect. Council took that position after trustees made a presentation to council Wednesday morning. Whistler council opposed the reduction because it felt there was very little cost saving and because the workload of trustees is increasing as communities in the corridor grow. Mayor Ted Nebbeling suggested everyone should stop and think about how the school board operated prior to Whistler getting three trustees. "The ‘them and us’ scenario we used to live with is not there to nearly the same degree," Nebbeling said. "It’s a shame to have other people starting now to say ‘they’ve had their turn, now it’s ours’." There are currently nine school district trustees, three of whom represent Whistler. Whistler had only one trustee until 1990, when, after several years of often acrimonious debate with Squamish trustees, the Ministry of Education increased the number of Whistler trustees from one to three. That move came after a ministry plan to grant Whistler its own school district was leaked and the plan became public. The ministry then backed down. One of the arguments for increasing the number of Whistler trustees was that because of real estate values Whistler property owners were paying a disproportionate part of the school board’s budget. The proposal to reduce the number of trustees in the district from nine to five came from the local board last November, after the Ministry of Education asked the Howe Sound district to merge with the Powell River and Sunshine Coast districts as part of a cost saving measure. Cutting the number of trustees will save the district only about $5,000 per trustee annually, in travel and other expenses. Last week the Parents Advisory Committees of both Myrtle Philip and Whistler Secondary Community Schools met to discuss the proposed reduction. Parents opposed the plan, although some suggested a compromise position of seven trustees. Members of Parent Advisory Councils in Pemberton also oppose any reduction, feeling the north end of the school district would be under represented. Some also questioned why the school board hadn’t let the PACs know earlier that the reduction was still being considered. At the time amalgamation was being considered Parent Advisory Councils had supported the reduction in trustees, provided they were consulted.

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