School trustees want four-year terms

UBCM already supported extending length from three to four

Trustees should serve four years terms, according to elected officials of the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows school board.

The present term is three years, but this has been brought up for reconsideration with the recent release of a provincial study on local government election reform. School boards and municipal councils are elected at the same time every three years.

The Union of B.C. Municipalities held its annual convention in Vancouver on Sept. 16-20, and decided to support the move to four-year terms. That overturned a 2010 UBCM decision to stay with three-year terms.

School board vice-chair Eleanor Palis said the municipal elections for school board and municipal council should still be  on the same day.

She noted that the present three years has to be considered the minimum term length.

Trustee Sarah Nelson said four-year terms would cut the financial impact of elections. And, she said, trustees need time to learn the job before they are at their most effective.

“It [a four-year term] is better from a cost perspective, and from a learning-curve perspective,” said Nelson.

Trustees Susan Carr and Dave Rempel also spoke in favour of expanding terms to four years.

“It’s a more efficient timeline, where you can govern effectively,” said Rempel.

Board chair Mike Murray said the time commitment demanded of elected officials is such that a four-year term would be the maximum he would support.

“Any longer, and you may discourage some people from running for election.”

The increased term length would not be in effect until after the next election, at the earliest.

The deadline for feedback on the white paper is Oct. 23, and Trustee Ken Clarkson was to take the board’s viewpoint on the length of terms back to the B.C. School Trustees Association.