Work for Sask. Rivers board goes down to committee level

The Sask Rivers Education Centre/ Daily Herald File Photo

With new trustees, a fresh look at board committees can be a way to revitalize a board of education.

At their regular meeting on Monday, the Saskatchewan Rivers School Division board dealt with the rules and structure for a number of committees, along with other business involving them.

Board chair Barry Hollick explained that after the election in the fall, the new board needed to set their path for the next four years. That means forming committees with new members, and working through different parts of their mandate.

“You will notice from the agenda that we did quite a bit on terms of reference for various committees. That is something that we are putting forward now because it is going to direct our board for the next four years,” Hollick said.

The meeting included a report from policy committee chair trustee Grant Gustafson which dealt with leftovers from the previous version of the committee and whatever new business appeared. The board approved amendments to a number of policies of the committee.

Other trustees discussed terms of reference including facility committee chair Bill Yeaman and Saskatchewan Rivers Students for Change (SRSC) chair Jaimie Smith-Windsor. All amendments to terms of reference were passed unanimously.

There was also a board development committee update and proposal from chair Darlene Rowden.

Hollick explained that all of these changes and amendments were important to setting up the board’s next four years.

“We are working within this pandemic and trying to get things done,” Hollick said.

According to Hollick some of these terms of reference date back to previous board chair Wayne Steen and the committees had gotten accustomed to doing business in that fashion.

“We are laying down terms of reference so that in the future the path is clear, and it says ‘these are the steps that we follow and every time terms of reference comes forward they are approved by the board.’ If there are suggested changes, those are made and then that’s the basis on which we operate. We did look at a number of committees yesterday and all were approved with some minor tweaks there,” Hollick said.

For example, education director Robert Bratvold opened the discussion on terms of reference for the superintendent selection committee. He explained that the committee was ad hoc and appointed, but the terms of reference act as a guide to appointments.

After discussion, they agreed to open committee membership to any trustees. Traditionally, it had only been open to the chair and vice chair serving on that committee. The idea was to rotate through trustees on that selection committee.

Another traditional highlight for the trustees is going to happen virtually this year. Instead of in-person school tours, the trustees will be doing their tours virtually in three sessions. The first one is scheduled for March 22, the second for April 26 and the third for May 3.

“The pandemic has changed that,” Hollick said. “What we are doing is a virtual tour at the schools, which means that we will not be visiting them physically. Each school that was on our list for a visit this year will be given time to do a presentation to us.”

The board will instead gather at the Education Centre for virtual tours of either city or rural schools in the division. Principals, school community councils (SCC) and students will make the presentations, Hollick explained.

“The board is looking forward to that,” he added. “It is certainly different than what we are used to, because when we do get out to the schools you see the physical plant, you see the tone and the teachers and students. But, we are looking forward to this.

“It is virtual, but we do so many other things virtually now that it’s just become a natural way of doing things for us.”

New technology installed earlier this year has been another change. It allows trustees and others around the board table, such as superintendents, to attend meetings virtually. This change allows for proper social distancing and mask protocols to remain in place.

“We have had to adjust to the pandemic in a number of ways. One of our trustees isn’t coming in due to pandemic concerns, one of our other trustees came for the first time in several months because of health concerns. It has changed the way we do business. It’s working well because we still are getting the work done,” Hollick said.