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Langley School Board keeps rotating board chair

The Langley School Board finally filled the empty trustee position Tuesday night when it swore in by-election winner Cecelia Reekie as the seventh trustee. But despite finally playing with a full set, the board decided not to choose a chair or vice-chair in a move the Langley Teachers' Association says shows a lack of strong leadership.

The board, which has been on a rotating chair schedule since former chair Joan Bech resigned from the board in October, voted five-to-two to keep the rotating chair schedule until after the November school board elections.

"The board believed that this particular time, given the length of the term and the fact that it has worked well for us to have a rotating chair, we chose to keep it," says Trustee Alison McVeigh.

Susan Fonseca, president of the Langley Teacher's Association (LTA), says she was surprised by the decision and feels it goes against the board's duty to provide leadership for the school community.

"I am not aware of any other district where they have that kind of a process set up, and I'm very concerned that there won't be anybody seen as providing leadership in our district. I just wrote a letter to the rotating board chair for January, and who responds to it?" Fonseca told The Tyee.

"And we have no vice chair right now. There is no recognized public focus person for our board, and I think that gives too much control to senior management."

McVeigh denies senior district management has any sway over the board's decisions and says the chair's only duties are to speak on behalf of the board when necessary, and chair the board meetings.

The board also decided to reinstate oral question period at the end of its meetings after public outcry over a decision in October that all questions to the board must be written down and given to the assistant superintendent to read allowed. McVeigh says the board had preferred the written system, but agreed to return to oral questions provided certain guidelines were followed.

"That the questions are directed to the board chair, that questions must pertain to the business of the board, they can't be commentary, they must not be directed at individual trustees, they must not pertain to personnel issues or contractual issues," she says.

Katie Hyslop reports on education for the Tyee Solutions Society, and is a freelance reporter for a number of other outlets including The Tyee.

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