The board discussion last night about what should be delegated to conference committee (i.e. behind closed doors) was vigorous. I shared the various ideas brought forward by the constituents who contacted me on this issue and tried to represent their views to the best of my ability. I quoted from several of the emails (both for and against the recommendation). In the balance, I was left with a number of questions and concerns and therefore, when Trustee Colburn put a motion on the table to defer the decision until public consultation had taken place… I voted and spoke in favour of deferral. I thought there was great wisdom in making sure that this change would be publicly supported and understood and that we actively sought out the opinion of others, including the provincial government, who is about to undertake a Ministerial review of school governance. However, my colleagues did not share my concerns and felt that, because this related to the internal workings of the board, there was no need to consult with the public. The motion was defeated 7-2.
This returned us to the original recommendation. Again, I argued that this could be perceived by the public, the province, other boards and public organizations like Public Interest Alberta as a regressive step away from transparency in the name of efficiency. I reiterated my belief that the recommendation lacked clarity and might be misinterpreted. Trustee Colburn cited other boards that are working quite well with the bulk of their work being done in public; he quoted President Obama’s views on the importance of conducting work publicly. The majority of the board however felt that this recommendation was providing clarity and increased transparency of what exactly was going on behind closed doors already. They emphasized that all decisions are made in public and there is opportunity for public input at those points. The vote was taken and the recommendation was passed 7-2. (Trustee Colburn and Huff against).
The recommendation is now board position and as per our protocols, I am bound to support and uphold the board's decision.