West Coast school trustee steps down, forcing by-election in SD70

Barbie Mayor has stepped down as school district trustee in Ucluelet and Tofino, citing frustration at backdoor politics within the board.

Barbie Mayor has stepped down as Alberni school district trustee for the West Coast, triggering a by-election the school district cannot afford. But now she’s having second thoughts.

Mayor said she submitted her resignation partly because of changes to her work schedule as a legal nurse, but mostly due to frustration with the board.

“It has mostly to do with the transparency and accountability of the board,” Mayor said Wednesday morning, adding she felt she was constantly hitting a brick wall when it came to advancing the concerns and needs of the West Coast.

“We sit 125 geographically challenged kilometres away from the rest of the school district and our needs and wants are in some ways very different”

Mayor felt a lot of board discussions are conducted in-camera and away from public scrutiny when they shouldn’t. One example is the fact that she stepped down more than two weeks ago and there was no public release about it.

She also mentioned that financial statements and monthly lists of expenditures are not given to the public nor published online, but should be.

Mayor said there is a huge desire for French Immersion to be offered at West Coast schools, but it falls on deaf ears when brought to the board. She feels the West Coast needs more recognition as it is the only area in the school district where student enrolment is increasing.

“Tofino has become recognized worldwide and more people are coming to this area and our schools are becoming overcrowded,” Mayor said. “I look at my taxes and 35 per cent of my property taxes goes to the school board.

“We have a huge tax base but we don’t have an equivalent amount of voices behind it.”

Mayor explained she initially submitted an e-mail resignation to school district board chair Larry Ransom, who then told her she must send it to the entire board to make her resignation official, which she did.

However, in between that time, she spoke to Teresa Rezansoff, president of the B.C. School Trustees Association who convinced her to reconsider due to the cost of holding a by-election. However, because Mayor had resubmitted her resignation, she could no longer back out.

“I might consider it,” Mayor said about running in the by-election. “I have learned a lot after resigning and things have been handled so poorly that it has triggered a fire in me again.”

The B.C. School Trustees Association is looking at whether Mayor can run again, but were unable to provide an answer by press deadline.

The by-election is scheduled for Sept. 14 and is the second by-election this year for the school district. The last by-election was held in February due to former trustee Glenn Wong’s sudden death.

Gaelle Frey was elected to take the vacant seat.

School district superintendent Cam Pinkerton said the cost for the by-election would be minimal if only one person runs, as that person would be acclaimed, but he estimates the cost will be about $15,000 if more than one person runs. He added that this was unexpected so the amount had not been budgeted.

Numerous calls to school board chair Larry Ransom were not returned by press deadline.