New school district policy causes concern

A reader writes with concerns about a new school district policy about the naming of district facilities.

Dear Editor,

You have not heard from me in a couple of months. There is a reason, and it is not that I have given up the quest to right a wrong. I was waiting for the Board of Trustees of School District No. 74 to make formal their decision regarding Policy 9.80 (“Naming of District Facilities”).

It states that the “naming of schools and facilities is the responsibility of the Board and final choice for a name rests with the Board”, and has the following limitations and constraints:

1. A scope of work will be developed for the committee.

2. A committee shall be appointed to act as a liaison between the school community and the Board in a naming process.

3. The committee will be comprised of appropriate individuals as determined by the Superintendent and/or Secretary Treasurer and may include the following:

a. Appropriate local trustee(s) representation

b. FPEC representative(s) from local nation

c. Parent Advisory Council representative(s)

d. Principal(s)

e. Teacher representative

f. CUPE representative

g. Student representative

4. The committee shall present a minimum of three potential names and a rationale to the Board.

I have two concerns around this policy. The first is the use of the words “may include”, and the second is the failure to include a representative of the general public they were elected or hired to serve. Why not say “the committee shall include the following”? In doing so they would have at least ensured that the public would be certain to have some form of representation.

The use of “may” leaves the decision regarding the composition of the committee in the hands of one or two individuals, and thereby affords the opportunity of excluding any groups or persons who might not share their views. My hope is that those hired or elected to represent School District No. 74 would exercise good judgement in their selection of a committee.

Based on the renaming of the school in Ashcroft, the refusal to hear the plea of the public in this matter, and the subsequent necessity of formulating a policy which gives the board sole control over the naming of any facilities within the district, I can only view this policy as a means of reinforcing their attempt to control those they were elected or hired to serve.

This has happened before on both small and large scales, and the result was either dictatorship or the oligarchy of which I spoke in an earlier letter. Complacency of the public is what led to control by a few in Germany and Russia, and will do the same in Canada. We have been given a gift of freedom, and must hold those elected to serve us accountable for their actions, or else we will be the authors of our own destiny and will find that we no longer have those freedoms.

We must remember that freedom is not free, and that many have made the supreme sacrifice to ensure that which we take for granted. Public servants are just that: persons chosen to serve the public. I am asking them to remember who and how they came to serve as they represent us.

Mike Baldwin