Mission school district trustee Rick McKamey was acclaimed chair of the school board at the inaugural meeting for the newly elected group.
Trustee Tracy Loffler was named as vice-chair.
About 70 people attended the ceremony Monday night at Mission Secondary School to witness the trustees take the Oath of Office.
“Our new board has a lot of diversity, which really excites me,” said McKamey after the meeting. “We have an effective leadership group.”
Other members of the board are Randy Cairns, Shelley Carter, and Jim Taylor.
There is a lot of work ahead for the new board and it will be essential to work as a team to deliver results, McKamey said.
McKamey, who served on the school board for two terms in the 1990s, believes like any new trustee, he will have a steep learning curve ahead to understand the complex issues school districts are facing today such as declining enrolment and balancing the budget, which are not unique to Mission.
“Decisions have to be made because of declining enrolment and the changing demographics in Mission … This puts all kinds of challenges in front of us as we try to keep as many resources in the classrooms as we can.”
McKamey, who worked as the manager of a community-based fishery and environmental program at Community Futures in Mission, says it’s important for the new board to work together and include all stakeholders in the education community.
“My employed life was all about building relationships and team-building,” said McKamey, noting decisions the board makes are only as good as the information gathered.
He acknowledged the previous board worked hard to pay off the district’s debt, and observed not everyone agreed with some of the difficult decisions made. As a result, McKamey says morale is low, and strong communication lines need to be put in place to help address the issue.
McKamey is also looking forward to working with the new council and recalled how cooperation between the two groups led to the creation of Heritage Park Centre.
“We went through a process to build relationships that was impeccable,” said McKamey. “How can anybody say that kind of relationship is not valuable when we have that kind of jewel in front of us?”
Many good things can be created in the community with city hall and the school board working together, he added.
The school board chair said he looks forward to meeting with the new council to discuss ideas like opening schools up for community use when classes are not in session.
“My ears are open,” said McKamey. “I see value in community school and what they mean to a community. (Schools) are a breeding ground for family values. They are a community centre and everything we need to build a stronger sense of community … But there is a cost involved.”
Other ideas McKamey would like to explore are working with the district’s forestry department to create educational opportunities for students and developing a partnership with First Nations.
“I think we can build another jewel in Mission we can be proud of.”