Cowichan school board has first session in 2 years

School trustees elected veteran Candace Spilsbury as chair of the Cowichan Valley Board of Education at the first meeting of the new board on Dec. 10, with Barb de Groot to assist her as vice-chair.

It was the first time an elected board has met since the previous board was fired in 2012.

Spilsbury was chosen by acclamation with de Groot emerging as the winner in a run-off against Randy Doman.

It was back to the future for Spilsbury, who has served as chair before.

Experience is a helpful thing at this stage of the game, she agreed.

"As we come back to create a new board after a two-year gap in elected trustees, it is helpful to have someone who has the experience particularly around things like governance and Robert’s Rules of Order and facilitation, with a background of knowledge of the district."

Spilsbury certainly has that. She worked for the school district as a principal and then as director of elementary education before retiring and then was elected as a school trustee where she was chosen as board chair by her colleagues.

She was replaced in that position by Eden Haythornthwaite in 2011 when the composition of the board changed to a group that decided to challenge the education ministry by sending in a deficit budget, a move that saw them all fired July 1, 2012.

Spilsbury is back, elected as one of the members of a team that promised balanced budgets.

The trustees elected Nov. 15 included four new ones: Rob Hutchins, Joe Thorne, Randy Doman and Elizabeth Croft.

Former trustees Cathy Schmidt and De Groot complete the group.

"The thing I’m most looking forward to is assisting new trustees to be welcomed into the team and to give them background, to be helpful, but not to be changing their views at all but to broaden their understanding," Spilsbury said.