Population shifts and demographics are the culprits when it comes to a recent announcement by STAR Catholic Schools that the board of trustees voted to trim their number to seven from nine.
The board of trustees voted, at a special meeting Jan. 5, in favor of reducing both the Wetaskiwin ward and the Drayton Valley ward from two trustees to one each.
Board chair Thalia Hibbs noted that the number of trustees being reduced had more to do with population numbers and parity than anything, and that there are no school closures or busing route changes looming.
“There’s absolutely no effect on that whatsoever,” said Hibbs by phone Jan. 6. “There will just be two fewer people at the table come the next election.”
She noted the board of trustees based much of their decision on the recent Ward Boundary Review process, keeping in mind populations fluctuate in the division. The review showed that some areas were over-represented, and some were under-represented, stated Hibbs.
A press release from STAR Catholic Schools Jan. 6 stated, “The board analyzed demographics and population numbers presented in a consultant’s report, as well as feedback gathered in each of STAR Catholic’s six communities, over a two-month-long consultation process.”
Hibbs stated in the press release, “This was not an easy decision for the board. There was a good and healthy discussion and debate. But, in the end, the majority did feel a modification to the board’s composition was warranted. STAR Catholic trustees represent their own communities and constituents, but around the board table we are all committed to being a board that serves the collective will and interests of communities, students and families throughout the entire Division, and that hasn’t changed.”
“As a result of the board’s decision, this change will bring the division’s wards much more in line with one another from a representation-by-population and voter parity perspective, which are fundamental democratic principles. Our board will continue to monitor our communities as they grow and populations shift.”
The trustees will next have to ratify official changes to the bylaw, then forward a request to the Minister of Education to approve it. The changes would take effect for the next municipal election.