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Board of education renews BCSTA membership, trustees question $57,000 cost

The Abbotsford board of education has voted to renew its $57,000 membership in the B.C. School Trustees Association (BCSTA), but the expense was questioned at Monday’s monthly public meeting.

Two trustees, John Sutherland and Uultsje DeJong, were opposed to renewing the membership.

“I don’t see the value in it, really,” said DeJong, who has been a trustee since before the board was a BCSTA member.

Sutherland said the services provided by BCSTA membership could be obtained through other means that might not amount to $57,000 during tough economic times.

“When we’re looking under rocks for nickels, that’s a considerable amount of nickels we’re spending.”

The matter arose when trustee Joanne Field questioned whether the board was getting good value for its money in the three or four years it has been a BCSTA member.

She said the board is able to participate in BCSTA activities, such as conferences, without belonging to the association, and has to pay extra for those events even with membership.

School district superintendent Julie MacRae, who does not vote on board of education matters, said she believes the membership is worthwhile.

She said the district often calls the BCSTA for advice on governance issues and legal matters. As well, the association lobbies government, and being a member ensures the local voice is heard at a provincial level, she said.

“My experience is that the board tends to benefit pretty well by the (BCSTA) expenditure,” MacRae said.

Board chair Cindy Schafer said being a member ensures the Abbotsford board of education can participate in discussions and debate on pertinent issues.

“It is a vehicle for impacting and affecting your colleagues and peers, and there is value to that,” she said.

The BCSTA website said its mission is “to support and advocate for effective public boards of education and quality public education.”

Voting in favour of the membership renewal were Schafer, Field, Korky Neufeld, Preet Rai and Shirley Wilson.

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