May 29th, 2024

Letter: Current school board policies prohibit proper explanation of trustee choices

By Letter to the Editor on May 2, 2024.

Dear editor,

Medicine Hat Public School Division board approved its three-year capital plan on March 26. One trustee voted against approval, but there is nothing in the minutes to reveal the reasons for this trustee’s negative vote.

Any discussion of the proposed capital plan was behind closed doors after it was presented to the board on March 12. Current MHPSD board policy deems all committee of the whole meetings closed, and proceedings “strictly confidential.” There is no reason for this to be the case. The Education Act encourages as much business as possible to be conducted in public view.

Committee of the whole meetings can be either open or closed, depending on matters to be discussed. What is there about school board planning discussion that needs to be “confidential,” especially when the capital plan will be published later? How can electors judge the board’s decisions if they can’t see discussion of matters that do not have to be confidential?

In addition, it seems impossible to get comment from a trustee who disagrees with the rest of the board after vote to approve something, as the trustee code of conduct prohibits disclosure of confidential information. So, electors, you will never know why one of your elected representatives disagreed with the public board’s capital plan.

It could have been for a very good reason, but with current board policies in place, you will never know.

Michael Seitz

Medicine Hat

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