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Salmon Arm  

School board fired

North Okanagan Shuswap school district trustees have been fired from their elected posts, following a special advisor's report.

Former Surrey school district Supt. Mike McKay has been appointed as official trustee for School District 83, provincial Minister of Education Mike Bernier announced today.

The dismissal of the board was recommended by special advisor Elizabeth Watson.

According to Watson's report, the board was not functioning well, the situation was deteriorating rapidly and the board had lost the confidence of the community.

"Dismissing a board is neither pleasant nor easy, but this unusual step is required at this time so the public can have faith in the administration of education in their community," said Bernier. "It's also a step that ensures the school district in question fulfils its responsibilities to the community and to taxpayers."

Parents were outraged when it was learned the board had approved the transfer of more than $10 million in surplus operating funds into capital funding projects over five years, including the new $9.3 million board offices.

Three trustees – Barry Chafe, Jennifer Wilchuk and Kelly Rowe – handed in their resignations but stayed on until a by-election was held, with Rowe calling for all board members to resign.

Watson was appointed in April at the request of the board to evaluate governance practices as well as their approach to financial matters and fiscal management.

McKay will assume all the duties and responsibilities typically required of a board of education for one year, including the obligations to conduct public board meetings and community consultations.

The appointment could be extended if required, according to a ministry release.

The official trustee's first priority is meeting with school district senior staff to plan next steps.

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