New faces elected to Central Okanagan school board

New trustees will face school enrolment growth issues

There will be a change in the Lake Country school trustee representative on the Central Okanagan Board of Education.

In Saturday’s civic election, incumbent Deb Butler was defeated by Amy Geistlinger, 1,472 to 1,262 votes.

Butler had previously served seven years on school board in three-year and four-year terms.

The Oyama resident said she was thankful for the experience of being a trustee and working on school parent advisory councils and committees prior to that, but she is okay with moving on with new challenges in her life.

“It’s all good. I wish Amy all the best. She will have a lot to learn but that’s okay,” Butler said.

“I’ve been doing this for a long time so it’s time to move on to other things.”

RELATED: Letter—Time to hear from school board candidates

Butler said she was thankful the election campaign between her and Geistlinger was not as divisive as in some other trustee electoral areas.

“Whoever wins in the end, you want them to be successful moving forward,” Butler said.

Geistlinger said she was thankful for the support she received at the ballot box and throughout the campaign.

“I am excited for this new role and chapter in my life. I anticipate a bit of a learning curve, but I’m excited to take it on,” Geistlinger said.

“Looking forward to hearing from the community on educational issues, and helping to a ensure safe and engaging environment for our learners.”

RELATED: Incumbent trustee candidate pulls back SOGI 123 support

Geistlinger won’t be the only newcomer to the school board, as West Kelowna has a new trustee in Chantelle Desrosiers while Norah Bowman is one of four trustees representing Kelowna.

Other trustee incumbents re-elected were Moyra Baxter in Peachland/Okanagan West, and Lee-Ann Tiede, Rolli Cacchioni and Julia Fraser for Kelowna.

Fraser had been the trustee for West Kelowna, but shifted her candidacy to Kelowna after moving to the city this past year.

Baxter, the current school board chair, said the trustees will face some major issues in the months ahead, starting with the development of a 10-year strategic capital plan that addresses the district’s growing school enrolment and review of the policies regarding catchment areas, which some schools have and others do not.

“There is some unfinished business for the new board to address but my hope is we will look at the bigger picture in debating those issues,” she said. “I’m looking forward to working with the new board and talking about how to move forward while being respectful of each other’s ideas, which would be great.”

Desrosiers said she was excited to win the race for West Kelowna school trustee but acknowledged “now the real work begins.”

That real work, she said, will in part involve the board’s decision to start middle French Immersion for the Westside in the 2019-20 school year, making sure the resources are in place for the students and staff to meet that challenge.

She also looks forward to improving communication between the school district and parents, something she dealt with first-hand as a parent seeking justification for the timing and how the school district’s grade reconfiguration policy was applied to Westside schools.

The new school board will be sworn into office at the November 7 meeting and the trustees will decide on the next school board chair moving forward.



barry.gerding@blackpress.ca

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