By ROY WOOD
School board chair Marieze Tarr says she won’t seek re-election when her term expires in 2018, citing what she sees as a decent into irrelevance for BC school boards.
In an interview Tuesday, Ms Tarr said ongoing frustrations with the provincial education ministry are at the root of her decision. As well, the personal toll the controversy over the on-again, off-again closure of Osoyoos Secondary School also contributed.
“I put in a lot of work into what I do. I’ve never done it for the money or the accolades or anything like that,” she said. “I just think I’m done with it.”
Central to Ms Tarr’s frustrations are the inconsistency and unpredictability of education funding from the province, over which school districts have no control.
“We have advocated the ministry endlessly (for stable, consistent funding). We need something that we know is going to be there for the foreseeable future,” she said.
Rather there is the looming threat that the ministry will change funding models on short notice, plunging districts into budget crises. “There are always these uncertainties,” she said.
“I feel the co-governance role of trustees has become extremely eroded. I’ve been a trustee for 14 years now and I’ve seen our role become less and less,” she said.
Co-governance is the term in the provincial School Act under which the ministry and local school boards have responsibility for operating the province’s public schools.
However, said Tarr, “I struggle to see how that (model) is still valid.”
During the past five months, Ms Tarr has been the target of political and personal attacks over the decision the board made over the spring to close OSS to deal with a budget deficit brought about by declining enrollments.
At nearly the last possible moment, the province came up with the so-called Rural Education Enhancement Fund, which provided $490,000 to keep OSS open.
Asked if the furor led to the decision not to run again, she said, “I think I already decided before this all came about that this was going to be my final term.
“(But) without a doubt what has happened in the last five months has had an effect on it.”
Ms Tarr was elected as a trustee from Osoyoos in 2002. She was elected chair by the rest of the board in 2011. The next board elections are in the fall of 2018.
“I believe in making a difference in the world,” said Ms Tarr, who is also president of the Osoyoos Rotary Club.
“That’s one of things I feel very strongly about and I will always find a way to contribute in some ways, but definitely not in politics.”