The resignation of a trustee will cost the Chilliwack school board significant unbudgeted funds this year. Second-term trustee Louise Piper has resigned, and a byelection to find a new board member will likely be set for Nov. 30, according to information included in the agenda for Tuesday's regular public board meeting.
"The only way that it could be avoided is if the [education] minister sets aside the requirement for a board of education to have a byelection," superintendent Evelyn Novak told the Times.
She said the board would decide whether to pursue that option at Tuesday's meeting.
Piper was elected chair for a second consecutive term in December, but stopped attending meetings after the Christmas break for undisclosed medical reasons.
The City of Chilliwack employee and former local CUPE president stepped down as chair in May but was expected to resume trustee duties in August.
Novak said the district doesn't know yet how much the byelection will cost, but officials in the Alberni Valley school district, a much smaller district where a trustee
stepped down in June, estimated a byelection there would cost as much as $15,000 if more than one candidate ran.
Since Chilliwack is a bigger district, finding Piper's replacement will likely cost more.
"The expenses can vary greatly depending on how many polling stations there are," Novak said. "What makes it expensive is the number of polling stations and the number of staff that you have to have trained and present and counting the ballots."
The BC School Act states a byelection must be held for any trustee who resigns before Jan. 1 of the general school election year.
With the next election not scheduled until November 2014, the school board now has to pass an election bylaw and appoint a chief elections officer and deputy elections officer to conduct the byelection, since trustee elections are handled locally and not through Elections BC.
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