Long-time Peachland school trustee looking for eighth term - InfoNews

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Long-time Peachland school trustee looking for eighth term

Superintendent Kevin Kaardal (left) and school board chairwoman Moyra Baxter.
September 06, 2018 - 5:04 PM

KELOWNA - If school trustee and chair Moyra Baxter can offer one thing, it’s experience and lots of it.

The seven-term school trustee, first elected in 1996, has announced she will run again as Peachland’s representative to the Central Okanagan School Board.

Unlike some of Baxter's previous terms — she’s been acclaimed three times and says she’s always won by a landslide — Baxter is facing competition from Marjorie Brims, a retired health care professional.

Baxter says it’s no surprise her competitor has suggested it’s time for new blood but she believes her time spent on the board — much of it as chair — presiding over some tumultuous periods of shrinking enrollment, tight budgets and school closures, has given her an appreciation for the bigger picture.

“We can’t keep doing things piecemeal,” Baxter says, pointing to her negative vote last fall over grade configurations on the Westside, which is tied to the lack of classroom space.

While the board had earlier agreed that grade configuration needed to wait until more schools became available, Baxter says that resolve disappeared when staff recommended a partial reconfiguration be done now using portables to take up the overflow.

“It’s not what we planned. There’s just no room,” Baxter said of her lone vote against the measure. “I’m not one who’s afraid to question staff and say 'oh well, they’re the experts.'"

Baxter says that healthy skepticism has been reinforced by her own experience in her early years on the board, when trustees sold or reconfigured 12 schools on the advice of staff.

That included converting George Pringle secondary school into into an elementary, leaving the Westside with only one high school and Baxter with some regrets.

Now close to 20 years later, the district has pushed a new high school for West Kelowna to the top of its facilities wish list at a ticket price of $82 million.

“There were many who said we were making a mistake, that the Westside was going to grow but we didn’t listen,” Baxter says.

A similar situation exists in Kelowna where a new high school is also on the wish list, Baxter adds, holding up the grade configuration that was recommended at least a decade ago.

Baxter says this will likely be her last term, should she win, and the campaign has already gotten to her.

“It gets personal when you’re running against someone where there’s only one seat and you're the incumbent,” she admits.

Kelowna school trustee elections will be held October 20 in conjunction with province-wide municipal elections.

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