DAN CEARNS The Standard
NORTH DURHAM: The Durham District School Board trustees voted, on Monday, March 19th, to decrease the number of trustees that represent North Durham from two to one.
At the board meeting, trustees voted in favour of a solution that will see the trustees positions in Scugog and Uxbridge-Brock combined and Whitby given a third trustee.
The board had previously made a request to the province for a twelfth trustee, but they were denied because population data from the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation showed the school board didn’t need an extra trustee.
That decision didn’t sit well with board chair Michael Barrett. He called the province’s decision “short sighted and not fair to Durham” and called their data collection process “erroneous” and “a travesty.”
After the request was turned down, the trustees were faced with two options, keep the status quo for this year’s election or combine the North Durham positions and add a trustee in Whitby, with the latter being the solution voted in favour of by the board of trustees.
Mr. Barrett told The Standard, Scugog trustee Carolyn Morton did raise a concern at the meeting regarding the balance of power. However, he said, while it is possible that Oshawa and Whitby could “dominate”, he believes that is “highly improbable.” He cited that there are “many boards’ and “many models” with a similar composition that have worked effectively.
“It will depend on the effectiveness of the [North Durham] trustee,” Mr. Barrett said. “There are lots of examples that would say you could still have effective representation.”
Mr. Barrett added it is “unfortunate [this decision leaves] one position and two incumbents” heading into the election in October, and he complimented the two North Durham trustees, Scugog's Ms. Morton and Trustee of Brock and Uxbridge Gord Baxter, for speaking their concerns.
“The two northern trustees spoke very passionately about their opposition. They were good ambassadors of their community,” he said. “I know it was a tough decision, but I was proud they represented their community.”
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