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School board to record votes, after all

Feb 21 2012

The Greater Victoria school board reversed course Monday and agreed to make it easier for the public to see how trustees vote on issues.

One week after rejecting a similar motion, trustees unanimously endorsed a move to record all board votes in meeting minutes.

Diane McNally, a new trustee elected last fall, had called for minutes to show a trustee's name and whether they voted yes or no or abstained. McNally said her goal was to make voting records more transparent.

A majority of trustees initially shot down the proposal at a recent committee meeting, opting instead for the current practice of recording a trustee's vote only if he or she requests that it be noted in the minutes. Otherwise, the minutes indicated that a motion was carried, carried unanimously or defeated with no indication of how individual trustees voted.

The trustees argued against the change for a variety of reasons, saying it would create too much work for board secretaries, undermine unity and inject politics into board meetings.

Victoria board chairwoman Peg Orcherton said last week that the current system works well. "I think it comes down to individual trustee responsibility and the opportunity to record your vote is already in our rules," she said. "If trustees don't want to record their votes, that's their individual right."

But Orcherton and other trustees changed their minds Monday when McNally brought her motion forward a second time.

Michael McEvoy, who does not sit on the committee that rejected the motion last week, also supported recording votes, but said he thought that previous boards were very transparent about their decisions. McEvoy is also president of the B.C. School Trustees' Association.

School board across the province follow different rules.

Sooke and Saanich school boards record votes only if trustees request it, while Vancouver and Comox Valley school boards record all votes.


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