Gary Turner

Parent challenges decision to close schools in northwestern B.C.

There must be a better way to honour a deceased school trustee, she says

A Terrace parent is challenging the school district on whether an early school closure next week is the best way to honour late school trustee Gary Turner.

Turner passed away suddenly Oct. 2 and the Coast Mountains School District announced Oct. 5 that Terrace and Thornhill schools would be closed at noon Oct. 13 to allow people to attend Turner’s celebration of life that afternoon.

Lisa Hanna’s Oct. 7 letter to the school district questions that decision.

I fail to see how closing the doors of seven schools, and cancelling the delivery of educational programs to over one thousand students (literally denying children several thousand hours of teaching time), plus causing their parents extraordinary expenses in missed work or childcare costs, in any way honours the memory of a man who was clearly devoted to promoting the educational needs of the children in our community,” wrote Hanna.

There are so many other options available to honour the legacy of a devoted public servant… I trust that you will find more appropriate and honourable means to respect the future passing of any members of our public service,” she concluded.

 

Below is a copy of Lisa Hanna’s letter

Oct. 7, 2015

Coast Mountains Board of Education

School District 82

3211 Kenney Street,

Terrace, British Columbia

V8G 3E9

Dear Katherine McIntosh, Art Erasmus and Members of the Board:

It was with heartfelt sadness that I received your letter yesterday in my child’s backpack, regarding the passing of Gary Turner, School Trustee for Coast Mountains Board of Education School District 82.

First, to be clear, I did not know Mr. Turner. I also express my deepest condolences to his family and friends, and mean them no harm by writing this letter today.

However, I am shocked and dismayed that the Board of Trustees decided that it is appropriate to close all local schools for an afternoon next week, irrespective of the reasonable desire of some staff and students to attend his memorial service.

According to letter I received, Mr. Turner was “A devoted School Trustee” and he “served in this position for over 15 years reflecting outstanding dedication and service to students and families in the Terrace and Thornhill communities.” In a parallel letter, posted to the School District 82 website, it states that “In his sixth term as School Trustee, a role he took on with passion and devotion, Gary made regular visits to his liaison schools and served on the Business and Budget Working Committees for the Board of Education. He made a difference in our school district communities and played an essential role in the lives of thousands of students.”

Mr. Turner appears to have been a valued member of the school board, a role for which not many people offer to stand, and I applaud his service. However, in the same letter delivered by my child, it goes on to state “schools in his home communities of Thornhill and Terrace will close at lunch hour on Tuesday, October 13th, and remain closed for the afternoon to allow students and staff to attend his Celebration of Life”.

From here my sorrow flows. I fail to see how closing the doors of 7 schools, and cancelling the delivery of educational programs to over one thousand students (literally denying children several thousand hours of teaching time), plus causing their parents extraordinary expenses in missed work or childcare costs, in any way honors the memory of a man who was clearly devoted to promoting the educational needs of the children in our community.

There are so many other options available to honor the legacy of a devoted public servant. This appears to be a serious lapse in judgment by the members of the Board, and the Superintendant of Schools.

I trust that you will find more appropriate, and honorable, means to respect the future passing of any members of our public service.

In respectful memory of Gary Turner,

Lisa Hanna,

Terrace, B.C.