The three Coast Mountains School District administrators leaving their positions can stay where they are—for now.
School Board Chair Shar McCrory made the announcement Wednesday night at a regularly scheduled board meeting, again packed with parents, teachers, and students and overflowing into the hallways.
Skeena Middle School Principal Phillip Barron and Vice Principal Cory Killoran, along with Suwilaawks Community School Principal Pam Kawinsky will remain in their positions for what McCrory described as a one-year transition.
“We have heard you,” McCrory said to the cheering crowd. “We will work with [independent consultant] Dianne Turner and we will work with you all to move forward and look at how we can be the best district we can be for the students within it.”
McCrory had to pause three times as the crowd applauded, whistled and cheered the names of each administrator, whom she said have given their consent to the arrangement. People in the crowd visibly wept and “thank yous” were shouted from across the room to the seated school board trustees.
School Superintendent Katherine McIntosh did not attend the meeting, citing family issues.
On April 25, Coast Mountains School District 82 announced the administrators would be moved to other schools this fall. The two principals opted for demotions to teaching positions rather than leave their home community, triggering protests and outpourings of support. Confused and angry students, teachers and parents have since demanded transparency in the school district’s reasoning.
On Wednesday night the school board did not satisfy thier demand, but as McCrory reiterated a second time the board intends to work better with parents on this and other issues moving forward, the crowd gave her a standing applause.
It’s not clear yet what the “one-year transition” entails, nor whether the reassignments are open for discussion or are simply postponed.
McCrory said details will be released Thursday afternoon.
Terrace grandmother Carol Schmidt was relieved the board made a final decision on the matter, but like many she is still unsure what’s in store one year down the line.
“I don’t know if that means transition to what they already had planned…but I hope it has to do with the conclusion of the consultant. But tonight the whole community is very pleased with the board — they made a good decision. They’re at least listening and responding.”
During the last regular board meeting, after hours of questions and testimony from community members, McIntosh and board trustees refused to consider postponing the decision until a recently hired independent consultant, Dianne Turner, completes her review of the district’s processes this fall.
The reversal of that stance surprised Angie Scodane, who despite the distance from her home on Braun’s Island saw an importance for her kids to attend Suwilaawks under the administration of Kawinsky and her empathy with young Indigenous learners.
“We’re super stoked. I had all three of my kids go there and now we have this little one in kindergarten,” Scodane said, holding her grandson. “He just loves Pam. We’re very exited. She helped all of my kids and now she’s helping him.”
– with files from Brittany Gervais