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UPDATE: New Westminster school board will decide in January if it wants to broadcast meetings

New Westminster school trustees will decide in January if they want to start broadcasting their public meetings.
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After a flurry of discussion, New Westminster school trustees voted four to three to approve a motion to send a letter to the Ministry of Education urging the minister to hold byelections in Vancouver and North Okanagan-Shuswap.

New Westminster school trustees will decide in January if they want to start broadcasting their public meetings.

Trustee Mary Lalji presented a motion to the board at Tuesday’s combined education and operations policy and planning committee meeting recommending staff look into the feasibility of live streaming public meetings “as part of its commitment to transparency, accountability and accessibility.”

Lalji said former school trustees had passed motions to broadcast the meetings but that those motions were never implemented.

The Record could not confirm if any motions were presented or approved by any previous school board. The school board did live stream a few of its public meetings in 2013, when board meetings were held in council chambers at New Westminster City Hall, but that was done without a formal motion by trustees.

After the meetings were moved out of city hall, the streaming stopped, and it was never re-started when the board moved into its new office in May 2016.

“Many other boards and cities have stepped up to improve transparency and accountability to the public,” Lalji said.

In November, the Vancouver school board streamed its first meeting, and districts like Surrey and Richmond have been streaming theirs for some time.

Given the majority of school trustees are serving their first term, Lalji said it’s the perfect opportunity “to make transparency and accountability a priority.”

Trustee Gurveen Dhaliwal agreed and moved an amendment to Lalji’s recommendation to take it one step further. Dhaliwal recommended staff present a business case to trustees that will include options and recommendations on the implementation of live streaming public meetings.

“So when staff come back to us on Jan. 15, we have everything we need to decide right then and there,” Dhaliwal said.

Trustees agreed and approved Dhaliwal’s amendment.

Staff will report back to the board at its operations policy and planning committee meeting on Jan. 15, 2019.