I read the letter written to The Record by David Brett (Kudos to business company, Oct. 7) about the school district business company with great interest. Partly because so far there has been no official comment from the school trustees regarding their recent meeting with the province's auditor general and partly because Mr. Brett seems largely unaware of the troubled history of the business company.
A few years ago, I sat on the school district's finance and administration committee, both before and just after Brent Atkinson took over the reins of the business company after several years of last-minute crisis operating deficits.
Brent Atkinson and I long ago agreed to disagree when necessary about financial matters, but we often found common ground as well.
One particular night at a finance and administration committee meeting a couple of years ago, following ongoing financial problems with the business company that were negatively impacting the school district budget, there had been very heated discussion about the business company.
The community representatives on the committee, of which I was one of three, wanted to see greater separation between the business company and the school district, with more clearly defined boundaries, fewer grey areas, and more transparent financial reporting.
After the meeting, Brent and I had a conversation about the future of the business company and its troubled past. As Brent said to me at that time: "Sanda, I've just barely got this tiger by the tail."
Brent asked me to please have some patience with him while he educated the parties involved about how to run a business and how to get the business company on track. He also said that it was going to be an uphill battle, and it clearly was.
For several years, I watched as Brent wrestled the tiger to the ground and rebuilt the troubled business company into a valid business entity. Knowing Brent, I knew that he could get things on track but that it would require his constant attention and jettisoning some money-losing propositions.
I believe that Brent has done a good job getting the business company on track, and I believe that this may be part of what the auditor general of this province told the school trustees.
I also suspect that the auditor general has told the school trustees, just as the community representatives on the finance and administration committee did several years ago, that there needs to be clear separation between the business company and the school district. This appears to be the part that some board members may be resisting. But I am only speculating.
I am very thankful that Brent is still going to be the CEO of the business company. Maybe after this civic election there will actually be more separation between the business company and the school district and a clearer financial picture of how the business company is either impacting the school district for the worse or the better.
Sanda Turner, New Westminster