Neitz named chair of public school board

A couple of familiar faces have been selected as the new chair and vice-chair of the Clearview Public Schools board.

Cheri Neitz was nominated and acclaimed as Clearview Public Schools board chair at the board’s organizational meeting on Oct. 23. John Schofer was appointed vice-chair.

Cheri Neitz was nominated and acclaimed as Clearview Public Schools board chair at the board’s organizational meeting on Oct. 23. John Schofer was appointed vice-chair.

A couple of familiar faces have been selected as the new chair and vice-chair of the Clearview Public Schools board.

Trustee Cheri Neitz, who has represented Donalda and Erskine since 2007, was nominated as chairperson and was acclaimed by all trustees, replacing outgoing chairperson Ken Checkel.

Meanwhile, John Schofer — who was first elected to the board in 1998, representing Byemoor, Botha and Gadsby, and returned last year after one term away — was elected as vice-chair, replacing Dave Goodwin.

The appointments were made during the board’s organizational meeting on Thursday, Oct. 23. Both Neitz and Schofer have been named to one-year terms.

Neitz told the Independent this week that she looks forward to working with a “unified council,” explaining that the chairperson accepts and follows the direction of the board as a whole.

“I think our board is headed in a positive direction,” she said. “We have a lot of positive forward motion.”

She pointed to developments like the work being undertaken by superintendent Peter Barron, who has been tasked with consulting students, staff and parents on the issues facing the Stettler schools.

Barron is expected to return to the board with several possible scenarios for addressing those issues early next year.

Neitz also said the trustees are communicating with town and county councils in the school division to identify areas in which the municipalities can lobby on Clearview’s behalf.

Neitz has served as the board’s representative on both the Public School Boards Association of Alberta and the Alberta School Boards Association, also serving as the chair for ASBA Zone 4 for two years.

Checkel, who had served as chair since 2006, declined to put his name forward for the position again but will continue to serve as trustee for Coronation and Brownfield.

During the meeting, committee appointments were made and board meeting dates were set for November 2014 through November 2015.

The board will customarily meet twice a month — the first meeting in a “committee of the whole” format from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., and the second as a regular board meeting. In months with only one meeting, the regular format will be used.

Trustee honorariums and benefit rates are unchanged from last year, as are rates for meal and non-hotel stay allowance. The mileage rate increased by one cent per kilometre, to 54 cents per km, effective Nov. 1.

The board also designated student services director Eileen Johnstone as acting superintendent on an as-needed basis until next year’s organizational meeting.

Fourth-quarter financial results

Associate superintendent Peter Neale presented the division’s fourth-quarter financial results for 2013-2014 at the board’s regular meeting, which immediately followed the organizational meeting on Oct. 23.

While budget projections last year indicated a deficit of $963,500, Neale said that the division has in fact reached a slim surplus of $4,856.

Neale, who called it a “good news budget,” said the biggest driver behind that surplus was the schools themselves, who generated a surplus of $310,000 through additional grant money and reducing spending.

While other departments also reduced spending to come in under budget, Neale remarked that Maintenance Services ended with a deficit of $333,368, roughly $30,000 less than anticipated. He identified this as a “significant risk.”

“We’re a million dollars better than what we expected to be,” observed Dave Goodwin, but Neale warned that any significant celebration would be premature, as the school’s future revenues are still expected to fall short of expenditures.

“This does give us a bit of a cushion to fall on,” he said, “but it doesn’t solve our long-term problems.”

The division’s audited financial statements will be presented for approval in November.