Kathleen Karpuk (centre) is the new chair of the Kamloops-Thompson school board. Photograph By Michael Potestio/KTW

Karpuk is the new chair of the Kamloops-Thompson school district

Veteran trustee acclaimed after no challengers emerged at inaugural meeting

Michael Potestio

Kamloops This Week

The next chair and vice-chair of the Kamloops-Thompson school board were chosen without any opposition at the inaugural meeting Monday.

Kamloops trustee Kathleen Karpuk, who was elected to her fourth term in October, was acclaimed as the new chair, as was new vice-chair Rhonda Kershaw who begins her third term as Barriere/Little Fort trustee.

Karpuk was nominated by outgoing chair Meghan Wade, who despite indicating her intention last month to seek the position, decided she wouldn’t, opting instead to spend more time with family this term.

Karpuk nominated Kershaw as vice-chair. Each will serve one-year terms before the positions are again up for grabs.

Karpuk said she was humbled by the acclamation.

“It means a lot to me that I have the trust of my colleagues to lead them for this next year,” Karpuk told KTW following the meeting.

Karpuk advised the board of a busy year ahead, noting the need to address the empty Westwold elementary and continued implementation of the five-year strategic plan.

Interest in challenging Wade as board chair had been apparent leading up to the meeting as both Karpuk and newly elected trustee John O’Fee were considering the position.

Karpuk said she had several people approach her and ask her if she would run, citing her experience and “level-headedness.”

Second-term trustee Joe Small, who acknowledged having a tense relationship with Wade, told KTW in October he would nominate O’Fee if he wanted the position.

O’Fee opted not to pursue the chair.

O’Fee said it didn’t seem like an appropriate time to seek the position.

“When you’re new to the board, I think people [need] to get to know you,” he said, noting when he was last a trustee, he served two terms before becoming chair.

Small said Karpuk has plenty of experience on the board and feels she will do a great job.

Wade said that experience is the reason she nominated Karpuk.

“She knows the district, she knows the people,” Wade said.

School board representatives to the B.C. School Trustees’ Association and the B.C. Public School Employers’ Association were also chosen at the inaugural meeting, which yielded the lone vote of the night.

Kershaw nominated Clearwater trustee Shelley Sim, who was named the board’s BCSTA representative by acclamation, but the BCPSEA representative position came down to O’Fee versus Kershaw.

Sim nominated Kershaw and Chase trustee Diane Jules nominated O’Fee. Ultimately, Kershaw was voted in as the board’s BCSEA emissary by majority vote.

At the onset of the meeting, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Dev Dley addressed the new board and administered the oath of office.

School District 73’s new board consists of three new trustees — John O’Fee, Heather Grieve and Diane Jules — re-elected trustees Meghan Wade, Joe Small and Kathleen Karpuk and acclaimed incumbent trustees Rhonda Kershaw, Cara McKelvey and Shelley Sim.

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