School trustees are making it easier for the public to find out how they voted on different issues.
The board decided last week that trustee votes at public meetings — whether for, against or abstaining — will be recorded in the minutes.
The board’s procedural bylaw will now come forward to be changed.
Trustee Fran Goldberg raised the issue of recording votes.
She noted there was a call in a Comox Valley Record editorial in October for the school board and other municipally elected bodies to have their votes recorded.
Goldberg agreed with the editorial, including the fact that these are public meetings and constituents have a right to know how their elected representatives have voted, especially for the purpose of informing themselves for election purposes, she explained in a briefing note to her fellow trustees.
Information about how trustees voted is already available to those who wish to attend meetings in person or watch the webcast, so it should not be a stretch to make this information more readily accessible, she noted.
“I think it’s important to remember we’re all here as elected representatives,” Goldberg said Tuesday.
Goldberg has noticed that on an increasing basis, it is not clear if and when trustees are abstaining, and she thought it should be.
She felt that if abstentions were recorded, members of the public would know and could ask trustees for explanations if they wanted to know their reasons.
Secretary-treasurer Len Ibbs reminded trustees about the principle of supporting board decisions once they’ve been made and cautioned that recording all votes might be divisive.
“I think it makes the vote more important than the actions you take, which is not what you want,” he said.
Board chair Susan Barr supported Goldberg’s motion.
“I think we are doing this for the public,” she said. “Yes, we have to do this with the whole district in mind, but we aren’t voted in by the whole district. … It does make us accountable and transparent.”
As it stands, trustees who vote against a recommendation can ask to have their vote recorded.
Trustee Corinne McLellan noted that if she says she wants her vote recorded, it’s sort of the same thing as saying “they voted for it, but I was against it.”
Trustee Sheila McDonnell was uncomfortable about making a change to the board’s procedures with two trustees — Tom Weber and Janice Caton — absent, and she abstained from the vote.