The Rocky View Schools (RVS) Board of Trustees elected both Norma Lang and Shelley Kinley as chair and vice-chair of the board, respectively, in a secret ballot vote among members held during the division’s organizational meeting at the RVS Education Centre in Airdrie on Sept. 22.
Following the decision, Lang, the Ward 4 (north Rocky View County) Trustee and previous vice-chair, will continue her trustee duties while serving as board chair for the 2022-23 school year. She replaces Ward 6 (Cochrane) Trustee Fiona Gilbert in the role.
Likewise, Ward 2 (southeast Rocky View County) Trustee Shelley Kinley will succeed Lang in the duties and responsibilities of the vice-chair for the current school year.
During the meeting, candidates were nominated by their fellow trustees with an anonymous vote. An appointed ballot committee comprised of Steve Thomas, RVS’ finance director, and Jenelle Weisgarber, manager of accounting, conducted the vote.
Following her nomination by Ward 1 (Chestermere) Trustee Shali Baziuk, Lang provided remarks to her colleagues as to her suitability for the role of board chair.
“For myself personally, there has never been a better time in my life to take on the extra duties and responsibility associated with board chair,” Lang said during the meeting. “[I want to] establish that it is a really good fit with my own personal growth journey.”
The newly elected board chair said though she felt ready to take on the position last year, she feels even more prepared this time around, having served a “second stint” as vice-chair for the RVS board during the 2021-22 school year.
According to Lang, her passion for the public school division and for the wider RVS community further equips her for the role.
“I feel very confident about where we’re going as a board, but I also am very proud of what we’ve accomplished and where we’re at,” she added. “I’m proud of the work the board has done and we’re here to serve the best interest of students. And I feel that we’re on a really good track.”
Though she said she felt any of the trustees have the capacity to serve as chair of the board, she felt the role should only be filled for one or two years to provide others with the same opportunity. Her predecessor Gilbert was selected by her fellow RVS trustees to serve as the board’s official spokesperson in 2019. She has since served as board chair for three consecutive years.
“I believe this is a great time for a transition. I think the work of the board belongs to the whole board,” Lang said.
Ward 3 (Airdrie) Trustee Todd Brand voiced his nomination for Gilbert to be re-elected as board chair during the Sept. 22 meeting. Thereafter, Gilbert addressed Lang’s assertion that the board chair role should be filled on a rotational basis.
“In the end, it doesn’t matter what any of us think individually,” she said during the meeting. “What matters is the collective will of the board, and that’s what we say all the time.”
“That’s what we are working on determining here today through a vote, just like every other decision that we make.”
The former board chair said her experience over the last few years in the role has demonstrated the position is about far more than simply presiding over board meetings.
“Actually, I would go as far as to say that presiding over board meetings is actually the easy part of the job as we head into the school year,” Gilbert said. “We all know the current political landscape that we’re heading into. We know the work that is ahead of us as a board.”
She added she doesn’t feel the decision should be a popularity or personality contest, but rather should be made by considering the best outcome for the division.
“It’s not about taking turns and it’s certainly not personal – it’s about who do we, the board, think would serve best in this role at this time,” she concluded.
Following Lang’s win, the trustees participated in a second secret ballot to determine who would replace Lang in her previous position as vice-chair.
Due to a tied vote (4-4) the trustees repeated the vote two additional times. After three rounds of votes, the tie remained, and the name of the successful candidate was instead chosen randomly by a member of the ballot committee.
Kinley, who was nominated for the position by Ward 5 (northwest Rocky View County) Trustee Judi Hunter, was up against Melyssa Bowen, trustee for Ward 3 (Airdrie), who was nominated by Gilbert.
Prior to the vote, and following their respective nominations, both candidates provided remarks to their fellow trustees.
“I am not long on this board, but I have a lot of life experiences on boards, and for the last two boards [I served], I was chair and then a vice-chair as well,” said Kinley, who was elected as trustee for the first time during the 2021 school board election.
“I really believe in this board and the role of this board. I feel we have so many great voices and I will listen to all the voices on this board to help make the best decisions going forward.
“I feel that together as a board and with [Superintendent Greg Luterbach] and his super team, we can go great places.”