Winning elections may yet prove to be a genetic trait, as Alexander Ashton was successful in his bid Sept. 11 for a second term as chair of the board of trustees for the School District of Mystery Lake. Ashton has a ways to go to chase down the record of his father Steve Ashton, who has been the NDP MLA for Thompson for more than 30 years and nine elections. His sister, Niki Ashton, has also won two consecutive elections since October 2008 to serve as NDP MP for Churchill riding – and his mother Hari Dimitrakopoulou-Ashton, who teaches mathematics in the business administration program in the Roblin Centre at Red River College in Winnipeg – is a former SDML trustee also.
Alexander Ashton was re-elected as chair of the board of trustees of the School District of Mystery Lake at the board’s annual reorganizational meeting in a secret ballot vote that he won over the board’s newest trustee, Janet Brady, dispatching her to what would soon become a double defeat on the night.
Brady joined the board in a byelection last November and served her first term as a trustee during in the 2011-2012 school year. Brady is an instructor and field placement co-ordinator professor in the Northern Social Work Program at the University of Manitoba here in Thompson.
Trustee Leslie Tucker, who was defeated by both Ashton and Pellizzaro in bids for both the chair and vice-chair positions last year, nominated Brady for the position of chair and vice-chair, both times seconded by trustee Sya Gregovski but to no avail as Ashton and Pellizzaro both regained their titles.
“I nominated Janet (Brady) because I’d like to see gender parity on the board of trustees, this is my third year and we’ve seen no women in executive positions,” said Tucker, “we constitute three out of seven positions and reflect the 50 per cent of the population that is female, in the school system and community in general. I just think it’s good practice for all boards to practice gender equality.”
Brady was gracious in defeat, saying that she was honoured to have been nominated for both positions and that she will still have a lot on her plate in the coming school year.
“Any time you have the support from your fellow trustees it’s an honour,” said Brady, “but I’m still going to be the chair of the scholarship committee and I’ll still have lots to do.”
Pellizzaro’s re-election as vice-chair will mark the Thompson lawyer’s third consecutive year as vice-chair or chair. Much of the last half of Pellizzaro’s 2010-11 term as chair was embroiled in the controversial firing of former R.D. Parker Collegiate principal Ryan Land, now manager of corporate affairs for Vale Canada’s Manitoba Operations.
Controversy did not cease for the board in 2011-2012, with the resignation of former superintendent Beverly Hammond on Jan. 18 after just 16 months on the job. The school district finished the year with two co-superintendants, Angele Bartlett and Lorie Henderson; the two will share the duties once more in the 2012-2013 school year, as Hammond has yet to be replaced.
Last year ended with more issues for the board when they were strong-armed by the province to extend a lease for the District Scolaire Franco Manitobaine (DSMF) for another year at Burntwood Elementary School, despite a shortage of space.
“I think all the drama from last year is well behind us now,” said Brady, “so now we can concentrate on business as usual and get to work setting our goals for this year.”
The board of trustees, along with both Ashton and Pellizzaro, will partake in a retreat on Sept. 28 to discuss their goals and plans and develop a roadmap for the school year, along with looking at ways to work with the province.