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Meet the SD57 trustee by-election candidates: Milton Mahoney

‘It was far more difficult being a trustee than I had anticipated’
Milton Mahoney
Milton Mahoney is running for re-election for the SD57 board of education.

Milton Mahoney, who previously won a seat as a trustee on the School District No. 57 (SD57) board during the January by-election, but was not re-elected during the general election the following October, is now throwing his hat in the ring to be a trustee once again.

He is a Red Seal tradesman with an instructor’s certificate and over 60 years in the workforce, where he held positions in unions from president to legislative representative.

“I was a trustee for a short period starting in February 2022. As a trustee and only having one vote, my success was limited. Being a member of the finance committee, I was able to cut some spending ensuring some very important programs remained a part of the district,” said Mahoney.

He said for the most part he was hitting his head against the wall.

“It was far more difficult being a trustee than I had anticipated. In my very short time as a trustee, I predicted SD57 would be the worst district academically in the province and in fact, the Fraser Institute 2023 evaluation on BC`s School Districts rated SD57 one of the lowest.”

He claims he could not convince the board at that time to correct the path the district was on.

“They chose instead to sanction me because they couldn't terminate me. I was hampered from speaking the truth on such matters and was not able to report to the public about the many issues the school district was facing.”

He said he believes the boards in the past were too politically motivated and that neither the board nor the senior administration had the well-being of all students at the forefront of their goal setting.

Mahoney also takes issue with the high turnover of superintendents at the district, as well as the Special Advisors Report which evaluated the district's governance practices and found evidence of systemic racism.

“This district is the flagship for all the districts in the province, according to the former Minister of Education, when in fact this district is the laughingstock of all the districts in the province. This district is seen as the “what not to do” example for all boards and senior administration.”

He said he believes the recommendations in the Special Advisor’s report were compiled using “misinformation or information that is no longer relevant to how education is being offered in the district.”

Mahoney also takes issue with the strategic plan to enhance Indigenous education and Indigenous graduation rates.

He said he believes that instead of raising the bar for all students, this district has lowered the expectation for our Indigenous students, “essentially lowering the rate for a pass to less than 40 per cent and every Indigenous student (regardless of passing Grade 12 or not) can now walk the stage at a high school graduation ceremony.”

He said there is definitely a place in our educational system and our school district for the local nations to have a voice in the education of their students, the same as any other group of parents would.

“Indigenous Education needs to play a key part in our schools, as everyone’s history and culture is important and needs to be celebrated.”

Mahoney is also claiming that past administration teams had control over the school board by withholding information or not being truthful and points to how the district has updated its website, despite a rebranding motion being defeated by the board.

“I believe this current board is on the right path for the most part, and I know we would work well together as a team to set this District on a road to recovery, where all students will be successful.”

On Saturday June 17, voters will have to elect two candidates to fill the vacant seats on SD57’s board of education left by the resignations of Prince George trustees Betty Bekkering and Gillian Burnett.