Editorial — Taxpayers deserve the truth

Members of the public are entitled to the truth, because it is vital to know just how much this firing will cost taxpayers.

The debate over whether Trustee Alison McVeigh should or should not have told the public that Superintendent Cheryle Beaumont was fired by a majority of trustees is completely irrelevant.

The public are entitled to the truth from the school district. That’s what McVeigh was courageous enough to provide them with.

Members of the public are entitled to the truth, because it is vital to know just how much this firing will cost taxpayers. It is costly to get rid of any senior manager, and any such movement in that regard must be undertaken with extreme caution.

In the case of the Langley Board of Education, there is another important factor to consider. The school district is in the midst of a four-year plan to pay back a $13.5 million deficit.

It cannot run an additional deficit in that time. It must pay the money back as part of an agreement with the province, and it cannot delay those payments.

Thus, as McVeigh told The Times last week, any extra payments to Beaumont will come out of the district’s education budget. That directly impacts services to Langley students.

This newspaper has been concerned about the effect of the debt repayment on students’ education since the staggering amount of money owed to the province was revealed. Thus far, the repayment has had an effect on classrooms, but it hasn’t been catastrophic.

Paying a settlement to the fired superintendent is simply adding another burden and additional  pressure to an education system that has many challenges.

While the former board could have chosen not to renew Beaumont’s contract, given that she was in charge at the time the deficits accumulated, trustees instead chose to sign her to a new three-year contract in 2010. That contract began last July, and there are two and one-half years remaining on it.

Taxpayers, and in particular parents of children in Langley schools, are entitled to know just how much it will cost to pay off Beaumont, what impact it will have on children’s education, and just how long it will take before that pressure on classrooms is removed.

The Board of Education can choose who it wants as superintendent, but at the same time, it must be fully accountable for all its actions, and its spending of tax dollars.

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