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For Manitoba school divisions, any help is hard to find

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WILL someone please represent Glenboro and Cypress River on the Prairie Spirit school board?


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The area's trustee stepped down for medical reasons earlier this year and, so far, an extensive search for a replacement has been fruitless.

"We've advertised twice for the ward," superintendent Don Hurton said from Pilot Mound.

Alas, no one stepped forward, so Prairie Spirit extended an appeal to anyone living in the entire far-flung division. "We've been advertising to appoint anyone from another ward," Hurton said.

Again, no takers to represent the ward from anyone in Cartwright or Pilot Mound or Treherne or Baldur, or anywhere else in Prairie Spirit.

The next move will be to call the provincial department of education "to find out what our next step is," Hurton said.

All nine trustees were acclaimed in last fall's municipal election, Hurton said, which is not unusual.

The 311 school board seats across Manitoba were the least-contested in memory -- there were 149 acclamations and 11 seats had no one running to fill them.

Turtle Mountain superintendent Larry Rainnie said his division eventually filled a vacant seat in Killarney this year when a search committee finally found a taker.

Portage la Prairie School Division found itself in a weird situation, said assistant superintendent and secretary-treasurer Mike Mauws.

A candidate last fall was acclaimed for a seat at the nomination deadline, but that would-be trustee immediately resigned. Seems her employer does business with the division and didn't want to create a conflict of interest.

Other sources said that in small towns it's tough to find a working person whose employer doesn't provide goods or services to the school division, but the employer insisted.

Portage la Prairie held a byelection, with the only candidate acclaimed.

More than three months after Joyce Bateman became an MP in the federal election, Winnipeg School Division has not even scheduled a byelection to replace her.

But out in Minnedosa, Rolling River S.D. wasted no time in scheduling a Sept. 6 byelection to fill a vacant seat in the area that includes Elton, Forrest and Duncan. Sabrina Bornkesse and Ron Rioux are running to succeed Daniel Mazier, who resigned in the spring.

Mazier said he resigned both for work reasons and because his youngest child graduated in June. "I no longer had kids in the system, so I thought I'd give someone else a chance," said Mazier.

Brandon trustee Jim Murray is running in the Oct. 4 provincial election. He's taking a leave of absence from the school board but doesn't have to resign his seat unless he wins provincially.

Louis Riel trustee Mike Ducharme is going to run in the St. Vital city council byelection -- to replace Gord Steeves, who is leaving council to run provincially -- and city officials advise that Ducharme must resign his school board seat before he can register as a council candidate, a prerequisite to being nominated.

The city says there would be savings to running the St. Vital and Louis Riel byelections on the same day and even some statutory advertising costs could be reduced if the WSD byelection were also held that day.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 17, 2011 A3

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