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TVDSB to maintain current urban-rural trustee distribution

The motion was put forward by Trustee Corinne Rahman before receiving an approving vote during a special meeting on Tuesday night. Matthew Trevithick / Global News

Editor’s note: The headline for this article initially stated a motion to change urban-rural boundaries had been rejected by trustees when the motion had been rescinded. The headline has since been corrected.

A motion to change the distribution of Thames Valley District School Board trustees in urban-rural boundaries has been rescinded after large opposition from board trustees.

The motion would’ve called for redistributing trustee seats and proposed the option to reduce the number of trustees from Middlesex County by one and increase the number of London trustees by one.

TVDSB Board of Trustees is composed of 13 trustees and three student trustees. One of the 13 trustees is an appointed First Nation trustee while the other 12 positions are elected.

The current system in place has six London trustees, six county trustees (two per county) and one First Nations, Métis and Inuit trustee. The motion had proposed seven London trustees, five county trustees, and one First Nations, Métis and Inuit trustee not taking into account low population designations.

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Under the current model, Middlesex County has a low population designation, allowing it to have two trustees despite a lower population because a large portion of the area is farmland and not able to be developed for residential use.

The proposed changes are not out of the norm, with trustee Laura Gonzalez noting this is routine process that occurs every election year.

Gonzalez proposed a motion that would have seen the trustee distribution change to seven in London and five in the counties, but withdrew the motion after opposition from trustees.

Following this discussion trustees unanimously passed a motion at Tuesday night’s Board meeting to retain Middlesex County’s special low population designation, keeping the numbers the same as before.

“As Trustees, we represent all students across Thames Valley. This decision shows our continued support for rural and urban priorities,” added Chair Pizzolato.

The Board of Trustees unanimously passed a motion at Tuesday night’s board meeting to retain Middlesex County’s special low population designation.

Trustee Meagan Ruddock was one of several opposed to changing the number of rural trustees. She said it would put more stress on rural trustees who have a larger geographic area to cover.

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Trustee Sheri Polhill said the proposal would have been divisive. “We are basically saying by doing this motion that it will bring together the divide, that it is our county trustees that need to come into the London mindset, not the other way around.”

Trustee Graham Hart, who was part of the former Oxford County School board at the time it was amalgamated into the TVDSB, said the population distribution was not dissimilar to what it is now.

“It was very important the groups were grouped together the way they were and that has been a very significant part of Thames Valley and the history of it, that it had this balance and compromise right from the beginning,” Hart said.

“None of the other three boards or population or student groups wanted to be dominated by London.”

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