A voice from Kamloops is joining the chorus in trying to resolve B.C.'s erratic public education system.
Kamloops-Thompson School District trustee Gerald Watson is the first Kamloops representative to sit on the board of the B.C. Public School Employers' Association (BCPSEA) in its nearly 20-year history.
The business lawyer, who was named director by acclimation during BCPSEA's annual general meeting on Saturday, said he wanted to help during bitter labour disputes.
"I've got the ability to bring a voice of reason to it and understand the different issues," he said.
Watson was part of Saturday's decision to ratify a framework for negotiations between BCPSEA and the B.C. Teachers' Federation, seen by both sides as a positive step toward better labour relations (see related story).
He enters the scene in the midst of intense labour issues that led B.C. Premier Christy Clark to propose unprecedented 10-year teacher contracts in exchange for $100 million in new education funding on Thursday.
Teachers would have a direct say as to how that funding is spent, which was news that Watson greeted with measured enthusiasm.
"The teachers are the people that are delivering the service. I think they're feedback would be important," he said.
"I'm not overly keen if it's the president of the BCTF that gives the input," he added.
"There's a dynamic when you bring the union representation into it. For example the BCTF has always taken the position that there ought to be more hirings. They want to see a greater teacher-to-student ratio. And if that's the extent of the suggestions they've got I don't think that would be particularly useful."
Kamloops may not directly benefit from its increased profile on the board, said Watson, but the organization as a whole can only improve with broader provincial perspectives.
"I'll be making my knowledge of the unique circumstances of Kamloops part of what the board as a whole deals with."