Monday May 1, 2023 | LANGFORD, BC [Updated May 23, 2023]
News insights by Mary P Brooke | Island Social Trends
The superintendent who has been at the helm of this challenging period of rapid student population growth in the west shore will be retiring at year-end.
Sooke School District (SD62) Superintendent Scott Stinson today made public his upcoming retirement. He had told the SD62 Board in early April.
A 37-year career in public education wraps up with likely some of the toughest decisions that an education administrator would have to make. Most recently it’s been about essentially dismantling customized learning spaces to accommodate a burgeoning number of students in schools. Limitations in provincial funding can be seen as the factor that made many of these decisions necessary.
Otherwise, Stinson brought to the west shore school district a sense of getting business done while keeping student well-being front of mind. He was essentially open-door to all new thought and progressive directions. Notably he significantly increased the size and budget of the IT department, bringing SD62 more properly into the Internet age.
Stinson worked hard on catchment area challenges during the onslaught of classroom space pressures, supported with good numbers from Associate Superintendent Paul Block. Nevertheless, many families in the west shore have had to commute with their kids to schools outside their catchment area. The province seemed have its hands tied to help with additional funding related to rapid growth, so these sorts of decisions were necessary.
Arguably, SD62 forced all of its administrators to become experts in capital funding and building construction as the district has grappled with a steady need to increase the number of new schools in the fast-growing west shore. West shore population growth has been driven hard by the expectation of families that housing is more affordable in the Langford, Colwood and Sooke areas. Much trustee and administrator juice was used up around constructing buildings. Every effort was made to also pay attention to student needs including mental health and healthy school initiatives that eventually became more innovative in recent years.
Where a superintendent’s influence can make a difference, Stinson worked hard to make sure it could. His guidance was seen in the roll-out of affordability funding that arrived from the province in September 2022 and carved out over $25 million for a staff affordability support fund at the 2022 year-end Christmas season. He also worked at developing MOU’s (memoradum of understanding) with the three local municipalities (Langford, Colwood, and Sooke).
He’s walked a fine line between guiding the board and serving the board.
Caring about children:
Stinson has always demonstrated a genuine sense of care for the education of children. Over the years he has taught at elementary, middle and secondary levels. That was followed by administrative positions as District Curriculum Coordinator, Vice Principal, Principal and District Principal.
In 2018 he was serving as Associate Superintendent for the Saanich School District (SD63) when he was appointed to the Superintendent/CEO role at SD62.
“It has been an honour to spend the last several years of my career serving the students, staff and families of the Sooke School District,” said Stinson in a news release from SD62 this morning.
“I am extremely proud of what we have been able to accomplish together, and I will spend the next months ensuring that the District continues on a positive trajectory towards a path of equity, inclusion and progress for everyone.”
Superintendent Stinson led SD62 through the COVID pandemic in 2020 and 2021, keeping schools open for families in need and implementing all the required public health protocols.
SD62 came up with an octo format for high school students during COVID, so they could focus on their eight courses through the year, just one course at a time with limited in-class time together with virtual learning from home.
Latest board was new:
In this past six months Stinson has had to deal with the challenges of acquainting a new board of trustees to their role (five of seven had not been in elected politics before, and the challenge of explaining budgets and procedures would have been a big undertaking). Compare that to coming into the job in 2018 with a seasoned board to work with.
Also, the current Chair was known to be moving on soon (Ravi Parmar already knew he’d be leaving the post when he ran for trustee re-election in fall 2022; he is now in the Langford-Juan de Fuca by-election race as a candidate for the NDP).
Parmar looks back:
Parmar is the last remaining Trustee from the Board of Education who hired Stinson as Superintendent and CEO back in 2018.
“It’s no secret that the last few years have been challenging for everyone and when we hired Scott, we had no idea we would all be thrust into a period of uncertainty, fear and change,” said Trustee Parmar (no longer chair of the board), in today’s news release.
“We couldn’t have asked for a better leader to help the District navigate how to continue the important work of public education despite a global pandemic, extreme growth and the affects of inflation in our communities. Scott is a remarkable educator and visionary, who will be truly missed.”
“Scott has led with integrity and kindness, he’s been a champion for the Sooke School District, and we are grateful for the time he has spent with us,” said Interim Board Chair Amanda Dowhy.
“As we begin the process of searching for a new Superintendent, we will be looking for a candidate who will continue to advance the District’s organizational maturity and will work to ensure our school communities are engaging, innovative and inclusive,” says Dowhy.
Scott is looking forward to spending more time with his family and getting back to the activities he loves like tennis, golf and surfing. His playfulness was not fair below the surface, starting with his trendsetting colourful socks that would visually pop out from under the table at board meetings.
As a lifelong learner and educator, he will continue to support public education and his colleagues.
The Board of Education will begin the process to hire a new Superintendent who will take over as of January 1, 2024.
Stinson has often reminded at board meetings that he reports on behalf of the superintendent executive team. In addition to the Superintendent, there are three Associate Superintendents who carry a huge load to keep three families of schools on track: Paul Block (Royal Bay family of schools in Colwood), Monica Braniff (Belmont family of schools in Langford), and Dave Strange (Edward Milne family of schools in Sooke). And Stinson would have relied heavily as well on the detailed work of Secretary-Treasurer Harold Cull.
- SD62 pitches for capital funds while struggling with enrollment growth (March 4, 2023)
- Top picks for new school name include recent premier and mayor (February 16, 2023)
- Education & Child Care Minister toured Royal Bay Secondary (January 27, 2023)
- SD62 Xmas cost of living fund topped up to cover more staff (January 4, 2023)
- Scott Stinson slides right into leadership at SD62 (September 7, 2018)
===== ABOUT THE WRITER & ISLAND SOCIAL TRENDS:
Mary P Brooke is the editor and publisher of Island Social Trends as published daily at islandsocialtrends.ca.
Mary Brooke has been covering politics, business, education and communities through a socioeconomic lens since 2008 on south Vancouver Island (previously with the print editions of West Shore Voice News, and before that both Sooke Voice News and MapleLine Magazine, before launching the fully online news portal Island Social Trends in mid-2020).
Mary’s first newspaper — a monthly business news publication — was launched in the mid-1980s; her company Brookeline Publishing House Inc has published books, newsletters and websites for organizations and businesses over the past 25 years. She holds the McGeachy Prize in Journalism from the University of Saskatchewan, back in the day when she was a stringer for the Globe and Mail. She led communications initiatives with the electric power utility in Saskatchewan when energy conservation was something new, and developed public education manuals for the provincial health department.
Ms Brooke followed and wrote extensively about the COVID pandemic during 2020-2022, and continues to follow the topic as new developments arise. She has covered Sooke School District 62 (SD62) board and committee meetings in-depth since 2014. Mary P Brooke was a trustee candidate in the SD62 Belmont Zone in October 2022. She now also reports on provincial news with the BC Legislative Press Gallery.
Among other qualifications, Ms Brooke holds a health sciences B.Sc., a university Certificate in Public Relations, and an industry certificate in digital marketing.