The numbers are awe-inspiring. With recent retirements, the FISA board is losing more than 100 years of board experience. But rather than being daunted by this prospect, new president Ed Noot is energized by it.
“We’re in a transitory year for sure, but there is no less enthusiasm,” he says. Ed gives full credit for the current state of affairs to recently retired president Doug Lauson, who stood at the helm of FISA for some 14 years. “Doug served FISA so diligently and thoughtfully for so many years,” he says. Ed learned a lot from working directly with Doug, first as FISA treasurer and, last year as vice-president.
Ed has spent his entire career in independent schools in the Lower Mainland from Vancouver to Chilliwack. He grew up in Edmonton, Alta., attending schools very similar to the ones he’s worked in. He earned his college degree in philosophy and history from Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Ed became interested in school administration early, rapidly becoming an elementary school principal, then a senior school one and, finally, one for a school encompassing grades 1 to 12. He earned his M.Ed. from UBC and currently serves as the executive director for the Society of Christian Schools in British Columbia.
It’s this experience, he says, that puts him in the best position to lead FISA. “I have no authority,” he says. “I’m not a superintendent and I can’t force people to adopt policy. I can only encourage and share best practice”.
“This is the same approach we intend to take with government,” he adds. “We want to be thoughtful, persuasive and consistent.”
Ed views his number 1 job over the next year to keep the cause of FISA in front of the new coalition-type of government. Even though the current education minister, Rob Fleming, served as education critic in the previous Legislature, Ed says there are a number of other new players — both in government and the bureaucracy.
“We want to help them understand why we’re passionate supporters of independent education,” he says. Putting forward the same arguments that FISA has made throughout its history, Ed says that parents deserve the right to have choice. “We’re a very pluralistic society here in BC,” he says, “and part of honoring that value is allowing people to choose an educational system that isn’t in the public system.”
As well, every independent school in BC is supported by an entire community of people who pay tuition, buy land, build buildings. “That means there’s a demonstrated savings to the provincial budget for kids who are in the independent school system,” Ed says.
Another urgent issue facing the board will be hiring a new executive director for FISA. The current executive director, Peter Froese, has indicated he wants to retire at the end of the 2018 calendar year and the board hopes to find and hire a new candidate by no later than September, so the two can work together for at least three months.