Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Putting Your Trust In Trustees

Last week I had an opportunity to attend the annual general meeting of the BC School Trustees Association (BCSTA) in the company of five of our district's trustees. One of the hi-lites of the meeting was watching Trustee Ida Campbell, of the District of Taylor, be honored for her 21 years of service as a trustee. That's seven terms of office! Trustee and board chair Jaret Thompson was recognized at the same ceremony for completing 6 years as a trustee. SD 60 is fortunate to have such dedicated and long serving trustees. For her long service Trustee Campbell was made a lifetime member of the BCSTA. Trustee Heather Hannaford was similarly honored a few years ago and continues to sit on the board. Trustee Linda Stringer has also served multiple terms on the board

School Board trustees are elected officials. Long service is indicative of both a willingness to serve and of an ability to earn the public's trust.  What do trustees do? The BCSTA website describes the role of trustees as follows:

"Trustees engage their communities in building and maintaining a school system that reflects local priorities, values and expectations. School trustees listen to their communities; guide the work of their school district; and set plans, policies and the annual budget. Reflecting the strength of local representation, boards report back to their communities on how students are doing: boards are directly accountable to the people they serve.

British Columbia is a large province with many communities, each having different priorities, needs and unique educational requirements. British Columbians elect their 60 boards of education to improve student achievement according to the diverse needs of these communities. As locally elected representatives, the trustees on these boards best understand their respective communities’ particular strengths, challenges and demands."

As Superintendent I get to work closely with trustees. In addition to their governance role they both challenge and encourage all district employees to provide a quality education experience to all students. As fortunate as this district is to have dedicated and long serving trustees, all good things do eventually come to an end. This fall will bring new elections and possibly significant changes to the make up of the board.  Some trustees may be moving on to new challenges, and its the nature of elected offices that contested seats can always see change via the ballot box. Rather than see elections as a challenge, our sitting trustees encourage and welcome other interested citizens to get involved with governance. While continuity of service and board stability have their advantages, renewal and continued civic involvement are the lifeblood of elected institutions. Anyone interested in learning more about the role and duties of trustees is encouraged to attend a school board meeting, contact a sitting trustee or check out the BCSTA website. Who knows - it may be the first step to a new and lasting involvement in education matters!

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