Different perspectives on the Trustee and the role’s ability to impact our community

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This municipal there hasn’t been a whole lot of information available about the Trustee candidates. Talking with fellow Library Board member Alan Pickersgill he coined the role as ‘the poor cousin of the municipal election’ not a whole lot said of or paid attention to. Voters I’ve met with have remarked ‘I’ve never known which Trustee to vote for and what the Trustee does’. This is part of the challenge as well. Lack of information goes beyond the trustee candidates, but the role itself.

To compound the problem the importance of the role has faced conflicting reviews:

Steve Paikin of the agenda outlines his take on the role:

Indeed, if you’re looking for the most bang for your buck, voting for your school board trustee makes good sense. After all, the $21 billion dollars spent annually on public education in Ontario is transferred from the province to the 72 boards and 10 School Authorities across Ontario and becomes the responsibility of elected trustees. From there, boards decide how to budget out those dollars. They decide how to spend the money across schools and how to spend it on programs from sports to music. They may even have to decide when to open a new school or close an under-enrolled one. Those are big decisions that impact not just parents and students but often entire communities, and it sometimes makes trustees pretty unpopular. It’s also exactly why everyone – not just parents – gets a say in choosing their local trustees.

 

But divvying up the dollars isn’t their only role. Individually, they broker conversation amongst the very complex set of interests and stakeholders who make up the public school system. How much should kids be learning with computers? Should all kids be required to go to the school in their catchment area? Should schools ban certain foods if one child is allergic? Should certain kinds of clubs be allowed? Huge questions, many opinions, much to debate. Trustees mediate and ultimately make the policy to guide those decisions. It’s a complicated role, and only more so when you consider that trustee is a part-time job, often done in addition to full time career.

 

The above excerpt was taken from: http://theagenda.tvo.org/blog/agenda-blogs/overlook-your-trustee-your-peril

This contrasts with a recent report in Waterloo Record by Luisa D’Amato:

Today, trustees still decide a few things, such as whether to keep a school open or close it. But their main role is to oversee and rubber-stamp enormous budgets that are not of their making, to concern themselves with student success, and to bring forward the concerns of constituents.

School trustees are essentially toothless. But it’s still important for us to choose them wisely, because they are the only remaining local watchdogs of a vast education machine that is controlled from Queen’s Park.

And a good education for children is — gasp! — even more important than light rail.

The above excerpt was taken from:

http://www.therecord.com/living-story/4941873-d-amato-trustees-may-be-toothless-but-choose-them-wisely-all-the-same/

I think the above two articles help provide a valuable contrast. In recent years the role may have become more of a ‘rubber stamp’ but that doesn’t mean that’s the role is resigned to stay that way.

Even D’Amato acknowledges that a Trustee still decides whether to keep a school open or closed. This is not at all toothless or trivial to parents, children and communities.

This underlines the importance of the type of Trustee that you elect. Paikin and D’Amato both recognize that a key consideration is the ability to advocate for local need and build relationships with various levels of government.

I hope this election you vote to get the teeth back into the role by electing Trustees that can advocate for local needs and programs and services that families want. The warning is clear though, schools will continue to proceed with their operations based on centralized perspectives if there aren’t Trustees in place that can bark and hopefully have the bite to show the they have the teeth to advocate for their constituents.

One thought on “Different perspectives on the Trustee and the role’s ability to impact our community

  1. Great information here. It’s unbelievable how much money is wasted, to put it into perspective, I’m a graduate of the DSBN who has built (with my team) from the ground up, a cloud (all in one) solution for education software. Specifically combining attendance, marking, student and staff management.

    Something which the DSBN spends approximately almost [4 million dollars annually] to multiple companies for this same software.

    MRKR (http://mrkr.ca) is much smaller than the competition but this beings many benefits. We are more than willing to work with any school board to customize, tweak and optimize the software to make it as easy as possible and efficient to use for both the staff (teachers, principles, secretaries) and board staff that will be using it day to day.

    To put it into perspective, we can cut costs up to 50% of what’s currently being spent. That’s ~2 million dollars annually that can be better spent on students, classrooms, teachers, upgrading textbooks & technology and anything else you can think of.

    The roadblock is we’ve contacted many school boards in Ontario and nobody will take the time to even have a 5 minute phone call with us.

    As a previous student, always hearing of schools closing down, teachers fighting wage cuts, not enough money in the budget to update X, it blows my mind that with the potential to save millions of dollars with little to no work on their end, for a better software and support, you would think they would want spend at the least 5-10 minutes to see what the product is and what we are about.

    There is so many more benefits I haven’t touched on with MRKR (pronounced Marker) Education Software but it’s eye-opening to see how money is spent in the education industry, especially since it’s Government funded (funded by taxes we pay!) If you are interested in a 5 minute call or coffee, I’m more than open to it!

    Like

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