Posts Tagged ‘Board of education’

After campaigning full tilt for the past month, I have found that among the majority of voters, there is a misperception or no perception of the role of the Trustee.  Young and not so young, high school graduates and PhD alike, there is certainly a disconnect when it comes to understanding the Trustee and their place in our system of local governance.

Yes, School Board Trustees are elected at the same time as are the Mayor and the City Councillors. And it is your democratic duty to vote for them as you would your Mayor or Councillor.

When you arrive at your polling station, you will be given 3 ballots, one (a very long one in Ottawa) ballot for your choice of Mayor, one for your Ward Councillor and one for School Board Trustee. Depending on which system you gave designated as having your support – through your property – taxes you will receive either a ballot for the English Public, French Public, English Catholic, French Catholic. You mark an X beside the Trustee of your choice just like the others.

So why bother? Say you don’t have children and never plan to, why vote for someone who is not going to impact your life?

Well, for starters, the children now are the Doctors, Engineers, Builders, Teachers, Emergency officers, Nurses, etc. of tomorrow. The decisions that the Board makes DIRECTLY impacts on how these children are taught, what they are taught and where they are taught.

So you do have a stake in this.

Plus, whether or not you realise it, you are paying into the system so why not have a say? Through your property taxes (they are buried in your rent if you are not a homeowner), your provincial taxes and the HST you are paying… and paying big! The OCDSB, for example, has a budget of $700 million! That is not chicken feed.

Finally -and this is a pet reason of my own – by not voting, you are sending the message to Queens Park that local control over education decision making is not important.

Since the Harris days, power has gradually shifted from our local communities to the Province of Ontario. Provincial officials are making decisions that affect Ottawa families and I strongly believe that these decisions are best made by local communities.

The Boards do still have considerable authority. They choose which programs are offered in which schools. ESL, French Immersion, Gifted Programs – all are under the authority of the Board. They choose to open schools or close (gulp!) them. They vote on student transportation, programs with the broader community.

They are responsible for our schools’ infrastructure and the safety of our kids.

Their role – albeit diminished from past years – is vital to our City.

In short, please do vote for your Trustee. Even if you don’t vote for me, at least cast a vote. This is democracy in action!