On October 24th, the last of the registered voters in PEC will be making their way to the polls to cast their vote for Mayor, Councillor(s), and School Board Trustee.
School Board Trustee elections are historically overlooked. Most folks don’t know what a school board trustee is or does and opt out of voting because they don’t have kids/grandkids currently enrolled in school.
What does a school board trustee do?
Trustees are required to carry out their responsibilities in a manner that assists the board in fulfilling its duties under the Education Act. They are accountable to the Province of Ontario for the proper conduct of their duties and powers including the implementation of provincial policy and the use of provincially allocated funds. A trustee is responsible for identifying the needs and priorities of their community and for ensuring these are considered in the decisions that result in educational opportunities for students.
In doing so, trustees must consider conflicting interests and values and work in collaboration with other members of the school board to ensure policies, and the multi-year strategic plan works for all students.
Why should you care?
Too many youth in PEC are struggling and trustees are the only elected officials who centre youth voices in their advocacy. The two Covid Pandemic years have only exposed the vulnerability that at-risk youth always faced,but with a visceral reality that many in the County might otherwise not even be aware of. Trustees can impact the futures of all youth, particularly the most vulnerable. They are obligated through the Education Act to act in the student’s interest, not their own. The public education system is severely underfunded which means the youth in our community are being starved of the high-quality education they deserve. You want to know that whoever is representing you, your family and your neighbours are ready to roll up their sleeves and fight.
You want to know the person making decisions and setting policies understand the issues in your community and lead with empathy. Arguing and expending valuable time and energy around the Board table about the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, anti-mask and anti-vaccine posturing and arguing every trivial point that catches obscure attention is not advocating for students. That work should be left to parents/guardians and the exemplary staff who are professional and trained.
Why is all this important?
Trustees do not just represent their communities, the taxpayer, or the education worker who often feels overwhelmed. They also represent the students, and youth who do not have a voice.
They represent hope.
This year, I empower you, plead with you, to care about the school board election. As a voter, examine who is truly in the work for kids versus who cares more about their grandstanding. Research who is running in your ward and seek them out to learn more about them, their values and what the burning issues are for them in our education system.
Vote like the lives of the county depends on it. Because it does.
-Submitted by Alison Kelly HPEDSB Trustee for South Prince Edward (2018 – 2022)
PICTURING OUR COMMUNITY