Local government elections are coming up October 15, and our communities will be asked to vote for municipal councillors and school trustees. But what is a school trustee? And why should you vote for them?
School trustees hold positions on boards of education, the governance body that oversees your local school district. Electing the right board can help your local public schools flourish. That’s because trustees set a strategic path for developing and growing their school district, helping to make sure that all students have the educational opportunities they deserve. How the board’s policies and directions affect what is happening in the classroom drives me in my work as a trustee. I like to understand how things are going in the schools by going to parent advisory council meetings and talking to teachers.
The fun part is seeing how the things you discuss at the board table impact classrooms down the road. I believe equity in classrooms starts at the board table.
I make a difference by coming to the meetings prepared and ready to ask questions. It is important for the board to have good dialogue and to investigate all avenues before making decisions. I bring to the table a willingness to debate if there is a need and to ask questions when making policy.
I became a trustee believing we needed to make sure there was transparency for voters. Decisions need healthy debate, and I work hard to make sure that happens. I believe strongly in getting feedback from the community. I am working with the board to make sure that when we ask for public consultation that we make that feedback part of the decision.
If you’re interested in running as a trustee, find out as much as you can about the job, but don’t get discouraged if there are things that you don’t have experience with. A passion for public education is the most important part. Go to a board meeting in your district or online. Much of what you will need to know you will learn during your four-year term.
I thought I knew what the job was when I started, but after my first term, I continue to learn. Trustees who have been on boards for many terms are still learning too. Nobody becomes a trustee knowing everything and your education will continue as you work with parents, students, district staff and the wider community.
In the Bulkley Valley, we lack trustee candidates. As a community, we need to make sure that we have a robust election in each area. In our region we have subsections, and people think you must live in that area to run, but you don’t have to. For example, you can live in Smithers and run in Telkwa. Representation means having people at the board table who represent our community. Healthy boards need diversity, but not just ethnic diversity. We also need people from different age groups and socio-economic backgrounds. Board members need to be willing to get out into the community and find out what people need. Educating yourself about your community is important. What you may think the community is looking for may not be what the community actually wants.
I am a visible minority; we are underrepresented in this province. So, that is the catalyst for me, and why I ran for trustee. To ensure that other visible minorities see someone working as a trustee helps them see themselves in that position. Things are changing, but there is still work to do. There is a huge need for more diversity on school boards across B.C.
I want my legacy to be that people learn more about trustees and what they do for the schools their kids are going to. I want people to better understand the impact a trustee can make for their community.
In the Bulkley Valley, there are more votes cast for councillors than trustees. Having the right people on the board, people that you think can best represent your community, is important. Boards of education handle huge budgets and are major employers in communities. We need the right people making the right decisions to further public education in districts everywhere.
You don’t have to have kids in the public education system to run for trustee or vote for trustees. I don’t have children in my district.
Everyone has a huge interest in making sure our future citizens are well educated and prepared to take care of us when we are older, whether they are parents or not.
Learn about the platforms of the candidates in your district before voting. There will be an all-candidates meeting in your district, and it may even be streamed online. This is the opportunity to ask them questions and make an informed vote.
Floyd Krishan, trustee, School District #54 — Bulkley Valley