School Board Elections & Why You Should Vote
By: Ryan Young
Elections for school board trustees are happening all across the province today, with 50 candidates running for 17 positions on the NL English School Board and an additional 12 candidates running for 8 positions on the French board (CFSP). For the past number of years, school board trustees have been appointed instead of elected, and today’s elections mark the culmination of the Liberals, and Dale Kirby’s promise to hold trustee elections within a year of gaining power.
There has been some criticism of the amount of promotion and engagement done by the department and the school board to prepare the public for the elections. NDP critic, Lorraine Michael, has raised the issue of the website being too confusing and of the lack of direct information to voters on who can vote and where. The PC’s have also questioned the qualifications of former Liberal candidate Geoff Gallant, who was hired to coordinate the election process, without having to go through the Independent Appointments Commission.
Overall, the controversy may be helping to promote the elections and convince more people to vote. The last time elections were held, 7 years ago, the turnout was a lowly 2.5%. Yesterday, VOCM’s Question of the day asked: “Are you planning to vote in tomorrow’s school board elections?” With over 3000 votes cast, 83% said they would not bother. While certainly not a scientific poll, it is disheartening to see such a lack of interest in the future of our children’s education. Minister Kirby has been very clear that he would like to see turnouts increased, and hopefully, coverage in the media and on the call-in shows will help to convince more people to get out and make an effort to vote.
I was lucky to have had the opportunity to attend a short Q & A with the candidates in my area that are running for Zone 15 trustee. I was very pleased at the quality of the candidates and I feel that my children will be well served by whoever wins the election today. It was also nice to put a face to the names and get an opportunity to ask some follow up questions afterwards. I would have liked to have seen more of this type of engagement from across the province, but regardless, it seems that most zones will have competitive races with quality candidates. This bodes well for the future of our education system as we will have trustees that are elected and accountable to the public, that are also engaged in the conversation about how we can do better for our children and educators.
Education is the very foundation of our province. In order to put us on a better footing, we need to provide better educational outcomes and deliver adequate resources to deal with our ever-changing needs. Yes, money is tight, but when times are tough we need to invest in our future leaders and innovators to carry our province into the next generation. The role of school board trustee is more important than it has ever been, and so is your engagement and your vote. So please take a few moments today to visit your local polling station and cast your vote for a deserving candidate in your zone. Our very future depends on it.
If you don’t know what your zone is, you can find it here:
Get to know your candidates here:
To find out where to vote click here:
Good luck to all candidates and thank you for your effort and your interest!