Locally elected school boards matter. In Alberta, we have 61 public, separate and francophone school boards, each charged with creating the very best learning opportunities for their respective communities. This is no small responsibility when one considers that there are over 700,000 students within Alberta’s K-12 publicly funded system. Alberta’s education system is not only one of the strongest in Canada, it is a leader internationally. This is no accident. The role of locally elected trustees is a critical factor in the success of a district. Trustees ensure that they bring the vision of their respective communities of a vibrant publicly funded system to the board table. By responding to, and integrating this vision, optimal local decisions are made. This, in turn, creates the best learning opportunities, opportunities that reflect the local context.
Locally elected school board trustees, because they are part of, and understand their communities, are very well positioned to advocate on behalf of those whom they serve. This is critical when working with both municipal and provincial partners; effective relationships at all levels are required to ensure that the interests and needs of those one represents are served.
As stewards of public dollars, trustees are entrusted to ensure that the very best educational outcomes are achieved through the effective deployment of funds. This requires the judicious deployment of monies to support programming designed to achieve success. In an austere provincial economic climate, these decisions can be difficult; balancing the priorities of a community with available revenue demands a strong relationship with those impacted. The strength of the relationship of a local board and their community will be critical when navigating these realities.
At the end of the day, school board trustees not only matter – they are integral to the success of the districts that they serve.