New Westminster School Board Operations Committee (Tuesday, February 14, 2017)

At tomorrow night’s New Westminster School Board Operations Committee Meeting, we will be discussing our monthly Financial update (I’m hoping for some idea of how much all of this snow and cold has cost us, as well as a projection of what sort of surplus we might be looking at this year).

As well we will be getting Maintenance and Capital Projects updates, and finally we will be spending some time on our new Draft Policy Manual.

I have said before that I have developed some significant concerns about what role Trustees will play in this District if this new policy Manual is adopted.

The BC School Trustees Association says that the work of a trustee is “Working within the policies, regulations and directives set by the provincial government, trustees act as co-governors of the provincial education system by setting the local direction for achievement, allocating available resources, and monitoring local performance.”

In New Westminster I believe that we, as a Board, are withdrawing from the role of monitoring local performance and having input into how decisions on improving education are made.

In the western democracies the role of elected officials has always been to take the information presented by knowledgable professionals and use our knowledge of the community and our personal philosophies from which we were elected by the public to determine the directions that should be taken. Elected officials are not elected to sit back and simply agree with administration or simply accept administration’s recommendations. We should be discussing, challenging and having our professional staff make decisions within the desires, wants and needs of the community, based on our, the elected officials, knowledge of that community. Otherwise why elect anyone?  Why have Trustees?

Trustees give direction through the development of policy, through the collective will of the Board. Then we need to hold our Senior Administration accountable for how they implement that direction. Currently under our new policy direction that accountability will only happen once a year during the Superintendents evaluation. I believe that it must be constant. That we should be constantly reflecting on how are our employees are carrying out the direction of the Board for improving education in New Westminster.  It should be done at every Board meeting and at every Committee meeting, we need to be constantly asking:  how are we doing and what do we believe needs to be done?

Author: Michael Ewen

Husband, Parent, Grandparent, Dog Owner, Public School Teacher, Public School Trustee

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