Chilliwack middle schoolers took part in a Student Vote during last year’s provincial election. This year, voters will mark ballots for school trustees and municipal leaders. (Paul Henderson/ Progress file)

BCSTA releases guidelines for potential trustee candidates

Guidebook explains responsibilties, pressures on school board trustees

October may be a long way off, but thoughts are already turning to this fall’s municipal and school elections.

With that in mind, the BC School Trustees’ Association has released a guide (see below) for people who may be considering running for school trustee.

“Local school trustee elections allow the community an important opportunity to lead and oversee our valuable investment in public education,” BCSTA president Gordon Swan says. “Trustees are hardworking community leaders who come together in the context of a board in support of student success. The work is demanding, but important and rewarding.”

Chilliwack’s school board has seven seats, and trustees will serve a four-year term as of this election. Chilliwack also has a francophone school, which is operated under the direction of School District 93.

The document lists the responsibilities and pressures one may face as a school trustee. A page called “Am I Up to the Job?” notes that candidates do not need to have a background in public education, but lists the qualities of a good candidate.

Those include understanding of official meeting procedures and school district governance policies, awareness of the legal, political and legislative parameters in which school boards operate, financial literacy, and a willingness to learn.

Potential trustees should expect to spend an average of 15 hours per week within their role, including preparing for and attending board and community meetings, attending meetings as a board representative, attending the BCSTA’s annual general meetings, responding to concerns of parents and other community members, and communications.

This school year, the Chilliwack school board has 19 regular board meetings scheduled, in addition to in-camera meetings, and committee meetings for various board members.

Trustee remuneration varies among districts. In Chilliwack, regular remuneration is $18,822, with vice-chair remuneration at $19,763, and chair remuneration at $20,705. Some expenses are also covered.

Candidates must be 18 years old on general voting day, Oct. 20, and must not be disqualified under the B.C. School Act. The BCSTA guide outlines rules around campaigning, finances and filing, while also providing further resources. They also run a two-day New Trustee Academy in January.

The BCSTA encourages those running to remember to check with the local school district while embarking on a campaign. They may have candidate packages that include information and copies of the forms needed.

To download a copy, visit bcsta.org.

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