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Elections are Coming

posted Sep 10, 2018, 1:52 PM by Kathy Carr
It’s an election year for all municipalities in Manitoba. Every four years we get to change or confirm the people who speak for us at the local level. We elect mayors and reeves, we elect councillors, and we elect school board trustees.
You probably have a good idea what a mayor or a reeve does. You probably know a councillor or two, and you know the things they deal with from day to day, and you may even have an idea how much those things can cost. You pick your representatives to set priorities and watch over your taxes with care and caution, and to understand what you need and what you can afford.
Are you as well informed about what your school trustees oversee?  We live in a world that is changing so fast that people are finding it nearly impossible to keep up.  They are now saying that the skills and knowledge of a student in their graduating year of secondary education are already out of date. Your schools are trying to prepare your children for a life in that world; a world that for sure none of us have ever experienced. The whole nature of Education is undergoing re-evaluation and change. Teachers who were trained in an older world are facing the challenge of preparing their charges (and themselves) for this new one. Techno­logy has gone so far beyond the blackboard and even the textbook that you need specialized training just to create a lesson plan. School is now a place where each individual student can be given health care (both physical and mental), nutrition (likewise) and a place to feel that (s)he belongs and is safe. In a world where most families rely on the work of both parents, the school is very likely the place that takes up most of a child’s time, and has the most effect on his/her development as a citizen.  If we don’t get it right, we will see a terrible cost in lives lost to crime, addictions, and the depression and desperation that comes of finding yourself fallen too far behind. It used to be that if you were without skills you learned in school, there were still three quarters of the job market that you could fill.  Now, if you are unskilled and inexperienced there is barely one job in ten, and it almost certainly won’t sustain a family.
Your school board has the very challenging job of preparing the schools to prepare the students, and to do it under the constraints of a cost conscious government, and a taxpaying public that doesn’t need tax increases, even if they surely want the best for their kids.
In Manitoba we still have local control over taxation; in most other provinces, the taxation is centralized, and the budgets of the schools are overseen by the central provincial government. It’s an open question whether there won’t be a rise in income tax or sales tax large enough, you can be sure there will still be an education component on property tax. As it is now, we can tailor our taxing and our spending to the needs we see in our division. It’s quite a privilege.
But there’s no point in a privilege you don’t take advantage of. As the elections approach, make sure you’re happy with your representatives on the school board, and consider whether you should offer to join them. The priceless advantages of local control are lost if no one takes control. The education of our children deserves your concern and watchfulness.
If you would like to offer yourself as a trustee, you can visit the office of the School Division at 213 Mountain Avenue in Neepawa, and pick up nomination papers. They must be returned by the end of business on Sep-tember 18.  You can get more detail about the duties and problems of school trustees on Septem-ber 11 at 7:00 p.m. at the Victoria Inn in Bran­­­don, where the Manitoba School Boards Association will be holding a candidates’ information session. The MSBA also has an extensive information page at (http://www.mbschoolboards.ca/elections2018.php).
Whether or not you consider running, remember it is really important to vote on October 24 — local control of school boards is under review as Education gets restructured. 
The loss would mean that all decisions about our children’s education would be made in the capital — a questionable efficiency. Vote to show you care.

submitted by BPSD Trustees
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