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The English community needs you!

THE ENGLISH COMMUNITY NEEDS YOU!

Op-Ed - September 3, 2014 - Become a candidate for School Board Chairman or Commissioner

By David C. D’Aoust, President, Quebec English School Boards Association

November 2nd will see the first school board elections in seven years. It will be a key moment for both the English and French school boards. In 2007 there was a 17% voter participation rate in the English system and an overall 7% rate when the turnout at the French boards is taken into account. Successive governments have lamented about what to do to either increase the voter turnout or eliminate school board elections all together. We cannot let our right to manage and control our own education system just disappear. In 2014 we need to make a strong statement that we want, need, and support our publicly elected school board system. We certainly don’t want to allow the government to appoint our representatives.

We can ensure that the government respects our wish to maintain our system by voting, and voting in large numbers on November 2nd. However, in order for there to be a vote we need candidates. The number of elected Commissioners will be greatly reduced this election, making each seat all the more important. There will only be 95 Commissioners elected to the nine English school boards. Our students from pre-Kindergarten to Adult and Vocational Training are counting on good people to step up to run for election.

It is not hard to get started. You need to be over 18 years of age, a Canadian citizen, your principal residence on the territory of the board in which you want to run for election, and not be prohibited by law from being a candidate. In addition, you need to be prepared to attend school board and community meetings and participate at various events to represent your community. You also should be a passionate believer in the public education system. If you meet those criteria you need an official nomination form, 10 supporting signatures to run for Commissioner or 50 supporting signatures to run for Board Chairman. Deposit your completed form with your local returning officer and you are ready. The nomination period ends on September 28th.

From there it is up to you to develop a plan, meet your community, present a platform, meet your community, learn about current issues in education, meet your community, and enjoy the experience. Elected Commissioners have input into government policy, make decisions about the schools on their territory, develop and adopt the bylaws and policies that govern the Boards, and oversee management as they apply those guiding principles. The future of each community is built on the quality of education and training that we provide for our students. Can you afford not to be a part of that?

We are looking forward to election races in every ward and for every Chairman’s post. We are looking forward to lively and productive debate and discussion. We are looking forward to welcoming 95 Commissioners and 9 Chairmen whose passion and determination will keep the Quebec English school system at a world class level.

For the good of our community, for the good of our learners, for the good of our own English education system – the English community needs you!

David C. D’Aoust is the President of the Quebec English School Boards Association and the Chairman of the New Frontiers School Board.