By Cathy Abraham
October 16 to 20 is Local Government Week across the province – a time for all Ontarians to learn about and recognize their local municipal and school board leaders who are working hard to make their communities a better place to live, play, and go to school.
School board trustees are the oldest form of elected representation in Ontario. Since 1807, generations of community-minded citizens have made decisions on behalf of local, publicly funded schools, building the foundation of our system today.
It is a challenging time in our society, particularly in the public education sector. Following the pandemic, and with numerous world events manifesting in students as mental and physical health needs, the role of school board trustee is more important than ever. Trustees are the only level of government responsible for ensuring our schools are meeting the ever-changing needs of our communities.
Trustees establish the board vision, develop policies, allocate resources, and set the goals that lay the foundation for excellence in education.
Municipal government is the closest level of government for many of us. We cross paths with our trustees and councillors in our neighbourhoods often – on the sidewalk, at a stoplight, on transit, in the park, at the soccer field, and yes, even the grocery aisle!
School board trustees are there to represent the parents, children and residents of their communities, bringing local perspectives to the board table, while advocating for public education. That local, on-the-ground viewpoint is critical to ensuring students have what they need to succeed at your neighbourhood school.
Trustees ensure Ontario’s education system adapts and transforms to best prepare students for the challenges of our rapidly evolving world.
Amazing things happen each and every day in public schools across the province. Ontario’s public schools welcome all students who walk through their doors. Within these walls, students create lasting friendships and memories with fellow classmates who come from diverse backgrounds.
With the many challenging circumstances we are witnessing around the world, I encourage all Ontarians to reflect on how fortunate we are to live in a society in which we can directly elect and engage with the knowledgeable, caring members of our community serving as school board trustees. Day in and day out, they steer school districts toward helping every student reach their full potential, supporting academic success and seeking to empower every student.
Let’s join together to celebrate and support our local government leaders. Thank you to all school board trustees across the province – your dedication and commitment to public education is valued.
Cathy Abraham is the President of the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association and a trustee with the Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board, representing Clarington.