By Floyd Martens
MVSD Board Chair
We asked for your feedback.
In one of the March articles of Mountain View Matters, the board indicated your perspective was needed. We needed to hear your views on school board representation. We currently have nine trustee positions elected in four wards. Each trustee needs to represent an equal number of voters. With the changes in population across the division, we are close to requiring adjustments to create balance.
The question was whether the current number should be nine in four wards or whether we should reduce the number to seven in three wards? We asked for your perspective and you gratefully provided it.
Almost 150 responses to the survey were received. It is always great to hear from our community and gain your perspective on issues. It is what makes the school board system effective.
The survey provided more than just an answer to this question – it also provided us with a number of comments that we are continuing to examine.
In terms of whether to reduce the number of trustees from nine to seven, the results were slightly higher in favour of reducing the number.
However, as the board looked at the additional comments and concerns about making this change, it reinforced one of the concerns the board had in initiating this process. Trustee representation is based on population. Smaller communities, particularly if they face declining numbers, have a smaller voice. Larger communities have a larger one. It is based on the number of people and where the majority of the population resides in the school division.
Once elected as trustees, we represent the whole division, regardless of where we live. Wards are for election purposes only.
However, the main concern the board had about reducing the number of trustees was whether our communities would feel unrepresented if a reduction took place. If they felt their voice was represented, we could proceed. If not, we would not move forward.
In examining the results of the survey, there were a number of concerns expressed about how a reduction could add to a sense of loss in the voice of our communities. This was never the intention and as a result, the board felt we should keep the number of trustees at nine for this election.
Following the election in the fall, we will see what the population is in our various wards and whether we are still within the representation quotient we need to operate under according to the legislation governing school boards. At some point, we may have to make changes, but they will not happen for this fall.
Further to the question about the number of trustees, the other comments from the survey were referred to the Community Relations Committee of the board for additional discussion and recommendations.
Again, we are grateful for your response. We would also encourage you to consider becoming involved as school trustees. These are democratically-elected positions by our communities to represent them. Having people interested in serving our communities is essential. The Manitoba School Boards Association is providing information sessions for those interested in being involved.
There is a webinar on May 4 and 11 for those who are interested in running as candidates this fall.
Information is available at: www.mbschoolboards.ca.
You do not need to register to be involved.
We thank you for your participation in this survey and look forward to your engagement as we move forward with elected school boards.