Albertans will cast their ballots this fall for municipal elections around the province, and that includes for school board trustees in Wolf Creek Public Schools.
For those considering running for school board trustee or for those looking to vote this fall, there have been a few changes to the electoral ward structure in Wolf Creek Public Schools since the last election.
An electoral ward boundary review was conducted in Wolf Creek last year with three public meetings held in early 2020, before COVID-19 restrictions came into effect. The Board of Trustees sought community input and worked with an external consultant to examine data such as population trends across the division. The aim of the review and changes to the ward structure was to create equitable trustee representation throughout the school division.
“The changes that were made were done through a collaborative and comprehensive process, very much based on balancing public input and the realities and pressures of population growth around the division,” said Roger Hall, WCPS secretary treasurer. “School boards make a point to conduct these reviews to address when growth or decline in areas of the division start to trend toward inequity of representation. Our review was done and completed in a timeline that would allow for those changes to be widely shared with our public around the division, in advance of the fall municipal election.”
Broadly put the changes are:
Ward A, which will have one trustee, consists of east portions of Ponoka County and Lacombe County, including the Villages of Alix, Mirror and Clive.
Ward B, which will have one trustee, consists of the central portion of Ponoka County, including the Town of Ponoka and the Summer Village of Parkland Beach.
Ward C, which will have one trustee, consists of the west portion of Ponoka County and Lacombe County, and additionally the Town of Rimbey, Summer Village of Birchcliff, Summer Village of Sunbreaker Cove, Summer Village of Half Moon Bay, Town of Eckville, and the Town of Bentley and a portion of Clearwater County served by Ponoka County for school purposes only.
Ward D, which will have two trustees, consists of the central portion of Lacombe County and includes the City of Lacombe and the Summer Village of Gull Lake.
Ward E, which will have one trustee, consists of the Town of Blackfalds.
Those looking to run for school board trustee in the Wolf Creek Public Schools election can already submit nomination papers. Nomination forms must be filed with the Returning Officer, or deputy, at the Division Office on or before Nomination Day, September 20, 2021 by 12:00 noon.
Former WCPS trustees Barb Walker and Bob Huff have some advice for anyone considering a bid for school board trustee.
“One thing that I learned is that as a trustee you have three tools you can use,” said Walker. “The budget has to be approved by the Board, so know your numbers, know what that budget means because that is your job. The other strategy that you have is policies, you set them. Whether that be what the calendar is going to look like two years from now, or how we even decide what the calendar should consider, these things are driven by Board policy. You have to know how to use them, read them and change them. The third one is relationships. People who want to become a trustee are often already pretty much aware of how building relationships helps.”
Huff said if you consider running, it’s important to be prepared.
“I think potential school trustees would be wise to check the Wolf Creek handbook and read the role of a trustee and read the role of the superintendent,” he said. “Read the various demands of school trustees so that when they are elected they have an understanding of the various policies. They have to realize the importance of policies, and how the governance process works.”
WCPS Superintentdent Jayson Lovell said, once elected, the Board has one employee and that is the superintendent, which there is close communication with.
“Ultimately our focus in the relationship between myself as superintendent and the Board of Trustees is ensuring success for all learners. That is the most important fundamental role that we serve. How we achieve that is ensuring that we have opportunities to focus on information that will assist the board in making the best possible decisions when it comes to their mandate and their focus,” said Lovell.
“The Board of Trustees in their operations certainly represent the constituents within their respective wards and within that ward they often will come into contact with constituents, often school staff and students and they are often hearing and gathering insights and perspectives from those various groups. That is certainly very important for a trustee as when they come to a regular board meeting and they are discussing and making decisions that impact the school division they certainly bring forward that local context, but in their decision making they are representing the entire school district. Those perspectives and insights are very important as part of that process, and ultimately when they make decisions, they are making those decisions that are in the best interest of all.”