Shed­ding light on the role of school boards

Mem­bers are re­spon­si­ble to and rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the cit­i­zens they serve and are ac­count­able to the Min­is­ter of Ed­u­ca­tion and Early Child­hood De­vel­op­ment

Cape Breton Post - - Editorial - Hank Mid­dle­ton Hank Mid­dle­ton is the pres­i­dent of the Nova Sco­tia School Boards As­so­ci­a­tion and a mem­ber of the Con­seil sco­laire aca­dien pro­vin­cial. He lives in Bridge­wa­ter.

For 63 years school boards have come to­gether at the pro­vin­cial level through the Nova Sco­tia School Boards As­so­ci­a­tion (NSSBA) to strengthen the non-par­ti­san, local com­mu­nity rep­re­sen­ta­tion for pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion.

Over the years count­less Nova Sco­tians have served as school board mem­bers to sup­port stu­dents by pro­vid­ing over­sight and hold­ing the sys­tem ac­count­able.

Prior to 1996, there were 22 school boards. There are now seven re­gional school boards and one pro­vin­cial Aca­dian school board, serv­ing just over 100,000 stu­dents and their fam­i­lies.

But what does this mean? What does a school board mem­ber do?

The job de­scrip­tion is com­plex, but at the end of the day, govern­ing school board mem­bers work to­gether with their fam­i­lies, the pub­lic, their su­per­in­ten­dent and the Min­is­ter of Ed­u­ca­tion and Early Child­hood De­vel­op­ment to sup­port all stu­dents.

While school board mem­bers are not in front of class­rooms, they hire the su­per­in­ten­dents and hold them ac­count­able, pro­vid­ing over­sight for the ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem. Govern­ing school boards are re­spon­si­ble to and rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the cit­i­zens they serve and are ac­count­able to the Min­is­ter of Ed­u­ca­tion and Early Child­hood De­vel­op­ment.

Over­sight of the ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem in­cludes pol­icy de­vel­op­ment and re­view, bud­get ap­proval and mon­i­tor­ing, school re­view, cap­i­tal plan­ning and trans­porta­tion con­sid­er­a­tions, en­sur­ing the local sys­tem are re­spond­ing to pro­vin­cial leg­is­la­tion and pro­grams, and the list goes on. Govern­ing school board mem­bers are peo­ple in your com­mu­nity who are pas­sion­ate about ed­u­ca­tion and are ded­i­cated to stu­dents and pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion in Nova Sco­tia. They are there to rep­re­sent the voice of each com­mu­nity.

It is im­por­tant to note that re­cent com­ments made to me­dia dur­ing the elec­tion cam­paign have ref­er­enced both the govern­ing school board and ad­min­is­tra­tion. These are two dif­fer­ent roles and two dif­fer­ent groups. Govern­ing school boards are pri­mar­ily elected to rep­re­sent the cit­i­zens they serve. The su­per­in­ten­dent is hired by the govern­ing school board to ad­min­is­ter the sys­tem.

The NSSBA sup­ports school boards and works with them to strengthen over­sight and trans­parency. With the en­dorse­ment of the prov­ince, through our gov­er­nance com­mit­tee, con­crete steps are in place to strengthen the way we do busi­ness and in­crease pub­lic ac­count­abil­ity.

On be­half of school boards, the NSSBA meets reg­u­larly with the Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion and Early Child­hood De­vel­op­ment to pro­vide in­put through res­o­lu­tions and feed­back from school com­mu­ni­ties. Our com­mit­ment to col­lab­o­ra­tion will not change. The NSSBA looks for­ward to con­tin­ued co­op­er­a­tion with the gov­ern­ment in the im­prove­ment of our pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem.

We en­cour­age you to contact your school board mem­bers and talk with them about the work they do on be­half of stu­dents and com­mu­ni­ties.

Local govern­ing school boards make a dif­fer­ence in en­sur­ing qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion. They bring the pub­lic voice into ed­u­ca­tion in Nova Sco­tia.

“(School boards) bring the pub­lic voice into ed­u­ca­tion in Nova Sco­tia.”

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