One of the reasons I am running for Edmonton Public School Board Trustee is because I’m a parent and I have kids attending Edmonton Public Schools. As a parent, I’ve had mixed responses to the community engagement conducted by the board. I’ve been so happy to see the board inviting parent and student feedback into big decisions such as space for schools, proposed amalgamation/school closures and initiatives such as the Student Senate. Yet, I’ve also been frustrated at times by the structured way that responses were required in public meetings. I’ve heard parents say that it sometimes felt like they were being invited so that community engagement could be checked off a list.
I don’t believe this is the true intention of the board and so I think that somewhere along the way, the establishment of true collaborative relationships between parents, students and the board has been missing or difficult to achieve.
I’ve been so grateful that a former trustee in Ward C, Lynn Odynski, has joined my campaign and I’ve been able to learn more about the history of public engagement in the ward. Lynn established a Ward Council in our ward when she was trustee. Ward Councils offer an opportunity for on-going collaborative relationships between trustees and the people they represent. As soon as she told me about this wonderful initiative I felt that this is what has been missing from my own experience sitting on the parent council of my child’s school.
If elected, I would like to re-establish a Ward Council for Ward C. Ward Councils consist of representatives from every parent council in the ward, along with interested students or community members, and we would meet on a regular basis throughout the term. I believe that this can help establish collaborative relationships with school communities, offer an opportunity for your elected trustee to hear directly about positive initiatives happening in schools, and also listen to parent concerns. It also provides connections between communities, and an opportunity to talk about and elicit feedback regarding ongoing policy debates and issues happening at the district level.
Surveys and public meetings are crucial to collecting feedback and engaging with the public, and there is also room for more collaborative work in representing constituents. I believe Ward Councils could provide this missing connection and I’m excited to give it a try!