Voters should heed school board race: trustees
Last Updated: Tuesday, October 19, 2010 | 10:03 PM ET
Candidates running to become school board trustees in Monday's municipal elections say Ottawa voters need to pay more attention to school issues.
Monday's elections will see contests in 21 of 37 school board zones across the city's four school boards (many positions were acclaimed).
Perhaps the biggest reason voters should care, trustees say, is the size of the public school boards. The Ottawa-Carleton District School Board alone manages $731 million worth of taxpayer money each year — provincial funding that equals about one-third of the city's operating budget.
And yet when it comes to electing those who manage those funds, most voters are in the dark.
"We need to do a much better job communicating with the public about what our issues are," said Riley Brockington, a current trustee on the Ottawa-Carleton board who isn't running for re-election.
Calling it a "repeated concern," of his, Brockington said the public should take the time to examine issues like where the school board will build new schools.
"School boards make all kinds of decisions that affect people, even if they don't have children in school," said Lorne Rachlis, a former education head of the Ottawa-Carleton board who is now running to become the trustee for Zone 9.
Issues like school boundaries, the programs offered and what schools open and close all matter to property values, he said.
"It can affect people's ability to sell the house, or attract people to the house."
Bronwyn Funiciello, a trustee for seven years in Zone 6 — which covers the Rideau-Rockcliffe/Alta Vista wards — says its candidates should reach out to those who have children as well as those who don't.
"I've knocked on thousands and thousands of doors," Funiciello said. "I've talked to people who have no children. It's really important to get out there and educate the public on public education."
Some trustee candidates have turned to social media to get their message out. Still, trustees say, the school board race is contested in the shadow of the campaigns for mayor and city councillor.
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