Province appointing English school board trustees

The provincial government has decided to appoint trustees for a single English school board and is putting off elections until 2014.

The provincial government has decided to appoint trustees for a single English school board and is putting off elections until 2014. 

P.E.I. school board elections were supposed to be held Monday.

"We're going to put an advertisement in the paper looking for trustees and we'll explain it all there, what the responsibilities and such are," said Education Minister Alan McIsaac. "Then we'll ask the people who are interested in this, to come forward and help us with the educational process by sitting on our board."

The new head of the P.E.I. Home and School Federation Pam Montgomery calls it all an interesting process and said the federation wants elected trustees.

If government is appointing them, Montgomery is asking the minister to provide a clear and transparent process.

"So that the public is aware of what criteria they're looking for in a trustee, and how the process of appointing them is going to work, so that the public has more confidence that, even though they're appointing them, these are the people they're appointing and the reasons why they're appointing them, to help alleviate some of the concern that they're not elected."

Souris parents raise concerns

The decision by the government to appoint trustees didn't go over well in Souris, where parents have been at odds with the province because it won't build an entirely new school.

"I'm sorry but Souris' been getting kind of short-ended here, quite a bit in our school systems and our children are the ones going down," said Gail MacLellan, who said she didn't trust the government to choose someone who will fight for their best interests.

McIsaac said the trustee selection process will be transparent, but the final decision on who gets in will still be made at a closed-door cabinet meeting.

Recommendations still up in the air

Meanwhile, the government is also dragging its feet on changes recommended to make voters more engaged if and when they return to the polls.

When the Education Governance Commission released its report back in March, it made a number of recommendations meant to increase turnout in school board elections and re-invigorate boards such as lowering the voting age to 16 and including student trustees.

Government went against the two biggest recommendations by amalgamating the two English boards against the commission's recommendation, and deciding to appoint trustees.

McIsaac said he'll ask the new school board to look at the recommendations of the government-appointed commission and then recommend which if any should be implemented.

"The new appointed board will look at the election process because I think that's only fair for them to do that. They will be involved in it quite likely," McIsaac said.

Bill Whelan, one of the co-chairs of the Education Governance Commission, told CBC News in an email, the commission already consulted extensively with school boards.