Sask. Rivers school division preparing for November election

The Saskatchewan Rivers Public School Division met face-to-face for the first time since March on Monday, June 22./Michael Oleksyn Daily Herald

Preparations for the upcoming trustee election in November are well under way in the Saskatchewan Rivers School Division. The board formed a special election committee earlier this year and also has laid the groundwork for incoming new trustees through general work at their final meeting.

“I am not sure if everybody is running for election or re-election. I spoke to a few trustees last night (Monday) and they indicated they are so it looks like people are interested in returning to the school board after the year we just had. Obviously regrets about what has happened and certainly want to make sure that everything is going smoothly and work well for students and parents in the future,” board chair Barry Hollick said after their final meeting of the school year Monday evening.

“We want a vibrant, vigorous school board election process where anybody who is eligible to vote gets out there and learns about the trustees and the subdivisions and the needs of the communities,” director of education Robert Bratvold said.

The board of education has been functioning as a nine-person board after the passing of longtime trustee George McHenry in 2017. When a school trustee passes away boards can ask the Ministry of Education to allow them to act as without the representation of a trustee, in this case for one of the five urban trustees. The next election will see the balance return to five urban and five rural trustees.

“So when we have the election this fall there will be five seats contested in the city, right now we have four seats in the city so there is going to be a fifth person added to the mix,” Hollick said.

The preparation work has been mostly completed by Returning Officer (and CFO) Jerald Pidborochynski.

Earlier this year the board formed a committee to plan for the upcoming election.

“We set up the board committee and we are basically looking at what is in the package for people who are interested in running for the board,” Hollick said.

The committee is also looking at how to promote engagement in school board elections from the public. This will make sure the public knows that the election on November 7 is happening and the importance of the local governance that boards do. They will also do some promotional work to parents, community members and other stakeholders can learn about and be inspired by the election process.

“That promotion of that democratic process to make sure that all parents and community members and electors in the city and in the area know that the school board does amazingly good work but it takes great people to do that so they should come out and support that process for the board election so make sure you find out about that as a potential trustee and make sure by the time it comes to November,” Bratvold said.

“The other piece of it is sort of logistical, technical arrangements making sure that things are in place for polling stations and appropriate to all regulations,” he added.

The orientation part may be made easier with returning trustees.

“It is pretty likely we are going to have (some) returning trustees. We have got a vacancy in the city so we will have a new trustee. The orientation plan will be helpful for any new trustees and also for the current board to refocus, reenergize and remind themselves what they do,” Bratvold said.

Some divisions have trouble finding candidates but according to Bratvold, the city of Prince Albert usually has no difficulties. The rural section has strength, he said, but trustees have been acclaimed.

“It is good to have people interested in wanting to put their name out there as a potential school board trustee,” Bratvold said

“I think really the focus is to make sure the community knows what a school board trustee does and what does a school board do and how does it operate and that sort of piece and then become involved and ask the candidates as election processes do they just encourage people to get out and become active and find out about what the candidates have to say about different issues and topics in schools and school board work.”
Election Day in November 7.