Curtis Bendig explains what it means to be a school board trustee.

COLUMN: What does a school board trustee do anyway?

SD8's Curtis Bendig writes about his day-to-day responsibilities.

“What does a school board trustee do anyway?”

That is definitely the most common question I have been asked since being elected to the school board in 2014.

The role of a trustee is a complex one. Trustees are elected to oversee the school district and ensure local interests are considered.

Over the past two years I have had a crash course on how trustees put the public in public education.

Our school district is a vibrant culture of learning and, in the spirit of that, I would like to share some of that learning and explore some of the understanding I have gained.

Being a trustee is certainly the most challenging part-time job I’ve ever had. I am one of nine individuals who make up the Kootenay Lake School Board.

As elected officials we are accountable to the 42,000 citizens that reside in the district and have legislated responsibilities set out in the School Act.

As a board we are responsible for the Kootenay Lake School District (SD8), which stretches from Yahk to Slocan, and from Salmo to Meadow Creek.

SD8 has nearly 5,000 students and almost 800 full- and part-time staff. The district has over 30 buildings and properties and an annual operating budget of close to $60 million.

A strong public education system is foundational to a fair, equitable and innovative society.

There are a lot of different ideas of what a strong public education system should look like and even more ideas of how to get there.

Ultimately, my role is to work with the rest of the board to build and maintain a school system that reflects the priorities, values and expectations of our communities.

The role of a trustee may be challenging, but it is also inspiring. As a trustee from Nelson, I have the honour of shaking every L.V. Rogers graduate’s hand as they cross the stage to receive their diploma.

There is no doubt in my mind that our graduates will go on to great things and will shape our community and world in exciting ways that are beyond our imagination.

Grad is definitely one of my favourite parts of the job; it fills me with so much hope for the future and inspires me to continue to work with our community to strengthen public education for future graduates.

In practical terms, being a school board trustee means many meetings, committees, phone calls and emails.

I am lucky to work with SD8’s committed staff, passionate parents, as well as engaged educational and community partners who support and inform us trustees as we set plans, policies and the annual budget for the district.

That is my short answer of what a school board trustee does … I look forward to sharing more of my learning with you in this space over the coming year.

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