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Outreach key to staying vital, trustees told

Demonstrate your role or face dissolution: executive

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 21/3/2015 (1557 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Irrelevant, unnecessary... and, finally, dissolved?

That's the fate Manitoba school trustees could face if they don't reach out to their communities and connect with the people they serve, Carolyn Duhamel, the retiring executive director of the Manitoba School Boards Association, told the annual school trustees' convention on Friday.

Whenever anything goes wrong, such as poor student performances in math and literacy, said Duhamel, government sees government intervention as the only answer. "The culprits in all of that were educators and school boards," she said.

That's when provinces move in, deluge school divisions with new curricula and impose standards tests, Duhamel said.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 21/3/2015 (1557 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Irrelevant, unnecessary... and, finally, dissolved?

That's the fate Manitoba school trustees could face if they don't reach out to their communities and connect with the people they serve, Carolyn Duhamel, the retiring executive director of the Manitoba School Boards Association, told the annual school trustees' convention on Friday.

Floyd Martens

Floyd Martens

Whenever anything goes wrong, such as poor student performances in math and literacy, said Duhamel, government sees government intervention as the only answer. "The culprits in all of that were educators and school boards," she said.

That's when provinces move in, deluge school divisions with new curricula and impose standards tests, Duhamel said.

She reminded trustees school boards across Canada have lost authority in the move to provincial centralization, and Manitoba is the last province in which trustees have taxing power.

School boards that don't reach out to their communities and don't work with them could face dissolution, Duhamel warned: They could be rejected as "irrelevant and unnecessary in the public eye — we've got work to do."

"If you can't talk about it, if you can't work together, you can't solve it," she said.

Duhamel has served 15 years as executive director after 11 years as a trustee.

The former teacher said trustees are vulnerable to attack. They need to make themselves relevant to people who have little if any idea what being a school trustee is about.

Devon Clunis

Devon Clunis

"Most trustees don't grow up with a burning passion for school trusteeship. I wouldn't have known what that meant," she said.

Duhamel said in an interview school boards should remain vital in Manitoba, but, it's largely on trustees to make their survival happen: "The challenge for school boards is to be better at what they do.

"(The public) have to understand what the role of the board is and how they can have a voice."

Speaking after her address, Duhamel said centralization has not always been in the public interest elsewhere in Canada. "When you look at the decisions school boards make, I'm not sure provincial governments want to take that on," she said.

Duhamel said it is not accurate to portray the MSBA being opposed to school division amalgamation.

As a trustee, she was part of the voluntary amalgamation of the St. Boniface and Norwood divisions in the late 1990s. "There are good reasons to amalgamate school divisions, in some cases," she said.

But as with anything the school system does, amalgamation must improve the quality of education for students, Duhamel said. Amalgamation will not cut costs, Duhamel pointed out, because no one who ever harmonizes contracts ever accepts the lower or lowest level among the amalgamating partners.

nick.martin@freepress.mb.ca

Carolyn Duhamel

BORIS MINKEVICH/WINNIPEG FREE PR

Carolyn Duhamel

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