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Trustee elections on the school horizon for 2004

Trustee elections on the school horizon for 2004

New Zealand schools may be quiet this month, but people are being asked to use the holiday break to think about their vision for their school and the people who are capable of making that happen.

Schools around the country come back at the end of January to an even busier couple of months than usual, as they gear up for the Trustee Elections in April.

It is a huge endeavour, involving every state and integrated school in New Zealand. In all, an estimated 20,000 candidates are being sought to stand for 13,000 seats on boards of trustees in about 2,580 schools throughout New Zealand.

Elections Project Manager Janet Kelly says the election is an extremely significant event for schools.

“This election determines how schools will be run over the next three years. It is an opportunity for people with commitment and enthusiam to have a real input into the direction of their school and their children’s education.” “Standing for election for a board of trustees is a practical way of influencing the quality of our children's education.” Janet Kelly, herself a former trustee, says the positive response from New Zealand communities to the challenge of managing their own schools is very heartening.

This is the sixth election since the principle of community-managed schools was introduced in 1989. Since then, it is estimated that more than 100,000 have taken on the role.

“New Zealand is still one of the few countries in the world to give the responsibility for school governance directly into the hands of the community.”

“New Zealanders have responded with enthusiasm. We like the fact that our system acknowledges that every school is different and schools benefit from input from their communities.”

Janet Kelly says for the next few months, schools around the country will be working hard with their communities to ensure that they have strong boards in place to take their schools forward.

And she says a recent survey of trustees going into the elections indicates that many trustees want to again take on the role.

“It is humbling to see that just over half of the existing 13,000 trustees intend to stand again. Another 20 percent are still making up their mind. The vast majority of those standing down say it is because their children are leaving the school.

“While it is excellent news that these trustees are willing to stand again, there is still a challenge for us to ensure that sufficient people do stand and be counted – do put their names forward next year and ensure that boards are strong and able.”

Janet Kelly says nine out of ten of those surveyed describe their experience as positive and the same number say that their time on the board has benefited them personally.

“There are no set of right skills and qualifications. Trustees care about their children’s education and the education of all the children at the school. They want to help make decisions that will allow the schools to provide the best education possible for students.”

She says it is particularly important to work hard to support and encourage communities to ensure that our boards do reflect that wider community in background, ethnicity and skills.

Janet Kelly says over the next few months school communities will be more visible than ever before as they get out and encourage people to stand.

“Our election theme is ‘stand and be counted’ and I’m confident that we will again experience the support and commitment already shown in the community over previous elections.”

She would like to see people considering where they want to see their school going and give serious thought to putting their names forward.

“If people can’t take on the role themselves, they should think about those who would do a great job and encourage them to stand.”

Key dates are: Nominations open March 5 Nominations close March 19 Election date April 2

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