SURREY â€” While the focus this civic election may be on the council candidates, there are seven other names to tick on the ballots come Nov. 15.
Trustees elected to the Surrey Board of Education will decide the future of the provinceâ€™s largest school district for the next four years.
Surrey School District Supt. Jordan Tinney said he hopes voters going into this election will put as much weight and thought behind selecting their trustees as they would the members of Surrey council.
â€œI would hope that most people agree that the education system really is the foundation of our society. Itâ€™s where we send our children every single day and they are our future so the quality and integrity of our public education system matters hugely and this is the work that boards do,â€ he said. â€œTrustees are the voice for the public education system and make sure the system is responsible to its local community and its constituents.â€
Surreyâ€™s education budget for the current year came in at just under $600 million. In comparison, the City of Surreyâ€™s total budget for 2014 is $897 million. How that funding is spent and divvied up across Surrey and White Rockâ€™s schools is decided by the board.
â€œThey (trustees) have huge powers as far as governing the system and setting policy and direction. They hire senior staff and so having knowledgeable, quality trustees is extremely important to a functioning education system,â€ said Tinney.
Those elected will not only be tasked with representing the views of the citizens on the board, but keeping up to speed on provincial issues, said Tinney.
The Surrey Board of Education will also hold the most power in the province when it comes to voting at the annual meeting of school districts, as votes are weighted by district size.
Come election day, Tinney wants Surrey residents to give as much thought to trustees as they would any other elected official.
â€œI think trustees are viewed not as carefully as city councillors but in my mind, and Iâ€™m biased, they should be viewed absolutely equally,â€ he said.
â€œThese are important positions. The health of your education system depends on your strength and quality of your board.â€