Family and friends were on hand as the seven new Calgary Board of Education (CBE) trustees were sworn in during a ceremony on Friday afternoon.
“You are the link between the community and the school board,” said Associate Chief Justice John Rooke, who presided over the event.
“In one sense, you are advocates for your constituents,” Rooke told the trustees. “However, you will need to bring their diverse needs and concerns to the board because your authority to act is vested in the board of trustees as a whole – not just one voice.
“You must exercise your individual and collective education expertise leadership and independent ethical judgment to determine what is truly best for public education, not merely to be the mouthpiece for constituents or others.”
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Three of the new trustees ran as part of a slate of candidates under the banner of “Students Count.” The trio promised voters changes to math programming and report cards, more money for classrooms and an ombudsman to deal with matters of bullying.
“We’re going to find challenges, for sure,” said Althea Adams, one of the three “Students Count” trustees. “We’re going to find things that maybe we can’t move forward exactly how we planned to move forward.
“The thing is going to be for all of us to work together and to find how we are going to move forward to best serve our students.”
Following the swearing-in ceremony, returning trustee Trina Hurdman was acclaimed to become the new chair of the board.
“It’s important to have a two-way dialogue,” Hurdman said in discussing the board’s ongoing relationship issues with the provincial government. “In the past, I think we were a little aggressive in advocating so strongly for students that we didn’t take the time, as well, to their perspectives.
“They have many MLAs in this city. They hear a lot from our parents, as well. It’s important that we hear from them about how they think we can improve and about how we can work better together.”
Adams said for her, the relationship with the province needs to be such that it provides maximum benefit for students.
“At the end of the day, I’m not here to make friends,” Adams said. “I don’t need to be friends with the Alberta government. We need to work together and we need to do what’s best for our kids. And I’m not convinced that’s necessarily what’s been happening, but I think we can do it.”