Tom Hedderson, Minister of Education, is pleased with the number of candidates who sought election as school trustees this year and is extending congratulations to all those who put their name forward. The minister is also pledging that the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador will look at ways to improve the voting process.
“I am satisfied that the level of competition for trustee positions was reasonably strong across the province, and I congratulate all candidates for their contribution,” said Minister Hedderson. “Compared to 2001, the proportion of positions that was contested nearly doubled and the proportion that was acclaimed was nearly halved. The Newfoundland and Labrador School Boards Association (NLSBA) is to be commended for their efforts to encourage people to come forward as candidates.”
Although turnout was relatively strong in some areas, low overall turnout has been a trend and the election process will be reviewed, added the minister.
“There were a number of indications that we would see fluctuations in the number of people voting. Turnout has been declining in most democracies, children were just back in school, and there are certainly fewer polling stations than during a general election. In particular, St. Johnâ€™s council had a mail-in ballot system, but St. Johnâ€™s electors still needed to make a special trip to a ballot box to vote for school board trustees,” explained Minister Hedderson. “We recognize that the voting process needs to be a simple one. Working with the NLSBA, we are going to immediately begin to review the trustee election across the province. It is our goal to find ways to improve voter turnout and to further increase the proportion of contested positions.”
“The education system has learned a great deal from the 2005 school board elections,” added Brian Shortall, executive director of the NLSBA. “Governmentâ€™s support for our public education campaign is greatly appreciated and we are pleased that we have been able to increase awareness about school board elections and have a record number of candidates. On a percentage basis, the number of contested elections, acclamations, and appointments compares favourably with municipal elections throughout the province. But there is always room for improvement, and we are going to begin immediately analyzing the results and evaluating our efforts.”
The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador recognizes and encourages the important work of the provinceâ€™s school trustees. School boards present a great opportunity for people to shape their community and to support our children and youth.