Public Schools branch holds first meeting of newly elected school board trustees
The P.E.I. Public Schools Branch held a public meeting of elected school board trustees for the first time in more than a decade Thursday evening.
Trustees from the PSB's seven zones, represent English language schools in the province, met at Stratford Town Hall.
The last election of school board trustees for English language schools was in 2008. The eastern and western boards were merged in 2012, and the P.E.I. Public Schools Branch has been governed by various appointees ever since.
One of the first orders of business was officially appointing Heather Mullen as chair of the board. She said since the trustees were elected last November they've come together a number of times to meet with PSB officials, take part in training, and set priorities for the board.
"It's been a lot of work and a lot of learning since we came on," Mullen said.
"We're still learning about our roles and what's next."
One of the board's first priorities is making trustees accessible to the people they represent and making sure anyone who wants to take part in a meeting has that option, Mullen said.
"It's the first time going back to elected boards in 14 years. So what do these board meetings look like? How do people reach out to us and how do they engage at our meetings?" she said.
The board is already working on three ways to make that possible, Mullen added. She said all trustees will be available for meet and greets after each public meeting, giving people the chance to meet their trustee and share any thoughts or concerns.
As chair Mullen said she will also present a monthly report summarizing the work the board has done between meetings. That will also include the creation of sub-committees that focus on specific student needs.
To make public meetings more accessible the board plans to travel to different communities across the Island for each one.
"We want to meet in the communities that many of us represent," said Mullin.
"Those meetings will probably take place in schools so people can attend."
The board is working on putting together that meeting schedule and online viewing options will also be available.
'So far so good'
PSB director Norbert Carpenter was at the meeting to welcome the new board.
"It's been a while since we had elected trustees, but the cooperation has been very strong so far," Carpenter said.
"So far so good. Everyone's learning, including ourselves here at the Public Schools Branch,"
Trustees are responsible for providing financial oversight for school board operations, pointing out needs in the organization, creating policies and liaising with education stakeholders, according to the Government of Prince Edward Island website.
The current focus is to delineate the roles of the trustees and school board officials and make sure that definition is clear to everyone, including the public, said Carpenter.
He expects there to be a number of presentations from officials with the PSB over the next few trustee meetings to help ensure everyone understands how the organization operates and how they can work together.
For Mullen, communication is a top priority as well.
"We need to learn from each other and work together and bring those issues together. I want to make sure every trustee is heard, appreciated and that we're working collaboratively," she said.