According to the BC School Trustees Association:
“British Columbia is a large province with many communities, each having different priorities, needs and unique educational requirements. British Columbians elect their boards of education to improve student achievement according to the diverse needs of these communities. As locally elected representatives, the trustees on these boards best understand their respective communities’ particular strengths, challenges and demands.
Trustees engage their communities in building and maintaining a school system that reflects local priorities, values and expectations. School trustees listen to their communities, guide the work of their school district and set plans, policies and the annual budget. Reflecting the strength of local representation, boards report back to their communities on how students are doing. Boards are directly accountable to the people they serve.”
According to the Georgia Straight newspaper:
“…But another challenge in recommending in school trustees is that so much of what they deal with is as a result of provincial policies.
The province determines the curriculum. The province negotiates contracts with teachers. The province provides funding for boards of education. And trustees have no power over taxing property, which leaves them searching for revenue through other means, such as by leasing school-district buildings.
It’s a thankless job, and we tip our hat to anyone who wants to run for school trustee, regardless of their party stripe. This is not a job for egomaniacs, because they generally don’t get a lot of credit for their work.
And they’re certainly not doing it for the money. [snipped as Vancouver specific]
They have all the responsibility for the operations of local schools, but not all of the authority, because much of the power resides in Victoria. For example, the province downloaded increases to teachers’ pensions, but didn’t provide funding to cover this expense.
Trustees aren’t entirely powerless, of course. They can choose to fund certain programs over others, close schools, negotiate contracts with support staff, and pursue different approaches in lobbying for more resources from the province.
In addition, good trustees will hire the best administrators.”