BY RYAN WELLICOME
STAR Catholic Schools plans to conduct an electoral ward review beginning next month and continuing until early next year.
The review is being conducted due to changes in population and additions to ward structure since the school division’s current ward structure was developed in 1995.
“Within those (21) years, with the addition of various communities and obviously changes in population, what was established earlier on for the different wards that we have may need to be tweaked or looked at, or maybe not, but it is worth investigating,” said Board of Trustees Chair Thalia Hibbs.
The school division’s initial ward structure served Leduc, Wetaskiwin and Ponoka, adding the communities of Lacombe, Drayton Valley and – most recently, in 2010 – Beaumont in subsequent years.
Hibbs also said the board needs to figure out “what works” when it comes to giving students and parents proper electoral concessions based on the school they attend rather than where they live.
“It wouldn’t make sense for children to be going to school somewhere but not be able to participate in the election there,” she said.
Hibbs said public feedback is important in the school division’s decision making process.
“It’s public consultation that we are really seeking here. The board could perhaps just sit down and make a decision but it’s important for the board to have that public consultation,” she said. “We really want the electors to come out, have a say, ask questions and get all the information that they need to give us the best feedback.
“A broad range of stakeholders are being invited and we hope to have a good turn out.”
Town Hall meetings are scheduled to be held in each of the school division’s six communities through October and November. Lacombe’s consultation meeting is scheduled to be held at 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 17th at Father Lacombe Catholic School.
Following public consultation, the board’s findings will be assessed and recommendations will be put forward.
The ratification process must be complete by February next year in order for changes to be implemented for the next election.
STAR Catholic Schools is currently divided into four wards – Leduc, Ponoka, Wetaskiwin and Drayton Valley – each functioning as an electoral subdivision.
The Leduc and Ponoka wards are divided into two electoral subdivisions to incorporate Beaumont – Leduc Electoral Subdivision No. 2 – and Lacombe – Ponoka Electoral Subdivision No. 2 respectively.
Each electoral subdivision is represented by one – some two – elected trustees who form the school division’s governing body, the board of trustees.
Each trustee has a similar function to a Member of Parliament (MP) or a Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA), but on a more localized scale. They represent their ward’s interests when the board of trustees makes decisions.
STAR Catholic Schools oversees operation of 11 schools comprised of more than 3,900 students in Central Alberta communities that have a combined population of over 100,000.