Map of the Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board's geography.

Meet the candidates for school board trustee running in the City of Peterborough

During every municipal election, eligible voters are able to cast their ballots for candidates running for municipal office. In the City of Peterborough, that means voting for the next mayor, voting for your city Councillor, and it also means voting for your local school board trustee.

Local media and voters pay a lot of attention to the mayor and city council election but especially this year I’ve seen very little coverage for the school board trustees. So I wanted to try and remedy that to help folks make an informed decision when voting for school board trustees.

I’ve made a longer podcast episode about the KPRDSB board of trustees with interviews from the City of Peterborough candidates, the acclaimed trustees for the County of Peterborough, and the student trustees. You can listen to that here (link will be activated on Saturday Oct. 13, subscribe to our podcast to receive it in a podcast app as soon as it’s available): https://peterboroughcurrents.ptbopodcasters.ca/podcast/engaging-school-board-trustee-election-process/

About our school board and trustee election

Our school board is the Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board – KPRDSB, and it covers an enormous area almost 6,000 square kilometres. There are ten elected trustees that represent different communities within that geographical area.

There are two elected trustees for the City of Peterborough, and three for the County of Peterborough: one trustee for Cavan-Monaghan, Duoro-Dummer, Otonabee South Monaghan, one trustee for the Municipality of Trent Lakes, North Kawartha, Township of Selwyn, and one trustee for Asphodel-Norwood, Havelock-Belmont-Metheun, Trent Hills. The other five elected officials represent communities outside the County of Peterborough like Clarington, Cobourg, Port Hope, Quinte and others.

In addition to the ten elected trustees, there are two student trustees and one appointed trustee representing First Nations – this last position rotates between representatives selected from the three First Nations served by the KPRDSB: Curve Lake, Alderville and Hiawatha.

The student trustees are selected from a Student Leadership Group and serve a flexible term usually between one and two years. These students are brought onto the board every Spring.

The board of trustees is responsible for the governance and oversight of the whole school board, which is no small deal. The KPRDSB total budget (operating + capital) was over $400 million last year. That’s $50 million more than the budget for the entire City of Peterborough. The board of trustees doesn’t control all of the money, however, as the vast majority is allocated by the Ministry of Education for things like teachers’ salaries. There is still a significant amount of discretionary funds that the board of trustees can stream to their priorities.

The board is also responsible for policy creation and oversight over the goings on at schools within it’s geography.

The school is an enormous institution that shapes the lives of young people in our community  the vast majority of which cannot vote. We as eligible voters are responsible for electing leadership that moulds children, teenagers and young adults in our community. Whether you are around kids very much or not, this is a big responsibility and we as a community are entrusted with making the decision to vote in a responsible board of trustees.

In recent memory we’ve also seen many political attacks on education and on labour in education. Most recently we’ve seen Doug Ford’s Conservative Government take action to repeal the revised Health and Physical Education curriculum – the one with the revised sex ed. Further back there was former Premier Dalton McGuinty’s Bill 150 to take teachers’ right to collective bargaining away later deemed illegal. We’ve also seen schools closing in the KPRDSB and funding cuts. The board isn’t solely responsible for all these things but they are our way to express our opinions as a community.

The board of trustees is responsible for and they should be advocates for the improvement of education within their school board’s geography. We need to elect candidates who will be those advocates.

The trustees are a critical tool for citizens to engage with democracy and make their opinions heard on education issues.

The candidate interviews

Please find below interviews with the four candidates running for school board trustee in the City of Peterborough, listed in alphabetical order by last name. Candidates were each asked the same five questions and constrained to a 10-12 minute interview, none of the candidates received the questions in advance.  Two of these candidates will become the school board trustees representing the city.

Wayne Bonner

Dennis Hildebrand

Rose Kitney

Steve Russell

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