2 Jun 2016

Parents put hands up for school boards

8:12 pm on 2 June 2016

Voting in school trustee elections closes at midday on Friday with record numbers of candidates fighting for a place on the boards of some schools.

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19 people are contesting five seats on Brooklyn School's board of trustees. Photo: 123 RF

Most schools get about six candidates standing for election, but the School Trustees Association said at 12 schools more than 15 nominees are vying for votes.

They include Mount Albert Grammar School in Auckland with 21 candidates and Brooklyn School in Wellington where 19 people were contesting the five seats on it board of trustees.

The chairperson of Brooklyn's board, Mary-Ann Butterfield, said the school's parents were very supportive and the high number of nominees was probably because they were warned that four of the five current trustees were stepping down.

"When we ask people to help with school camp we have 30 parents putting their hands up for 10 places so we are a very privileged school in that respect and our parents, when they see the need, they will help. And so when the notice, which we've never sent in the past, said only one person's re-standing... a lot of people saw that need and they have said that's why they came forward."

A view from behind of teacher aide and two little girls while rest of class taught  further into classroom.

Voting closes tomorrow in school trustee elections. Photo: RNZ / John Gerritsen

In Christchurch, Paparoa Street School had 16 nominations for the five elected places on its board.

The school's principal, Philip Harding, said it really encouraged people to stand.

"We set out to provoke interest and to speak positively about the experience of serving on a board, and I wrote a piece for a newsletter item and then a board member wrote as well, and I think between us we might have over-cooked it slightly, but it's going to ensure a democratic process is held."

Education Ministry figures show about a quarter of eligible parents voted in past trustee elections.

The School Trustees Association is coordinating the elections, and its president Lorraine Kerr said parents should make the effort to vote.

"Most parents do have an opinion about education for their children and I wouldn't expect anything less. To vote for members of their board of trustees actually gives them a say in what goes on in their school."

The association's president Lorraine Kerr said more than 2150 schools chose the common election date of 3 June, but at 600 of those schools no vote was happening because the number of nominees did not exceed the number of places on the board.

She said schools had between five and seven elected places on their board and it appeared that all schools had at least three nominees - the minimum required.