Lost amid the excitement that there will be a mayoral election in Estevan this year, and the speculation of who would run for councillor, was the tepid reaction to school board elections.
It'll be status quo for Estevan on the South East Cornerstone board and the Holy Family separate board. Pam Currie and Janet Foord will continue to be the representatives for Estevan on the Cornerstone board. Bev Hickie and Karen Melle will continue to be part of the Holy Family board.
All have proven to be dedicated and capable trustees. Currie, Foord and Melle have experience on school boards that dates back to the 20th century; Hickie has been there for three years. Barring unforeseen circumstances, they'll be on their respective boards for four more years.
It's disappointing, though, that for the second straight election, Currie and Foord will be returned via acclamation. As for Holy Family, it's the third straight election that there hasn't been an election in Estevan. In fact, a second call for nominations was needed three years ago before Hickie stepped forward with his nomination papers.
There does seem to be more interest in South East Cornerstone in the rural areas, as there will be three subdivisions with elections. (Subdivision 6 in the southwest will have four people vying for one seat).
It would be too simple to blame amalgamation for the local apathy. But amalgamation is certainly a source of the issue.
It's hard for people to feel connected or passionate about their school boards when they're living in a vast school division. And it's hard to feel connected when the head office is in Weyburn.
Holy Family made it even more difficult for local, first-time candidates to run this election when they decided nomination forms had to be dropped off at the head office in Weyburn. At least South East Cornerstone allowed Estevan candidates to drop off their forms at the local City Hall.
This isn't to say that amalgamation was a bad idea. A decade ago, something had to be done about the number of small school divisions in the province. Some divisions didn't have a school. It made sense when the former Catholic divisions in Estevan, Weyburn and Radville merged in 2002.
South East Cornerstone was born out of forced amalgamation, an amalgamation that maybe went a little too far, but something had to be done about the number of school divisions in the province.
Parents and the public care about education. They care about schools. But in terms of policy, governance and the board, there is a disconnect created by size and distance. And it's a challenge that's likely to remain, which means that acclamation will likely continue to be a fixture in local school board elections.