Cumberland trustee candidates reveal their vision for future

Cumberland is the only school trustee position being contested in this year's municipal election.

YOLANDA GOODWIN and Rick Grinham are competing for the Cumberland seat on the School District 71 board of trustees.

Cumberland is the only school trustee position being contested in this year’s municipal election.Exactly 10 days before the election, candidates Yolanda Goodwin and Rick Grinham shared their vision for public education and answered a number of questions about the issues facing the school district as a whole and Cumberland in particular Wednesday night at Tarbell’s Deli.The forum, moderated by Meaghan Cursons, was hosted by the Cumberland Community Schools Society and the Cumberland Elementary School Parent Advisory Council (PAC).Goodwin lives in Courtenay, but her husband grew up in Cumberland, and his family has many longtime connections to the village.She is a mother of three young children who go to Queneesh Elementary School.”Our youngest is now in kindergarten so decisions I’ll be making on the school board will be affecting me and my family,” she said.Grinham was a trustee for Cumberland for six years and was board chair for three of those years. A Cumberland resident for 17 years, he ran for a seat as mayor three years ago and narrowly lost to Fred Bates.He has been involved in the Coal Hills BMX track and involved in other areas, such as the Cumberland Legion and as former basketball coach at Cumberland Junior and was involved in PACs.The candidates were asked to share their vision of education in Cumberland and the broader school district.Goodwin predicts more schools in Cumberland.”In 2030, I can see at least two elementary schools, a middle school, a junior high school and possibly even, as my husband put it, Ginger Goodwin Way Senior High School,” she said.”From the planned growth that’s currently on the table, Cumberland’s going to have to grow, and it’s going to have to make at least two more schools in the next 10 years, possibly all four schools by 2030, and I would like to see that.”Grinham felt he had to step back to look forward. When he was previously on the school board, the board decided the district couldn’t afford middle schools anymore, but he argued that Cumberland Junior was a thriving community within itself, and it was cheaper to keep the school open than bus the students into Courtenay.”As this community grows, I would like to see our schools in the centre of the community, not out somewhere else,” he said. “Our two schools right now are perfectly placed for growth, both the Cumberland Junior School and the land adjacent to it, so there is the ability to grow. Cumberland Elementary, just beyond the sports field, the school district also owns all that land, so there is great room to expand both of those schools.”Grinham would also like to see the school district partner with the community, and he’d like to see the next community centre built up by the schools so people can use the recreational and school facilities, and they’re all together.Trustees were also asked what they know about community schools and how they would support the protection of funds for community schools.Grinham was one of the founding members of community schools and calls them “near and dear to my heart.””They are very, very important, particularly for a community this size,” he said.Right now, the school district provides some funding to the community schools in Cumberland and on Denman and Hornby islands, explained Grinham, noting they used to be funded by the provincial government, but that funding was pulled back.”They (the school district) give what they can, and we need to keep fighting to make sure that funding is there,” he said.Goodwin remembers stories from her grandmother about the one-room schoolhouse and how it was the centre of the community and was where you went to learn no matter how old you were, and she believes our entire concept of education came from the start of community schools and that one-room schoolhouse and one teacher.”When it comes to learning, the moment you stop learning, you die,” she said. “I’m sitting here listening to Rick, and I’m learning more and more things about what my potential job’s going to be. If one of the things is to protect community schools or the idea of community schools, then that’s what I’m going to have to do is try to protect them. Schools and community are together.”During the forum, the candidates were also asked what they see as the top issues facing the school board, and Grinham and Goodwin identified class size and low-incident children who have learning challenges, bullying and how schools deal with the issue, busing, providing breakfast and hot lunches to all students, finances, and personalized learning, which is also called 21st-century learning.writer@comoxvalleyrecord.com

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