In your opinion what is the most critical issue facing the school board at this time and how do you plan on addressing it?
I think there is a disconnect between the district and public that requires some significant change and collaboration. People tell me “I don`t have kids in school, it doesn’t matter to me.” But we all need to care – students are our collective future. Our district was built by pioneers who believed in education. Black Creek, Sandwick, Fanny Bay, they hired and billeted teachers, kicked in a load of wood and agreed to taxes to share the load. Now we see a lack of interest and low voter turnout that lets the government know elected boards don’t have a strong public investment behind them and can be over-ruled and disregarded.
I’ve been advocating for measures that will re-engage parents and the public and broaden the network for public education. We need to recapture a “village” around each of our schools. We have to look at how our organization might be discouraging participation and shutting out community. Opportunities to participate have to be meaningful and relevant; people don’t want to come to a budget meeting about something already decided – but I believe that our community would bring their talent, experience, resources to plans for a district fitness strategy, fine arts or environmental program development. As a trustee, I promote networking with our municipal partners and agencies. I support community schools and programs that will get the public into our schools, meeting our students, and starting to feel that SD71 does matter to them. Many pundits have been expecting the government to eliminate elected boards and move to the appointed regional authority model – a significant loss of public input and accountability. If that is to be, I want this area to have such strong, embedded advisory committees in place that the public voice for education will continue to be heard. I know that the trustees will achieve more with the mandate of a movement for public education and our students will thrive with the support of the community.