I am seeking re-election as I have sat as a board member for the last four years. I was both a teacher and principal for 35 years and know the operations and the challenges of opportunities for students. I believe that good leadership, accountability, proven experience and caring about children are important values for a trustee. I believe my skill set focuses on direct support for all students and providing teachers opportunities to meet the learning needs of their students.
SD57 is one of the largest geographic districts in B.C. Some challenges we face are the ability to provide a fair and equitable quality education curriculum to especially our rural, remote communities. Also northern weather conditions are taxing at times. While a good challenge with our enrolment increasing in different parts of Prince George communities, we will need to find solutions to school building capacities.
SD57 is a District full of good employees wanting to ensure the best possible outcomes for the students. As a Board we have to provide support to our teachers and educational assistants to enable them to meet student needs. As a Board we must oversee all the needs and ensure that our budget fairly and equitably covers the vulnerable students, special education needs, Improvements to Aboriginal and Non Aboriginal graduation rates, safe and healthy schools, transportation and quality education opportunities to our outlying and remote schools. We have the responsibility of providing quality education and learning opportunities for all SD57 students.
The Ministry of Education has mandated that SOGI be included in all school and district codes of conduct. I believe that all students should be treated with respect. I believe that information and knowledge are valuable learning supports. This information helps others understand the diversity and complexity of each person’s life choice. I also believe that there should be age appropriate guidelines.
I was the principal of Dunster, McBride, Hixon and Nukko Lake Elementary Schools as a part of my career. I know first hand of the challenges and opportunities of rural schools. As a Board member, I made motion for additional funding for rural schools. I have made presentations to the Government Select Standing Committee on the importance of rural support. I will continue to advocate for our rural schools and their needs.
As a trustee with our board, we have met many times with government MLAs and ministers seeking support for northern education. From the local perspective we think of Prince George as the northern capital. In education, School District 57 is viewed similarly, with smaller districts across the North, at times looking to us as leading change and implementing new programs. I would like to see government acknowledge this with funding for more trade programs and utilizing Prince George as a northern hub for ongoing educational in-services to us and our surrounding school districts.
I bring a strong knowledge of systems and operations, of decentralized budgeting, of working with students and their parents in many different communities in SD57 including rural, remote and urban, as a teacher and principal over 35 years.
This is a challenge in most school districts across the province of BC at this time. Our district has hired local graduates of UNBC, has advertised across the province and the nation. Currently Ontario is facing similar shortages. The district will continue to advertise and hire quality individuals. In addition a number of retired teachers have been rehired to help this need. I think that morale and support are important to keep educators in our district.
The work of the Board must be to remain strong advocates for public education. Meeting with Cabinet ministers and the Minister of Education as well as MLAs must be a priority. With a new funding formula about to be rolled out next year by the provincial government, trustees must work to ensure it meets the needs of SD57 adequately. In addition, the board must work with its provincial association, the BCSTA to use this chain of communication to ensure adequate funding. In closing, I believe the Board must remember most of our funding is taxpayer money and we as trustees must be held accountable for the wise use of every dollar to support student learning success.