The All Trustee Candidates Forum took place last night at the Begbie View Elementary School. Eight candidates are running for five positions in School District No. 19. Roughly 40 people came to the forum and the candidates answered a wide range of questions. Below are the candidates response to the first two questions. One question was for the incumbents and the other for new candidates.
Question for incumbents candidates: What are you most proud of and what are some upcoming challenges for the school district?
Elmer Rorstad: “Probably the most important thing is managing this district when funding wasn’t available and we had to make some tough decisions. I’m proud that we were able to go ahead and put our resources where they count the most – in the class room. With regards to making the class sizes smaller, with supplying education aids when needed, and also directing our resources to early childhood. To me, I’m a big believer the earlier you can diagnose and work on a problem, then you can solve it. Revelstoke is an example of that. We’ve been able to really cut back on our disciplinary problems at high school, primarily because we can find out what the problems is at elementary school. And put our resources on that. And it’s working.”
Challenges: “Increasing enrollment.”
Bill Macfarlane: “It’s a good question. And I think there are many good accomplishments. For me, personally, as part of an elected body, was that the five of us worked so well together. All about a team approach that met the needs of our school district. If a board is dysfunctional, that gets you sidelined and you can’t deal with the important issues.”
Challenges: “Things are changing so quickly. Such as increasing enrolment. That’s a good thing, but it also means pressure on us for meeting budgetary needs to provide the resources and the educational needs of our students.”
Alan Chell: I would say our biggest accomplishment and it isn’t just due to the school board, but is us the community. We have built a model school district. We have districts from all over B.C. coming to look at strong start, high school, early learning, theatre. We have districts asking all the time how do you do it in Revelstoke and the answer is community.
Challenges: “The next round of bargaining with B.C. Teachers Federation is going to be the most complex round of bargaining because of restored language from the Supreme Court of Canada that’s been a way from 15 years and now trying to be brought up to modern day language. And it’s going to be challenging. And mutually challenging how we found our way forward. We will, but it will be challenging. I look forward to being on the provincial table because I think I can help find a solution.”
Question for new candidates: What do you feel is the most important issue facing public education in Revelstoke?
Alan Polster: Class size and composition and support for the wide range of kids that are now Incorporated into each classroom , which is a good thing. I’ve seen it with my own kids right from the beginning of their schooling in that there was a wide range of kids in their class room in Revelstoke and the kids that needed additional support are the kids that excelled, all worked together, got the support they needed. Sometimes not quite enough. They definitely needed more at the time. That’s the biggest challenge I see.
Rick Hodgson: I think the biggest challenge facing our town right now, goes back to what I said with respect to 2010. If you read the literature with respect of the impact of resort based economies on communities, you’ll find it rises exponentially. If we look at our situation right now employers in town cannot get employees. We are relying on itinerant employees. Itinerant employees do not bring children into our community. They take our resources, but they don’t bring children. I envision the future, as we rely more and more on itinerant employees, there will be fewer children. Also, because of the affordable housing situation, we will be in trouble. Just like the city is. How will we get employees ourselves? Our Support staff? Even our teachers? Imagine a teacher coming here in a few years and finding out that to work in this town, they have to be a consumer of affordable housing. Read the literature. Whistlers. Queen Charlotte City. The mayor of Queen Charlotte City was quoted saying, “come visit Queen Charlotte City, but bring your lunch.”
Sarah Zimmer: We have learned through a lot of research in recent years that kids are not all the same. They’re different. They’re needs are different. We need to strive to make sure all the different needs are supported within our community. This means finding new ways to help kids succeed. Not just in the traditional areas, like grades, but mental health, environmental issues, education about Aboriginal experience. We have learned so much in the last few decades, that I think we are now able to put a lot of that into practice.
Gary Pendergast: The most important one, despite the fact how well the district has done, just how great our children are, is the question of poverty. We do still have children in this city who suffer from a great deal of poverty. And it’s so great seeing some of the things already brought forward by the schools: breakfast club, hot lunches, the way money is gathered to help pay for school supplies. But that’s only what we see during the day, we don’t see what happens at night, we don’t see what happens when they go home. And that’s what we need to be working on. Particular those children with their mental health. That’s what is affected so much. To me, that’s is the main issue we need to look at in the future.
Janet Lemieux: The issue that all school districts face is what to do with the finite resources they receive and how can they best to use it so our students can be successful. We have bargaining coming up and that’s going to impact how we can resource our classrooms. We have a new curriculum and that puts a big strain on teachers. How can they can they be supported to implement it. So how can we best use our resources for the students and the school with this new curriculum. And with the new bargaining with the province.
The election for school trustees is on Oct. 20, 2018, in the McPherson Room at the City of Revelstoke Community Centre located at 600 Campbell Avenue from 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. Advanced voting starts today and is on Oct. 17, at the same time and place as the general election.