Election 2014: Election shakes up school board

John Koopman and Heather Stewin are voted in as new trustees

Two local newcomers will be joining the Fraser-Cascade Board of Education following Saturday’s municipal election.

John Koopman received the most votes in the Hope electoral area with 882, while Heather Stewin garnered 868.

Current board chair Linda McMullan was also returned as a trustee with 745 votes. Pat Furness finished with 734, Marv Cope 702 and Robert Genaille 290.

“It was a very surreal and humbling feeling hearing my name called first, considering I began my campaign running against three good candidates and three well-respected incumbents,” said Koopman.

“It is truly an honour to have the respect and support of our community being a trustee on their behalf.”

As a new board member, he is looking forward to working with parents, teachers, support staff, students and community groups in “building a solid blueprint for educational success.”

“Value, respect and collaboration are the key building blocks to generating effective relationships among trustees and the stakeholders they represent in creating this successful blueprint,” he added.

Koopman believes using the budget in a fiscally prudent manner, while at the same time trying to provide adequate educational programs that are based on reasonable class size and composition, is one of the struggles currently facing the board.

Stewin – the daughter of former trustee Jim Sinclair, who served the district for 30 years – will also be a new face around the board table starting Dec. 9. She is excited to represent the community both as a trustee and councillor for the next four years, pointing out that both positions compliment each other well.

“The school board focuses on education while the local government focuses on the community as a whole,” said Stewin.

“This opportunity to represent the people of Hope at both levels of government helps to create strong relationships and increased understanding as well as multiple networking opportunities in higher forms of government. I realize that being elected to both of these positions will require dedication and determination and I am fully committed to both.”

Stewin is looking forward to being a part of the school district’s growth and bringing to life the strategic plan that’s already in place.

She believes the board’s top priority is to address the current placement of students.

McMullan will be providing continuity on the new board, having been voted in for her third term as trustee. She feels being re-elected shows public confidence in the board, despite the unpopularity of C.E. Barry’s closure.

“We hope that having all the students in a new, up-to-seismic-standards building will mitigate some of the regret at the loss of their school,” she added.

“Fresh voices and ideas are always invigorating, but we will miss the experience and expertise of the members who were with us previously. I am humbled at being chosen once again.”

Moving forward, McMullan feels the board needs to focus on keeping students in the district by developing programs that meet their needs. She said this won’t be an impossible task as the district already has innovative staff and programs in place.

Cindy Ferguson, Ron Johnstone, and Rose Tustian will join the board as Agassiz-Harrison representatives.

In the Canyon electoral area, Tom Hendrickson was voted in by acclamation.