Election 2014: Trustee candidates address voters

School District 78: Closure of C.E. Barry a hot topic at meeting

School trustee candidates Pat Furness

The closure of C.E. Barry school was a hot topic during last Thursday’s trustee all-candidates meeting at Hope Secondary School.

Incumbent Marv Cope said the board’s decision in June was difficult, but trustees could no longer keep a school open that was seismically unsafe.

“Nobody wants to close a school,” he said. “To make that school safe for people, it would have cost the government $4 million and they weren’t going to put that kind of money out on a school that was 40 plus years old.”

Cope applauded the quick work by district administration to find an interim solution for students this year, while a four-room addition is built at Coquihalla Elementary School to accommodate a K-7 model at the elementary level. Grade 5-6 students are currently enrolled at Coquihalla, while Grade 7 students are split between Silver Creek Elementary School and Hope Secondary School.

Incumbent trustee Pat Furness feels the district should have handled the school closure differently and brought the issue to the public long before it was.

“I think that we handled the closing of C.E. Barry so badly,” said Furness, who would also like to see more hiring for administrative positions from within the district and fewer issues dealt with in-camera. “A school becomes a community, especially when the students and teachers have all been there for a long time. Teachers and students were not allowed time to grieve. As a board, I don’t think we really listened to the public. If I’m elected, I will do everything in my power to not have Grade 7s in the high school.”

Heather Stewin also pointed out that she’s not happy with the current placement of Grade 7s and bringing them together will be one of her priorities if elected.

Another key issue discussed at the meeting was the district’s current budget constraints. Trustee candidates committed to lobbying for more funding to provide an adequate learning environment. However, Cope noted that declining enrolment remains a problem, which results in $7,000 less in government funding for every student that leaves the district.

“Public education matters, whether our provincial government wants to admit it or not,” added Robert Genaille. “In my 10 years in the school district as a teacher, I watched the levels drop, I watched text books get older, I watched the classes get bigger, I’ve watched the stress lines on teachers, administrators and support staff get a little deeper, and I’ve watched students get ignored. It’s the students, it’s staff, it’s the people that make our system, it’s the people we are trying to teach. We are the ones entrusted with being the voices for our kids.”

Genaille and Stewin also stated they will be advocates for special needs students at the board table, while Furness and Koopman suggested that classroom technology and the high school apprenticeship program be budget priorities. Furness believes the district needs to do more to ensure students are prepared to succeed in the digital world.

“Educators should be given the supports needed for technology to empower the learning process,” she said. “Hope Secondary has one of the best outfitted shops in the Fraser Valley and yet the equipment is under-utilized as a result of overcrowded classes made of multi grades 9-12 and lack of technology in the shops.”

Given the high demand for qualified trades people, Koopman feels the district needs to ensure programs are preparing students for success in “this progressive ever expanding job market.”

“Let’s increase the student’s ability to see the relationship between learning and real life,” he added. “Let’s offer them an opportunity to stay actively engaged in their learning and succeed at school. Let’s motivate our students to graduate high school with job qualifying skills.”

Koopman said he can bring insight and a practical perspective to the school board table. He believes his career as a teacher has taught him the importance of personal initiative and college collaboration.

Incumbent candidate Linda McMullan was not in attendance at Thursday’s meeting due to a family commitment.

Hope voters will elect three school trustees on Nov. 15. Even though her name is still on the ballot, Kerry Duplessis has dropped out of the election for health reasons.

Incumbent trustee Tom Hendrickson has been acclaimed in the Canyon electoral area. There are also six candidates vying for three seats in Agassiz-Harrison electoral area.

 

Just Posted

Graduation rates in Hope have increased by almost 11 per cent since last year

Six-year graduation rates in SD 78 have risen from 63.7 to 74.4 per cent

Hope Food Bank struggling after dismal outpouring at annual Holly Days fundraiser

Food Bank may have to reduce hours, services if lost revenue isn’t made up

Students in Hope are ‘100 Days Smarter’

Coquihalla Elementary rang in 100 days of school in a concrete, yet creative manner

Chilliwack’s Chief Ernie Crey a firm pipeline supporter

Crey lauds NEB focus on marine safety in his role representing Indigenous oversight committee

Measles case confirmed within Fraser Health region

One case within Fraser Health is related to the outbreak in three Vancouver schools.

VIDEO: Iconic ‘snow cone’ takes shape at B.C. park near Clearwater

Snow cone forming at Wells Gray Provincial Park one that would make Disney’s Queen Elsa proud

Pink Shirt Day a reminder to ‘T.H.I.N.K.’ before posting on social media

‘Be Kind’ message on shirts sold for anti-bullying activities of Wednesday, Feb. 27

A ‘warm embrace’ for grieving parents at funeral of seven young fire victims

Mourners offered love and support to Kawthar Barho, mother of seven children

Indigenous leaders, politicians say Trans Mountain report flawed

The National Energy Board has endorsed an expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline a second time

UPDATE: Reports of rashes prompt closure of all Harrison Hot Springs pools

Public pool available after Fraser Health shut down all five mineral pools until further notice

Legislation to protect B.C. farmland comes into effect

Regulations enhance food security, encourage long-term farming

Have you heard the legend of Shuswaggi, the Shuswap Lake monster?

Witness accounts as old as 1904, and as recent as 2018, place a creature in the lake’s depths

UPDATE: B.C. ticket holder winner of $25.9-million Lotto Max jackpot

Next draw set for Mar. 1 with an estimated jackpot of $10 million

B.C.-based ‘Team Tardi’ brings home gold in junior curling worlds

In a 9-4 victory over Switzerland, a Langley-based curling team earned its 2nd straight world title

Most Read