From the Board Table

By Tim Bennett | Chair of School District 57
November 13, 2018 - 11:28am
Outgoing Board of SD57.
Outgoing Board of SD57. Photo Credit: Tim Bennett

Thank you so much to CKPG for the opportunity to share highlights from School District 57 and highlight some of the working happening around our schools and providing some updates from the Board Table.

There is a feeling of change around the School District 57 Board office. Snow is on the ground, and the days are getting shorter. The buzz of Halloween is wearing off and the countdown to winter break has already started.

Last week signalled a big change in the School District 57 Board Room. The community said goodbye to a Board of Education who completed a bunch of important work over the past four years. In my opinion, this team has a lot to celebrate. Some of the highlights from this past term include:

  • Approving an operationalized strategic plan that will govern our district through 2021.
  • Building stronger relationships and signing Local Education Agreements with Lheidli T'enneh and McLeod Lake First Nations.
  • Securing the rebuild of Kelly Road Secondary.
  • Reopening Springwood Elementary.
  • Ensuring compliance with the restored contract language following the Supreme Court decision.
  • Approving and strengthening a stand-alone SOGI policy
  • Welcoming a new Superintendent and senior administration team.

Please join me as I say a big thank you to Trish Perrin (10 years), Brenda Hooker (7 years), Tony Cable (4 years), Bob Harris (4 years) and Bruce Wiebe (4 years) for their years of service as a SD57 Trustee. They have all served the district admirably. Being a trustee is sometimes beyond a part-time job. On average they all have served the community in excess of fifty hours per month. The community was well served by all these individuals. I also want to send a thank you to the partners and families of these trustees. Serving in public office can not only take a toll on you but also your family and friends. While they are not in the public eye they deserve a lot of gratitude for the support role they play.

The Board table now looks very different. I have the opportunity to join Trustee Sharel Warrington (13 years) for another term representing the community of Prince George. We are joined by Ron Polillo, Trent Derrick, Betty Bekkering, Shuirose Valimohamed and Bob Thompson. Not only does this represent five of seven new trustees but also is the first time where this is a dedicated Trustee for Mackenzie and a Trustee for the Robson Valley. When you look at the geographical size, School District 57 is one of the largest school districts in the province stretching over 52,000 square kilometres. This change allows voices from all over the district to come together to advocate for our students, our communities and our region. We become a united voice in support of our 13,000 students.

So after saying all that, what does a Trustee do? Why did we get out and vote on October 20th? Here is a great response from the British Columbia School Trustee’s Association “Trustees engage their communities in building and maintaining a school system that reflects local priorities, values and expectations. School trustees listen to their communities, guide the work of their school district and set plans, policies and the annual budget. Reflecting the strength of local representation, boards report back to their communities on how students are doing. Boards are directly accountable to the people they serve”. It is a role that I am extremely passionate about and know that a strong team of Trustees can do great things to support and govern the district and children we serve.

The new board is eager to get to work. There will be a bit of a learning curve ahead but also a bunch of work. We are needing to support staff as the new grade 10 – 12 curriculum is rolling out, potentially a new funding formula that could impact how education is funded in British Columbia, ensuring a successful and fair bargaining process with our teachers and support staff and locally needing to continue to focus on improving core academics while addressing catchment and capacity issues. The work is plentiful but I believe this team is ready for the challenge.

Don’t be afraid to reach out and talk with myself or any of the other Trustees. We can be reached by phone, email or through social media. Tell us what you think, what is working, and what is not. We want to hear from you. Contact information for the new board is available on the School District 57 website.

Over the coming months, we will be looking at different aspects of the school district and highlighting some of the great work and challenges being faced. If there is a certain topic you would like to see answered, please don’t hesitate to reach out. I can be reached by email at [email protected], on Facebook at Tim Bennett – Trustee or on Twitter at @tiben12.

All the best,

Tim Bennett
Board Chair
School District 57 (Prince George)

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