The six Bulkley Valley School District 54 trustee candidates for Smithers/Glentanna/Driftwood and Telkwa/Quick answered questions at a public forum last Monday that included why they wanted to run, public engagement, and even one unexpected query as to what would be done with the logs left over if a sports multiplex was built beside Smithers Secondary School.
Roxy Hirshfield was the quickest to log an answer to cutting log question.
“If you’re being literal, I don’t know how merchantable the timber is, but if there could be revenue generated from it one thought would be to give it to the aboriginal resources that are required. So since it’s Wet’suwet’en territory one thought is we are having to deal with low graduation rates and some issues that are coming from our First Nations communities. Perhaps they could be allocated to aboriginal education,” responded Smithers/Glentanna/Driftwood candidate Hirshfield.
All trustee candidates agreed when asked that trustees have an obligation to be a clear public voice when issues like inadequate provincial funding have a negative effect on the district. Incumbent Telkwa/Quick candidate Judy McIntosh said voicing that concern should not be done individually.
“I find more power and more flexibility in coming together as a board and working out together what it is that we want to stand for publicly. We all bring a voice from our communities, we all bring a voice from our work life, we all bring a voice from the kids and parents that we interact with, and together we have a stronger more powerful voice locally,” said McIntosh.
Her rival for Telkwa/Quick Billie Jean Beaubien answered the question of the one thing candidates would do to improve education with a promise to encourage more volunteering in schools.
“Volunteer hours go a long way in ramping up your character,” said Beaubien, adding it also gives students much sought after work experience.
Smithers/Glentanna/Driftwood incumbent Frank Farrell answered the same question by saying he would focus on getting kids what they needed educationally as soon as possible.
“There are great things going, but there need to be improvements. That’s the biggest thing because if we get to them at the earliest possible age, then our great educators and support staff have a better chance at creating better outcomes where we can have a chance at having a 100 per cent graduation rate,” said Farrell.
Smithers/Glentanna/Driftwood incumbent Lara Collingwood said it is all about choices in education.
“Focus on choices, specifically for aboriginal students, and lining up kids with something they’re passionate about, something to meet their greatest potential and prepare them for life outside of school,” said Collingwood.
Smithers/Glentanna/Driftwood candidate Dawn Hanson said her number one goal would be to improve communication.
“I really believe in dialogue and the role dialogue can have. I think that through good, open communication, which is very different from debate or disagreement, that you can set a tone that trickles down from the board through administration, teachers, all the way down to students. And you can set up an openness that can lead to greater collaboration and finding solutions that are going to work for the students,” said Hanson.
As for engaging teachers, Hirshfield said each school has its own vision.
“I would love as a trustee to be able to go to all the different schools and see the classrooms just to sit and observe and talk to teachers,” said Hirshfield.
Beaubien said each school has its own unique niche, and she would get involved by volunteering for things like hot lunch serving to forge relationships.
Her Telkwa/Quick competition said she would celebrate teacher successes.
“It’s also important to not overstep your bounds as a trustee where you’re going crazy and going to places where people just want to be left alone to do the work. You got to be respectful of that. But interacting with schools: every opportunity that I can get I’m always there,” said McIntosh.