Candidates fear loss of education control

Trustee candidates fear the provincial government may soon take away local control of school divisions, but they want to have a say in what policies move forward.

Trustee candidates fear the provincial government may soon take away local control of school divisions, but they want to have a say in what policies move forward. As 11 people vie for seven seats on the Red Deer Public School District board, high school completion and getting the public out to vote are also key issues.

Incumbent Lawrence Lee, who has served two terms on the public school board, sees local autonomy as one of the core issues of his platform. He said it affects everything from new schools to funding teachers’ salaries. Lee said that it is important that local decision-making is rekindled.

“My belief has always been that the best decisions are made closest to where people will live with those decisions,” Lee said. “The challenge for education is seeking the support of appropriate resources that are currently controlled by the provincial government.”

Incumbent Dianne Macaulay, who has served two terms on the public school board, said there is fear that if the provincial government opens up the School Act then school boards may no longer exist as they do now.

“Find out who your candidates are and make an informed decision because there are some really good ones out there,” Macaulay said. “We’re all scared that the board of trustees may go the way of the health board because the minister of education is thinking that people don’t care. So show that you care about your trustees and vote for somebody.”

Dick Lemke, a semi-retired teacher who has served as a local school trustee in the past, said the viability of the school board is a major issue in this election.

“Local school boards work. Local involvement in the education process works and should be left similar to what it is,” Lemke said.

Bill Stuebing, who has served five terms on the public school district board, said since the mid-1990s there has been an increase in centralization and an increase in control of education by the provincial government. He said that can mean that there are provincial standards and curriculum in place, which can be good, but it can be pushed too far and then some of the important principles of public education begin to be endangered.

Candidates are concerned about a number of other issues. New candidate Bill Christie, who has 25 years of experience as a school trustee in B.C., would like to look into high school completion rates and points to special needs students as being another one of his focuses. He also would like to look into having an Aboriginal Education Advisory Committee that could work with the local First Nations community.

Kaliana Johnston would like to focus more attention on mental illness and social issues of children and their caregivers because that can be a big hindrance to learning for students.

School boards around the province have also been struggling over the past year as the provincial government has clawed back money.

Stuebing said funding right now is uncertain and somewhat limited and the provincial treasurer and the education minister have indicated that this is likely to persist. “Erratic funding is one of the biggest problems we can have, even more so perhaps than limitations on funding,” said Stuebing.

Bev Manning, who has served five terms on the Red Deer public school board, said the public school board and district staff have ensured that the school division has lived within its means, but the board needs to be proactive to ensure the district stays there.

Lemke is worried about affordability for parents with all of the extra fees levied by the schools and he said as trustees they need to control this. Although there are programs to help families who can’t afford the fees, Lemke said many parents are too proud to use them.

Other Red Deer Public School District board trustee candidates include: Incumbent Cathy Peacocke, Lianne Kruger, Lisa Johnston and Matthew Chapin.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a news conference at Rideau cottage in Ottawa, on Friday, March 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand
Liberals to release federal budget with eye on managing crisis, post-pandemic growth

OTTAWA — The federal government will this afternoon unveil its spending plans… Continue reading

Patches are seen on the arm and shoulder of a corrections officer in the segregation unit at the Fraser Valley Institution for Women during a media tour, in Abbotsford, B.C., on Thursday, Oct. 26, 2017. Correctional Service Canada says three inmates at Fraser Valley Institution recently tested positive for COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Drumheller Institution inmate dies in custody

Inmate’s April 15 death under investigation

In this image from NASA, NASA's experimental Mars helicopter Ingenuity lands on the surface of Mars Monday, April 19, 2021. The little 4-pound helicopter rose from the dusty red surface into the thin Martian air Monday, achieving the first powered, controlled flight on another planet. (NASA via AP)
NASA’s Mars helicopter takes flight, 1st for another planet

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — NASA’s experimental helicopter Ingenuity rose into the thin… Continue reading

In this August 21, 1994 file photo, Rwandan Hutus give the departing French troops the thumbs-up as the French army pull out of Cyangugu, in southwest Rwanda. A report commissioned by the Rwandan government due to be made public on Monday, April 19, 2021 concludes that the French government bears "significant" responsibility for "enabling a foreseeable genocide" that left more than 800,000 dead in 1994 and that that France "did nothing to stop" the massacres. (AP Photo/Jean Marc Bouju, File)
Rwanda report blames France for ‘enabling’ the 1994 genocide

PARIS — The French government bears “significant” responsibility for “enabling a foreseeable… Continue reading

In this March 19, 2021, file photo, residents wearing masks ride pass government propaganda with slogans some of which read "Forever follow the Party" and "China's Ethnicities One Family" in the city of Aksu in western China's Xinjiang region. A human rights group appealed to the United Nations on Monday, April 19, 2021 to investigate allegations China's government is committing crimes against humanity in the Xinjiang region. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan, File)
Group urges UN to probe China for crimes against humanity

KASHGAR, China — A human rights group appealed to the United Nations… Continue reading

In this Feb. 24, 2020, photo, the Olympics rings are reflected on the window of a hotel restaurant as a server with a mask sets up a table, in the Odaiba section of Tokyo. The vaccine rollout in Japan has been very slow with less than 1% vaccinated. This of course is spilling over to concerns about the postponed Tokyo Olympics that open in just over three months.(AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)
Will Japanese Olympians be vaccinated ahead of the public?

TOKYO — The vaccine rollout in Japan has been very slow with… Continue reading

PSG's Kylian Mbappe, right, greets Bayern's Lucas Hernandez at the end of the Champions League, second leg, quarterfinal soccer match between Paris Saint Germain and Bayern Munich at the Parc des Princes stadium, in Paris, France, Tuesday, April 13, 2021. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
PSG, Bayern the big names missing from Super League plan

DÜSSELDORF, Germany — The plan for the new Super League soccer competition… Continue reading

In this image released by Paramount Pictures, Marion Cotillard, left, and Brad Pitt appear in a scene from "Allied." (Daniel Smith/Paramount Pictures via AP)
Leo Carax’s ‘Annette’ to open Cannes Film Festival

Leo Carax’s “Annette,” starring Marion Cotillard and Adam Driver, will open the… Continue reading

From left, Producer Doug Mitchell, actor Chris Hemsworth and director George Miller attend at a press conference to announce the new "Mad Max" film at Fox Studios Australia in Sydney, Monday, April 19, 2021. (Mick Tsikas/AAP Image via AP)
‘Mad Max’ prequel shot in Outback to be released in 2023

SYDNEY, Australia — A prequel to the “Mad Max” movie franchise starring… Continue reading

In this Feb. 1, 2021 file photo, emissions from a coal-fired power plant are silhouetted against the setting sun in Independence, Mo. President Joe Biden faces a vexing task as he convenes a virtual climate summit on Thursday. He is expected to present a nonbinding but symbolic goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that will have a tangible impact not only on climate change efforts in the U.S. but throughout the world. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)
Biden pressed on emissions goal as climate summit nears

WASHINGTON — When President Joe Biden convenes a virtual climate summit on… Continue reading

Women wearing masks wait near an advertisement ahead of the Auto Shanghai 2021 show in Shanghai on Sunday, April 18, 2021. Automakers from around the world are showcasing their latest products this week in the world's biggest market for auto vehicles. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
VW, Ford unveil SUVs at China auto show under virus controls

SHANGHAI — Volkswagen, Ford and Chinese brands unveiled new SUVs for China… Continue reading

Investigators from the Vancouver Police Department were in Chilliwack Saturday, collecting evidence connected to a double homicide. (file photo)
Police investigate shooting death of man outside downtown Vancouver restaurant

Vancouver police say one man was killed in what they believe was… Continue reading

Dr. E. Kwok administers a COVID-19 vaccine to a recipient at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to start registering people 18 years and older for COVID-19 vaccines

VICTORIA — The British Columbia government says it’s inviting people 18 years… Continue reading

Most Read