Trustee forum challenged candidates in informal setting

Mona Mattei
By Mona Mattei
November 17th, 2011

 A small group of Christina Lake voters came out on Tuesday night to hear from the only candidates up for election in their area – school trustees.

Two individuals are standing for election in the small community – Sally Garcelon (incumbent) and Cindy Strukoff. In the intimate gathering Garcelon and Strukoff shared some of their perspectives on the current situation and future for the area’s school district.  Garcelon, who has served three terms as trustee, was very clear on her role both as a trustee and in relation to involvement with staff in the schools.  “One other part of being a trustee is taking public perception to the table, but then we hand it over to the administration we’ve hired,” said Garcelon. “We have a relationship of trust with them. They are on the floor, in the field people. We trustees don’t make those things happen. We tell them the outcome that’s expected, but we don’t manage. It’s the difference between management and governance. If we were to start telling them how to do their job, that would be called micro-managing and that sets up a very bad relationship with the administration.”  In looking at some new ideas, Strukoff noted her stance on the district’s budgets and communciations.  “I’d like to, for example, as new trustees [we should] look at the budget more itemized and more in depth rather than the generalization budget reviews that are done now,” Strukoff said. “I’d like to enhance the communication that the board has with the public and work on the perception on the lack of communication and transparency the board has now – we need to address it.”  Both candidates agreed that healthy eating and the introduction of programs in schools about food and its source would be welcome; they also agreed that the annual foundation skills assessments given to students is important but should not be used the way it is by outside parties.  The remainder of the discussion touched on the role of parent advisory committees, anti-bullying policies, the ongoing challenge for the board to deal with funding shortfalls, and enrolment declines.  The following statements, when asked why they want to be a trustee, summed up the candidates’ platforms.  “I want to do [the job] because I value my free and democratic society. If we want to effect change and make things better in society we have to become active, join the ranks and get out there and do the work,” said Garcelon. “I had five kids, I was always tremendously interested in their education, I have eight grand-kids now, they’re all starting school. I love education, I love literacy – this is a fit for me.”  “When my children started school I started going to education classes, going to the schools, finding out how the system works. I became very interested,” Strukoff said. “I delved into it more to help my kids and then it became helping other peoples kids through the PACs. I’m doing it because it really interests me a lot and I want to help other families and kids.”  Grace McGregor, acclaimed regional director for area C, moderated the evening’s session which took place on Nov. 15. The forum was sponsored by Community Futures Boundary, Boundary Region Chamber of Commerce, and the Boundary Sentinel.  Christina Lake, and the entire province, head to the polls for local government elections on Saturday, Nov. 19.

Categories: GeneralPolitics