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School board candidates: Winnipeg School Division Ward 1

Two school board seats are up for grabs in byelections Nov. 26, in Ward 2 in Louis Riel School Division, and in Ward 1 in Winnipeg School Division.

Mike Ducharme gave up his trustee’s job in LRSD to contest the St. Vital city council byelection, while the WSD seat has been empty since trustee Joyce Bateman became an MP last spring.

We’ve got candidates who believe that school boards need more trustees who are parents with kids in a school. There’s a 19-year-old who says trustees are generations removed from students, and who argues we need much, much younger trustees. Another says teachers make the best trustees. And there’s one who vows to cut taxes and reduce programs.

Ten of the 14 candidates have kids enrolled in their divisions, a far higher proprotion than you’ll find among most school boards, where many trustees have had their kids already graduate, or don’t have kids.

The women running in Louis Riel are pointing out that the board is the most male-dominated in the city, with only two women and six men among its current trustees.

Several candidates don’t believe that Premier Greg Selinger will keep his word — they fear school boards will get stuck with the cost of capping class size and with the seniors education property tax credit.

Colleen McFadden

Colleen McFadden

Winnipeg School Division Ward 1

Colleen McFadden



Who she is: Co-owner of a pensions and benefits consulting company, has three children in division schools.

Why she’s running: McFadden was the organizer of a years-long successful campaign to get the province to commit capital funding for a gymnasium at Queenston School.

"We all need to work together. I’m not the type of person to sit on the sidelines to complain. The things I believe in, I become passionate about it."

Students need deadlines for assignments, and consequences if their work is late: "If there aren’t reasonable deadlines, that isn’t setting our children up for the workplace."

She does not believe in no-fail policies: "In certain cases, when you advance a child, you set them up for failure."

Students and teachers and trustees all need standards against which they’re measured.

The division needs to look at amalgamation: "Is this (six city divisions) the best use of our scarce resources?"


Mark Wasyliw

Mark Wasyliw

Mark Wasyliw



Who he is: A lawyer who ran federally for the NDP in 2006. Two kids in the division, another to start soon, both his parents were teachers. He’s endorsed by the labour council, but did not seek an NDP endorsement.

Why he’s running: The division has major infrastructure and repair needs. "I think that (WSD) is going to be heading into a financial crisis. Expenditures are outstripping the revenues coming in."

The province should pay for nursery: "They’re advocates of early childhood education."

The province should pay for the division’s aboriginal schools. "Not only Winnipeg School Division benefits — the benefits are universally accessible to the province."

"Traffic is a nightmare around schools", yet there is no traffic safety plan for teachers’ parking, parents picking up and dropping off.

"I want to be sure schools have the proper equipment."

There are 25,000 residences in the ward, far too big an area, said Wasyliw, who favours nine smaller single-seat wards. "The needs of kids and parents at Gladstone School are shockingly different than R.H. Smith."

"I have concerns about the comprehensive assessment program — teachers are scared to talk out about it." How many substitutes are hired so teachers can administer CAP?, he asks.

Trustees need to be more assertive. "The superintendents just tell them what to do and they just nod their heads."

He’ll work to protect small schools: "Some old taboos like school closure are going to rear their ugly heads."


Randall Znamirowski

Randall Znamirowski

Randall Znamirowski



Who he is: He’s a chartered accountant and management consultant with extensive experience in municipal government and hospital administration. His 17-year-old daughter is in a private school.

Why he’s running: "I’m running to get quality, affordable, responsible education. If you’re tired of the heavy tax burden, you should be voting for me. I am looking for a reduction in taxation."

"Their (trustees’) direction is always to have a status quo budget."

"Are we getting value for our money? If we’re doing 100 programs, maybe we should be doing 80."

People believe that private schools are better than public schools, Znamirowski asserts: "As a general consensus, the public has that belief."


Brenda Poersch

Brenda Poersch

Brenda Poersch


Who she is: A recreation facilitator who works with seniors, Poersch has a son in Grant Park High School.

Why she’s running: She’s been involved in parent councils and day care boards. "It’s important to be involved in my children’s education."

Art, music, and physical activity are as important as the core subjects. "I want to be sure we keep well-rounded students."

"Before and after school programs need to be valued — they need someplace to go that’s safe."


Evan Thompson

Withdrew from the campaign, but not in time to have his name removed from the ballot.


Gerrit Theule

Gerrit Theule

Gerrit Theule



Who he is: A classical musician and opera singer, a stay-at-home dad with one child in Laura Secord School and another preschool. Grew up in the ward, but does not live there.

Why he’s running: Theule, who chairs the Laura Secord parent council, says that there shouldn't be a byelection in the first place.

"I believe that school board trustee is an important enough position to warrant having someone in it who wants to improve things for our schools and society as a whole as opposed to someone who actually wants to be an MLA or MP and sees this as a way in."

On division finances, "It’s important to have someone to balance the parent and community perspectives."

He’s not sold on the comprehensive assessment program (CAP): "The teachers are out of the classroom for big bulks of time. I haven’t seen that CAP does a whole lot of good."

"I’d like to see more creative methods of compensation — improve the teachers’ quality of life without costing a whole lot of money."

He would make the school board agendas public prior to board meetings.


Ben Shedden

Ben Shedden

Ben Shedden



Who he is: A teacher with an inner-city program for newcomers.

Why he’s running: "Obviously, I have a passion for teaching."

He’s promoting English as an Additional Language programs and mentoring for newcomer youth.

"Producing a quality education on a limited budget is something I’ve had a lot of experience on."

"We still have a ways to go to create a positive learning environment and safety for our students."

"We have a responsibility to promote student-led initiatives" on issues such as safe schools and environmental projects. "We need to do more to promote student leadership."


Updated on Thursday, November 10, 2011 at 9:15 AM CST: Adds candidate photos

November 16, 2011 at 3:40 PM: Udpates Theule's reason for running

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