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Pembina Trails: Ward 3

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WARD 3 (3 to be elected)

Jacquie Field

1. Are you an incumbent trustee? Have you served or run at other political levels? Are you running for a political party, and if so, which one?

I have been a trustee for 12 years. I have never run for or held any other political office and am not supported in this election or any other election by a political party.

2. Do you have children enrolled in or graduated from this division? Are/were any of your children home-schooled, or enrolled in an independent school?

My two sons are both recent graduates of Pembina Trails School Division/ Fort Garry. Matthew graduated from Vincent Massey Collegiate and is now attending Brandon University and Grant graduated from Fort Richmond Collegiate and is now attending the University of Manitoba.

3. List five issues which you believe your division’s school board will have to deal with in the next year, and state your position on these issues.

  1. I believe that in the next 5 years Pembina Trails School Division with be looking at how to meet the needs of the ever increasing number of English as an Addition language learners. I support the efforts being made to improve support for newcomer families and to assess and reassess the effectiveness of the supports we provide at different levels of the system.
  2. We will be expanding our ways of collecting data on student achievement and the ways we use that data to determine the supports required to ensure that every child is engaged, growing and graduating. I fully support this effort.
  3. Engaging the 21st century learner, the digital native, those young people who have grown up with digital technology as a given in their lives will be another challenge for the next few years. I fully support the creative ways that teachers are addressing this through the use of the digital technology and creating integrated, relevant, problem based experiences to better engage these learners. For Pembina Trails one of the things this will mean is continuing to leverage the optic fiber technology to extend the exposure of our students to classrooms around the world.
  4. Funding for education is always an issue. Education has taken on many new roles as our society has shifted from a somewhat homogeneous, locally focused place to a diverse, globally focused world. Schools now provide supports to families, language acquisition, physical and mental health issues and preschool children. While I believe that schools should be supporting children in all these ways, it is often a challenge to ensure that the community and the government understand the complexity of the new classroom and the need for on-going sustainable support for all the needs that go beyond the basic academic mandate.
  5. Maintaining safe and caring learning communities is an ongoing issue for all schools and school divisions. As society becomes more complex and diverse the need to teach respect and to protect the rights of all students is an ongoing concern that has my full support.

4. List your top five capital priorities for your division and which you would favour your board submitting to the province for funding, in descending order of priority.

The five year capital plan is a largely management issue that is developed by the school based administrators, the maintenance department and the senior administration based on their assessment of the priorities in the division. With this in mind they sit down and make their case to the Public Schools Finance Board who has the final say.

5. What percentage increase in annual salary would be appropriate for teachers in your division? Would you reduce, maintain or increase the number of teachers in your division?

Discussion of salary increases is not generally done outside of negotiations.

6. Should the province lift its moratorium on school closings? Is or are there a school or schools in the division which should be reviewed for closure because of low enrolment? Which one(s)?

Yes, I feel the province should lift the moratorium on school closures. The public schools act assigns the decision about school programs, placement and location to the local authority, the school board. The division weighs the cost of a program both in terms of the quality, human cost and actual cost of every school and is in the best position in consultation with the community to determine the viability of a school. I hope in the near future, the province will, in consultation with the school divisions, set updated guidelines that will factor in the difference between rural and urban settings and lift the moratorium on school closure.

7. Would you accept the province’s tax incentive grant and agree to freeze property taxes, even if it meant cutting jobs, services or programs?

The decision to accept the tax incentive grant is a very complex decision in which one must weigh the impact of the proposed budget costs on the individual tax payer, with and without the application of the restrictions placed on the tax increase by the TIG and the level of grant offered by the province against the cuts that would be required and where those cuts can be made. The circumstances vary from budget to budget. Over the years that the grant has been offered I have voted to reject the grant and voted to accept the grant based on these factors.

8. Would you increase property taxes? If so, what percentage increase is acceptable and for what specific reason(s)?

I believe that after we have looked at the programming needs, areas where we can reduce expenditures, the funding available and all the other factors such as the TIG and access to equalization payments and other grants, that if it is required, a reasonable incremental increase in taxes is an option. In the past these increases have generally mirrored or been slightly higher that the cost of living increase except when the community has been consulted about the need for additional funds for major changes such as the Fiber Optic investment, major shift in assessment or major shortfall in provincial funding.

9. Do you believe in the so-called no-fail, social promotion policy? Should "failed" students repeat a school year? Should students be docked marks for late assignments?

I believe that whether a child goes on to the next grade with their social peers, with an individualized programme to meet their academic needs, or whether the student is retained in a given grade is a decision that only those closest to the student, the parents, teachers, counselors, resource teachers, school principal and where appropriate the student, can make. It is a decision that affects a student through their entire life and while the option should be there, the circumstances for using the option to retain a student must be made by the team of people who best understand those circumstances.

10. Do you believe in standardized tests? For what subjects and grades? What proportion of the final mark should they should be worth?

I believe that classrooms, school and school divisions need reliable relevant data on which to make educational decisions. I think that data should be consistent from school to school within the division so that the school division can monitor how they are doing across the division and how to better allocate resource to meet their goals. I also believe that some of that data should be consistent from school division to school division so the Department of Education can better understand the needs throughout the province. Comparing student achievement against given Benchmarks in both literacy and numeracy at the local level should be done on regular basis and the data compiled. Comparing student achievement against these benchmarks should also be done on a periodic basis by the province. At the early childhood and middle years level this should be information for programming and reporting to parents. At the senior high level the existing 30% of the grade seems appropriate.

Caroline Mehra

1. Are you an incumbent trustee? Have you served or run at other political levels? Are you running for a political party, and if so, which one?

I am a first-time candidate, running in the Pembina Trails School Division. I have neither vied- for or served-in any political office. As the position of School Trustee is non-partisan position, I am not running for any one political party, but rather as a representative for my community.

2. Do you have children enrolled in or graduated from this division? Are/were any of your children home-schooled, or enrolled in an independent school?

I have two sons, currently they are enrolled in two separate schools within the Pembina Trails School Division.

3. List five issues which you believe your division’s school board will have to deal with in the next year, and state your position on these issues.

  1. School board authority: There remains discussion of the extent of the School Boards authority in regulating itself. This includes not only policy, but also physical structures. For example, does the authority to open, close schools remains with the board or does it move to provincial authority? I believe that the School Board should have full authority over its jurisdiction. They remain the most informed and connected political-structure within the network.
  2. Finance: Financial governance is of paramount importance to any organization, and this remains true for the Pembina Trails School Division. Various issues will arise that will be in-play directly with financial concerns. These issues will range the gamut from buses to after school programs.
  3. Public Awareness, many people within the community unfortunately have no idea who their School Trustees are. I want to change this and bring the "public" back into public education
  4. "No-fail Policy", many persons within my community are opposed to it, some are for it. It is definitely a "hot topic" as I go door to door. The larger picture has to be looked at in this situation, why are these children not given the resources to succeed? We all know each child learns at a different levels/speed. Are we really giving them every opportunity to have a fighting chance when they finish school? Do teachers really have everything they need in order to enrich their students education? Why the divide on this issue? Clearly, more needs to be done otherwise there wold not be a divide on the issue. I want to listen to what the parents and teachers have to say.
  5. Adequate support to our educators: Outside of home, teachers spend the most time with our children. Do we have the resources in place to continue appropriate teaching methods. Are we using all the best tools at our disposal given our resources? Are there methods of stream-lining teaching while still maintaining teaching balance? These are questions that will arise in one way or another that will require deliberation.

4. List your top five capital priorities for your division and which you would favour your board submitting to the province for funding, in descending order of priority.

Although it is difficult for me to comment directly on capital priorities for the division as I am not an incumbent, my door-to-door knocking and research has brought up concerns regarding new schools in the Waverly West community as well as a potential for a new gym at Ecole St. Avila. These are significant decisions that, among others, will be significant capital considerations for the School Board. If elected, I want to listen to both School Administration and our community to weigh the benefits of each capital project.

5. What percentage increase in annual salary would be appropriate for teachers in your division? Would you reduce, maintain or increase the number of teachers in your division?

For this question, unfortunately it would be unfair for me to answer, As negotiations are normally conducted with the Manitoba Teachers Association with respect to this matter. I do think that teachers are an incredibly valuable resource to not only our children but to the community as a whole.

6. Should the province lift its moratorium on school closings? Is or are there a school or schools in the division which should be reviewed for closure because of low enrollment? Which one(s)?

I think the bigger picture here is, why low enrollment is an issue. I believe as a Trustee, we have a responsibility to get to the root of the problem and be pro-active rather than re-active. This is where community involvement is key. Keeping in tune with our communities' needs and actively listening to our families may have a profound impact on the whole issue of low enrollment within certain schools. Moreover, there is an element of city planning that plays a role here. As we continue to expand our city, we must look into the role of new neighborhoods versus existing neighborhoods and their built-in resources. New neighborhoods require new schools, but what of existing schools with their existing neighborhoods and schools?

7.Would you accept the province’s tax incentive grant and agree to freeze property taxes, even if it meant cutting jobs, services or programs?

Over the past 2 years the Pembina Trails School Division has accepted the grant put forth by the Province. However at this time it is premature for me to speak on issues that have not yet been brought to the table. If I am correct, this is a topic which does get discussed at February Board meetings. Many factors come into play for example, the amount of funding put forth by the Province toward Education as a whole does play a major factor in deciding whether or not property taxes do get increased and by what increment.

8. Would you increase property taxes? If so, what percentage increase is acceptable and for what specific reason(s)?

Please see the answer above, I too am a home-owner in Pembina Trails who does not like to see my property taxes rise. This will be a issue come February, it is important for the public voice to be heard.

9. Do you believe in the so-called no-fail, social promotion policy? Should "failed" students repeat a school year? Should students be docked marks for late assignments

A hot topic as I go door-to door.

I believe that every student has strengths and weaknesses. I believe that there are some points in the social promotional policy that have merit whereas some do not. Bear in mind that Pembina Trails as a division has no official "No-Fail Policy". I think we as a collective need to decide whether or not the idea of a policy like this provides our children the skill sets to compete in an-ever-changing- competitive world. The bigger picture here is why are these children failing? Do we have the necessary people, programs and supports in place to ensure success in every situation?

10. Do you believe in standardized tests? For what subjects and grades? What proportion of the final mark should they should be worth?

There are so many variables that play into a child's education. Family life, their peers, pressure to do well. Divisional guidelines are just that: guidelines. The guidelines are in place to see where and why certain children are having difficulties. Standardized test should be used in so much as they are just that guidelines for the teachers to figure out the strengths and weaknesses of each child and adapt accordingly. They are a valuable resource and should be treated as such. My children have what is referred to as "strong beginnings" at the beginning of each school year. I find "strong beginnings" a valuable resource as a parent to see where my child is at in terms of their education. I then know along with his teachers where I can help him achieve his goals. Standardized testing does provide valuable data to the Division which is used for better decision making. The current systems of Standardized testing at high-school levels and assessments (like strong beginnings) for the middle years are both good programs that provide valuable information to the Division and the parent.

Laureen Goodridge

1. Are you an incumbent trustee? Have you served or run at other political levels? Are you running for a political party, and if so, which one?

I am an incumbent Trustee and was first elected as a Trustee in 1998. I have never served or run at other political levels. I am not running for a political party.

2. Do you have children enrolled in or graduated from this division? Are/were any of your children home-schooled, or enrolled in an independent school?

My two children both attended and graduated from Pembina Trails School Division schools. Neither of my children were homeschooled or enrolled in an independent school.

3. List five issues which you believe your division’s school board will have to deal with in the next year, and state your position on these issues.

  1. Evaluating student achievement to provide us with data to assess and improve programs (I support this);
  2. providing appropriate programming for students to succeed in an information rich and ever faster-paced world (I support this);
  3. providing for the needs of increasing numbers of immigrant students who do not speak either English or French (I support funding these programs);
  4. dealing with bullying and violence in our schools (I support Pembina Trails's Standard of Behaviour, and I support efforts to educate students and parents about bullying and about the need to speak up against bullying behaviour);
  5. continuing consultation with the Pembina Trails community - parents and non-parents - to ask their opinions about education and achievement in order to deliver the programming our parents and community want (I support this).

4. List your top five capital priorities for your division and which you would favour your board submitting to the province for funding, in descending order of priority.

The capital priorities for the Division are developed with the needs of the entire division in mind, and I support this process and our current Divisional priorities. Personally, I have supported and will continue to support:

  1. Expansion of elementary school gymnasiums that don’t meet current standards;
  2. new K to 8 schools for Waverley West;
  3. addition to Fort Richmond Collegiate to provide 6 additional needed classrooms.

5. What percentage increase in annual salary would be appropriate for teachers in your division? Would you reduce, maintain or increase the number of teachers in your division?

Pembina Trails School Division negotiates with a number of different employee groups, and while negotiations are ongoing it is difficult to comment on potential increases for one or more of those groups. Increases of 3% or more have been common among Manitoba School Divisions in recent years. In the current economic climate, I believe that increases at the 3% level can't be sustained.

Pembina Trails School Division reviews staffing levels annually as part of the budget process. As a result of this process, I have supported staffing increases and decreases in different program areas. I support a continuation of a process that examines needs and adjusts staffing accordingly.

6. Should the province lift its moratorium on school closings? Is or are there a school or schools in the division which should be reviewed for closure because of low enrolment? Which one(s)?

I believe the Province should lift its blanket moratorium on school closings. Rural and urban Divisions have different needs and support their neighbourhoods and communities in different ways. The decision to close a school in a rural community may have a larger impact than a similar decision in an urban community, and the blanket moratorium currently in place does not allow consideration of different circumstances in different communities. Where appropriate, schools that are closed should be made available to programs that support the local community. In the Pembina Trails School Division, Chapman School was under review, prior to the moratorium, because of low enrolment. When the moratorium is eventually lifted, I believe that Chapman School should be considered again as a result of low enrolment.

7. Would you accept the province’s tax incentive grant and agree to freeze property taxes, even if it meant cutting jobs, services or programs?

I have supported acceptance of the Province’s Tax Incentive Grant for the past two years, which has required cuts to the Divisional budget. I will continue to support acceptance of the Province's Tax Incentive Grant if it continues to be offered, provided that the results make sense, both for children enrolled in the School Division, and for the Division's taxpayers.

8. Would you increase property taxes? If so, what percentage increase is acceptable and for what specific reason(s)?

I support tax increases at or around the annual rate of inflation. In some years this has not been possible as it would have resulted in dramatic cuts to programs in the Division.

9. Do you believe in the so-called no-fail, social promotion policy? Should "failed" students repeat a school year? Should students be docked marks for late assignments?

I do not believe in a mandatory no-fail, social promotion policy. I believe that the best decisions for students are made by the parents and teacher working together - when students are experiencing significant difficulty, repeating of a grade should be a possible outcome, with the decision made in the best interest of the student, in consultation with the parent.

10. Do you believe in standardized tests? For what subjects and grades? What proportion of the final mark should they should be worth?

I believe that school divisions need data on the results achieved by students, in order to determine what programs work best. In the past number of years, Pembina Trails has implemented division-wide programs and systems in order obtain data on both student achievement and student engagement. With the data gleaned from these programs and systems, we can better measure the results. I support the provincial measurement of student achievement at a few grade levels (early years and middle years) in order to provide benchmarks for Divisions and teachers to understand broader trends across the Province. I support the marks on provincial exams forming part of a final mark, especially in high school, and believe that 30% to 40% of the final mark is appropriate.

Did not respond:

Julie Fisher

Charlotte Roy-Johnson

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