Why did you decide to run in the 2011 school board election?
The personal reason I decided to run was concern over the state of the public school system. I have three children, two of them at Ward 1 schools with a 3rd one joining them next year. I am a strong believer in public schools as a foundation for a functional democracy. I am concerned that the system is underfunded and starting to break down. The School Board expenditures are rising faster than its revenue increases and as a result the School system has been hit with a series of incremental cuts, mostly affecting capital and infrastructure. Parent advisory committees have stepped in to fill the funding gap which has created disparities between wealthy and modest school communities. While some schools are building brand new play structures and putting IPads into the hands of their students other schools don't even have proper gyms or changing room facilities. The system of funding is not sustainable and it is attacking the universality of the public school system.
What experience will you bring to complement your role as school trustee?
I am Lawyer and businessperson having been the founding and managing partner of my law firm. I have experience dealing with budgets in the millions of dollars and supervising staff. In addition I am a Deputy Chief Residential Tenancies Commissioner for the Province of Manitoba and have experience working in government. I believe in education and have been involved as a lecturer/instructor in the professional education of other lawyers as well as coaching 7 & 8 year olds as part of the Crescentwood Grizzlies Football program. I come from a family of teachers and understand the stresses and difficulties they face in doing their job.
What are the major issues you would like to stand for and why did you choose these issues?
The current funding model is not sustainable and a review must occur with all three levels of government to address the funding shortfall. More money needs to be put back into the schools to upgrade the infrastructure and make the buildings more environmentally sustainable. We need to invest in technology and science equipment to ensure that the teachers have the most current teaching tools necessary.
Traffic is a severe problem in Ward 1 schools and there is no transportation policy to deal with congestion in residential neighbourhoods during peak times of the school day. Alternatives like the "walking school bus" have to be promoted and expanded to reduce the impact of cars in the neighbourhood to make the school safer and greener.
There is no connection between citizens and their school trustee. Ward 1 has 19 schools and over 25,000 households a trustee cannot reasonable connect with a ward of that size. There needs to be major electoral reform to create smaller ward sizes to allow a trustee to have a personal connection with their community. Further, there is no campaign finance rules in place and no limits to spending or disclosure of donors. This has to change.
Is there anything in particular you would like to change in your school division? In your ward?
Currently, the Winnipeg School Division pays for the maintenance and upkeep of the old Sir John Franklin school yard. The Division cannot afford to continue to pay for land no longer used as a school but the residents need to keep the property as a park. I support that need. I would advocate on behalf of residents to have the City of Winnipeg purchase the property from the School Division but only on the condition that it be rezoned as park land and maintained as green space.
Do you have any other comments regarding your candidacy?
I will be a strong advocate for teachers, student and parents within the School Division. I believe that with proper funding that Winnipeg 1 School Division can become a model for other divisions in the Province. I want to reward innovative teaching methods and ensure that our schools are diverse, vibrant, safe and environmentally responsible communities.