School District 27 candidates from the left are Oleh Lazarchuk

School District 27 candidates from the left are Oleh Lazarchuk

Finances and reconfiguration hot topics at forum

The forum for school trustee candidates included the need to get a tighter handle on the district’s diminishing operating budget

As might be expected hot topics at the forum for school trustee candidates Monday evening included the need to get a tighter handle on the district’s diminishing operating budget in light of falling student enrolment, and the ensuing potential for school reconfiguration.

Candidates also generally supported the need for a long-term plan for the district as well as greater openness between trustees, administration and parents.

Not all of the candidates were present for the forum that was organized and moderated by the District Parent Advisory Council president Rhonda McCreight and Cariboo Chilcotin Teachers’ Association president Joan Erb.

The forum was held in a classroom at Thompson Rivers University so that people in 100 Mile House could participate via video conferencing, but only a couple of people turned out for the event in 100 Mile House.

About 40 people turned out for the forum in Williams Lake. After being given a few minutes to introduce themselves the floor was opened to questions.

Following about an hour and a half of questions, the formal session broke up and candidates were given an opportunity to talk with people in small groups.

Candidates in attendance included Oleh Lazarchuk, Zone 5; Joyce Cooper, Zone 7; Jim Ritchie, Zone 5; Rob Zacharias, Zone 6; Doug Neufeld, Zone 6; Heather McKenzie (incumbent) Zone 4; Patricia Baker (trustee by acclamation) Zone 3; Jackie Austin, Zone 4; and Sheila Boehm, Zone 5.

Tanya Guenther, who was elected by acclamation in Zone 2, Area G/L also sat in by teleconference in 100 Mile House, with one or two other people.

While most candidates agreed the reconfiguration of schools needed to be looked at as an option to address falling enrolment only candidates Ritchie and  Boehm came out directly in favour of the middle school option proposed in the district’s Trillium Report a few years ago.

Ritchie said that by continuing to have two Grade 8 to 12 high schools in Williams Lake students are losing elective options.

Zacharias said a Grade 8 to 12 high school was right for a time but the configuration doesn’t work with the district’s falling enrolment, so some form of change is needed.

Neufeld and Austin said they were not yet privy to the information, so they would need to make a decision on a middle school option and would need more information to make such a decision.

McKenzie agreed the current board had difficulty making a decision on reconfiguration because the trustees didn’t have all the information they needed to assure the right decision was made. She said the board needs to work more collaboratively together with administration on a long-term plan for the district.

Baker said there were also concerns that creating separate middle and high schools would increase the drop-out rate because research shows the drop-out rate increases with every change of school students have to make.

“We need to make sure the decisions we make are the right ones,” Baker said.

There was some optimism expressed that if proposed mines and other economic development proposals come on stream the school population may increase again in the future.

Boehm said that even if more people came to the city for work it is unlikely there would be the needed increase in students to keep two Grade 8 to 12 schools in Williams Lake, because people are generally having fewer children today than they have in the past.

Cooper said the board needs to plan properly for changes and that initiatives have to come from the communities — from the ground up.

Lazarchuk agreed trustees need to listen to what parents say and encouraged parents to get involved with their school parent advisory councils and the District Parent Advisory Council.

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

Just Posted

Cariboo North MLA Coralee Oakes shared this photo of the binders and binders of letters and paperwork she’s received on area roads in the past few years. (Submitted photo)
Cariboo MLAs call on province to fix region’s roads

Minister Rob Fleming said more resources were on the way to the region

Royal Canadian Legion Branch 139 president David Brideau salutes the Cenotaph at city hall during a past Remembrance Day services in Williams Lake Monday, Nov. 11. Brideau, who served three years with the Canadian military in Edmonton, was the parade commander during the Legion’s Remembrance Day service. (Angie Mindus file photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Williams Lake legion looks to upgrade lounge, patio, to be COVID compliant

Upgrades will require significant financial investment, Branch 139 president David Brideau said

Williams Lake’s Daine Dubois (left) and 150 Mile House’s Isaac Bedford have been named as recipients of the 2020 Premier’s Award for Indigenous Youth Excellence in Sport. (Tribune file photos)
Two Cariboo athletes honoured with Premier’s Award for Indigenous Youth Excellence in Sport

“You have honoured the province, your nations, and your families.”

A worker at Gibraltar Mine north of Williams Lake. (Taseko Mines Ltd. photo)
B.C. Mining Month celebrates innovation

Mining has long been important to the Williams Lake economy

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid (97) celebrates his 100th point this season with Leon Draisaitl (29) against the Vancouver Canucks during second period NHL action in Edmonton on Saturday, May 8, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Edmonton superstar McDavid hits 100-point mark as Oilers edge Canucks 4-3

NHL scoring leader needs just 53 games to reach century mark

A map showing where the most number of cases were recorded from April 23 to 29. This map, revealing a breakdown of infections by neighborhood, was pulled from a data package leaked to the Vancouver Sun last week (and independently verified).
36 Abbotsford schools flagged for COVID-19 exposures in the last 2 weeks, shattering record

Clearbrook Elementary recorded an ‘exposure’ on all 11 school days

Canada’s chief public health officer is reminding Canadians even those who are fully vaccinated are not immune from transmitting the COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s top doctor warns full vaccination does not equal full protection from COVID-19

Post-inoculation, Theresa Tam says the risk of asymptomatic infection and transmission is far lower but not obsolete

The dash cam footage, taken May 7 at 8:18 a.m. belonged to the driver of a southbound vehicle that recently travelled out of the tunnel. (Reddit/Screen grab)
VIDEO: Dash cam captures dramatic rollover crash on Highway 99

Only one person sustained injuries from the collision, says B.C. Ambulance Services

Chevy stranded on a ledge above a rocky canyon at Mimi Falls near Logan Lake, April 28, 2021. (Photo credit: Margot Wikjord)
Police officer and fire chief team up in risky rescue of stranded dog near Logan Lake

Chevy, a rescue dog, needed rescuing again after getting stuck on a ledge above rocky canyon

Police were on the scene of a fatal shooting in Abbotsford. (Black Press Media files)
B.C. government to give more than $8 million for programs to curb gang violence

221 not-for-profit projects led by local governments and school districts among others will receive a one-time grant

Most Read