Jim Ritchie’s work as a teacher and principal — most recently at Columneetza High School — was done in the Cariboo-Chilcotin School District.
Ritchie, who recently retired as a principal from District 27, now hopes to give back in a different capacity, as a trustee for Zone 5.
“I have a good idea of how the system works in general,” Ritchie said of the education system.
“Education has always been a passion and I’m interested in the opportunity to help students.”
Ritchie is throwing his hat into the ring at a time when he sees hard choices ahead for the district. He says the reality of declining enrolment — which results in a decreased diversity in classroom offerings — may stretch for sometime into the future. And he wonders whether the provincial government will continue to top up schools where numbers have been declining.
Ritchie says he understands the challenges faced by schools in small communities.
Ritchie suggests increasing opportunities for distance learning in the district; he also sees school reconfiguration as part of the district’s future. That could include an amalgamation of Williams Lake and Columneetza secondary schools that could result in the school taking advantage of an “economy of scale,” Ritchie says. “If we put all our students in one grade level then we can offer more.”
To alleviate crowding at some elementary schools, Ritchie suggests moving Grade 7 students out into a junior high school setting.
“I think it’s something we really have to look at if administration thought it would be best,” he says. “The reality of the situation the school district is facing, it will have to make some hard choices.”
Ritchie is a proponent of the district’s pre-apprenticeship training offered with Thompson Rivers University.