Three newly elected trustees from in and around Williams Lake say they are excited about serving School District 27.
Jackie Austin, elected for Zone 4, 150 Mile House and Likely, Sheila Boehm, for Zone 5, Wildwood and McLeese Lake, and Dr. Doug Neufeld for Zone 6, City of Williams Lake, told the Tribune being new on the board means they’ll have some homework to do in anticipation of having to make some tough decisions in the next budget year.
“It’s going to be a challenging term with hard decisions to make,” says Austin, who up until now has been researching and trying to make sure she has read all the previous information the board has gathered to date.
“We’ll be opening up the 10-year plan that’s been sitting in the cupboard. In the past three to five years there’s been lots of research done, but nothing implemented yet,” she says, adding it won’t be easy because they’ll have to consider closures and other changes.
Austin admits she was hoping for a higher voter turnout and acknowledges she won by 14 votes.
Boehm’s been telling everyone she’s very excited about the chance to serve and hopes to be a strong voice for parents on the board.
“I have three children and through the campaign I was pretty much pro-middle school,” she explains, pointing out the high schools are not full and to get them full the district has to reconfigure.
“We have to determine what’s the best use of our dollars. In Quesnel they reconfigured and they have smart boards in the classrooms. We haven’t even bought our teachers laptops yet,” she notes, adding that most students are using new technology at home and need to see it being used in the schools.
With one high school for Williams Lake, Boehm envisions there could be better programming. She would like to see programs based on the tracks system used in European schools and believes students could access more skills training and earn tickets they can use in the work world.
“It would give the students more options,” she suggests.
Neufeld, also excited about getting involved, recognizes with a total of five new members on the board, the onus will be on those new members to become informed immediately.
“We’ll have to make some rational decisions fairly quickly that will be long term for our community,” he says.
After living in the community for over 20 years, Neufeld is looking forward to venturing beyond the medical community to be involved with the education system. The new school board will be installed on Dec. 5 at an inaugural meeting.