Brice O’Neill was elected to the School District 27 Zone 6 seat by acclamation last week after his only opponent dropped out of the race.
Jana Ross says she withdrew her name from the running because her husband has accepted a job in Saskatchewan, but thanked the Tribune/Weekend Advisor for our interest.
O’Neill will represent Zone 6 which includes the City of Williams Lake excluding parts of Sunset Drive and South Lakeside Drive.
A 39-year resident of Williams Lake O’Neill started his working career as a teenager cooking in the cafeteria at Williams Lake Junior Secondary and has worked in the hospitality industry for more than 20 years.
He graduated from the Vancouver Community College culinary arts program in 2004 after a three-year apprenticeship.
As a chef he has helped to educate many up and coming cooks and two of his apprentices have since become executive chefs.
He is a longtime volunteer with the Cariboo-Chilcotin Child Development Centre, teaching cooking skills to children with learning barriers as well as a board member and volunteer with the Boys and Girls Club, teaching cooking to both after school programs and teen independent living.
He has two children attending elementary school who he hopes to guide into university educations.
During the past year, O’Neill says labour unrest between teachers and their employers has affected the stability in our education system.
Given this situation, he says parents are rightfully concerned about their children’s education.
“I hope to work towards improving this situation, and thus offer the children an environment where they can thrive,” O’Neill says.
O’Neill is also committed to helping mitigate issues resulting from falling student enrolment. Provincially he says student enrolment has declined by more than 70,000 students since the 2001/02 school year and Williams Lake has not been spared from this trend.
“With our student enrolment declining we will be facing new challenges in our education system,” O’Neill says. “I hope to help find solutions to this issue and help schools adapt to this new reality.”
O’Neill also says he would like to see local businesses take a more active role in the education of students, by bringing practical working skills to the classroom.
He adds: “This would also build a positive relationship between schools, businesses and families within our community and strengthen the ties between parents, students and the school board, I’m sure that my unique perspective and commitment to excellence will help affect a positive change.
“I will make decisions that are beneficial to all and I will be determined in seeking out public opinions. People need to feel that their opinions matter and to feel engaged in the process.”
He concludes: “It will be my goal to get the community involved in education decisions for our community.
“I believe schools are the heart of a vibrant, positive community.”