INNISFAIL - Chinook’s Edge School Division (CESD) will have at least two new trustees following the Oct. 18 election with current trustees Trudy James and Colleen Butler telling The Albertan that they do not plan to seek new terms.
Other current trustees plan to seek re-election or are not yet prepared to declare their intentions.
The 12,000-student CESD includes schools in Mountain View and Red Deer counties. Serving as the governing body for school divisions, trustees are elected at the same time as municipal councillors.
Current Olds-Reed Ranch trustee Trudy James says she will not seek another term.
“I have served as trustee for 11 years,” James. “I want to encourage others to run for this position.”
Current Delburne/Elnora trustee Colleen Butler also says she will not be seeking re-election in October.
Innisfail trustee and current board chair Holly Bilton says she may announce her intentions regarding the October election following the Aug. 18 board meeting.
Current Carstairs/Cremona trustee Melissa Copley says she plans to announce her intentions in the coming weeks.
“I am currently enjoying some much needed family and friend time over these summer months and am happy to have a more detailed conversation on this matter closer to end of August,” said Copley.
Bowden/Spruce View trustee Connie Huelsman says she will seek another term.
“Post COVID we will be facing challenges I believe with family wellbeing, students’ emotional and educational wellbeing as well as our staff as the past year and half have been a roller coaster for everyone,” said Huelsman.
“As a board we need to ensure that supports are in place to get us back on track.”
Regarding curriculum, she said, “We face a curriculum rewrite. We need to ensure that it will be in the best interests of those impacted the most. Students need to have the best education available. I have heard from many parents this past year about the concerns they have about the new curriculum and we need to ensure that our staff are involved in whatever changes come as well, if there is to be a change.”
In the area of funding, she says, “This is always a concern as we make do with less it seems each year. We need to be creative in our budget processes. Deliberations need to be focused on areas such as facilities and transportation specifically.”
Sundre trustee Allan Tarnoczi says he will also seek another term, saying he found his first term interesting and rewarding.
There will be number of challenges and opportunities facing CESD over the next few years, he said.
“This fall we have to double our efforts to connect with students and parents,” he said. “The last two school years have been choppy for students as a result of COVID. Some of those families are still feeling a little anxious and disconnected.
“We know that kids learn best when they are feeling safe and happy, so CESD needs to focus on making all students and their families feel welcome and supported.”
COVID has pushed CESD administration and the schools to improve their communication with parents and the community, he said.
“It has also challenged us all to be more flexible and creative,” he said. “Increased communication and creativity has become a mindset in the school district and there is tremendous opportunity to improve things for all learners if we maintain this mindset.”
Didsbury trustee Gordon Kerr says he plans to run for another term.
“I think one of the challenges we will face will be ensuring our students are at or above the learning and achievement levels that existed pre-COVID,” said Kerr.
“On the other hand our ability to deliver on-line learning rose exponentially in the past 18 months or more. And while we still have room for improvement, we have made great strides, not only in the use of technology, but in the content as well.
“This will allow us in the future to deliver quality education outside the normal building parameters when the need arises, or to meet individual student needs, whenever they may be.”
Current trustees Joe-Anne Knispel-Matejka (Sylvan Lake) and Sherry Cooper (Penhold/Poplar Ridge/Gasoline Alley) both say they plan to seek re-election. They did not immediately reply to a request for comment on possible opportunities and challenges facing CESD in the new term.