News / Calgary

CBE candidates weigh in on five key issues

Find out what the Calgary Board of Education trustee candidates in your ward have to say about specific education-related issues

A new CBE board of trustees will be decided at the October 16 municipal election.

Metro File Photo

A new CBE board of trustees will be decided at the October 16 municipal election.

In an effort to allow Calgary voters to learn more about their choices for public school board trustees, Metro asked all CBE candidates to write short answers about five key election issues. 

Candidates were asked to comment on mental health and wellness, transportation, math, spending and if they'd be willing to release their donor list to Metro prior to the election.

The following answers were written by the candidates themselves and are organized by ward and then alphabetically. More will be added as availble. 

WARDS 1 & 2

Gord Cummings

Contributed

Gord Cummings

1. Mental Health: The biggest issue in this campaign. I want to advocate to the provincial government to open access to specific programming within the CBE. Success In Schools is used with children in care and should be expanded to identified high risk students. As well, I propose utilizing High Fidelity Wraparound services for our at-risk kids. Also, advocating for an evidence based approach to addictions education will better prepare and battle the correlations associated with mental health issues. We live in a city where fentanyl overdoses and marijuana legalization are on everyone's lips but few candidates are speaking to the role our education system plays in preventing overdoses or managing responsible use of marijuana. This needs a change. Further, evidence based sexual education will do the same in combating correlates. A major part of my campaign is utilizing our seniors in Calgary as adjuncts to education. There's a major untapped well of wisdom at our front door. CBE just needs to reach out and invite those relationships into our classrooms so that children can learn empathy on the concepts they're being taught and seniors can battle isolation that's at the root of many mental health issues. 

2. Transportation: This a funding issue and goes to the lack of resources available to the CBE. It troubles me when six year old kids have to take transit on their own. For some reason, Calgarians are very focused on building a new arena when we can't even get our kids to school properly. Education is a provincial portfolio, but that doesn't mean all communities are exempt from educating incoming generations. If the city has money to spend on a new arena, it surely has the money to spend to ensure that families basic needs of education are met. So, advocating to the city to renegotiate contracts with Transit. As well, the examples of Colorado and Washington have shown us that legalization of marijuana creates an enormous windfall for education. I would advocate to the Alberta government that tax revenue from marijuana sales go directly towards educating our children. This will free resources towards busing.

3. Math: In my mind math has become the straw man in this election. We are in the top 10 math performers in the world. As well, as I write this there is vote on having math coaches to rectify specific scores on math PAT's. I wonder what other candidates are getting their information from in regards to this issue. No parent has raised this as a concern when I've been out door knocking. One issue that's been raised in this regard is grade inflation. This puts the blame on teachers who then become the straw man in this discussion. I'm not okay with this and feel it necessary to let teachers know that they do good work with our kids, as well as the indispensable support staff. 

4. Spending: Again, it's hard to place blame on anything here other than a lack of financial resources. Our public education system is grossly underfunded as tax dollars are being funneled into private schools. The government provides libraries to us to help keep our population educated. I don't use libraries to get books, I use online sources or the book store. I can afford to do this. When I purchase a book from Chapters I don't expect taxpayers to subsidize my Asimov collection. Unfortunately that's exactly what's going on in private education in our province as tax dollars go towards for profit establishments. I advocate that the per student allotment for private schools decrease so that all families have the opportunity to be educated by quality means. This would allow us to get nurses back in schools and to pay for basic things like playgrounds which many schools in the Northwest still do without in spite of the good work my opponent has put into her stay as trustee. As well, as I mentioned, tax revenue towards education will increase if our provincial government sees fit to allow that once marijuana is legalized. 

5. Donors: Calgary District Labour Council: $3000, Mariam Ashraf (family): $300, Marv and Deb Cummings (family): $200, Fundraising (Meet and Greet): $480, Lee Cummings (family): $500, Own contribution: $1180. The campaign's not over yet and things could change but this is where I am at as I write this

Trina Hurdman, currently trustee in Wards 6 and 7 but running in Wards 1 and 2 in this election.

Contributed

Trina Hurdman, currently trustee in Wards 6 and 7 but running in Wards 1 and 2 in this election.

1.Mental health and wellness

Mental health is a huge issue that has a significant impact on student wellness and their ability to succeed at school. While trustees monitor policies around safe and caring learning environments, and recognize the tremendous work that many staff do in order to promote mental health and wellness, it may be time for a more strategic system wide plan (as has been proposed by another trustee candidate). There is no magic bullet to improving mental health and wellness, and a variety of partnerships, staff training and research-informed practices would need to be enhanced according to the needs of each school. 

2. Transportation

I believe that all school boards across the province would agree that the amount of provincial funding provided for student transportation is inadequate. An independent external review of the CBE’s transportation system found that the transportation of students with complex learning needs alone is underfunded by up to $10 million. While the province has made it clear that transportation funding is not meant for students attending alternative programs, including French Immersion, or for those who live within 2.4km of their designated school, the CBE has always tried to provide a better level of service than required. Over the years, the transportation model became unsustainable and changes became necessary in order to balance the transportation budget. These changes were informed by two external reviews and extensive public consultations in 2016. I recognize that these changes have created huge challenges for some families, especially those attending alternative programs. While I am confident that a new Board of Trustees will continue to advocate for adequate transportation funding, a larger conversation also needs to occur to determine how to best provide equitable student transportation within the budget provided. Transportation funding is a separate “envelope” of funding and parents and community members have been clear that they do not wish to see education funding going towards more buses.

3. Math

While Alberta continues to rank well in Math when compared with our international peers, Math has been identified as an area of concern by CBE trustees and the provincial government. While trustees have no influence over the provincial curriculum, trustees are responsible for monitoring student results and for ensuring that appropriate plans are in place to deal with areas of concern. Due to the concerns expressed by the Board of Trustees, the CBE engaged with teachers, principals, students, parents and post-secondary institutions in order to develop a Math strategy. It will be necessary going forward for trustees to ensure that appropriate indicators are monitored in order to determine if the strategy is effective and to hold administration accountable for those results.

4. Spending

For six of the past seven years, provincial funding has not kept pace with inflation plus growth and this trend is expected to continue. This has required the CBE to be vigilant around searching for and implementing efficiencies within the system as there simply is not enough funding to maintain service levels from year to year. When making budgetary decisions, student learning must always come first. For example, this year, the amount of money allocated directly to schools was increased by 1.4%, while central service units were decreased by another 3.7%. I recognize that there continues to be a public perception that the CBE could be better financially managed, which is why I brought forward a motion around an independent, external resource allocation review in order to either show where further efficiencies could be found or to provide a stronger advocacy position around funding. While this did not pass, I still believe that an independent review is required in order to provide a new board of trustees, and the public, with evidence that the CBE is spending its budget in the most effective way to benefit student learning.

5. Will you release your donor list prior to Oct. 16? If so, can you release to Metro now? If not, why?

WARDS 3 & 4

Althea Adams, Students Count slate member

Lucie Edwardson / Metro

Althea Adams, Students Count slate member

1. Mental health and wellness

Offering a welcoming, safe, caring and respectful environment for all students is a cornerstone of our education system and we must continue to further our commitment to mental health and wellness for all students, including LGBTQ+ students and those with diverse learning needs. Our work on this front must take many forms, including, but not limited to: supporting GSAs and upholding a student’s right to privacy; ensuring strong and effective anti-bullying programs; and providing resources that support positive mental and physical health.

2. Transportation

As co-President of the Calgary Association of Parents and School Councils (CAPSC), I heard from many families with transportation concerns, especially regarding rising costs, safety and logistics. Working families and single parents are especially hard hit, trying to shuffle wildly different start and end times, early and late dismissal days and managing multiple bus stops that are far away, sometimes across busy roads. Getting children to school safely and on time shouldn’t be stressful or place an undue financial burden on families.

Currently, transportation funding for CBE special needs students, which represents 40% of all transportation costs, is short $10 million annually. It is critical that the new board work with the Province to ensure that provincial funding fully covers these costs.

3. Math

Improving math literacy is a central issue in my platform. We need to provide all students with a high quality and rigorous math education, beginning in elementary school and continuing all the way through high school. Achievement test results show a downward trend -- there are now more students failing the Grade 6 Math PATs than there are achieving excellence. In addition, CBE schools have an average failure rate 50% higher than CCSD schools on the Grade 6 and Grade 9 Math PATs. How can we better support teachers and students? We need to reallocate resources from administration and prioritize math learning through staffing, professional development and provision of quality resources with proven benefits. Lastly, we should explore partnership opportunities for providing free or low-cost tutoring to the students who need it most.

4. Spending

CBE currently spends 22% of its budget to run its downtown corporate offices, while Calgary Catholic School District (CCSD) spends just 8% -- that’s more than $150 million a year! If our administration spending was in line with CCSD, we could put extra aides in every elementary school. I firmly believe that supporting students and teachers means directing more money to our classrooms and less to corporate administration. As discussed above, it is also critical that trustees advocate at the provincial level for transportation funding that reflects real costs.

5. Donors

I am running a modest campaign supported by individual donations from friends and family. I have pledged not to accept any donations (money or volunteers) from unions or corporations as I believe it is critical that trustees represent their constituents, not special interests. Everyone who has contributed to my campaign has done so because they believe in me and my ability to work to improve our education system.

Nimra Amjad

Contributed

Nimra Amjad

1. Mental health and wellness

I intend to work with Alberta Wellness Initiative and support Trustee Hrdlicka's plan for mental health wellness across schools. The Alberta Wellness Initiative and the research done by the Palix Foundation is one of the most comprehensive childhood mental health studies we've seen - right here in our backyard. I want to take a science-based, compassion-based approach that reduces bullying by identifying behaviours early, consistency of policies across schools and ensuring a diversity of students feel safe at school.

2. Transportation 

I've released a plan to optimize bus efficiencies between Separate and CBE schools. By combining routes where it makes sense, we can save more than than 2.4 million tax dollars and make the best use of public money while reducing congestion. Why do we have two school transport systems that don't work together run on the publics dime? We must base decisions on long-term planning and data. I've already heard from some Separate school trustees that they think it's a great idea.

3. Math

The key issue with math - and I've met with math specialists, my campaign is powered by some math teacher volunteers - is that the debate about math has become ideological. We need students to know how to arrive at the answer but also know the theory behind it - the reason scores are low is because of a lack of training and specialization in math, not because of "discovery math". This is how math is taught all over the world and has always been taught. We need a balanced, science-based approach. I fully empathize with parents on math scores. With adequate training and putting in higher standards for math teachers we can solve this.

4. Spending 

It is ridiculous that we are locked into a contract for the CBE building downtown, spending about $120 per child per year. This money is needed in classrooms. I'm asking for an audit and for transparency and a code of conduct that would avoid such decisions being made that betray public trust and public interest. We also need less of this silo based funding we see - we need to be innovative and dynamic to create a CBE for the 21st century.  

5. Will you release your donor list prior to Oct. 16?

Yes I have. It is already on my website.      

Laura Hack

Contributed

Laura Hack

Kim Tyers

Contributed

Kim Tyers

WARDS 5 & 10

Jas Chahal

Contributed

Jas Chahal

Marilyn Dennis

Contributed

Marilyn Dennis

1. Mental health and wellness

Mental health has become one of the predominant issues being dealt with in public school and has added to the complexity in the classroom encountered by both students and educators.  As Trustee I will advocate for increasing partnerships with Alberta Health Services and other community resources to help support and equip educators in dealing with issues around mental health and wellness and to get students and their families the help they need.

2. Transportation

I would support the work of developing a viable and sustainable transportation plan which would include advocating for increased funding from the province, developing a stronger relationship with Calgary Transit so they can better understand the needs of the student rider around safety and reliability, continuing to provide information to keep parents informed and allow them to provide input, and consider what other metro boards are doing and see if there are solutions there we haven’t yet considered.

3. Math

The math curriculum is set by the province and math isn’t the only subject where the students in my wards are encountering difficulty. If elected, I will seek out ways where we can remove the barriers to learning that exist – challenges around mental and physical health, issues brought on by families in crisis and/or living in poverty and the challenges faced by our English language learners. Students in my wards are capable and eager to learn, but we need to do more to create an environment where they are given the best possible opportunity for success.

4. Spending

In my work with non-profit and parent organizations, I have always taken great care to spend financial resources in ways that will obtain maximum benefit. Although the CBE budget is on a larger scale, my approach will be the same.  It’s not my money and I am accountable to the public on how it is spent.

5. Will you release your donor list prior to Oct. 16? If so, can you release to Metro now? If not, why?

As indicated in my initial Metro News interview, my intention was to finance my own campaign. In addition to this, friends and family have generously donated a total of $1,500 to date.  

Rekha Dhawan

Contributed

Rekha Dhawan

1. Mental Health and Wellness

During my work in the education field for the last 25 years, and 14 of them in schools of Ward 5 & 10, I have observed that student success multiplies in a mentally safe environment. Increasing parent involvement and clear communication between parents, students, and teachers is the key. A lot of these issues escalate when students feel that people around them don't understand them or their concern. There is a need for more preventive, rather than to wait for corrective measures in these highly sensitive issues. Teachers should be psychological experts and passionate, those who can see when a student is not in the best mood before things go out of hand. And to get there teachers need to be provided relevant opportunities to learn these skills. In parent council meetings, parents should be encouraged to talk and made comfortable to speak in their first language by providing them an interpreter to have a full understanding of their thought process. Speaking in English is just the means to achieve the goal. The goal is to make them comfortable and to fully know what they want to say. It will increase their participation and would mitigate a lot issues. I may mention that this is a prominent part of my research work at the University of Calgary so as to find ways how to increase developing real life skills in students graduating from high schools.

2. Transportation

We should restore status quo if no solution comes out of the operational review. This is because the opportunity cost of not providing transportation to schools of choice would be disastrous as with less enrollments, the economies to run those schools, opened with so much enthusiasm to offer alternatives to students, would not remain viable. Thereafter, we will try to find answers by coordinating with city transport and separate boards. Also, we will try to increase revenue as mentioned under the question of spending. The ultimate goal is with additional revenue generated by renting buildings in spare hours, the existing 2.4 km limit is reduced. This is because I have experienced that in severe weather conditions by the time students get settled to study a lot of learning time is already lost. If that was my experience with high school students, then one can understand how challenging it is for younger children. Parents and kids should be free from the daily hassles of worrying about transportation and concentrate on the main goal of student achievements.

3. Math

Math skills need to be built up from a young age. The program of studies provides the learning outcomes to be met but does not restrict the method of delivery and instruction. Math skills, like language skills, need to have a strong foundation; one that is built gradually. Traditional methods provide the foundation whereas modern approaches like the Galileo approach to math and learning math through inquiry should be implemented to enhance the basic skills.

4. Spending

Once the operational review is over, corrective action needs to be taken. Additionally, internal control and transparency in government organizations is of utmost importance and needs to be strengthened as it is said that often spending public money is the easiest to spend as it belongs to nobody. An internal control system by which the work of each official is routinely checked by another and a file moves to the next level after. Transparency also adds more brain in the process of decision making. We also need to evaluate where we can delegate ancillary services economically but at least as effectively as we are presently doing, to organizations where they are best executed so we can focus on our main goal of student excellency. For example, by utilizing the expertise of Calgary Transit we can reduce cost and increase efficiency of services. There needs to be a paradigm shift in the mindset of those in leadership roles. We need to evaluate if revenue can be generated by renting school buildings in spare hours, including vacations, and running ESL and other classes for parents and community members.

5. Donor List

Initially, I created a column on my website for donations, but during early campaigning stages I realized I am not to accept any donations. One example of what motivated me to do this is an experience my daughter had while handing out business cards. A senior citizen told her, "So many candidates have visited us and we have so many family members, so we will ensure each one of you gets one of our votes.”

It confirmed my apprehension that taking donations would be a psychological barrier to independent and judicious decision making as trustee, if the simple visit of a candidate to their home is making them biased in their favor, overlooking who is the best candidate. Donations and alliances are the worst means to achieve the goals, especially when the future of our children is involved. My donation amount is nil. 

Jameela Ghann

contributed

Jameela Ghann

1. Mental health and wellness

Every child deserves a safe and healthy learning environment as healthy children make better learners. I am a strong supporter of comprehensive mental health promotion with a focus on personal skill development, parental inclusion and engaging the wider community. I support mental health awareness campaigns that focus on healthy body image, anti-bullying, intergenerational activities and tying these campaigns to be complementary to other healthy activities like physical activities and nutrition. To support mental health initiatives, we should be teaching children how to manage the ups and downs of life by teaching resiliency.  Every opportunity should be taken to integrate mental health promotion into the curriculum at all reasonable opportunities.

Giving teachers and support staff the tools to identify mental health issues and involve the parents in such issues is important. We should be encouraging parents to talk to their children about mental health issues at home. Healthy families contribute significantly to healthy children and as school board trustee I will advocate and help to facilitate the strong influence of the parents in their child's school life.

2. Transportation

I see transportation as a symptom of much larger issues: the lack of foresight the Provincial Government had when announcing Bill 1 (reducing/eliminating fees), the lack of adequate schooling/programming choice close to where children live. Delivering services costs money and I personally don't think the Provincial Government gave much consideration to how school boards would absorb the costs. In the short term, I would lobby the provincial government for more funds for transporting our vulnerable population safely. 

In the long term, I would look at ways to get more programming choice into neighbourhood schools. There is a reason parents are choosing to send their children to non-designated schools. I would like to put a little research into what percentage of children from, let's say, Ward 10 are going to alternative programs and which programs they are attending. With this information perhaps we can set up a small section of an underutilized school in the area to offer this program as a pilot project. It is really about coming up with creative long-term solutions that benefit most people. 

I would also like to see more autonomy given to school boards, but that is a conversation for another day! 

3. Math

Math is a huge issue that really cannot be reduced to 200-words, but I will try. First, I think we should be holding our children back a grade level in math until they master it. Math is a subject that builds upon the previous learning. If you don't have a good foundation, you will never understand it. That is been one of our biggest failings: robbing our children of a strong foundation. I am 100% in favour of traditional learning when it comes to core subjects like math. Second, I think we should be linking parents and children to community-based programs like the new tutoring one recently introduced by the Calgary Public Library. We need to be connecting our children, especially the ones in the North East, with low cost or no cost math tutoring and support. I have to add that large classroom sizes are not conducive to giving teachers the opportunities to address learning gaps. That is a long-term solution that I would be looking at as School Board trustee. 

4. Spending

I believe in fiscal responsibility, but I also believe in investing in services and resources that enable the CBE to achieve their goals: excellence in student learning. That has to be at the heart of all spending decisions. Is there wasteful spending in the CBE? Of course, but we have to look at every item, line-by-line, and ask the question "is this contributing to student learning?" If the answer is no, we phase it out. If the answer is yes we keep it but measure its impact on student learning. The greater the positive impact the more we invest in it. 

As a business owner, I am always looking for ways to cut waste and increase my return. I am always measuring my activities and learning from them. That being said, I would never cut spending in an area that is helping my business. We can say the same for the school system. We can also look for efficiencies that would help reduce waste, but we must always keep the goal of enhancing the student and striving for excellence in the classroom. 

5. Donor list

I will not be releasing my list of donors before Oct 16th. Why? My list of donors consists of my close friends and relatives. 

Raman Gill

Elections Calgary

Raman Gill

1. Mental Health and wellness:

Since parents are paying taxes for a better education system we need more therapists and assistants in aide of these mental health issues. I strongly believe there should be no cuts in numbers of these service providers to the schools as required. 

While door knocking a parent showed his frustration how his three kids were coded and there wasn’t much help. For him the teachers also not concerned and aware of these mental issues and need to be trained to take it more seriously.

We need to strength programs for wellness that expand the students minds and help to learn about themselves and others. 

2. Transportation:

In my ward many parents are sending their kids to the alternate schools and have been highly impacted by the transportation changes causing inconvenience. Parents have to pay additional $1200 for transportation. We need to bring the yellow buses back and also the students don’t have to walk. While door knocking and in conversations with parents I have found parents are not happy to send their kids as young as 10 years old on transit and walk to bus stops far from their homes as they are terrified of growing traffic in neighbourhoods causing safety issues.

3. Math:

Math scores can be increased if the students have a strong foundation. Usually it is a subject neglected at the elementary level which results in lower math scores. Curriculum has to be redesigned to strengthen basic Maths that lay the foundation. Foundation is the key in math scores.

4. Spending:

Money miss management is unacceptable. It should not be lying in surplus, but instead going into services and classrooms for the right resources and programs that lay the foundation of students. I strongly believe buildings should not be leased in expensive areas and there could be better and innovative ways of operation that are not expensive. Money should not be going into lucrative board trips and meetings.

GERPREET GERWAL

SYED HASNAIN

Pamela King, incumbent in Wards 5 and 10

Elections Calgary

Pamela King, incumbent in Wards 5 and 10

SOHAIL SHERWANI

Bianca Smetacek

Lucie Edwardson / Metro

Bianca Smetacek

1. Mental health & wellness

  • I would strongly encourage the CBE to work alongside the AHS, to provide more screening and meaningful follow-up services in schools. 
  • I would propose an independent ombudsman, to deal seriously with bullying issues.

2.  Transportation 

  • If elected, I would prioritize bussing concerns and bring these to the table for addressing. 
  • I would negotiate with Calgary Transit for dedicated bus routes. 
  • We can look at cooperating with other school boards on overlapping bus routes or reset start / end times so the same bus can be used for two schools.
  • I would also advocate with the government for more funding, to cover the shortfalls caused by Bill 1.

3. Math 

  • I would convene a task force of experts, from the University of Calgary, to tackle this problem.
  • I would try and enable all students to access math enrichment programs. 
  • I would set aside funding, for after school tutoring, for our low performing schools.

4.  Spending

  • I would seek legal expertise, to review and renegotiate the lease of the downtown building.
  • We should eradicate needless perks, such as travel allowances for trustees.
  • I would review administration costs and put every saved dollar into the classroom.

5.  Donors List

I will certainly disclose all campaign finances related information in accordance with the CBE and Elections Calgary requirements

VERPAL RAI

Wasima Sultan

contributed

Wasima Sultan

1. Mental Health and Wellness      

The emotional needs of students are as important as the academic and social related matters in a school environment. With over 115,000 students in about 240 schools in the CBE network, there are only 29 counselling psychologists for the students (1 for every 4000 student). As Trustee, I will take the following steps to ensure that mental health of students is given more priority:

- Firstly, develop a comprehensive plan and vision to deal with the issue;

- Within budgetary limits, increase the number of counselling psychologists;

- Conduct extensive training of the existing teachers and guidance counsellors in our schools, on this issue;

-  As mental health issues are dealt best if identified early and parents are in an ideal situation to do this, training and involvement of the parents will be increased;

-  As part of the comprehensive plan and vision, root causes of mental health issues should be identified and eliminated/reduced. Mental anxiety caused by bullying being one of the major causes will be dealt with strictly.

2. Transportation

In my extensive interaction with parents and students during my election campaign, transportation was undoubtedly one of the major issues in their minds. As your trustee, I have a 4-pronged approach to tackle this problem:

a) Funding is the major constraint in implementing an optimal solution. Over 90% of CBE’s funding is from the provincial government. The per student funding from the govt. is continuously decreasing since 2012. Meaningful discussions with the government is the first step.

b) The other major stakeholder in the transportation discussion is Calgary Transit. Not enough has been done to negotiate with Calgary transit and how the city’s transportation system can help solve the student’s bussing issues. I will ensure my best to engage in discussions with Calgary Transit effectively.

c) Our Transportation problems may also be alleviated working jointly with the Calgary Catholic School District. Joint transportation in some areas is a win-win situation for all. As your trustee, I will pursue this alternative aggressively.

d) Other solutions can be found if we all put our minds together. I will as trustee ensure that all stakeholders, particularly parents, are continuously and frequently involved in discussions on this and other issues facing the CBE.

3. Math

Low math skill of students is a problem facing CBE. The average math marks of CBE students are much lower than those of CCSB students. In the NE Quadrant of the city, where my 2 wards- 5 & 10 are located, the problem is even more pronounced. 93% of schools in the NE are below the provincial average. So, improving math skills will be a very serous matter for me if elected. I will take the following steps:

a)    Undertake a study to ascertain why the math scores are so low, particularly in the NE Quadrant;

b) Actively support and participate in the provincial government’s (Alberta Education) review of the curriculum in our schools including specifically the math curriculum (changes in the curriculum can be done by provincial govt. only);

c) There is some concern that teaching techniques (different from curriculum issues). I would push to provide further training to teachers so that they can better educate students in maths;

d) I will also carry out a study to see where students need more support and how that support can be provided.

4. Spending

The core of my election platform is accountability and fiscal responsibility. The CBE has shortcomings in both areas. If elected, it will be my prime assignment to aggressively address these issues.

About 92% of the funding comes from the Province. However, the basic funding per student has declined each year since September 2012 from about $ 9600 to anticipated about $ 8800 in 2017-18. I feel that the CBE has not adequately addressed this issue. No amount of controls on spending will be effective if the revenue keeps on dropping.

In the area of budgeting, an external auditor’s report best describes the dire state of affairs as “… a theme of frustration with budget to actual reporting”. The report also states that the schools are not taking full advantage of additional funding to procure goods and services. The auditor states the P2P (Purchase to Pay process) internal controls require significant improvement. But worst of all, is the report on P-Card Program (Purchasing Card). It states that the internal controls are inadequate.

Some specific examples of wasteful spending include; the high administrative costs/support costs (21% vs. 8% for CCSB) and the very high lease cost on the downtown building.

The fiscal responsibility at CBE is at best weak. It will be my crusade to correct this.

5. Donor List

I fully support the idea that every candidate should disclose the donor list. My campaign is self-funded and I have no donors.

WARDS 6 & 7

Patricia Bolger

Contributed

Patricia Bolger

1. Health and Wellness

The Health and Wellness of our students is critical to their academic success. As a board, we need to further develop a system-wide approach combining health and human services at our schools. Using schools as community hubs where wrap-around services can provide families and students with the necessary supports and resources is essential. Student anxiety, depression, and mental health issues impact students in our schools and with a collaborative approach we can provide the best support possible.

I believe in the importance of Gay Straight Alliances (GSAs) at schools. Providing a place where students feel safe and supported by peers and staff is paramount to all students’ learning and well-being. I do not believe we should be outing students and I have signed the S.O.S. (Support Our Students) pledge to signify this.

2. Transportation

The CBE is a dynamic community with a wide diversity of educational options.  Bill 1 provided many families with relief from paying any transportation fees at all. Those families with students in alternative programs paid the same subsided amount as they had in prior years. Maximizing efficiency of yellow buses resulted in the aligning of bus routes and saw some students start the day earlier or later and some moved to congregated stops further from their homes.  Students attending smaller or single site alternative programs who lived a significant distance from their schools were faced with long travel times on public transit.

As Trustee, I will collaborate with both the province and the city. Calgary Transit already works to provide express routes to many schools in the district. Continuing this partnership is a win-win for both CTS and CBE and ensures students have a safe and direct way to get to school. I will work with Alberta Education to encourage them to demonstrate their full support for alternative programs by providing transportation expenses for these students. I do not want to see families turn away from these options simply due to transportation issues.

3. Math

There has been a lot of talk lately about the deficiencies in our math curriculum.  Alberta Education sets the curriculum, not individual school boards, and the current math curriculum was rolled out in 2007. Ten years later, we are seeing the ramifications of a broad based, language based, and discovery approach to math.

Alberta Education is in the process of overhauling the Program of Studies, including math, and as Alberta’s largest school board we need to collaborate with them to ensure it is rolled-out in an efficient and timely manner addressing the needs and wants of Albertans.

In the past, the Language Arts curriculum was very heavily phonics based.  Years later it swung to a whole language approach. Neither of these methods alone provided students with what they needed. A balanced approach using both phonics and context was required.

The math curriculum has followed a similar path. The old math curriculum was heavily focussed on basic facts and rote based learning and then it swung to a discovery approach. Like language arts, I think students benefit from a balanced approach to math. A strong core of basic facts combined with a higher order understanding of mathematical concepts.

4.  Spending

The ultimate goal of the CBE is to ensure that we are providing our students with the best educational experience possible. This means making smart, common sense, fiscally sound decisions when it comes to allocating resources from a $1.3 billion budget.

Directing funds to the classroom where there is a direct and meaningful impact on student learning is critical. Low class sizes, support for teachers and students, and the availability of resources is essential to meeting this goal.

In a school system as large as the CBE, with 122, 000 students, there are a multitude of other necessary expenses which do impact student learning.  However, as a Board of Trustees we need to ensure transparency in spending, increase the fiscal accountability of the CBE, and minimize duplication and inefficiencies in the system to maximize our education dollars spent on educating students.

Making smart common sense decisions moving forward helps place the Board in a better financial position than it currently is in.  One of our top priorities must be finding a solution to the exorbitant 20-year downtown building lease.

5. Donors

I will not be releasing my donor list prior to the election due to individual requests, however I’ve been grateful to have received help from a wide range of supporters.  I am not tied to any donors, political parties or any other entities. As a trustee, I will be impartial and independent and will always be looking out for the best interests of public education and ALL of our students. 

Lisa Davis, member of Students Counts slate

Lucie Edwardson / Metro

Lisa Davis, member of Students Counts slate

1. Mental health and wellness

· Supporting students means providing them access to resources as needed, when needed. We know teachers do an excellent job of creating supportive environments, but are often lacking the support themselves to ensure each child’s needs are met.  Our plan involves funding classrooms and not head office administration. By moving millions back into schools and out of head office, we know we can make a significant impact on support available to help our teachers, who in turn help students.

· I’m supportive of current CBE policy of supporting GSAs and student privacy. We welcome government’s recent commitment to clarifying the rules.

· Our platform includes an independent ombudsman that reports directly to the board.  This ensures that (a) any unresolved bullying gets dealt with and (b) the board is able to see the underlying causes and deal with any systemic issues in a proactive and meaningful way. This would be the first of its kind in Alberta.

2. Transportation

· The ongoing changes to busing have left parents in a difficult situation – with many finding it hard to get to work on time and get their children to school safely. A single mother wrote an editorial about how busing has finally ‘broken’ her.  This is unacceptable.

· CBE’s independent third party report identifies there is still work to be done in ensuring efficient delivery of services.  It also identified there is a $10 million underfunding of special needs busing – the root cause of the troubles. Trustees need to be effective advocates with the province to fix this underfunding immediately. I raised this issue with CBE administration and the Minister’s office two years ago, but it is clear this was not pursued by the current board in an effective way.

· In the interim, it is time to eliminate early Friday dismissal for elementary students that places an unnecessary burden on working and single parents, to provide service levels that are reasonable and safe for students, to complete the redesign of the system so it is at max efficiency, and to consult parents in the process this time. 

3. Math

· We know CBE’s math failure rates are much higher than Calgary Catholic – they are 56% higher in grade 6 and 47% higher in grade 9.  This means CBE students are at a disadvantage for post-secondary acceptance. A report sent to the Minister and Premier last year identified that 80% of all post-secondary programs have a math pre-requisite so the implications of this failure rate are very clear.  

· Mathematicians have been clear about the solutions. Students need a strong foundation of math skills before they can go onto inquiry/discovery learning.  Two weeks ago I organized an event where Dr. Hamilton (Math professor at the U of C) spoke to parents.  He was clear that without good foundational skills, students will not be successful doing any inquiry.  We need to ensure mathematicians are at the decision table moving forward – and to date they have largely been excluded from the process.

· We need to arm our teachers with clear direction and evidence of what works – currently teachers are left to figure this out individually – a process that leads to much frustration from them and confusion amongst students. Future professional development must be focused on what actually works.

4. Spending

· The response from teachers and staff at CBE while out doorknocking is crystal clear.  There is wide acknowledgement – and frustration – with the high overhead costs downtown.  Their support for our platform is overwhelming.

· CBE’s overhead/school support costs is 22% - Calgary Catholic’s is 8%. This means another $168 million would reach the classrooms if CBE ran at the same ratios as CCSD.  An elementary school of 650 children has $1.3 million missing from its budget. Watch a teacher’s eyes light up when you talk about returning this funding to the school! 

· The current board lacks the financial skills to properly oversee a $1.3 billion budget.  My business and educational background means I have the necessary expertise to properly govern.  I will not allow administration to give the board a budget on a Friday for approval on a Tuesday. 

· We will complete an independent review of CBE’s funding allocations, something the current board has refused to do.  We will stop funding a full time photographer and videographer at head office, we will freeze all international travel- any expense must be viewed through one lens only: “How will this improve student learning in the classroom”.

5. Releasing Donor List

· I am the only candidate in Wards 6 and 7 not taking union donations or endorsements, nor am I taking corporate donations either. I do not believe that any special interest group should decide how education is run. While I respect that unions are the legal bargaining unit of employees at CBE, I respectfully submit they should not decide who they get to bargain with. Similarly, a corporation who does business with CBE should not be able to influence the election either.

· The reality is that unions invested heavily in the last trustee election – including whopping $19,000 to one candidate alone!  They can outspend in a day what it has taken me 5 months to raise.  Giving my union-funded opponent has access to significant resources, releasing this information now puts me at an unfair disadvantage.  I have been clear from the beginning I accept personal donations only.

· My campaign is funded by concerned parents, friends, and the public who support our call for a bigger vision in public education. Last spring, I started a petition for government to change the rules – something they quickly rejected. My actions to stop special interest group funding speak loudly – education belongs to parents and the public only!  

WARDS 8 & 9

Sabrina Bartlett, member of the Students Count slate

Lucie Edwardson / Metro

Sabrina Bartlett, member of the Students Count slate

1. Mental Health and Wellness. 

It is important for students to feel safe and accepted at school. We know that when a child feels safe and welcome, it has a positive impact on their academic performance. It gives them higher self esteem, increased confidence, higher attendance, more social connections ect. Teachers need more classroom support in order to better support their students. This is an issue of funding. By being able to move more money into the classroom, teachers can have the support to be able to meet each child's needs. 

The Students Count team agreed on the platform point or proposing an independent ombudsman that reports to the board. Someone who is unbiased and independent,  and can help resolve and mitigate ongoing issues. Taking the issue away from the school administration. 

2. Transportation

The busing fiasco is something that I hear a lot about at the doors. 

We need to start working with parents right away. It is connected to start times, and we have to look at and assess the solutions for parents and schools. Many families are struggling to get their children to school and themselves to work on time. Trustees did not advocate for their constituents. They didn't listen to parents.

The ongoing changes of busing have put an unnecessary strain on families, working parents and single parents. It is really unacceptable. It is shameful that there is $10 million underfunding to special needs busing. Trustees should have advocated for their constituents they were elected to represent.  

I have heard at the doors that the 2.4 km, the current standard, is too far a distance for some children to walk to school. Outside of the 2.4 km,  the student qualifies to be bussed to their designated school. For many this is too long a distance, especially for the little ones in elementary. Parents are concerned for their children's safety, considering traffic and weather. We should talk to parents regarding what is a reasonable distance to walk. 

Getting a child safely to school should not be a problem.

3. Math

Basically, students are not learning it (Math) and failing tests. Looking at PAT scores for grade 6 students, the math failure rate for students in the CBE are a staggering 56% higher than in the catholic system. And lets be clear here, hiring a tutor or a child going to upgrade is a luxury not all Calgarians can afford. 

We know that 80% of post-secondary programs have a math prerequisite. This puts students in the CBE at a disadvantage. It is not an exaggeration to say that when a child doesn't achieve at math their whole lives can be impacted. 

The issue is the discovery math program. Since its implementation, there has been a steady decline in math scores. Lisa Davis, Students Count Ward 6&7,  organized an event where Dr. Hamilton spoke to parents. Being a math professor at the U of C and an industry expert, he was clear that with out good foundational skills, students will not be successful with discovery math. There needs to be a balance. We should bring together Math experts, professors and teachers from the board of education to figure what is wrong and how to correct the problem.

4. Spending

This is a topic I receive a lot of emails about. I have even had a staff member who works in a CBE school refer to the system as "bloated'. Comparing the budget with the Catholic board's,  you can see the "bloat". If the CBE brought their admin and instructional support costs in line with the Catholic system on a percentage basis, the savings about to $1.6 million. But its more than that; its also about transparency. The provincial government just noted, in a financial review last month, that the CBE hides some of its lease costs under school expenses as opposed to having it all under administration. A straight comparison of admin costs and education support shows the CBE spending almost three times more than the Catholic system. 21% versus 8%. 

The ministers report showed that the CBE was hiding costs. There needs to be an independent review of funding allocations. The budget is meant to educate children. Anything that takes away from that needs to be reassessed. First thing, would to put  a freeze on international travel. 

This board, the status quo,  clearly lacks the financial skills for what the position entails. It takes them less than a week to approve a budget. 

5. Donor List

I will release the donor list, when it is complete. I have a system in place on line, where individuals can donate through my website. People are still donating and it takes a few days to process. I would not want to submit a list that isn't complete. For example, I just received another donation today,  during the last week of the election. I am so grateful for the concerned parents and friends who have supported me. 

Running with Students Count, we believe that special interest groups should not be involved in the trustee election. To point out, all my donations have been from individuals. I have not accepted any money from a union or a corporation. I know that this has put me at a huge and unfair disadvantage, in that union backed candidates have access to thousands of dollars. What took me four months to raise, a union can dwarf in one day. 

Richard Hehr

Contributed

Richard Hehr

1. On Mental Health and Wellness

My 41 years as an educator has shown me that mental health and wellness is a concern in the education system – particularly for student health. One in five Canadians face mental illness at one point in their lives, and many times it is in the school system when we can first identify and support our young as they begin their journey in life.

It’s here where we can set them up for success.

As a trustee I am committed to supporting student mental health and wellness, as I have been as a teacher and a supporter of the public school system my entire life. Teachers must be aware and cognizant of these issues, and it is always been a concern for our school system.

2. Transportation

The bussing situation in Calgary Public has been difficult. It is partially the responsibility of the provincial government and the Calgary Board of Education. Hopefully as time goes on it will be improved.

Calgary Public is dependent upon the Alberta Government for its funds.  The economic downturn has exacerbated financial concerns.  Issues such as school fees and bussing are being impacted by the price of oil.  Despite this downturn education must continue to be a priority for Albertans.  A child’s education cannot be put on hold until the price of oil rebounds.

3. Math

We have been told that math scores are declining. This is obviously concerning.

The public system has to take a look at the cause of this and where possible move to improve it. It’s that simple, in my opinion.

4. Spending

Over 50% of Calgary public schools are over 50 years of age.  They require over $1 billion in modernization improvements and for the most part they were needed yesterday.

Calgary Public is dependent upon the Alberta Government for its funds.  The economic downturn has exacerbated financial concerns.  Issues such as school fees and bussing are being impacted by the price of oil.  Despite this downturn education must continue to be a priority for Albertans.  A child’s education cannot be put on hold until the price of oil rebounds.

 5. Will you release your donor list?

I have my donors posted online at http://www.richardhehr.ca/my_donors

A large part of the 2017 election has been on the issue of donors and their involvement in the various campaigns.

In a pledge towards transparency, many campaigns have released their donor lists in advance of the October 16th. Our campaign has always been committed to transparency and campaign finance reform: and this is one more way we are showing it. Please feel free to review them.

file

Contributed

Merle Terlesky

1.It is a fact that children who eat well learn well, we need to look at a full review of vending machines and meals at CBE Schools, to cut down on sugars and fats that effect learning.

More outside play time and less screen time that speech pathologists state can harm kids if overdone.

Unlike Mr. Hehr who said "I am not here to micro manage" (a recent debate quote), I am committed to hearing parents concerns by holding a town hall every 3 months in wards 8 & 9 on this or any other CBE issue.

2. Transportation by bus is a huge issue as I have heard from parents. One parent's 11 year old daughter is on her own on City transit, I was told. If elected I will call for an immediate review at the 1st CBE Board meeting and I will seek parent's advice.

3. Kids Come First shows concerning data about the performance of math at the Calgary Board of Education vs. Calgary Catholic (CCSD) (www.kidscomefirst.ca). The data reveals:

  1. CBE now has more children failing grade 6 than achieving excellence – a complete reversal over the last few years.
  2. CBE’s math failure rate for grade 6 is 58% higher than CCSD.
  3. CBE’s math failure rate for grade 9 is 46% higher than CCSD.
  4. There is a significant difference in performance by quadrant.  In the northeast, 93% of schools in CBE are below the provincial average, vs. 47% for CCSD.  This is a serious social justice issue that must be addressed. CAPSC stats- We need less studies and more action on this important issue facing kids. The CBE has studied it along enough! I will call for real solutions, now! I agree with these points: https://kidscomefirst.ca/math

4. CBE spending on senior bureaucrats is out of control and less money is making its way to the classroom. We need less international travel binges and return to fiscal prudence. I will initiate a full review of the board's spending and seek ways to re-funnel monies back to the classrooms. At least $110 million more would reach CBE classrooms each year if CBE administrative spending was in line with that of the CCSD PASC stats.

5. I have not received any donations from any political parties or unions. I will not accept any either. I am truly independent with no secret backers via parties or unions. Voters may not know where the money comes from with regard to the trustee slate, but you can count on me to be 100 per cent independent!

WARDS 11 & 13

Julie Hrdlicka, incumbent in Wards 11 and 13

Metro File Photo

Julie Hrdlicka, incumbent in Wards 11 and 13

Sadiq Valliani, member of the Students Count slate

Lucie Edwardson / Metro

Sadiq Valliani, member of the Students Count slate

1. Mental health and wellness

Student wellness and strong mental health are critical to ensure student success inside and outside of schools. Ensuring local school support is available when needed is a priority.  Currently, an inordinate amount of money is redirected from schools into the CBE’s central administration. By putting millions of dollars back into local schools we can ensure teachers and students are supported in their school.

Every child needs to feel safe in order to learn, one of the reasons we have proposed an independent ombudsman who would report directly to the Board. Unique in Alberta and modelled after other provinces, this would ensure bullying and other challenges which may arise would have additional avenues for resolution and student support.

2. Transportation

The CBE’s current busing situation is caused by a lack of planning which often leaves the most vulnerable families holding the bag. I will not stand for this. 

The CBE needs to work with the province to provide adequate bus service to families who utilize alternative programs including those who have complex learning needs. Over the summer I called on the CBE and the Minister of Education to halt the drastic busing changes proposed for this year, they chose not to.

We need the CBE to start standing on the side of families, planning ahead for student safety and success.

3. Math

Math failure rates at the CBE are highly problematic; the math failure rate in grade 6 is 56% higher at the CBE than in Calgary Catholic. In some schools, 48% of students fail the grade 12 diploma exam after passing the same course.

The CBE is responsible for delivery of the province’s curriculum. Mathematicians have made it clear that the CBE is not providing a suitable foundational knowledge prior to introducing inquiry-based learning. 

Math at the CBE has been on the decline for at least four years, and yet the current board has not taken any real action. We can fix this by bringing in mathematicians who understand the Alberta curriculum. They can provide experience and prepare teachers with evidence of what actually works – surprisingly this isn’t happening right now.

4. Spending

I’ve heard from parents, teachers, and principals that they see waste and ineffective spending. We know that the CBE’s central spending is 22% of their $1.4 billion budget. Meanwhile, a comparative school board has central expenses of only 8%. The high overhead costs at the CBE remove $168 million from local schools every year. This needs to change.

We desperately need to bring financial acumen and responsible spending to the CBE. 

We will freeze international travel for central office staff, conduct a forensic audit of departmental spending, and focus spending on local schools. The current Board’s lavish spending on extras such as a full-time photographer and videographer at head office needs to end. Money needs to be directed back into local schools.

5. Will you release your donor list prior to Oct. 16? If so, can you release to Metro now? If not, why?

I will not accept money, endorsements, or paid volunteers from unions, nor will I accept corporate donations. Such special interests should not be able to influence our election.

The truth is that unions work hard to influence school trustee elections, my opponent alone received over $19,000 from unions in her last election. It takes a non-union backed candidate months to fundraise, organize, and recruit volunteers; while a union endorsement can come with all of the above, overnight.

Friends, family, and concerned parents have supported my campaign to bring better outcomes and transparency to the CBE. Education should belong to the public, not to special interests. 

WARDS 12 & 14

Muzzaffar Ahmad

Elections Calgary

Muzzaffar Ahmad

1.  Mental health and wellness of students as well as teachers is very important for teaching-learning process to be effective and fruitful.  I will assess the current situation and then focus on providing more resources if needed towards counselling available to all students and staff.  If needed, more money will be directed to deal with this issue.  First step is to recognize and evaluate the problem and then take measures to deal with it.  I will therefore first focus on assessment of the problem, and gravity of it, and then take measures to resolve it in consultation with parents, teachers and experts in the field. 

2.  Transportation must be provided to all students who need it. I will involve parents councils to fix the problem and try to get public transit system on board towards finding the solution.  To set up routes, the parents, transportation providers and school administration must work together, to make it easy and comfortable for students to take bus to and from school. It is more of logistics issue than money. If we have the will, we will find the way to resolve the issue.

3.  Learning math is important for all students as it is part of our daily life.  We deal with numbers on daily basis. All math programs have their merit.  It is important when and how to introduce them. We must start with basic math, master it and then introduce complex concepts. Gradual introduction of concepts from easy to difficult will benefit students at all levels. I would like to introduce an idea of establishing a Math Teachers Study Group that will include top math teachers in the system to come up with a curriculum that would fit our needs and objectives. This group can be established at a provincial level and be charged to come up with new math curriculum.

4.  I will focus on a complete review of CBE financials, and find how monies are spent.   Then, I will set the priorities how the monies must be allocated in various areas, starting with essentials, and cutting the non-essentials, and directing more monies to classroom learning, and well-being of students and the staff. I will work with other trustees to cut the fat in the system, to make it lean and more effective, productive and transparent.

5.  I would like to release the list, but have no list, as I have not received any contributions yet.  Some of my friends have promised, but I still have to see the cheques.  So no list available at the moment.

Mike Bradshaw, member of Students Count slate

Lucie Edwardson / Metro

Mike Bradshaw, member of Students Count slate

1. Mental health and wellness

Wellness has been a huge issue at the doors. I've spoken to quite a few parents that have had to pull parents out of school due to bullying. The parents and students have been left feeling helpless and let down by the system. It's why our Bullying Ombudsman is so important. I've also watched over the years as funding for classroom aides and counsellors and psychologists has slowly dried up, leaving many families to fend for themselves to get expensive assistance. Without a plan find the money to fund aides and counsellors, saying you want to focus on that is an empty promise. Our team does have a plan for that and it's a huge priority for us. 

2. Transportation

I've watched at several engagement sessions as parents spend precious time giving great ideas to fix the system and no one listened to any of them. They've left frustrated and hopeless only to have the CBE give them short notice about service changes and implement services with major impacts on their schedules. I think we can engage students, teachers, and parents in a more meaningful way and build a transportation that gives families more stability. 

3. Math

Math is broken. The current trustees, after years of criticism on the issue, have even finally realized Math results are declining. This isn't a curriculum issue. Relative to other boards the CBE is doing worse on Provincial Achievement Testing. It's a CBE issue and it's going to take strong leadership to fix it. We have to bring in Math experts to diagnose the problem and then ensure teachers are getting the supports they need at the classroom level to teach Math successfully. Math literacy is too important to success later in life to let slide. 

4. Spending

We know the CBE has been spending too much on its Administration. They were rebuked by the Education Minister in September for using money that should be going to classrooms to pay for their building debacle. That's just scratching the surface. If we ran the CBE as efficiently as the Calgary Separate School Board runs their operations we could put $168 million back into classrooms, where it should be going. 

5. Donor list:

Our entire team has committed to not taking any corporate or union donations. It's how election financing works federally and provincially and we think at a bare minimum it's how it should work at the municipal level. Trustees should enter their role unencumbered by commitments made to special interest groups in exchange for funding. 

In the past I have worked on a campaign that received union funding, about $19,000 of it. With that money we were able to buy whatever we needed, when we needed it. We knew there was more money if we needed it too. If I were to disclose my donors ahead of the vote, donations that took a lot of time and energy to get, the union funded candidates I'm running against would able to raise more than I was able to in a single day. We've already handcuffed ourselves by not accepting corporate or union donations, releasing our donations would be crippling to our campaigns. 

I'll say this though, my two largest donors so far have been my good friend and campaign manager and my mom (thanks Mom!).

Karen Draper

Elections Calgary

Karen Draper

Shauna Eldan

Jennifer Friesen / For Metro

Shauna Eldan

1. Mental health and wellness

I will suggest we continue to use all tools to help students through all forms of mental illnesses.  Even anxiety can be a stress for little ones.  Alberta Health has a program called Time 2 Talk, and there are many others. If the resources are not readily available through CBE, we can make a difference.

2. Transportation

I'd like to reinstate bussing for alternate programs, and see if we can negotiate better rates with the transportation companies to make that happen. Also look at the bussing issues with the already established routes to see if changes can be made there.

3. Math

While curriculum falls into the hands of the province, I think we need to go back to the basics.  Make sure the students are learning multiplication tables and long division, understanding finances and go from there.  All learning models should be options for students.

4. Spending

I want transparency in the budget, so the public knows where their dollars are being spent. The budget needs to be re-evaluated and see where we can cut costs.

5. Donor List

This answer is simple. I am completely self funded. I have no issues with that being released prior to Oct. 16th.

Samantha Macleod

Elections Calgary

Samantha Macleod

1. Mental Health Strategy

We need to address teacher mental health. Teacher burn out effects the mental health of every student in their classroom. Any approach to mental health needs to address the needs of teachers. And teachers need their time to be respected. Any new policy we implement needs to have an eye to how much teacher time will be saved or spent in its implementation.

We need to look to schools with high teacher retention rates and look at what they are doing, and try to reinforce implementing these policies in other schools. I would like to partner with community services to facilitate a holistic approach to mental health: Alberta Health Services, YWCA and other programs have offerings that can help our schools, we need an accessible list of resources for teachers, students and families. In pairing with resources we recognize that no child lives in a vacuum. In addressing mental health, we need to look also to simple solutions like breakfast programs, since mental health concerns are always better met with a full belly. Teacher health, community resources, family resources, and physical needs. This is what a mental health program looks like.

2. Transportation

I would like to eliminate the "special status" of FI programs and see them as simply schools offering one of many important reasons to attend. A local, community school offers programs like "roots of empathy" and its nearness is often a factor for parents choosing that school. Immersion schools are simply offering another reason to attend their schools. This will take time, however, and, truthfully, it is more of an advocacy piece, as it is an Alberta Education decision, and not a trustee decision.

In the meantime, I have listened to Jennifer Seamone, and would actually like to borrow her idea of using Calgary Transit for dedicated bus routes for children who attend schools in the CBE.Notably, not having kids on regular transit routes, but having a dedicated bus that picks up children who attend CBE schools. Calgary Transit has shown itself to be a willing partner in getting children to school, and a significant part of my platform concerns finding community partners. Dedicated bus routes are essential, as I do think that students are exposed to harassment on regular busses, and if it is a student only route, then if harassment happens between students, it is more likely to be able to be addressed by the school. I can recognize a good idea when I see it.

3. Math

I have a three pronged approach to math:We need to address math culture. No child should believe that some people are just math people. We need to reinforce the idea that hard work in math matters. Secondly, I would like to have a teacher student mentorship program come into our schools (there are a few interesting contenders in math outreach, I want a good research driven method that is easily trained in the classroom.) This kind of nuts and bolts teaching of math, where gaps are addressed is integral to good math teaching, but it isn’t the end of the line. These programs build numeracy and have been shown to compliment inquiry based learning – because, frankly, while inquiry helps kids retain the concepts they discovered, in inquiry based learning, a concept not “discovered” might never be learned. This method involves teacher mentorship

Thirdly, I would like to expand inspirational programs like Artists in Residence to include experts like Mathematicians. Let us inform children of the beauty and wonder of mathematics. 

4. Spending

We need to look at exemplary international boards that are of a comparable size to CBE. As the largest board in Alberta, it is unreasonable to expect that it can spend like a smaller board like Calgary Catholic School Board. We need to look bigger. Let us look at the top 10 performing large international boards, and see where their spending falls, and what kinds of models they follow. Countries like China, Finland, etc. And let us recognize that CBE IS, in fact, one of these top performing boards. Compare like to like.
Then, let us go through the budget and see what is essential and what is not. And if something is not essential, is there a not for profit partner offering a similar service? Let us “cut” services from CBE by partnering locally and boosting the recognition of local charity organizations. The YWCA, CIWA and other programs offer various programs that are already implemented in many schools, let us spread their use.
Finally, the bad leasing deal of the building downtown was preventable. All trustees had to do was listen to various organizations that were warning against it, like ARTICs (Association for Responsive Trusteeship in Calgary Schools) – let us bring voices that care to the table. We need to be held accountable. 

5. Donor List

I am still awaiting permission, but would be happy to release names. My donors are all private citizens.

Carla Obuck

Elections Calgary

Carla Obuck

Sara Peden

Lucie Edwardson

Sara Peden

1. Mental health and wellness

The new Board of Trustees needs to provide vision and direction for this issue of deep concern to the public. It has far ranging impact well beyond school. As a psychologist, I believe we must give student mental health and wellness high priority!

The question is what vision and direction will we provide. What do we want for our students? If elected, I will work especially closely with current Trustee Hrdlicka (should she be re-elected) who has proposed a system wide strategy. What Mental Health and Wellness outcomes (measurable) are we looking for. These could be an expected system Result. The current Results statements raise questions (How do teachers measure Character, Citizenship or Personal Development? Workload? Are they worded in the way the public wants?) We may need to revisit them to best address this. 

We need to connect a system strategy to Results. We need to clarify what a system strategy is. In my opinion, none of the current strategies in the 3 Year Education Plan, which Trustees approve, are sufficiently “strategic”. What concrete goals are there? How we will know if we have succeeded? I look forward to this Trustee work.

2. Transportation

The new Board will need to see what changes the Chief Superintendent has in place by the end of October. It will need to work closely with the Minister of Education who did the recent operational review. Effective board collaboration and functioning will be critical going forward. This has been a platform in my campaign throughout. It isn’t only about transportation but all the complex issues we face. CBE needs Trustees who can work well amongst themselves, with their Chief Superintendent, and with the Minister and Alberta Education personnel.  Ideally, a province wide review of transportation funding, especially for transportation for students with special needs, would be undertaken. Right now, the province isn’t funding the transportation for students with special needs well enough. If a review resulted in adequate funding for those students to match the service levels required to get them to school then the total transportation budget for CBE would increase, allowing for improved service levels for programs particularly hard hit by recent decisions. 

3. Math

Math has been a main plank in my campaign. I hope readers will go to www.sarapeden/math and to www.sarapeden/blog to see posts written on September 9th, 13th and 27th. 

A K-12 Math Strategy was developed with public input. Sadly, in my opinion the parent input is not yet adequately reflected. As a Trustee, I must be satisfied that the public hasn’t just been asked, but that they’ve been heard. I’m not okay with paying lip-service to public input.

The current Board agreed today (October 10, 2017) to approve funds to support a Math Strategy. There is room however, for a new Board of Trustees to ask more questions when the Math Strategy is discussed (early November). I have many. I’m an educational psychologist with expertise in educational assessment and measurement.  If elected I will use my knowledge to monitor achievement properly. I know detailed questions to ask about Math achievement. I will dive deeper. I will detect problems.

Before early November, the public will speak at the ballot box. An election is real public input. New Trustees will be chosen by Calgarians. If elected, I will be part of a new Board of Trustees that provides real oversight.

4. Spending

A Board that I am part of will provide proper spending oversight for the public. The Chief Superintendent administers for the public. The public’s needs are expressed by the Board of Trustees. For example, today, a $2 million Math expenditure was approved. I would not have done so without the strategy being approved first. There weren’t enough questions asked today.  I would not vote “yes” until satisfied it was the best use of resources. What’s the measurable goal for this expenditure? How exactly will we measure (know if it has worked)? What options were considered for how to best meet the goal? Why was this option considered the best? The Chief is asked to be accountable by explaining in plain language why this is the right thing for students. Accountability is not only after the fact.

Large expenditures are approved in advance so that if the expenditure doesn’t make sense, the Board can say “don’t do it” (for example, a long-term building lease). Some will say that is the “governance model”. That is one interpretation of the model. It can be different. As part of a new Board I will make sure we work differently for real oversight.

5. Will you release your donor list prior to Oct. 16? If so, can you release to Metro now? If not, why?

Yes, I already have.  Preliminary disclosure information was posted on September 19th. I wrote a blog post about campaign financing on September 20th. On October 5th I disclosed donors (totals for $100 or under donations, and individually for donations over $100). Updates have been provided on October 6th and today (October 10th).  Please see www.sarapeden.ca/blog to stay updated

Jennifer Seamone

Contributed

Jennifer Seamone

1. Mental health and wellness

Mental health is a serious issue that affects our schools, students, student outcomes and society in general. Teacher and student mental health and wellness is critical to the success of the public-school system. It is time to develop an inclusive system-wide mental health program through consultation with mental health experts, students, families, communities and schools. There must be funding to ensure professionals, including Alberta Health Services are available to provide these services in each school to assist staff and administrators in the management of stress, anxiety, depression and other areas of mental health. Mental health and psychiatric support is required by approximately 60,000 Calgary students each year. We need to do more to help our students at the school level. Good practices, strategies and support to cope with friends, bullying, family and school will allow our students to become confident, complete and successful learners. As whole and emotionally educated young people, they will enter the next stages of life knowing they possess the skills to contribute and succeed in their families, communities and careers.

2. Transportation

All our students attending all CBE programs deserve to have safe, reliable and direct transportation. We cannot have our children arriving scared and upset after multiple train and bus transfers only to worry about the journey home when they must brave public transit once again. With inadequate provincial funding and the increased cost of transportation, it is important to look at creative partnerships. I recommend expanding partnerships with Calgary Transit, working together to create safe, dedicated and direct routes that work for our children.

CBE High School students ride dedicated and direct Calgary Transit buses. More partnerships for middle schools and alternative programs can decrease operational costs and get more of our children to school safely and directly.

3. Math

I believe there is room for improvement in all subject areas. Apathy leads to decline and it is the role of trustees to carefully evaluate and analyze data to set policy and goals for excellence in our Calgary public school system. Trustees must look closely at all grades and groups of students to set goals for learning outcomes. It is not, however, the role of trustee to become involved in curriculum, this is provincial, and advised upon by CBE experts in the field. No trustee/candidate is a mathematics expert, including myself.  

I have read many studies, including PISA, which places our math program in the top ten in the world. My interactions with parents, students and teachers clearly indicates that better support and training to ensure our math teachers are comfortable and confident teaching the subject is a huge factor in student math success. This is an area where trustees can have influence. I will work to set professional development policy to help our math teachers excel so our students will achieve high success in math.

4. Spending

The eleven-million-dollar yearly lease for the CBE building has been prominent in the news. The CBE assures they have made every effort in evaluating the legal documents, but this cannot be allowed to happen again. Trustees and the CBE must always be aware we are a resource based economy and entering into expensive long-term agreements in times of plenty goes against the economic realities of our province. Increased costs, a lower Canadian dollar and provincial funding limitations mean efficiencies must be found at all levels. My ultimate goal as trustee is to ensure that the available resources are directed to our schools as efficiently as possible

5. Donor List:

I am an independent, self-funded candidate my list of donors is comprised entirely of a few small donations from family under $100.00, I have not accepted or sought union, corporate, special interest or political money.  I believe trustees need to be independent of influence so they can work across all government, public and private interests without bias.

I call for all trustees to release their donor lists throughout the official campaign. I support campaign donation limits from all individuals, unions, special interest and political organizations.

file

Contributed

Tory Tomblin

1. Mental health and wellness

In the last few years awareness, compassion and mental health literacy have increased. At the trustee level we will need to address current infrastructure and policies then clarify roles, moving on to building staff capacity, and then implementing or building upon current programs.

The CBE has the Comprehensive School Health (CSH) program in place now. CSH is about healthy eating, active living, supportive social environments and positive mental health. This is a great start, but we need to improve on this program. These efforts need to be in collaboration with Alberta Health Services and become system wide policy. An example of this is the AHS Mental Health Capacity Building in Schools (MHCB) initiative. We should be providing students with coping strategies for managing their problems and stress. One example is the GSA clubs in schools which provide needed support for our LGBTQ2+ students. Having the right tools to deal with issues greatly decreases the incidence of depression, feelings of isolation and suicide.

The trustees should build on the CSH program which promotes good nutrition, physical activity and over all heath. A healthy body allows for an active mind that creates the best learning opportunities. Special attention should be paid to our most vulnerable students. We need to ensure that they do not have barriers that hinder their ability to learn. Hunger is an example. Along with helping students, educators need the ability to quickly identify the most helpful resources for themselves and their students with a range of strategies, tools and resources.

2. Transportation

I have been speaking to hundreds of parents on the doorsteps and hearing their concerns. Families have experienced a huge amount of stress with changes to yellow bus funding. I have discussed combining busing with the separate school board. Many public and separate schools are very close together. This would be efficient and cost effective. The issue would ride on the cooperation of the separate school board and their willingness to join resources. I am pleased to see other candidates mention this idea as well. Minister Eggen is announcing changes to CBE transportation sometime soon. I look forward to the solution he proposes, but, I am prepared to work on a solution for our students regardless. I would like to see the CBE collaborate with Calgary Transit, to work on better solutions for our kids. This is a large and multifaceted issue that will require a lot of thought and consideration. 

3. Math

I have spoken to many concerned parents and teachers in regards to our student’s math comprehension and test scores. The math issues don’t seem to be isolated to Calgary, but are province wide. The curriculum is currently under review and I have confidence in the education professionals that are working on this task. In light of today’s board meeting, we will need to observe how the new initiative of 25 math coaches works, and collaborate on ways to improve or expand, depending on its success. I am committed to working with the other trustees to provide direction to improve on this issue and always keep our students’ best interests in mind.

4. Spending

The CBE needs more funds. I plan on lobbying the provincial government for an increase to our funds and push for a review of our per student funding model. This will allow us to budget better and plan for growth. With the current funding, spending on one item will take away from another and creates a precarious situation when allocating funds. I respect the gravity of the situation and will not make any quick decisions and commit to being fiscally responsible. If elected I plan on investigating the current situation and inquiring deeper into the CBE’s finances with the resources that a trustee will have access to. Once I get a full picture, we can look at the reallocation of funds, current spending and areas that need a more focused investigation. The new board will have to create a strategic plan and decide what is most important and the areas we want to improve. The cohesiveness of a board is key to its effectiveness. My 5 years of board experience will be an asset. Which includes my ability to communicate ideas effectively and respectfully deliberate with the other trustees. One initiative I intend on pursuing, is looking into currently held CBE assets and ensuring we are getting the most value from them. We need to make sure we are not creating liabilities and are maximizing the possibilities to improve public education. 

5. Donor list

I have released my donor list earlier this week. It can be found on my website www.torytomblin.ca. Prior to this, I released the donors on twitter when asked. I am committed to complete transparency and am happy to discuss any questions regarding my donor list. 

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