Irina Kuperis

Candidate for: CBE Trustee Wards 8 & 9

Survey Results

Why are you running for public office?

I am a person of action, and I am disappointed to see Trustees relinquished their authority far too greatly. The public will not see their concerns and wishes addressed by Trustees which voted away their authority and delegated everything to the administration, or by Trustees who listen and empathize but don't take action. What I think current candidates will face once they are elected, is that their hands are tied, and they first will need to organize the house and set new rules for how they work with the administration. I hope that certain individuals who are in favor of the Board of Trustees taking back the reigns of control will be (re)elected, and together we'll be able to move some bigger stones.

What previous experience has prepared you for this role?

I am an IT Solution Architect. But I had always been involved in requirements analysis. Someone prominent said "If you make a point of understanding the issue, the solution becomes obvious". I have to agree.

I had exposure to working within statutory requirements, with people who develop budgets, in unionized environment (with Calgary Health Region & AHS), in small company providing services for smaller businesses, and in a large company establishing governance structures. Governance is a fashionable buzz word today, but it is simply a process for making changes – a concept that is not at all new. I also stayed with each company long enough to see (and to have to deal with) the results and impact of various decisions.

Also, I had focused on understanding the structure of powers & duties within school system, and I can hit the ground running, instead of being overwhelmed by the protocol and coming to grips with how to leverage the structure. There are other candidates, in other wards who understand this and its significance as well – I hope they get (re)elected.

What three ideas do you have to improve the quality of education?

  1. Focus on outcomes that matter –i.e. individual student achievement in core areas
  2. Do fewer things but do them well (vs. doing too many things poorly)
  3. Meaningful reporting back to parents & student on that student's situation

What are the top issues problems facing school boards?

  1. Lack of clarity and understanding on who does what and how to effect changes in this complexity
  2. Prioritization and maximizing the value of every dollar available

What are the most important changes that need to be made regarding the role of school boards in Alberta?

First of all the Board of Trustees must organize their own house and back yard. It has power to make important changes and decisions affecting education, without lobbying for changes in its relationship with the provincial government.

After reading the School Act, I am convinced that the Board of Trustees is democracy at work. Trustees have the power to take control and be the public representatives that they are meant to be.

How can school boards most effectively influence the financial and policy decisions of the provincial government?

By providing information: rational and concise conclusions which are properly put into context and supported by facts. We may very well have to work closely on this with other agencies – post secondary institutions, research groups, Alberta Health Services, etc.

In light of the current funding situation, what strategies should the school board use to meet the infrastructure needs of Calgarians?

The Board of Trustees can help by actively exploring multiple and various solutions. And there is nothing wrong with some help to help the helpers help – so let your Trustee know what your wild ideas are, and vote for a candidate that is willing to contemplate a wild idea. Out of multiple wild ideas, one that is feasible may very well emerge.

Why not build a school? At let's say 24M, it comes to just over 2% of annual budget. Financial planners say that individuals should take right off the top 10% of their paycheque and save it, and that adjusting to this is not that difficult. I say, let's make a commitment to building 2 schools – they are needed today, instead we are spending money on bussing, polluting the environment and boring kids with long bus rides; tomorrow the affected families will have put their children in private schools, moved out of neighborhood, etc..

What limitations, if any, should the school board place on the involvement of private organizations in school?

It depends on what that involvement is. There are already day-cares and providers of extracurricular activities, and probably more. I am not in support of any marketing or advertising to students. Ultimately, each type of relationship (not individual relationship) will have to be examined on its own merits.

Is there anything else you'd like to share with us?

I believe that Board of Trustees is the key to having public's concerns and ideas not just heard, but considered, weighed and acted on. In what-ever ward you are, please vote for a candidate who plans to solve issues locally within the CBE rather than begging the province for this or that.

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