Why are you running for public office?
I want to ensure that your concerns and ideas for improvement are heard by the CBE and that what matters to you is put into action. Although I am very knowledgeable about the CBE and educational issues, I do not have all the answers. I strongly believe that it is only through working together that we will improve the quality of education. In order to do that, trustees need to truly listen to the educational priorities of Calgarians, and involve them in creating short, medium and long-term goals. Most importantly, action is needed. There are too many people who are tired of being consulted, reading the resulting reports and plans, yet never seeing anything actually change.
What previous experience has prepared you for this role?
As a mother of three young children, I have a vested interest in the long-term success of our public education system in Calgary. As a former teacher, and recent graduate of a Masters of Education program, I understand educational issues and am familiar with the latest research in the educational field. As a concerned citizen, I have voluntarily spent the past three years attending and reporting on CBE board meetings and have been successful in raising public awareness around CBE governance issues. Having kept myself informed on all CBE issues, I am prepared to begin working immediately for the benefit of students without needing to spend the first year of my trustee term simply trying to figure out how everything works.
What three ideas do you have to improve the quality of education?
- The current CBE budget document breaks down over a billion dollars of expenses into only six line items. More detail is needed to ensure that taxpayer dollars are being spent for the benefit of students.
- Treat staff, students, parents and community members as valued partners in education.
- Currently one in four students do not graduate within three years of entering high school. We need to learn from and collaborate with other school jurisdictions across Canada to improve high school graduation rates.
What are the top issues problems facing school boards?
- Lack of transparency and accountability
- Perception that school boards are powerless
- Lack of long term vision and planning
What are the most important changes that need to be made regarding the role of school boards in Alberta?
The role of school boards doesn't need to be changed. It simply needs to be respected by other levels of government and school board administrations. School boards actually have a tremendous amount of power within their school districts, but that power is not often exercised. Ultimately, the role of trustee is to represent Calgarians in making decisions about our educational system. Trustees are expected to ensure that funding is being allocated effectively, to monitor the performance of the system, and to engage the public in setting goals and planning for the future.
How can school boards most effectively influence the financial and policy decisions of the provincial government?
If trustees are truly connected with and engaging their constituents, when speaking with the provincial government, they will not just be speaking for themselves, but for the thousands of Calgarians that they represent. In order to influence financial and policy decisions at the provincial level, trustees need to demonstrate that they have the support of the public in order to present a strong and unified voice when talking with the province. Trustees also need to be more specific in advocating to the province. For example, rather than simply saying that they need “more funding,” school boards need to be specific about which areas are being underfunded, and present in detail how the rest of the school system is suffering by having to make up shortfalls in specific areas.
In light of the current funding situation, what strategies should the school board use to meet the infrastructure needs of Calgarians?
The school board needs to work much more closely with Calgary City Council, the province, and developers to develop sustainable solutions for building schools in new communities and maintaining schools in older ones. Schools are not only essential infrastructure, but they also raise home values and are the heart of their communities.
What limitations, if any, should the school board place on the involvement of private organizations in school?
The CBE has developed hundreds of partnerships with many organizations in Calgary which have benefited students in many ways. While I assume this is already being done, each partnership needs to be evaluated by the CBE to ensure that the best interests of students are being served and that the educators within our system do not feel constrained in any way due to partnerships with outside organizations.
Is there anything else you'd like to share with us?
More information can be found on my website at www.trinahurdman.ca