SD 73 Trustee incumbent Joanne Stokes says her focus is always on “what is best for the students”

Stokes says she let her name stand for a fourth term as trustee because it is important to her to be involved

Joanne Stokes says she let her name stand for a fourth term as trustee because it is important to her to be involved in the community.

Joanne Stokes says she let her name stand for a fourth term as trustee because it is important to her to be involved in the community.

School District 73 trustee incumbent Joanne Stokes says she let her name stand for a fourth term as trustee because it is important to her to be involved in the community that she has lived in for 30 years.

“After volunteering in Barriere schools for 17 years, the position of school trustee was a natural progression,” said Stokes, “My focus has always been on what is the best for the students in our schools. As a member of the Parent Advisory Councils at all three schools, I worked in partnership with teachers, support staff and principals to help make our children’s school experience a positive one. As Trustee, I continue to do the same by making decisions that will better the school system and support the academic achievement of all students.  Now I want to serve at least one more term, as there are a few outstanding items that the school board has been working on that I want to see to fruition. Experienced trustees are needed for these items. I also have the time to devote to this position, as I don’t have another job or other commitments.”

Asked what some of the key issues she would like to see changed in SD73, Stokes replied, “One of the key items I would like to see changed is regarding student achievement. Many changes are happening now in assessment, grading and how success is achieved, but there are still students falling through the cracks, leaving school early and finding that school is not relevant to their needs. With the fast pace of technology we must continue to work hard to engage students in the academic courses that lead to future university, college or work; but also provide course selection that is relevant to their non-academic needs and will provide them with valuable knowledge in their future.”

Stokes says she served on a committee that looked into gender achievement gap, where they found that boys do not do as well as the girls. “Boys learning styles are different from how school is taught. I continue to bring this issue to the forefront because it is important that all students succeed to graduate and individual or differential learning must take place.”

Stokes says she also serves on the First Nations Education Council, working towards improving graduation and attendance rates.

“Parents are important partners in the educational system. When parents are engaged in their students learning, students do well,” said the incumbent, noting she has participated in two conference-planning committees that have been geared directly to engaging parents in the school system

We asked the incumbent if there are any programs she would like to see introduced into SD73 schools; and if so, why?

“When it’s comes to programming or courses our district is a leader in the province in developing and introducing new BAA courses, new on-line courses, and trades and transitions opportunities. Our district has a Elementary Science school, a K-12 Fine Arts school, French Immersion schools, Montessori, Gifted Programs, video conferencing for rural schools, @Kool and the list goes on. Most of these programs have all been developed in the past nine years that I have been on the board; and I made the decisions to include these opportunities in our district. There are many programs like reading programs (for instance) that are available to bring into our district but funding, teacher training and time, prohibits these opportunities. If the district had more funding from the Ministry of Education, we could provide these programs for students.” She says video conferencing to rural schools such  as Barriere gives students the opportunity to take courses that they wouldn’t otherwise be able to.

“Education is under funded in B.C. The current funding formula that was implemented in 2002/2003 is flawed. Funding has not increased significantly over these years with the exception of full day kindergarten and wage increases,” said Stokes, “Inflationary cost pressures are absorbed within the budget so programs must be reduced or cut. School Districts need to deliver a balanced budget every year and can not file a deficit budget. Funding is based on enrolment, and as we continue to deal with declining enrolment there is actually less funding to adequately meet the needs of the district. In rural districts like Kamloops/Thompson with a large geographic location, our bussing costs far exceed the amount given to the district for transportation. In many cases, with declining enrolment there are fewer students on the bus, but bussing still needs to be provided. With the fluctuations in the price of diesel fuel the losses of revenue are ever increasing. The lack of funding for transportation, is just one of the many areas that the school district deals with on an annual basis.”

Stokes says that after nine years on the board she still has the passion, time and desire to do the job as trustee for the Barriere/Little Fort area.

“I have learned so many things about the educational system over the years and will continue to learn and grow. I have enjoyed doing this job serving the community in this capacity and will continue to work hard on your behalf.”

“All issues that have been brought to my attention have been dealt with to the benefit of the students in Barriere.”

“I work hard spending many hours at home and within the district to do the best job I can. I also volunteer in Barriere, sitting on many extra committees, and will continue to do so. I ask for Barriere’s support for my re-election for School Trustee.”

You can reach Joanne Stokes at 250-672-9941.