SD73 candidates forum poorly attended

Candidates for the position of Barriere/Little Fort School Trustee faced off at an All Candidates Forum

(L to r) Candidate Rhonda Kershaw and incumbent Joanne Stokes listen as a question is asked of them from the audience during an All Candidates Forum for  the  position of SD73 Barriere/Little Fort trustee held at the Ridge on Nov. 6.

(L to r) Candidate Rhonda Kershaw and incumbent Joanne Stokes listen as a question is asked of them from the audience during an All Candidates Forum for the position of SD73 Barriere/Little Fort trustee held at the Ridge on Nov. 6.

Candidates for the position of Barriere/Little Fort School Trustee faced off at an All Candidates Forum on Saturday, Nov. 6, in the NTVIC room at the Ridge.

The forum was a prime opportunity to hear and discuss the school district for both voters and parents, but unfortunately, the turnout from the public was poor, with just under 20 people showing an interest to hear what SD73 incumbent Joanne Stokes, and challenger Rhonda Kershaw had to say.

Harley Wright moderated and started the forum with opening remarks from each candidate, noting that the trustee position oversees the schools of Brennan Creek, Barriere Secondary, and Barriere Elementary.

Kershaw said she believes “in a strong voice for our children”, and she wants to make sure the children “get the best education right here in Barriere”.

Stokes noted her previous three terms in the position of trustee has provided a wealth of experience she can draw from.  “I want to make the best decisions possible for our local school district, while keeping in mind how it effects our own communities,” said Stokes.  She noted a “passion for the new innovations our District has done; and we are in the middle of our five year Capital Plan, and I would like to see that come to fruition”.

Wright informed the public that the Parent Advisory Council had submitted a list of nine questions for the candidates to answer, and then questions were taken from the floor.

Asked why they were running for the position of trustee Kershaw answered, “I have two small children in the school system… It’s changing very quickly over the next few years, and I want to give the input of a parent.”

Stokes said, “I can provide the time and energy to dedicate to SD73.  I also volunteer in Barriere…  I have raised two sons here in Barriere from K to grade 12, and I know the system.”

Asked about parent input, Kershaw said she would like to see more input from the public to be part of policies being made as a result of increased dialogue.

Stokes said, “We are in the people business and good relationships matter.  I am committed to seeing that continue.”

Asked what they thought of learning tailored to the needs of individual students, Kershaw said she thinks this is important… ”I would like to see increased course offerings, especially in the upper grades. And to also expand on the video conferencing which is already offered.”

Stokes said, “I would like to see more parents involved in the school system.  Parents are important partners in a student’s education, and the education system… Our Board believes in partnering with parents in our school system.”

Kershaw stated that she thinks the Board has done a good job but would like to see rural areas receive the same benefits as urban centres.

Stokes noted she had concern about the effects the length of the teacher’s strike may have on the students.  She also said she disagreed with BCTF (BC Teachers Federation) who have said strong progressive trustees stand up for teachers.  “Trustees stand up for students, parents, and tax payers,” said Stokes.

One audience member voiced concern about rural schools sometimes getting neglected.

Kershaw said she thought the setting up of  arts or science buses, similar to mobile technology buses, could help to give rural schools “the same opportunities as other kids have”.

Stokes said, “The Board supports rural schools by giving them more teacher time. We provide extra teaching staff, and it is one of the reasons we brought in video conferencing.   We could get the mobile trades unit to come to Barriere, but we haven’t had enough students to date to do that.  If we could, for instance, have six students and six adults take the course we could bring it to Barriere.”

She also noted that funding “is the sticking point – our budgets are tight all the time.  We only have the money from the province.  Right now the best for Barriere Secondary is to provide a full academic program, and ensure that the graduation program is complete.”

Kershaw offered that she thought a “possible rotation of an outstanding art teacher, who could spend six weeks in Barriere and six weeks in another community” would be beneficial, rather than having a good art teacher in one community all the time, and none in another.

Stokes stated SD73 has a ‘strings’ program, and that they did experiment with a traveling teacher but found it too difficult with winter driving, and driving that took up teaching time.  “The best is having a teacher that is qualified to teach many different subjects,” said Stokes.

A question from the floor asked about “kids who fall through the cracks”, and was directed to the incumbent.

Yes, that’s still a problem,” answered Stokes, “We are really working hard to make sure we have learning assistance people on site.  We also have tutors to assist with assignments and extra work to help students before they hand that in.”

She did note however that much of that program has been put on hold due to the teachers job action.  “It takes a long time for change; we have to keep pushing and advocating it.”

Kershaw noted that teachers seem to be quite willing to embrace new programs and technologies.

A question was asked about getting more support staff back into the schools.

Stokes answered, “Some special needs get a full time support staff worker (SSW), and some get a part time.  We hire as many as we need to with the funding available.  SSW is one of the only groups with funding we haven’t decreased.”

It was also noted that student numbers are still decreasing with a current number of 177 at Barrere Secondary, and 230 at Barriere Elementary.  Currently 223 students are participating in distance learning from all areas of SD73.  All grade 10 students take Planning 10 by distance learning so they are provided with the experience of how to do online learning.

In their closing statements Stokes said, “…I’m very proud of our community and parent involvement in our schools.  I have a strong work ethic, take my job seriously, and attend every event.  I make my decisions on what is good for students… I spend many extra hours at home studying so that when I attend meetings I am totally prepared.”

Kershaw closed by saying, “We are very fortunate to have an active group in Barriere.  I have no experience, but I think you all know that I can think quickly on my feet.”

The public were encouraged to vote on Nov. 19, and also reminded that those who do not live within the District of Barriere also have an opportunity to vote for the School District Trustee for Barriere/Little Fort which encompasses the geographic area of those living in the Thompson Nicola Regional District Area ‘O’.



Just Posted

This bird’s eye view shows the tanker truck fire on Highway 24. (Photo taken by Kurtis Rainer)
UPDATE: Highway 24 open to single-lane traffic after fuel tanker fire

Driver pulled into the runaway lane after the truck wheels caught fire

Residents line up outside the Vernon Recreation Complex for their COVID-19 vaccine Saturday, June 5. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
No appointments necessary for first dose COVID-19 vaccine: Interior Health

People can just show up at clinics, register on the spot and get the shot

(TNRD Library)
Let the mystery of the Summer Reading Club begin

Are you ready to ‘Crack the Case’ at the Barriere Library?

(Metro Creative photo)
Gardeners of all ages invited to enter 2021 NT Fall Fair contests

The North Thompson Fall Fair Drive Thru scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 4,… Continue reading

Milsom Lodge was built in the East Barriere Valley when the Milsom brothers purchased two parcels of land in 1911, DL 2323 and DL2324. (Milsom’s photo)
The Milsom Lodge: The mansion, the ballroom, the history

“At the turn of the century, when so many families were leaving… Continue reading

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Premier John Horgan speaks as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, right, and health minister Adrian Dix look on during a press conference to update on the province’s fall pandemic preparedness plan during a press conference from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials to provide details on Step 2 of COVID reopening plan Monday

Step 2 could allow for larger gatherings and a resumption of recreational travel

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Most Read