Five Brandon School Division trustees have confirmed they will seek another term in the upcoming fall election.
Board chair Mark Sefton, vice-chair Jim Murray, Peter Bartlette, Glen Kruck and Kevan Sumner say they are all ready to serve another four years.
"I find it very, very rewarding and exciting really," Sefton said. "Just the idea to have an opportunity to have some influence and some impact on the education of our future community leaders … is a big responsibility but quite an honour."
Sefton, a retired teacher of 32 years, was elected to the school board in 2010. He has served as chair for the past three years.
He says his No. 1 priority is to continue towards improving student achievement.
"There’s all kinds of things that flow out of student achievement … our graduation rates have improved, and it’s important we keep working in that direction," he said. "We want to make sure that our students are doing absolutely as well as they can, to equip them as best we can for the future."
One of the longest-serving trustees is Jim Murray. He was elected in 1995, and has served on the board ever since.
Murray says there are a few initiatives on the go that he would like to see come to fruition. The first is following through on the potential partnership between BSD and Assiniboine Community College. As enrolment continues to climb, the amount of classroom space in Brandon schools gets tighter, which creates quite a challenge.
One solution that has been proposed is moving shop and home ec classes to ACC, to free up space in the schools.
"There’s been talks with ACC about how much of the space we can have but nothing’s been finalized on that," Murray said. "Just my personal opinion, I think that in the next term of the board that will be a done deal, there will be definitely some movement in that area."
Another priority for Murray would be addressing the province’s funding formula, which he says is "overly complicated."
"As boards in this province, we need to be lobbying the government to revamp the funding formula," he said. "It’s old, it’s convoluted, nobody understands it."
Murray says a major problem he sees in the formula is how divisions are given money in the form of categorical grants, where they have to spend it in a specific area.
"You may find that there’s actually enough money in that funding formula if it was to be allocated in a different way," he said.
Kruck, a one-term trustee, wants to tackle the bullying issue in Brandon if re-elected.
"From students’ self reports, in any one of our schools we have a minimum of one out of 10 students being bullied to up to four out of 10 stating that they have been bullied," he said. "That’s just unacceptable."
Another issue for Kruck is granting better community access to school gymnasiums. He said there are too many barriers for community groups and would like to see that program improved.
He would also like to add more activity into the school day.
"The more active students are, the more they’re able to concentrate and study," he said.
"Whereas what we really expect of students, is for them to sit down and be quiet for a very long period of their day. I’d like to change that."
Both Sumner and Bartlette have confirmed they will seek re-election, but could not be reached for further comment on their priorities.
Three current trustees are still undecided, including longest-serving trustee Linda Ross, who has spent 21 years on the board. The Brandon University associate professor told the Sun yesterday she is still considering her options.
"I’m leaning towards running again but I haven’t decided absolutely for sure," she said.
Pat Bowslaugh, who has served two terms in total, but not consecutively, said she will have some thinking to do over the next few weeks.
"I’ve got so many things going that I haven’t had time to sort of … nail myself down and say ‘I’m doing this or not,’" she said.
Bowslaugh is in the midst of downsizing from a house to a condo, which includes major renovations.
Marty Snelling is also undecided.
The only trustee who has stated he will not run again is Doug Karnes. He has served two terms and said it’s "time to open up another door."
"It was a really interesting, enjoyable experience," Karnes said. "Hopefully I did something positive for the school division."
The only other trustee candidate to declare so far is Krystal Kayne. The Brandon University student has been in the news for her anti-bullying efforts, most recently with the giant pink blanket covered by nearly 7,000 signatures, which was taken to Parliament Hill to create awareness.
Kayne, who is a mother to a teenaged son, said bullying would be a major priority if elected to the school board.
"The zero tolerance policy that they have now, I just find that the teachers are just so busy and … not enough supervision out there to make it effective," she said.
Kayne is studying sociology, crime and community with a minor in psychology and intends to graduate next May. She is the president of BU’s Anti-Bullying Society.
School trustee candidates begin their campaign
with nominations between Sept. 10-16. As part of municipal elections, Manitobans will also vote for their next group of school board trustees on Oct. 22.<t$>
» Twitter: @jillianaustin
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition August 16, 2014