I believe that it is important, particularly in the younger grades, that class sizes be reasonably small. When determining class sizes, consideration always needs to look at factors such as class composition. It is therefore necessary to look at the particular circumstances of each class in determining its appropriate size. I support the class size guidelines established by the division.
French Immersion is an essential program, which is offered throughout Pembina Trails. Children who successfully complete the French Immersion program become fluently bilingual. The benefits of learning a second language are tremendous for both our children as well as for our society as a whole.
International Student Program
The Pembina Trails School Division has a very strong International Student Program (ISP), which I want to see maintained. The ISP recruits students from different parts of the world to attend schools throughout the division. The students pay tuition and are billeted with local families. The school division benefits from the revenue generated. Our community benefits, as do the international students, by learning about other cultures.
I am strongly committed to neighbourhood schools. While it is important that schools have the capacity to offer students a variety of programming options, I am committed to maintaining neighbourhood schools wherever feasible. Children shouldn’t have to be bussed to far away communities.
New High School
I have advocated for years for a new high school to be built in Pembina Trails. The Public Schools Finance Board, which provides school divisions with capital funding to build new schools, recently announced that Pembina Trails would be receiving a new High School (as well as a new K-8 School) in Waverley West. Once this new school is open, we will be able to alleviate overcrowding in Vincent Massey and Fort Richmond Collegiates, move all grade 9 students into the high schools and provide more flexible catchment areas for students.
I am a parent and I strongly believe that parents must continually receive feedback from our schools and, at the same time, have the opportunity to provide input in their children’s learning. If re-elected I will work to ensure we maintain good communication within the division. I am committed to listening to the concerns of all parents and representing those concerns at the Board.
I believe that the province should pay more of the bill for our public schools. In 1988 the provincial government funded about 80% of school divisions’ operating costs. Today that amount is less than 60%. Successive provincial governments have off-loaded their responsibility for funding education to school divisions. This puts an unfair tax burden on homeowners. I advocating persuading the provincial government to restore funding to the 80% level so that we can minimize any local tax increases. Despite recent reductions in funding from the provincial government, we have been able to minimize tax increases. Our division currently has the lowest mill rate within the City of Winnipeg.
I strongly support the public education system. In Pembina Trails we have outstanding schools supported by committed staff who strive for excellence. There are a number of myths about the inadequacies of the public education system. I believe that we have to do more to promote the successes of our schools and talk about the value that we are getting for our tax dollars.
Our children have the right to learn in a healthy and safe environment. Generally our schools are safe and free from violence that affects other schools. Nevertheless, problems such as bullying can occur anywhere. Violence and bullying are serious and must be dealt with quickly and decisively. We cannot tolerate violence in our schools. We therefore must provide teachers and administrators with the support and authority that they need to take appropriate action.
The quality of education that our children receive is excellent largely because of the outstanding contribution of our division’s teachers. We need to continue to support teachers and provide them with the resources that they need. If re-elected I will continue to make it a priority to ensure that teachers’ needs are addressed.