Q&A with Calgary Board of Education and Calgary Separate School Board candidates

Thirty-eight potential representatives for both the Calgary Board of Education and the Calgary Separate School Board filed their official papers on the morning of Sept. 23.

The mood amongst the candidates was fairly upbeat as they took the time to speak with various media outlets to get their message out to voters.

The Calgary Journal caught up with four of the candidates to ask them why they want to run and what they plan to do if elected.

Editors Note: Answers have been edited for length and clarity

Erin Stabbler: running for Calgary Board of Education trustee, Ward 1 and 2

Erin Stabbler was born in Calgary, and received her education in the Calgary public school system. She currently has two daughters in the Calgary public school system and has three years experience serving as the Rocky Ridge and Royal Oak Community Association President.

Why did you decide to run for trustee?

Because, as a parent, I was getting extremely frustrated with what was going on. I was seeing schools getting cut, and trying to get information as a parent was like pulling teeth. So after being with the Rocky Ridge community association for five years, I saw the frustrations with not only the community association, but with everybody else as well.

When we fought for a middle school in Rocky Ridge, we couldn’t get a straight answer from anybody and that was our biggest problem. That was a big reason for me to run, because I figured we needed to have someone who would answer the questions. I’m more than happy to listen to questions and answer the questions.

Why should Calgarians vote for you?

I’m a pretty down-to-earth type person and I’m not going to hide anything. I’m probably going to put my foot in my mouth a few times but I’m not afraid to say what I stand for and I’m not afraid to help my constituents.

What do you hope to accomplish if elected?

I want to see more money going into the schools and I want to see us be the best we can be. We have an amazing system and we could be the best in the country or even the world. I don’t want to say we’re there yet, but we’re one of the better ones and I want to make use of the best.

Sheila Taylor: running for re-election as Calgary Board of Education trustee, Ward 11 and 13

Sheila Taylor is running for re-election in Wards 11 and 13. If Successful, she would like to focus on raising the graduation rate of Calgary high school students.

Photo by Ian Esplen Sheila Taylor holds a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Alberta. Before being elected as Ward 11 and 13’s public school trustee, Taylor worked in sales, marketing, accounting and management.

Why run for the position again?

It’s the best job in the world. I have young kids who go to school so I see everyday how important our school system is to our city. And we need a strong Ward with good leadership to keep that system strong.

What do you like best about the job?

It’s absolutely the interaction I get to have with the community [like] being out in the community, helping people and listening to their concerns. I find it makes you a better board member when you can bring forward the discussions that the public wants you to have.

What do you hope to accomplish if you’re re-elected?

One of the big things I would like to focus on is our high school graduation rate. One in four kids doesn’t graduate in Calgary. We need to make that a very strong focus and become more strategic around high school completion. Whether it’s early intervention, adequate resourcing for teachers or programs to bring kids back who have dropped out of school prematurely, it’s something we need to focus on. In a city that is as prosperous as Calgary, I think we can do better than to have such a high dropout rate.

Trina Hurdman: running for Calgary Board of Education trustee, Ward 6 and 7

Trina Hurdman is hoping to represent Wards 6 and 7. Her main objective is to make sure that funds end up in the classrooms.

Photo by Colin McHattieTrina Hurdman holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Waterloo and a master’s degree in education from the University of Calgary.

Why do you want to run?

I’ve been attending meetings for the past three years. I have three children in the Calgary public school system and I want to make sure that everything is being run properly. I want to make sure that there is appropriate oversight in the system, especially with the cut backs over the past three years. And I want to make sure as many resources are getting to the classroom level as possible.

What do you hope to accomplish if elected?

“The first thing is greater financial accountability. Right now they have $1.2 billion budget that is split up into six items. We really have no idea how that money is being spent and with the cutbacks we have to make sure as many of those dollars are getting to the kids in the classroom.”

How do you plan to meet those goals?

As a board of trustees, we can require that the administration provide better financial account and a better breakdown of where they are spending the money. It doesn’t look very good when you read in the newspaper about fancy dinners and trips overseas when we have class sizes of 50 kids.”

Myra D’Souza-Kormann, running for Calgary Separate School Board trustee, Wards 1 & 2

Myra D’Souza-Kormann hopes to be the first visible minority on the Calgary Catholic School Board if elected this fall. She can speak four languages and graduated from the University of Calgary.

Why are you running for school board?

I am running for the Catholic school board and they’ve never had a visible minority on their board and I would be the first candidate running. It’s important in the school system, especially since the demographics are changing so fast in Calgary, as 20 per cent of the population is a visible minority. It is important for that voice to represent the population.”

What can you contribute to the Catholic School Board?

I’m also a staunch Catholic, so it’s important that the board has Catholics who believe strongly in the faith and bring that to the table. I am a big proponent of quality education so the Catholic schools — a separate system — don’t lose their students and their population to other school systems.

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