The Quesnel District Teachers Association held a school trustee forum last night in the Chuck Mobely Theatre at Correlieu Secondary School.

Seven of the eight candidates were in attendance.

The questions ran the entire gamut, from how will you advocate for more funding and deal with the teacher shortage to social questions about the SOGI (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identification) principles in public schools and how would they respond to the final report on Truth and Reconciliation that calls for action related to education, language and culture and child welfare.

They were also asked what they felt were the most important issues facing public education in the District ?

Wendy Clement

“I think probably the most important issue in our district is the actual shape of our facilities. Red Bluff is an older school, Voyageur needs some work, we still don’t know what’s happening with QJ. Maple Drive was put in place only as a temporary stopgap measure to get our kids into a building. We have several schools in our district that need to be replaced.”

Tony Goulet

“I think we need to take a look at our facilities. An educated student needs a facility with a good learning hub to do that. I think we need to be creative. I think every child has to matter when it comes to education. They need to be at the forefront when we’re looking at all of our decisions.”

Gloria Jackson

“One of the things that’s important to me is our facilities. We’ve been ignored in Quesnel for a very long time. We have very aged facilities and we are fighting hard for a new school for QJS. If we are fortunate to get an announcement of a replacement for QJS in the new year then we certainly would continue to advocate for some updates to our elementary schools. Recruitment and retention is huge for us, for our teachers and support staff as well. It’s hard to get specialized staff in certain areas and we can only offer so much money.”

Julie-Anne Runge

“I started to make a list of all the things i think we need to focus on and i realized that it all comes down to funding. We need that funding to address our infrastructure, we need that funding to address the needs of our staff, we need to support our staff with the curriculum changes and the technology changes, we need to help support our special needs students. Education and the way that we look at it needs to evolve and keep up with what our students need in today’s world and the world of tomorrow.”

Roland Sawatsky

“Declining student population, creeping budgets, safety and the school buildings. One thing i do know about is the aging school buildings.”

Howie Schonke

“Quesnel is probably the only town in British Columbia that has lost three or four schools to fires. We had lots of schools and they were replaced and now we’re back in the same boat. And i think basically down in Victoria they says they’ve had lots of schools built. But we all know we need schools and that’s all in our facilities report.”

Cyril Tobin

“When I was young you had black and white TV and then ten years later you had color TV and ten years later we got a third channel, but nowadays it’s just ridiculous with technological change. Work places are changing as well so I think that constant sense of renewal that we always have to be looking at the future, we always have to be considering what’s going to best prepare them for the world of post secondary education or the world of what are the skills and the attributes that they need, so I think it’s a constant sense of renewal that we have to consider.”

Dave Chapman, who is also running for school trustee on October 20th was out of the country and unable to attend the forum.