Trustees talk: Michel Saab

Trustees talk: Michel Saab

Election 2014: Funding a challenge

Money may not be the answer to all of the school district’s problems, but it certainly would help.

Money may not be the answer to all of the school district’s problems, but it certainly would help.

This comment, and variations of it, were frequently expressed Monday evening during a candidates meeting for the four people vying for two Salmon Arm trustee positions with School District #83: Marcel Bedard, incumbents Bobbi Johnson and Michel Saab, and Dale Townsend.

The evening, organized by parent Jennifer Henry, began with introductions by the candidates. Saab noted his 21 years as a trustee, and stated how while everything may not be rosy with public education, “we are doing quite well and we have to keep doing just as well if not better.”

Townsend, a retired educator, emphasized how the school system and district have been good to him and he wants to give something back. He noted the various roles he’s played in the education system, including union bargaining against Saab.

Bedard provided a quick, verbal curriculum vitae, referring himself as the “ticket guy” (bylaw officer) for the City of Salmon Arm. He stressed his experiences in dealing with other government agencies and his understanding of union issues and management.

Johnson provided family background to illustrate the reason she first ran for trustee 15 years ago – to provide a parent’s perspective.

“Parents have a huge voice with the government and I think it was needed here as well,” said Johnson.

The first question to the candidates was to state what the most significant issues are facing the district and how they would address them. Without hesitation, Townsend answered, “Money, money and money. I don’t think there’s any greater issue.”

Bedard agreed, and spoke to the ongoing cuts that have negatively impacted classroom composition and library availability.

Johnson too, agreed money is the biggest issue facing the school district, and noted funding from the province just doesn’t cut it. She encouraged parents to be the voice for public education as they have the most sway with government.

Saab agreed more money could be put to good use, but said throwing money into the system won’t necessarily solve its problems.

“What we need is the best way to deliver education, and this is changing constantly,” said Saab.