Civic Election 2018  

Paula Harned

Paula Harned

School District 22 Trustee candidate.

My name is Paula Harned, I will be 50 years old on October 24. My husband, Scott and I moved to the North Okanagan nearly 30 years ago in 1989. 

I have been volunteering in schools since 2003 when our oldest daughter was just three years old. 

We heard that the playground was going to be torn out of JW Inglis and that there were just three people participating with PAC and working towards raising the money to replace the playground.

This started me on a journey of passion, learning and public service. I want to return to the role of trustee as I feel I offer a level of experience balanced with a fresh perspective.

I hope to be a part of the community that creates a “safe, healthy and respectful learning community that enables each student to build a bright future”


1) Why should voters cast a ballot for you October 20?

Voters should cast their ballots for Paula Harned on October 20 because I offer Experienced Inclusive Leadership.

Serving as a school trustee in Vernon from 2008 – 2011 then being away for the past seven years gave me the experience not shared by any of the other candidates. 

I spent the three years taking advantage of learning opportunities offered by BCSTA, sitting as the SD22 representative to the Greater Vernon Advisory Committee, connecting with people from other organizations including representatives from the regional district, the city of Vernon, the Municipality of Coldstream and the Village of Lumby. 

During this time, I was also able to develop a deeper understanding of how all stakeholders can fit together and build a strong collaborative team to support the learning of our students.

The time since that period of service has allowed me to do further volunteer work and hone my skills as a team leader. 

As PAC Chair for the Vernon Community School, member of the Seaton Athletic Committee, Vice President of SKY Volleyball Club, and Chair of the Seaton 2018 Super Grad Committee I have been able to practice the advocacy and leadership skills learned in the Supporting Parent Leadership Seminar Series that I participated in 2007/08. 

This time away from the Board table but still involved in the school system has also allowed me to develop a fresh perspective on possible things that can be improved and how.

I am the mother of four children and have been a self-employed active volunteer of this community for the past 20+ years. 

People who know me describe me as a hard worker, compassionate, genuine, personable, interested, and a quick study who is passionate about creating the best opportunities possible for learning and children and supporting those involved in the process.

2) What is the biggest issue facing the Vernon School District, and as a member of the board of
education, how would you work to address this issue?

As I see it, the biggest issue facing the Vernon School District is a culture of feeling inconsequential and unheard. 

Meetings with many of the stakeholder groups, individuals and my own personal experiences have led me to this conclusion. 

The role of the board of education is to employ the superintendent of schools and create a culture in response to the wishes of the public who are the taxpayers, the recipients of our services, and the people who have the opportunity to hire or fire the school board every four years at election

The Board of Education is a collection of people from across the community who come together to support the vision of what education means to the public. Vision 2022 can be found on the sd22.bc.ca website.

It represents a lengthy process recently undertaken which clearly states the core values of all of the stakeholders. Vision 2022 is “To create a safe, healthy and respectful learning community that enables each student to build a bright future.”

To fulfill this vision, the incoming Board of Education will need to create an environment that fosters mutual cooperation, emotional support and personal growth as we all work together to achieve what we could not dream of accomplishing alone. 

Helping to create this environment is part of how I would work to address the cultural issue. 

We need to start with the simple things: ensuring that timelines for budgeting and other changes such as transportation allow for meaningful collaboration that can then be built into the plan, supporting all members of the community with genuine intention as they work to seek out methods of supporting the vision, and always being willing to ask “how could we have done that better?”

3) Balancing a budget while providing quality education means sometimes making difficult decisions that affect the lives of young children. Can you provide an example of a time when you were forced to make a difficult decision that affected the lives of many?

During my previous service as a school trustee, it was during a time of declining enrollment. Every year we were forced to make decisions that continuously cut services,

modified delivery models even removing money for supplies from school budgets. 

This time was incredibly difficult for me however the law requires that the school board deliver a balanced budget each year.

At the time we felt that we were consulting with partner groups but in retrospect, there was not a lot of room for suggestions to make their way through to affect the budget.

As a new school board with one, possibly two incumbents I hope to work with the rest of the trustees to develop a timeline that facilitates meaningful consultation, gives opportunities for trustees to ensure that all fiscal management is at it’s utmost, and ensures that together we are “creating a safe, healthy respectful learning community”.

My previous experience on School District 22’s board of education has given me enough knowledge to be able to ask difficult questions, understand timelines better and hopefully be able to be an instrument for meaningful change throughout the entire learning community.

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