Castanet Kamloops is going to help you get to know the candidates running for Kamloops school trustee seats over the next few weeks. Every morning starting today, we will be posting a Q&A from one of the candidates running for the board of education in the Oct. 15 local general election. All trustee candidates were asked the same questions, and their answers, submitted to Castanet by email, are published in full.
Castanet Kamloops: Why do you think you would be a good trustee for SD73? What unique perspective, skills or vision do you bring to the table?
Heather Grieve: I believe that I am a good trustee candidate because I bring four years of experience, three years as a trustee and one as a Board Chair. I am a single parent of a teenage daughter in our district and I care deeply about our families in SD73. I have also spent 23 years working in the field of mental health and substance use, and addictions counseling.
My background allows me to bring these lenses to the work. I take the time to listen to hear diverse perspectives on issues of importance to our communities and work to be responsive as an advocate to bring about positive change for students, parents, and staff.
I consistently ask questions in order to seek to understand the issues that are occurring within our district. I believe understanding allows for informed decision making and also identifies points of advocacy. I value the work and believe we should always be open to feedback and take the lessons we learn to improve upon what we do. I value transparency and maintain a commitment to be accountable to our community.
What is your vision for the school district? If you are elected, what might look different four years from now?
Grieve:I see the vision for the district over the next four years as building upon the 2022-2027 District Strategic Plan. The plan came to fruition from a highly collaborative process and is a document that outlines the direction for the district over the next five years. As we are a district of rapid growth and space pressures, continued advocacy and looking for opportunities in the area of capital funding requests will continue to be paramount as we do need additional classroom spaces. In the next four years, I envision a district where students, staff and families feel connected and valued and that we have additional space commitments for our learners and staff.
I will continue to advocate to advance our access to space for school-aged children and also for pre-school children. We know that as our district grows, families are growing and so these spaces, which are starting out as 144 spaces in the Spring of 2023, will continue to expand within and beyond the next four years.
Aside from capital projects, how do you think the district should deal with growing enrolment?
Grieve: This is an incredibly difficult question to answer. Under the School Act, we are left as a board and district with limited options if there are no capital projects. School catchment changes and school configurations may be considered depending on where the areas of pressure continue. I am not afraid to ask the hard questions of the ministry and to work with parents to hear concerns and to be proactive about gathering ideas about ways to manage space constraints. It will take focusing on solutions together to assist everyone to manage this fast-paced growth in our district. There is no simple or one-size-fits all situations as each community is unique.
In your opinion, what are the top priorities right now for SD73?
Grieve: I think the top priorities for our district are getting additional classroom space and continuing to examine supports that students require to thrive in all aspects of their wellbeing. Part of this advocacy will be to address staffing retention and recruitment. We know that students thrive in environments where they feel connected. Engagement increases and student achievement is connected to that as well. I believe the same is true for staff. When staff feel connected to and valued in the work that they do, the system as a whole has greater success. I believe we can work towards continued positive change.
The SD73 area has felt the impacts of climate change in recent years. What steps do you think the board could take to foster climate resilience?
Grieve: As a board, I believe we need to consider sustainable options in terms of energy sources, transportation options like electric or hybrid buses, and given opportunities to teach our students about sustainability in our classes when possible. We can be responsible for decreasing our carbon footprint and the amount of paper we use, ensuring we have substantial recycling and composting programs within our sites and limiting waste whenever possible. We should continue our Farm to Table and community garden programs and expand where possible. They promote partnerships between schools, restaurants and local food security distribution agencies like food banks. Working towards food security and developing community partnerships fosters sustainability.
Visit Castanet's Kamloops Votes page to find profiles for Kamloops SD73 trustee candidates along with links to candidates' websites and social media accounts if available.