SD 59 trustee candidate responses — Area II (Tumbler Ridge)

While she was the only candidate for SD 59 Electoral Area II (Tumbler Ridge), and won't be facing election as she will take the trustee seat for Tumbler Ridge, Roxanne Gulick answered our questions sent out to all trustee candidates. Gulick had previously ran in 2014 for the seat against incumbent Sherry Berringer, who is not seeking another term.

Here are her responses unedited. (Except for formatting purposes).

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Roxanne Gulick

Age: 47
Occupation:  Self employed
Highest level of education:  college

Why are you running?

I have three children in public school.  I also have had a keen interest in how and why things are done within the provincial school systems as well as the districts.

What is your current relationship with SD 59? If you are not a current trustee, what experience do you have? If you are running for re-election, what experience, including your time on the board, do you feel qualifies you for the position?

I have been part of our local PAC since my family moved to Tumbler Ridge.  I also was part of the parent council at our previous school district. I also am in our schools quite regularly as a volunteer or to attend school functions.  I have attended provincial parent council conferences and I talk to parents and teachers alike to ask questions of what are current concerns. 

In your opinion, what is the role of a school trustee?

A school trustee’s job is to advocate for students, teachers and families.  For their communities, as well, as schools are often what can bind a community together.   A trustee is responsible for communicating to the communities what is happening within their school districts and the province.  A trustee is also responsible for understanding the needs of the communities within their school district.

Are there any particular issues with provincial education or local decisions that have you running? Why and what are they?

My biggest frustration is that our funding formulas fund in a cookie cutter format.  I also believe we need to find a balance in how we educate our children.  I feel as though too many times decisions are made without consulting the people in the trenches doing the work.  I know that I have much to learn, and that changes can be slow moving, I am looking forward to the work.

Clearly every candidate is pro-education, pro-children, pro-common sense and pro-community. What makes you a different candidate than the others?

I don’t think I am different.  I think that any person that runs for public office tend to have the same drive to make a difference.  We are different due to our experiences and if we are smart, we will find a way to work together to find the best way forward for the whole.

One reader notes, regarding rural bus routes, “Many of us live 4 - 5 kms away from the designated bus stops which are usually on highway. This is unacceptable requesting us to drive our children in all kinds of weather to the highway.” They ask, “Are you going to be revisiting the School bus policy?” (In addition to answering yes or no, please elaborate on any thoughts on the matter).

Transportation issues are ongoing and are not unique to our school district.  Until we meet as a board to find out all of the moving pieces involved in the policy, it would be premature to say the bus policy will be revisited.  I am open to having the discussion.  I will say that busing is a hot topic, and there is likely no solution that will please everyone while meeting budget restrictions.

One reader has noted a troubling increase in single-issue trustee candidates across the province, specifically those with an anti-SOGI (sexual orientations and gender identities) agenda. What are your views on SOGI resources? (For context, there was considerable debate on the SD59 policy of Diversity and Inclusion, particularly on the clause about washrooms for students with diverse sexual orientations, gender identities and expressions.)

I believe our duty is to provide a safe environment for our children.  All of our children.  There are so many parts to SOGI, and bathrooms are such a small part of it.  I will not say that I know everything there is to know about this topic, I will say that being focused only on this topic as a trustee is doing your school district and your students a disservice.  Four years is a long time to serve the public if your only interest is how a district will deal with SOGI.

Many parents have noted concerns about the lack of transparency regarding serious situations — in cases ranging from teacher discipline to receiving information about threats to individual students — and in many cases they have perceived a lack of resolution. What will you do as school trustee to ensure transparency and public trust in the school board?

Before being a trustee, many of these issues are not necessarily on your radar.  There are so many laws and policies around privacy issues, it would be premature for me to respond to specifics.  What I will say, is that as a trustee, I will look at each situation individually and be sure to imagine myself as each of the individuals within the situation.  Transparency may not be possible, I believe strongly in trust though and will do my best to build those relationships between the board and our communities.

The school district struggles to find qualified teachers, in particular, but not limited to, for programs like French Immersion and Montessori. As of the last board meeting, SD 59 has teachers on letters of permission (without a teaching certificate) (10.18 FTEs). How do you feel the school district has handled this, and can more be done to recruit teachers?

This situation is not unique to our school district to my knowledge.  This is a province wide problem. I believe that our school district at this time has found the best solution available.  I am always open to listen to other solutions.

What is your stance on the school closure review for Don Titus Montessori that was voted in favour of at the September 19, 2018 board meeting and ultimately the possibility of closing that school for the next school year?

Choosing to close a school is never an easy one.  I believe a review is a first step.  Schools are much more than a place for children to learn their abc’s.  This sounds like a non-answer and ultimately it is.  I cannot speak to a situation in which I do not have all the facts – the review will give me those.

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reporter@dcdn.ca

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