With the civic and school boards election coming up on Oct. 24, seven candidates are vying for only six trustee spots in the Prince Albert Roman Catholic School Division.
© Herald photo by Alex Di Pietro
Seven candidates will seek only six trustee spots for the Catholic School Division in the upcoming election on Oct. 24.
Though it will be the first election for some of the candidates, equal funding, high graduation rates and instilling the students with belief in the Catholic faith consistently top the division’s list of priorities.
Mike St. Amand
Acclaimed to the Prince Albert Catholic School Division for the past three elections, Mike St. Amand said he would like to see graduation rates among First Nations grow and believes the division needs to voice its funding requests to the Ministry of Education.
“We have to be that voice that tempers what the ministry tries to offload onto the divisions,” he said. “I’m a real believer in that we’re there as trustees to be the voice for the children and for the parents, to assist our teachers and administrators in doing what we can through the funding.”
St. Amand has 32 years of experience in the building industry.
“It’s one thing to build new buildings,” he said. “Steel, glass and brick mean nothing if you don’t have the entity of the curriculum and the resources required to educate your children. We have to explain where our money is going and why it’s needed.”
Patrick Hordyski has 20 years experience as a power engineer and building operator. He said he believes that a board needs to have a diverse base of knowledge in order to be successful.
“My bit of expertise in dealing with areas of maintenance and heating and cooling, I figure would be real asset to the board. That’s kind of why I put my name forward,” he said.
A byelection to determine the rural trustee for the Catholic school board was held in 2011. Hordyski was up against two other candidates for the position and lost out to Maurice Chalifour.
If elected, his focus will be primarily to serve the schools’ infrastructure needs as they arise.
“We’ve got wonderful teachers and wonderful people on the board who are really good with a lot of the outstanding issues, but I’ve felt I could beef up the board in those areas,” he said.
Hordyski, who currently works for SGI, has lived in Prince Albert for the last 12 years and was born and raised in Buckland.
Bill Tomyn, a retired teacher and current driving instructor, said he sees a need for more evaluation and assessment at all levels of the education system.
“One example could be getting a consultant in to look at the system in general to see where more efficiencies can be obtained and where improvements can be made,” Tomyn said.
Tomyn taught in the classroom for 35 years, with 26 being in the Prince Albert Roman Catholic School Division.
He said his experience as a teacher has made him more aware of of the challenges the school system faces.
While Tomyn has wrestled with the thought of running in prior elections, he has only recently found the time that he feels is necessary to properly fulfil duties as a trustee.
“It’s something I’ve thought of doing for a long time, because I had been a teacher in the system and had observed the school board and the work that they did, and I just feel I have a duty to do some of it myself,” he said.
Tomyn volunteers through the Victoria Hospital, and as an active member of St. Joseph Parish, serves as a volunteer in number of ministries.
Like many of the other candidates, Bruce McKinnon sees increased funding from the Ministry of Education as the primary area of concern.
“They haven’t increased our budget since 2007 and I don’t know of any other business that can live on 2007 dollars,” said McKinnon, a retired programs officer who worked in adult education at Riverbend Institution for 27 years.
He gained expertise in areas such as cognitive skills, anger management, parenting, family violence prevention and negotiation skills in his last 15 years at the institution.
“All of those help with our board, because all of those things are part of what goes on in both the children’s lives and the parents’ lives,” he said.
McKinnon has served the Prince Albert Roman Catholic School Division since 1994, with the exception of three years from 2003-2006. He has lived in Prince Albert since 1981.
“All of us who have served on the board for a while and that have been through elections much prefer to be elected, because then we know it isn’t just from a lack of anybody else being interested,” he said.
Also seeking re-election is George Bolduc, who has served as chair of the Roman Catholic School Division for the past nine years and has been a member since 1996.
He wants to make sure funding stays equitable with other school divisions.
“I know the government is working on transitional funding — funding that will take place over the next three years,” he said. “That is in place, but we need the current funding for our school division now, so we’re pushing to get that.”
Bolduc is currently the operations manager at Parkland Ambulance and serves the Saskatchewan Catholic School Boards Association (SCSBA) as vice president.
“I travel the province quite a bit in my role as a board member, and I always make sure I tell everyone that we have the best teachers, administrators, caretakers in the province. I’m very proud of the people in our school division,” he said.
Bolduc is a member of St. Joseph Parish and volunteers with the Prince Albert Knights of Columbus, Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada and Prince Albert Parkland Health Region.
After winning a byelection in 2008 and being acclaimed in 2009, the city’s acting bylaw manager Suzanne Stubbs is seeking another term as trustee for the Prince Albert Roman Catholic School Division.
“One of the things that I think is really important is that we continue to bring a quality education to the children in our division,” she said. “As a Catholic division, it’s really important that we permeate the Gospel into the education of our children.”
She said it is equally important to be an advocate for the city’s taxpayers and to respond to the concerns that they bring forward.
A former student within the Catholic school division, Stubbs has been a resident of Prince Albert for 45 years.
“When I started (as a trustee), my kids started at the junior high level, so it’s interesting when you sit in on these board meetings and we can actually see that what we’re talking about is being implemented in our schools,” she said.
Stubbs also alluded to the importance of bringing the board’s funding concerns to the Ministry of Education to be treated equally.
Bert Provost, a retired principal of 22 years in the Prince Albert Catholic School Division, said his time spent as an administrator gave him invaluable experience when he first began serving on the board 12 years ago.
“I had a lot of knowledge about how the school division works,” he said. “One of the beauties of being on the Catholic School board is that, with the other people there, we share the same values based on the common faith.”
For Provost, the overriding principal since he started has been to make decisions based on the best interest of the students.
“The present board has a tremendous working relationship,” he said. “Some people have a different slant on things, and we express our views openly, but once the board makes a decision, we all move on.”
With respect to the question of funding, Provost noted that the government has recently put a new equity funding formula in place that will phase in funds over the next three years.
“In two years, we’re very hopeful that, financially, we will be on a level playing field in terms of funding per student per year,” he said.
Provost noted a high graduation rate of First Nations students at St. Mary’s as one of the board’s major successes.