This past Thursday, I attended Centennial High School Parents' Association Forum for the Board of Trustees Candidates in wards 12 & 14. The attending candidates were Amber Stewart, Christina Steed, Todd Newman, Helen Mowat, Malik Amery and current trustee, for wards 11 & 13, Sheila Taylor. The two hour forum included an opening and closing remark from each candidate, as well as, an open question period by audience members directed at the panel. The evening was informative and helpful in forming my decision on what CBE trustee candidate to vote for on October 21. Here is my summary of what each candidate presented:
Amber Stewart described herself to be "well rounded," "understanding parents in the thick of it," as she is a parent of school aged children herself. She advocates for transparency, communication, more detail and discussion within the board. Stewart expressed concern around mental health issues in students, particularly at the middle school level. She offered a unique idea for future board meetings, with a "we come to you" approach by using facets like Twitter, Facebook and holding board meetings at high schools. Stewart energetically jumped to answer audience questions promptly during the forum.
Christina Steed, who currently works for an MLA, spoke of her expertise in understanding "how government works, who to talk to, how to talk to them." Having a special needs youngster (and three other children), she feels strongly about early intervention in education. Christina struck me to be intelligent and methodical. She often took her time to answer audience questions and offered lengthy answers.
Todd Neuman, a software developer and small business owner, expressed his ability to "break apart complex issues." He is focused on getting the "attention of the CBE back on learning" and to "open the doors of communication" by connecting parents with the trustees. Neuman feels disconnected to the existing board and if elected, plans to engage open communication between the board and school councils. I appreciated his direct and 'to the point' approach. When the panel was asked a series of fact based questions like, "how many schools are currently within the CBE?" Neuman was the only candidate who knew the facts.
Helen Mowat passionately spoke about character, integrity, holistic learning and working/ speaking from the heart. As a former teacher of fifteen years, she spoke of the "hierarchy" that has caused "a lot of problems within the CBE." She stated that the top management at the CBE "does not want to listen." Mowat feels strongly about providing a sound foundation at the beginning of education for kindergarten and grade one students. At times, her answers got off track and confusing.
Malik Amery introduced himself as a "product of the CBE." With his expertise in finance, Amery offers a business-like approach to the trustee role, expressing his commitment to "allocating resources." He feels that the current group of trustees has "failed to safeguard the image of the CBE" and spoke of offering more public forums like Peter Demong's 'Alder-talk.' Amery was the only candidate that touched on the diversity within wards 12 & 14, recognizing the range of needs from maintenance of schools to the "middle school issue."
Each attending candidate has a website you can visit to obtain more information. Check them out and plan to vote on Monday, October 21. Your child's education is worth the vote.
Amber Stewart: www.stewart4trustee.ca
Christina Steed: www.steed4trustee.ca
Todd Neuman: www.toddneuman.ca
Helen Mowat: www.helenmowat.com
Malik Amery: www.malikamery.com