Boundaries and technology hot topics in BRSD trustee election
The race for Battle River School Division Camrose Trustee almost never got to the start line.
The school division needed to extend the nomination deadline for the Oct. 16 election to fill their two spots, and they ended up with three candidates — incumbent Norm Erickson and new comers Natalie Severson and Valerie Sims.
Erickson is a first-term trustee and he sees unfinished business with what he started and the skills has already gained.
“It takes a long time to learn all of the ins and outs … and they kind of put some money into training us, so I think it’s an obligation if you can do a couple of terms and (to keep) continuity,” he said.
The biggest issue he sees is the continued altering of the school zone boundaries which determine which schools students go to. There was a large shift in these boundaries a few years ago and this past month they started a mandatory review of those changes.
“I think last time the board did a really good job of putting together some local meetings with parents and people who were concerned about this,” he said.
“I think they did a really good job. Community engagement was really good.”
The shifting of the zones has caused some consternation among parents like Severson, who has two young girls who go to Jack Stuart School. Through talking with other parents and parent council meetings, she has heard complaints over transportation to these schools and the cost of bussing if you live a certain distance from this school.
For some of the younger students, it’s not appropriate for them to walk certain distances or attempt to cross busy roads, but then bussing costs may not fit in their parents’ budget.
“Not being able to put a child on a bus, if a parent is worried when you have a Grade 1 or 2 child crossing our ring road here, just dangerous spots for younger children to be walking,” she said.
Severson has been active in her girls’ education in classrooms as a volunteer and is concerned over the implementation of technology at some of the younger age levels. It is not a matter of technology being a bad thing, but whether the teachers are being supported enough with resources to teach kids who are five to seven years old how to use Chrome Books and computers.
“Can a teacher in a 20-plus class do this on their own?” she said. “We need either smaller class sizes or more help within the class.”
Further integration of technology in the classroom is something that Sims believes is an asset in the school system. She taught Grades 1 and 2 at Sparling School for 31 years until retiring a couple of years ago.
“[With the new technology] there’s going to be so many more experiences that children can have. I have always thought the more experiences they have, the better they learn from that,” said Sims. “Now there is going to be so much more openness with the technology, they can do virtual field trips and things like that.”
Sims also said with new research always coming out about how people learn, there should be more of an emphasis on alternate forms of education, as opposed everybody learning the same way.
“ I think we need to consider what the research is telling us and to think about alternative ways to accommodate for different learning styles,” she said.