In the fight for the only contested school board seat in the valley, two candidates differentiated themselves at last week’s all-candidates forum.
Cory Stanbury is challenging incumbent Amber Byklum as the Area 4 School District Trustee for Rocky Mountain School District 6. One defining factor between the two contenders is how they hope to divvy up the boards’s resources.
Mr. Stanbury said the quality of rural schools’ core programming suffers at the expense of the hockey and intensive French programs.
“Hockey and the intensive French program artificially decrease the student population in Canal Flats and Edgewater, with the population per pupil funding following students to other schools,” Mr. Stanbury said. The programs have a negative effect on the school population in outlying communities, he said.
“This fact needs to be acknowledged by the board. Maintaining the quality of our local education system is paramount.”
On the contrary, Ms. Byklum said rural schools will benefit more with those programs.
“Our students who are performing at or above the provincial average can participate in a number of innovative programs, such as hockey academy or the intensive French,” she said. “Our board has always supported teachers’ and support staffs’ professional development and we will continue to encourage these opportunities for collaboration and co-teaching.”
With a background in business, Mr. Stanbury said he’ll find savings that don’t directly impact the classroom, allowing for more teachers and support staff, and better technology. He also said literacy rates should be boosted after plateauing over the past few years.
“I feel that over the past few years that the board and teachers have had a break of trust, and I hope to build that back up,” he said.
In reference to local declining enrolment, Ms. Byklum said this issue is common throughout the province, but is no direct correlation between the quality of a local education system and the size of its student population.