Calgary Public School Board Welcomes Six New Trustees

Struggling Calgary school board will only see return of incumbent Marilyn Dennis as six of seven trustees will be new faces

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The Calgary Public School Board will see a group of newcomers – including a surprise replacement for incumbent Althea Adams – as school trustees face difficult challenges from the pandemic to increasingly underfunded classrooms overcrowded.

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Coventry Hills volunteer mother Laura Hack took Adams’ seat in the unexpected victory on Monday night and will be the new administrator for Wards 3 and 4, representing much of the North West.

Hack has led a strong grassroots campaign, arguing for better public funding, smaller class sizes, and stricter COVID security protocols.

“Parents like me would like to see caps on class sizes so that we know our children are spending quality time with their teachers. It’s our job as trustees to advocate for adequate funding to make sure this happens.

Hack is also advocating for stronger partnerships with the province to ensure students are protected from COVID-19.

“We need a ventilation plan, a masking plan and a plan to work with AHS when the time comes for parents to choose to immunize their children effectively.”

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Adams did not respond to Postmedia calls on Monday evening, but said during his campaign that advocacy for students was always a priority.

Thanks to retirements and a controversial resignation, the struggling Calgary School Board will only see the return of incumbent Marilyn Dennis as six of the seven trustees will be new faces.

Dennis, a serious contender as a former president, advocating for fairness in the classroom, easily won his various 5 and 10 North East wards.

As the only returning admin, Dennis admitted that on top of all the ongoing challenges, the CBE will also need to do a fair amount of work to upgrade up to six newbie admins.

“New administrators will need time to familiarize themselves with the issues, get their direction in terms of learning the role of an administrator, what it means to be an administrator.

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“And as a board, we’ll have to spend some time deciding what our priorities should be,” Dennis said.

“We have big problems ahead of us. The pandemic is not over, we are dealing with a new program, but also flat provincial funding where student enrollments have continued to increase. “

Dennis led the charge last month by demanding that the province re-establish contact tracing in a letter to Education Minister Adriana LaGrange.

Calgary Board of Trustees Chair Marilyn Dennis speaks to the media.
Calgary Board of Trustees Chair Marilyn Dennis speaks to the media. Photo by Azin Ghaffari / Postmedia

New faces on the board will also include Dana Downey in Wards 1 and 2, a former teacher who says administrators must provide “courageous and insightful leadership” to ensure strong COVID security protocols.

“At first, I will advocate for improved ventilation systems, school vaccination programs, hand washing and disinfection, use of face masks, increased cohort and cleaning protocols.”

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In wards 6 and 7, vacated by Lisa Davis after her resignation in January 2020, Patricia Bolger will take her place, bringing a rich educational experience as a teacher at the Werklund School of Education at the University of Calgary.

Bolger says that in addition to strong COVID security protocols, she will advocate for increased funding from the province to ensure class size reduction.

“Trustees need to ensure that adequate funding is directed to large public school boards to reduce class sizes from an education and safety perspective or from COVID.”

Ward 8 and 9 saw the tightest race of the night when project consultant Susan Vukadinovic appeared as the unofficial winner with a slight margin of 400 votes, ahead of David Barrett, who showed up on a platform anti-racism and reconciliation.

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In wards 11 and 13, familiar face Nancy Close won hands down. Close has a wealth of political experience, working with outgoing Mayor Naheed Nenshi over the past decade, and also serving on the board of CBE as a director between 1999 and 2007.

Close says her priorities are strong public funding, keeping downtown schools open and supporting student mental health.

“The pandemic has revealed that children face many complex and often intersecting challenges. The CBE needs to partner with other governments and agencies to overcome these barriers and meet the needs of students.

Wards 12 and 14 saw community volunteer Charlene May easily outrun four other candidates to represent the Deep South.

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