Familiar faces back on board of education

Four incumbents re-elected to SD5 Southeast Kootenay District.

Four incumbents were re-elected to the Southeast Kootenay School District board of education, while a fresh face joined the ranks following the municipal elections on Saturday.

Chris Johns, Gail Brown, Trina Ayling and Patricia Whalen are all returning to the board, while Doug McPhee—a longtime educator and administrator who recently retired—will also join them.

The School District Board features five trustees from the City of Cranbrook and RDEK Area C. Four more are also included from other regional areas and communities, featuring Frank Lento (Fernie-Area A), Bev Bellina (Sparwood-Area A), Curtis Helgesen (Elkford-Area B) and Jacqueline Blumhagen (Area B).

For Ayling and Johns, it will be their third term on the board, while Brown and Whalen are serving their second term, with McPhee coming in as the newest member.

“I’m really excited about the opportunity to serve the citizens of Cranbrook and Area C to go forward with our project for replacing Mount Baker and the Key City Theatre,” said Johns. “We’ve developed some really good partnerships with various representative governments in the area and I’m looking forward to getting that ball rolling in the new year.”

Replacing Mount Baker and the Key City Theatre isn’t just on Johns’ mind.

“I am very happy to continue my work on the school board and on behalf of the school communities in the district. I don’t believe that our focus has changed prior to what it was before the election,” said Ayling.

“Obviously a Mount Baker replacement with a Key City Theatre component is a high priority for us, it does require building on relationships, both current and new.

And making sure we provide quality education to our students.”

Advocating for provincial funding is important to Brown.

“I am just delighted and honoured that I received enough votes to be re-elected and I just thank all of my supporters,” Brown said.

“We’re just working with parents and teachers to provide strong educational opportunities for kids so just exactly what we’ve been working on the past, we’ll continue to do that.

“I am a big proponent of supporting educational funding coming from the Ministry of Education to support the work done in classrooms by teachers, that includes appropriate educational funding that meets the needs of students.”

Whalen is thankful for the support she received and is looking forward to getting back to work.

“I would like to certainly look at supporting our students with special needs—that’s very important and dear to my heart. I want to work with staff to have safe and inclusive schools.

“Bullying prevention is another area that is very important to me so I would like to look at helping support our schools with different initiatives.

“Sports programs, I want to make sure every student who would like to play a sport can play it, and that there’s no barriers holding them from that. I want every student to have that opportunity because being involved in sports is very good for their character.”

For McPhee, after 32 years in the education system, it will be back to familiar territory in serving on the board of education.

“It’s been a great career and most certainly I can bring that experience and my love for education to the board,” McPhee said. “I would like to see the board really work as a team because everybody has strengths and if we play on everybody’s strengths, it’ll be a strong board and it’ll make wise choices for schools and kids.

“That’s my primary focus, to make sure the budget is designed to support kids and support learning and that we encourage the support of all learners—everyone from children who need help to developing new opportunities in terms of new technologies and developing new opportunities in terms of apprenticeship and things like that.”