For the Townsman
After two successful terms as Cranbrook School District 5 Trustee Chris Johns believes he still has work to do for the Cranbrook school community.
“I’ve decided to seek a third term to complete and enhance the goals I set out to accomplish back in 2008,” explained Johns. “That includes keeping an open dialogue with the school community, advocating for adequate school funding and to get a new Mount Baker High School built.”
First elected in 2008 Johns came to the school board after retiring from 36 years as a teacher and 11 years as President of the Cranbrook District Teachers’ Association. Over the past six years he has taken on the role of student-teacher supervisor for the University of Victoria/College of the Rockies Teachers’ Education Program. Since 2004 Johns has also been a Kootenay Ice Billet Family, providing a home for hockey players from across Canada.
Johns feels that his extensive experience as an educator has served the Board well.
“I’ve witnessed firsthand the importance of advocacy and engagement with students, parents, teachers and all of our employees,” explained Johns. “Nobody has all the answers, so I have an obligation, a public trust, to make decisions in a transparent manner while upholding the principles of public education. We make our best decisions when we always engage with those who have a stake in the outcome.”
While Johns feels that the quality of public education is being put at risk with chronic underfunding, he points out that SD5 trustees still fulfill their obligations to balance their budgets every single year.
“It gets harder and harder every year to keep us out of the red,” said Johns. “Provincial funding never keeps up with the inevitable increases in what it costs to run our vehicles, heat and maintain our buildings, and so on. But we are determined to keep the cuts needed to balance the books as far away from the classrooms as possible. And each year we provide government with an objective assessment of the shortfalls.”
While Johns is proud of a number of achievements over the past three years, including no school closures, he is most proud of the over four months of public consultations that he organized to lay the groundwork for replacing Mount Baker High School as a Neighbourhood Learning Centre, incorporating a new Key City Theatre within the design.
“We met one-on-one with over fifty groups in Cranbrook to learn what our community would like to have in a community school, and the decision was to include a performing arts facility,” said Johns. “I’ve been the project lead for SD5, and we’re now at the point where the District, Key City Theatre, the City of Cranbrook and other community partners, including other levels of government, have come together to make the vision into a reality.”
Johns says that there is still a lot of work to be done at SD5 and would be honoured if the citizens of Cranbrook and Area C re-elected him to school trustee.
“We have a new high school to build. We have funding shortfalls to overcome. We need to constantly engage parents, teachers and all of our staff to help us make the best decisions,” said Johns. “I’m up for the challenges and with the support of our community I will keep working hard every day to provide the very best public education for all of our Cranbrook and Area C students.”