Municipal Election 2021: High Prairie School Division – Ward 2 – High Prairie

Dustin Burgar

I have lived in High Prairie since 2015 where I consider myself a regular citizen of High Prairie, and I intend to stay in High Prairie. My two children attend HPSD schools and appear to enjoy their time in these schools very much.

Previous to moving to High Prairie, I have lived in various communities such as Red Deer, Lloydminster, Lethbridge, Wainwright, and even the Province of Quebec.

I am currently a Registered Social Worker practicing in our communities. In my day-to-day I have the privilege to engage with services in our communities including our schools under the HPSD. Working with legislation and policy with a focus on the best interest of children and families is not new to me. I believe that clarity in policy is extremely valuable to everyone, especially our school staff that use this policy when interacting with our children on a regular basis.

I believe that the HPSD policy and the HPSD Code of Conduct should compliment the Education Act, as I feel the Education Act is the foundation of everything taking place in the HPSD.

I am an employee of the Alberta government, and it is relevant to note that I will work to remain impartial to provincial policy and strive to follow provincial direction respectfully.

However, when referring to municipal policy I will have an opinion and be a strong voice for our children, families, and our school staff.

To provide some insight on what to expect if I am elected as a trustee for the HPSD, I would strive to see “each student enrolled in a school operated by the board and each staff member employed by the board is provided with a welcoming, caring, respectful and safe learning environment that respects diversity and fosters a sense of belonging” as per the Education Act Section 33(1)(d).

I would encourage thoughtful discussion on this board considering any policy that goes beyond our provincial directive to best ensure that diversity is preserved, especially diversity of thought.

I do not believe our schools is a environment to loosely allow a specific ideology to be promoted, but that our schools should be an environment that allows our youth to truthfully learn about all ideas.

I offer myself as a candidate for a trustee in this election because I feel I would be an asset for our children, our community, and our future.

Tammy Henkel

I am a lifelong residence of the High Prairie community and have previously served on the High Prairie School Division for nine years.

I believe that our future lies in the hands of our children and they must be given every opportunity for success. This can only be achieved through an environment that provides kindness, a passion for learning and a sense community to students and their families.

As a parent of three daughters and being passionate about the value of rural life, there are many hurdles that we face to make sure our students succeed. During my previous role as a trustee there were many initiatives that were initiated and supported by the board and many issues that were brought to the attention of government regarding the ability to provide every opportunity to our students.

There are three critical issues that we are facing today:

Mental Health and Wellness: Mental health is an ongoing concern for school boards across the province and HPSD has recognized the value of this initiative through the formation of the wellness team well over five years ago. While this was a step in the right direction it is evident that rural communities face significant challenges in accessing services for students who need aide beyond the in-house team. Significant wait time for service and services located outside of our local communities is preventing our students from accessing mental services. The change to the Regional Collaborative Service Delivery [RCSD] at the direction of the UCP government has also changed access to speech language and occupational therapists for students. This is just the tip of the iceberg called metal health supports.

Proposed Changes to the Provincial Curriculum: With the introduction of the recently proposed curriculum, it quickly became evident that teachers, parents, school boards and the general public were strongly opposed to both the curriculum itself and the piloting of it through the 2021-22 school year. While the current curriculum is dated and in need of modification to reflect the students of the future, the proposed curriculum is lacking both in content and lack thereof. It will take a large collective voice from everyone concerned to prevent the implementation of something that will set our students back rather than prepare them for a future yet to be seen. Previous experience working with multiple levels of government will help the me to advocate on behalf of students to get a curriculum that supports our students in becoming the adults of tomorrow.

Education Funding: In the nine years I have previously served as a trustee, equitable funding and funding models were regular topics of discussion. There has been a continuous erosion of funding to support rural students. The removal of grants to provide fuel rebates for busing, the change to only provide increased funding for student growth while capping or decreasing funding of other budget areas, and the changes to PUF funding and early childhood supports, are just a few of the ways that rural schools like those in HPSD are struggling to provide equitable service to students. While continuously seeing large increases in expenses such as insurance and fuel, the funds provided to HPSD have not increased relative to cost of providing services in Northern Alberta.

I would be honoured to be provided the opportunity to again help advocate for our students and build relationships within our local communities to see our students succeed.

Jackie Sander

I have always wanted to run for the school board and finally decided that this was the year I would run for our school board.

I have been involved with the public education system for 30-plus years and 20 of them have been in the area. I have been a classroom teacher, vice principal, principal, and pedagogical supervisor.

I have attained a Bachelor of Education from the University of Alberta and a Master of Education from the University of Saskatchewan in Educational Foundations.

I truly believe that “Every Child Matters” and want to give them a voice and representation at the table. I believe that their voices get lost in the system sometimes, and it needs to be heard.

I also believe that the school board must be responsive and receptive to parents, staff, and the community as a whole. There must be open lines of communication between all interested stakeholders, voices heard, and their input and matters of fact must be considered before critical decisions are made

As a board member, one must be trustworthy and willing to build public understanding, support, and participation. We are members of the community that elects us, and as a result, we must be willing to be accessible and collaborate with members of the community.

Everyone has the right to be heard. My efforts would be focused on serving all the children in the community, keeping in mind the principles of equity and equality. We are a diverse community and need to celebrate that diversity to achieve greater unity through this diversity.

It is imperative for public schools to adequately provide for the unique needs of the students they serve, create foundations for equitable access, prepare them for lifelong learning. We are all partners in this together and need to work together to realize the success of our children and our communities.

With my background and knowledge in education, I can help provide the necessary leadership to foster a solid foundation where “Every Child Matters” and help fulfill the long-term vision of the school board. We need to creatively map educational paths that provide the necessary opportunities students need to reach their full potential. A board is responsible for maintaining a structure that supports its vision, empowers its staff, and provides the leadership to carry it out.

By working together, we can share the knowledge that we have provided for the educational needs of all children and have continued to build a district where students, parents, teachers, and all staff feel welcome and a deep sense of belonging.

I ask for your support because I believe it is about time that young children of this district are successfully prepared to become the influential leaders and responsible citizens of tomorrow.

Michael Strebchuk

For those that don’t know me, I am Michael Strebchuk. I was born and raised in High Prairie and graduated from E.W. Pratt High School. I operate a farm west of town with my children. We grow organic crops and raise cattle and the kids raise sheep. I have been involved in High Prairie my whole life.

I currently have three children in our schools and have worked the last six years as a spare and field trip driver. I have enjoyed my time working with extraordinary staff and fantastic students on educational trips and with the sports teams. We need to find ways to broaden these opportunities for our students.

My 30 years of experience serving as executive on a variety of boards such as the Agricultural Society, Alberta Organic Producers Association, the Feeder and Breeder Co-ops, Peace Country Beef and Forage Association, and RDAR have taught me sound fiscal management and the promotion of education and research. I have overseen and managed budgets in the tens of millions of dollars.

Our schools need strong leadership and direction to meet the needs of our diverse population. We need board members who will listen to staff, parents, and students and be their voice in the decision-making process.

I will be that board member. I bring a common-sense approach as well as an empathetic ear to the governance of our schools. We need to find ways to adapt our education system to meet the needs of our students, the abilities of our staff, and the financial constraints of our budget. Retention of staff and students is one of my primary concerns.

Vote for Michael Strebchuk.

Adrian Wong

Hi! I’m Adrian Wong and the current incumbent for HPSD Ward 2 trustee.

I was born and raised in High Prairie, and also did Kindergarten to Grade 12 in the public school system. So I know first-hand what types of challenges there are in rural Alberta education.

My son and daughter also attend public school in High Prairie. I have the highest regard for teachers, administrators and support staff. Their work does not go unnoticed.

I have sat on the school board since 2019, and I have gained huge knowledge regarding our area and education as a whole in Alberta. I want to continue to make a difference in our children’’s education.

During this pandemic, everyone has had to make enormous sacrifices and the schools have had to switch lanes almost daily.

I will strive to always keep the best interests of our students and our staff in the forefront of my mind. As a board member, I am your voice.

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