Yellowknife school boards elect new trustees

YK1 school board candidates
YK1 school board candidates at a public forum.
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Two Yellowknife school boards elected new sets of seven trustees each on Monday.

The YK1 school board will now feature Terry Brookes, John Stephenson, Duff Spence, Tina Drew, Allan Shortt, Jay Butler and Rajiv Rawat. John Simpson, Satish Garikaparth and Zhong Liu were unsuccessful.

Yellowknife Catholic Schools’ new board includes Erin Currie, John Dalton, Revi Lau-a, Tina Schauerte, Simon Taylor, Steven Voytilla and Miles Welsh. Francis Chang and Amy Simpson missed out.

At a public forum ahead of Monday’s election, YK1 candidates listed more work to improve facilities and better sex education as priorities, while calling on the territory to take more action on fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD).

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“Sex ed is woefully, dreadfully inadequate across the NWT as far as I’m concerned,” said Butler. “My older daughter just finished grade 10 and she thought the sex education was a joke.

“Both my daughters have been through the Foxy program but I 100 percent agree, sex education is just too critical here in the North to be left to chance.”

Spence said “we have to do more” when it comes to bullying in YK1 schools.

“The biggest reasons we’re losing kids is the lack of management of bullying. There are indicators before kids leave the system that there’s a problem,” he said.

Brookes agreed, adding: “We can say zero-tolerance all we want. That’s just words. Kids have to feel confident that if they go to that teacher and they’re being bullied, something will be done.”

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‘Shabby buildings’

YK1 spent much of 2014 and 2015 going through a painfully introspective examination of its facilities, based on an initial request from the territory to consider giving up one of its schools for use by the francophone board.

The status quo prevailed, but Drew said YK1’s buildings need urgent work.

“I do think people judge books by covers and our schools do not look as nice as the other districts’ schools,” she said. “They don’t see the excellent programs, they just look at the shabby buildings.”

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Stephenson, who led that facilities review, said: “YK1 put a lot of work into reviewing the facilities last year and we heard loud and clear that parents and teachers like the way the schools work right now. That’s why we held the line.

“I have a profound confidence in this city. When I arrived 41 years ago, there were 7,000 people living here. It’s going to grow. It’s a great place to live and raise children. The educational system is fantastic.

“I want to make sure we’ve got the facilities in place ready to accommodate those kids that are going to show up.”

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