This city houses a major business that is ignored by most of us. The only time we pay much attention to what they are doing is when we have a problem, or a beef.
School Distinct 57 follows the boundaries of the Fraser-Fort George Regional District. It stretches from McBride to Valemount. That is a big territory, with a lots of challenges.
The school district has an annual budget in the vicinity of $120 million. That is a fair piece of change in anyone’s world. One way or another, all that money comes out of our pockets.
They are one of the areas largest employers, with about 1,500 people on the payroll. Eight hundred plus of those are teaching staff with the rest filling roles in custodial, maintenance, and other supportive functions. Local businesses also benefit from the supply of materials, services and other necessities needed in the day to day operations.
There are currently some 15,000 students in the system. Each one of them is an individual with different needs and goals. The process of education is a complex one. Teachers need the support and resources that fulfil their efforts. Like with most things, there is never quite enough, but the school board and the administration of the district manage to supply at least an adequate amount of skills, resources and intelligence.
Being a far flung district, there are transportation challenges. Every day of the week, Monday to Friday, 4,000 students in the system ride the bus to and from school. Bus routes total nearly 11,000 kilometres per day, which is equivalent to 110 trips to Vanderhoof or 55 return trips. The district is in the people transportation business in a big way, a fact that is not always recognized by the bureaucrats in the Ministry of Education.
Over the past few years, the board of trustees has been very active in developing partnerships. Working with the University of Northern British Columbia, the College of New Caledonia, the business community and interested individuals, they have developed some positive pathways to post secondary training. The Prince George Construction Association and the College of New Caledonia sponsor a tech fair in order to accommodate secondary student’s opportunities to see what their future may be.
These efforts not only build interest with students, but they also enhance the belief that they should stay in school. School is part of a better future. The mission of the school district is to make all students aware of the opportunities that exist. This is one organization that is critical to the future happiness of thousands of young people. A very big responsibility.
Who have we charged with the future of our children? They are seven dedicated individuals, that quite frankly work their butts off for little remuneration, and less thanks. Here they are and if you know them, heck even if you don’t know them, say thanks.
The current School Trustees are Lyn Hall (chair), Lois Boone (vice chair) Bill Christie (past chair), Naomi Manning, Michelle Marelli, Roxanne Ricard and Sharel Warrington. They have an e-mail contact on the School District 57 website. www.sd57.bc.ca. Courageous individuals they are. They have even listed their telephone numbers.
The education of our children isn’t something we should look at every three years, at election time. We should be aware of what is happening and be prepared to forward our ideas and support to those we have elected to the task.
Victor Bowman was born in Vanderhoof and raised in Prince George. He returned to this city to live 32 years ago and currently operates a consulting business. Please direct comments c/o firstname.lastname@example.org