Sharel Warrington knew running for a fourth term on the Board of Education for School District 57 would demand a lot.
“Four years needs much more commitment,” the current chairperson of the board said. “But there is lots of work to do, and many new challenges.
“The board has started some very important work, and we need to see it through.”
The biggest issue, however, is the same one that board has had for a number of years: funding.
“I don’t believe we are going to see any new provincial funding,” Warrington says. “We will be expected to look within our programs and be innovative in the best way we can to save money.
“The government has downloaded costs onto us, and doesn’t appear willing to give extra funding to cover those costs.”
She said the board has had meetings with local MLAs to emphasize the importance of education.
“We have to let the government know why public education is so important. We have always been asked to deliver academic, physical and intellectual development, and we’re also becoming more responsible for social and emotional learning.”
Warrington feels the board, which had five new members elected in 2011, has done a lot of work in the past three years.
“We’ve worked hard to engage our partner groups more. We hold regular meetings with them to exchange ideas and concerns.”
She says the board has also managed to deliver balanced budgets each year despite the funding crunch, but isn’t sure how long that can continue.
“I’m very concerned about funding. Last year we had a $5.2 million deficit, which we managed to cover by taking money from our surplus, but that’s not sustainable.”
There is a need for the community to become more involved in education, Warrington says, but there are concerns there as well.
“Voter apathy is a serious concern for me. The economic future of the province starts in our schools, and everyone needs to support the system.
“We need to do things differently, but we need the community to be onside.”
While Warrington has served nine years on the board already, she says some things don’t change.
“There’s always learning to be done. The most important thing for trustees to realize is we are the governors of the district.
“We are not the managers.”