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CANDIDATE FORUM: School board trustees

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This week, The Journal features the men and women seeking to represent the Sarnia area as trustees on the four publicly-funded school boards.

Lambton Kent District School Board

Sarnia and Point Edward (3 to be elected)

 Ian Cryer

Ian Cryer

My highest priority is to ensure that the best possible decisions are made at the board level to make the most efficient use of the funding provided by the Province to the Board.  This means that it is important for me to know the schools, especially in Sarnia and Point Edward, to understand the education system both locally and provincially, and finally to apply that knowledge to every decision that is made by the Board of Education.

It is also vital that I, as a trustee, be available to parents, to communicate clearly with them in order to understand their concerns and ultimately to find solutions to those concerns. Trustees must function within the parameters set down by the Province of Ontario, while at the same time following the Policies and Procedures established by the Lambton Kent District School Board. Ultimately trustees make decisions not just for an individual school but also for the entire system of schools, both elementary and secondary, throughout Lambton Kent.

Dave Douglas: Did not participate

Jack Fletcher

Jack Fletcher


Education is our best investment in the future of our young people, our community and our country. As a trustee, long time educator, Rebound volunteer and grandfather of four children in our public school system, I have the experience, time and interest to be an effective trustee for our community.

When trustees make their decisions on any number of issues, we must first consider what the impact will be on students and their parents.

We must make certain that there is equal opportunity to learn for all students, which includes students with learning challenges. I am concerned as to how the government funds our special needs support system and will be working with the Board to lobby the government to change their funding formula.

We need to bring respect back into the equation at all our schools – respect for self, other students, parents and those in positions of authority. WE must include parents as much as we can in dealing with this challenge, which will help us deal with a lot of issues, including bullying.

Underlying all of these issues is the need to ensure quality even though there are budget constraints.

 Elizabeth Hudie

Elizabeth Hudie

As a previous elementary teacher, parent and grandparent, I have a keen interest in education and youth. I believe it’s the responsibility of the school board to ensure that students of varying abilities are afforded equal opportunities for academic success. I have an interest in special education and since 2005 have been a member and now vice-chair of the Special Education Advisory Committee.

I am supportive of the Board’s three-year technology initiative that will ensure our students are not left behind in our ever-changing world. Ensuring our schools are safe, accessible and welcoming to our parents and community partners is critical to the success of our students.

I believe we must be fiscally accountable and ensure our budget is balanced with the least impact on the programs and services provided to our students. Initiating partnerships and recruiting international students not only provides additional sources of revenue but also provides our students an opportunity to understand the rapidly changing global society in which they will be expected to compete.

I have thoroughly enjoyed representing the families in Sarnia, Bright’s Grove and Point Edward over the past nine years and believe I have displayed an ability to accept and meet challenges and resolve issues in a positive manner. I hope I will be fortunate enough to have your support for another term.

 Glen MacKinnon: Did not participate


St. Clair Catholic District School Board

 Sarnia and Point Edward (2 to be elected)

Robert Clark

Robert Clark

The Catholic School Board has to recognize that all its children are created equal. It has to be the policy of the board in all its operations an environment, which supports and enables diversity within the

Catholic community. We must recognize that any form of social or culture discrimination is incompatible with Catholic principles and would be considered against the Human Rights Code. The Board has to recognize that the school system gives pre-eminence to the Catholic faith.

The biggest priority for the school board in today’s society is the lack of activity within the Catholic faith itself. There seems to be no urgency within the church to attend mass. We must begin with the parents. This is where it begins. If the parents don’t see an urge to attend mass then why should our children. There seems to be so many activities in today’s world but can’t we see an hour out of our day to go to mass. If we make it a priority then the children will follow. It all starts with the parents.

I feel that I would be the best candidate for this position because I learned from my father who was a trustee for 12 years. He taught me the principles of this job and what it entails to do the job correctly and efficiently.

Michelle Parkes

Michelle Parks

Special education is near and dear to my heart and covers an enormous spectra of issues: Mental Health, equipment needed for special education (ie: laptops, hearing systems etc.), programming and curriculum, support staff etc. I, along with my fellow trustees, am constantly lobbing the government for more funding for special education. Mental Health alone could use so much more funding and should be a whole separate envelope of funding.

The other funding issue is around technology. It is very important to me that our board is teaching in a 21st century learning style. Equipment is outdated so quickly that ensuring we have the proper equipment to teach our children is critical.

Therefore ensuring that our schools are at full capacity is key to ensuring that our children are receiving the best possible education. We have been very proactive in this area and I am pleased that all of our Catholic Schools here in Sarnia are above the 80 percent threshold.

Stéphane Thiffeault

Stéphane Thiffeault

I believe that innovation is the St. Clair Catholic District School Board’s biggest priority.

Our economy and society is undoubtedly changing at a face pace and our Board needs to respond accordingly.

To foster and sustain a high performing public education system our Board must be committed to innovation and fresh ideas in many areas of its operations including, by way of example: investing in modern student and classroom technology; offering and providing timely and contemporary professional development opportunities for educators; entering into strategic administrative partnerships to maximize resources; and creating opportunities for recent graduates and educators through the use of progressive, alternative work arrangements and sound succession planning.

Innovation leads to greater accountability, and accountability leads to a better education system. In my mind, collaboration and innovation – along with fiscal prudence and forethought – will better position the Board for the future, particularly in light of declining enrolment and resources. I am committed to public service and continuous improvement.  I bring significant governance and management experience gained from both the public and private sectors and a holistic view to problem solving.

As a practising corporate lawyer, I am quite comfortable with the regulatory environment in which the Board operates and tackling the difficult issues. But more importantly, if elected, I would bring new ideas, a fresh perspective and a different outlook.

 Linda Ward

Linda Ward

There are two big priorities facing all school boards at this time: mental health issues and declining enrolment. As your trustee I have worked with our board to maximize our resources.

Our board consolidated empty pupil spaces and closed empty schools.  This gave our board the money and resources to modernize our existing schools and invest in various supplies and equipment to enhance our student’s educational experience.

I am part of a board that has formed partnerships with our coterminous board and many agencies in both Lambton and Kent County. Through the partnership we have shared professional development in mental health issues, identifying suicide signs in our students, and building resilience in our students.

This consortium also does large joint purchasing and shared banking. This has saved our board literally millions of dollars, which we have redirected back into programs and services for our students.

My fellow trustees from the St Clair, London District and Windsor Essex Catholic School Boards elected me to be their Director on the Ontario Catholic School Trustees Association. (OCSTA) Where funding, curriculum and teacher contacts are controlled by the province, I am able to bring forward challenge and issues that our board faces.

As your trustee, I will continue to ensure our students reach their full potential in a Christ infused atmosphere.


Conseil Scolaire Viamonde (French public)

Pierre Lambert – Acclaimed


Conseil Scolaire Catholique Providence (French Catholic)

Marc Allard – Acclaimed


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