Foothills trustees race a matter of choice
Election 2013: Incumbent stands on record, challenger wants change
By: Bruce Campbell
| Posted: Wednesday, Oct 16, 2013 11:03 am
When it comes to deciding who will represent the High Country area on the Foothills School Division’s board of trustees residents have to answer one question, are they happy with the way things have been done for the past 15 years, or is it time for a change?
Ward 1 incumbent Jerry Muelaner, who has had the seat since 1998, is being challenged by Jeannine Tucker, who runs the canteen at Oilfields High School in Black Diamond and is a former education assistant with the school division.
For Muelaner, he stands by his record as a trustee in Ward 1.
“When I talked to residents, they tell me: ‘We’ve got to keep this thing going,’” Muelanaer said. “Our accountability pillar, there is no other school division in the province that can match it.”
The pillar takes in account the satisfaction level of students and parents in regards to safe and caring schools. It also looks at a division’s drop-out rates and results in provincial tests.
“I don’t want to fix anything, I just don’t want to derail it,” he said.
He said an experienced member on the board is needed at this time.
“There are too many potential landmines and we don’t want to disrupt education,” Muelaner said. “We have the situation in High River and we have to replace a superintendent and by 2014, we will likely need a deputy superintendent… Hiring a superintendent was the most stressful thing I went through other than a three-day strike with the ATA in 2002.”
Tucker is a graduate of Foothills Composite High School and currently has a daughter attending Oilfields High School.
She said she feels there are issues and it is time for a change.
“Cutbacks, cutbacks, cutbacks are killing everybody,” Tucker said. “My own daughter’s English class here (Oilfields) has 39 kids. That makes it hard to learn.”
She said one of the issues she has heard from residents was their voices were not being heard, citing the realignment of Oilfields and C.I. McLaren schools nearly a decade ago.
“There are still people talking about it,” she said.
The candidates agree something has to be done about the school division office, which was devastated by the flood.
“If we build in High River or do we go somewhere else,” Tucker said. “I have heard there is land near Highwood High School (in High River ) that has been proposed. I have also heard land is available in Aldersyde… I don’t think they need to think about going back to where they were. I think Aldersyde is more central and really there isn’t much chance of flooding in Aldersyde.”
Muelaner said Foothills had outgrown its building and was in need of a new facility prior to the facility being pulverized by the June 20 flood.
He said he prefers to keep the building in High River, possibly with a partnership with the Town of High River and/or the MD of Foothills.
“Our first choice has always been rebuilding in High River,” he said. “We need a bigger office period. We have people all over the place. We would like to have a facility where maintenance, tech services are at one office.”
Muelaner said he is enthused to see the growing number of young families in the Black Diamond-Turner Valley.
He said Longview, which has an enrolment of 55 students, continues to hold its own. He said there have never been talks of closing the school in Longview.
Tucker said she also wants to ensure students are ready for the ever-changing world.
“Every kid in a classroom can access knowledge on a Smartphone — a teacher’s job is to help those kids use that knowledge,” she said. “We need to be on top of that and they (students) are getting the direction they need.”
The public is invited to attend round-table discussions with the Ward 1 candidates on Oct. 16 at Sheep River Library in Turner Valley from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.