Voters go to the polls on Oct. 20 to elect local civic leaders and school trustees.
The Kootenay-Columbia School District has one seat representing Rossland on its board, and two candidates vying for it. We gave the trustee candidates a list of five questions, and asked them to explain their positions in their own words. Their responses are below.
1. Who are you?
Desiree Profili — I was born and raised in Rossland, attended MacLean Elementary and then RSS. After high school I completed a bachelor of natural resource science from TRU in Kamloops and then went on to become a paramedic and an instructor for the Justice Institute of BC. But more than any of that I am a single mom of two young kids that are just starting into the school system of SD20.
Gord Smith— I was born and raised in Toronto and attended Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, where I earned a degree in political science. I came to Rossland to ski and that weeklong stay is now in its twenty-fourth year and counting. My wife and I have two children. Our son attended MacLean, RSS and JL Crowe. Our daughter attended MacLean, RSS and is now in Grade 9 at JL Crowe. I work for Telus Communications as a district network manager for the B.C. Southern Interior region.
2. What qualities do you possess that would make you a good school board trustee?
Desiree Profili— The biggest thing that will make me a good school board trustee is that I have a vested interest in seeing things change for the better in SD20. My children’s educational experience is at stake. I am open minded and willing to put in the time and effort it will take to learn what local families want and need to make the district the best it can be for children.
Gord Smith—For the last 16 years I have had the privilege of serving as municipal councillor, mayor and board of education trustee for the City of Rossland. As a trustee for School District No. 20 I have served as a board chair, vice-chair and chair of the Human Resources Committee. During this time I have studied policy administration, strategic HR management and am currently halfway through an executive MBA program at the University of Victoria. The qualities I bring to the Board include a passion for learning and extensive leadership experience in both the private and public sector.
3. What do you see as the biggest issue facing the Kootenay-Columbia School District and how would you address it?
Desiree Profili—The biggest issue I see in SD20 is schools that are over capacity while new buildings are underused or sold off to balance the budget. As I said earlier, I am new to this so I would address it by starting discussions and bringing new fresh ideas to the table.
Gord Smith—The biggest issue we face is the acquisition and ongoing development of teachers. In the past few years there have been significant changes that have impacted our schools. These include the introduction of the new B.C. curriculum, the restoration of contract language that mandates the hiring of hundreds of teachers across the province, and the role that technology has in the classroom. Supporting new and existing teachers in our district requires sustained funding in teacher development and peer-to-peer coaching. I hope to continue being a strong advocate for helping teachers make the classroom experience the best it can be.
4. What, if anything, do you think has to change at the school district?
Desiree Profili—I think the school district needs to revisit some past options like a four-day school week and it needs to be more open to embracing alternative programs to attract students to the region.
Gord Smith—There is an opportunity to improve communication between schools, students and parents. Currently schools primarily communicate to parents by an online newsletter. Students would benefit from their parents having a better understanding of the curriculum, being keenly aware of their child’s progress, and developing a more collaborative relationship with teachers. The school district lacks a communication plan that can bring schools, teachers, students and parents closer together to help support the educational journey of our learners throughout the district.
5. What do you hope to accomplish by the end of your term?
Desiree Profili—Realistically, by the end of my term I hope to be better educated in the inner workings of the school district and have a firm grasp of the responsibilities that go along with being a school trustee. As well, I hope to be able to start discussions that will lead to change in the district and work as a team with the staff and the rest of the school board to put SD20 on a path to a future that doesn’t see our kids’ computer labs and music rooms removed from school, and that puts our children in safe buildings without leaking roofs and exposed gas pipes.
Gord Smith—The board has several important initiatives that I hope to contribute to during the next term. One of the most important is the finalization of the long-range facilities plan. I want to ensure that RSS remains a K-9 school with great programs, services and electives. Our community needs influential leadership to build collaborative relationships with other trustees, while strongly advocating for the needs of our community. I am very proud to call Rossland home, and hope to continue contributing to its vitality and sustainability.