The field of candidates is getting defined in the South East Cornerstone Public School Division.
This past week, the final two incumbents who had previously not made their intentions known, have now made their decisions public.
Bruce Wagner, the incumbent in Subdivision 6 which includes schools in Gladmar, Oungre, Ogema, Pangman, Radville and Yellow Grass, said he is preparing to seek re-election while Daryl Harrison, the trustee representing Subdivision 3 which covers Carievale, Carnduff, and Redvers, said he will not be seeking re-election this coming Oct. 24 when civic and school board elections are held across the province.
That means there will be at least one new face at the Cornerstone school board table and perhaps more, although nobody has lined up yet to take on incumbents such as Pam Currie and Janet Foord who are currently represents Estevan and have declared their intention to hold those seats.
The Weyburn city representatives, Bryan Wilson and Len Williams have also declared their intention to stay seated at the table and so far no challengers have emerged for them either.
Cornerstone's board chairwoman, Carol Flynn who represents Subdivision 1 (Moosomin, Rocanville and Wapella) is looking for re-election as is former chairwoman Audrey Trombley who represents Subdivision No. 5 that includes Fillmore, Stoughton and Midale.
Harold Laich, who unseated Shelley Slykhuis in the 2009 election, is seeking re-election in Subdivision 2 (Arcola, Carlyle, Manor, Maryfield, Wawota and Parkland) and Kevin Keating who unseated former trustee Garry Hammett in the same election, is looking to return as a trustee for Subdivision 4 (Alameda, Lampman, Oxbow and Bienfait).
Harrison said there was no particular issue or event that has caused him to arrive at the decision to step down other than the fact that he has been a school trustee for more than 15 years now, and he feels it's a good time to let someone else take over. Harrison has been a trustee for Cornerstone since its inception and had served as a trustee with the Souris Moose Mountain board prior to the amalgamation of the smaller boards into the Cornerstone configuration.
“I was there for the start. We handled a little bit of turmoil at the time, but I was happy to see that our students were not negatively impacted by the changes and everyone persevered and got it done. That was the biggest hurdle,” said Harrison. “I believe the board is heading in the right direction. We serve a large region with several trading areas, so there have been disagreements at times but I have no regrets about things I said or done. We've had split votes, but in the end no one ever held a grudge and I really appreciated the fact that everyone around that table was willing to share their opinions and knowledge which led to healthy discussions.”
Harrison, who has two children who still attend school but not in the subdivision he has represented, said it was time to devote more attention to family.
“I haven't heard of anyone yet who is interested in stepping up to take this on, but now that the information is out there, that could happen quickly,” said Harrison who was re-elected by acclamation in 2009.
“I am definitely going to miss it, not the driving mind you, but the people and the work. It's been a great time,” Harrison said.
Wagner, on the other hand, after contemplating options, said he was willing to stand for re-election.
“We got things started, we're starting some long range planning that I'm interested in. We want to do the best for all the students. We've had some controversies such as with the Lyndale School (Oungre) and Pangman School, but when we've looked at the big picture we've seen that's the only way we can go and be sustainable.”
Wagner said the division can't approach problems on a piecemeal basis and that's why he's interested in the long range plans. He wants to be there to ensure they are affordable and that they serve the students since they are front and foremost in the equation.
“At each point along the way, we have to stop and ask ourselves 'is this good for the students?'” he said.
Wagner added that he felt more “big things” are on their way in the delivery of elementary and secondary education in the province.
“We had one big change with amalgamation and I think it's safe to assume we'll be seeing more as things change in southeast Saskatchewan. There is an increase in population, so how do we manage that? There hasn't been a huge increase in students ... yet, but I expect that will come too. We certainly haven't seen a decrease in the past few years like they have in other parts of the province, so I expect we'll be making changes to accommodate that growth.”
Last year, the division that serves over 8,000 students saw enrolment grow by about 70.
Wagner said the new provincial funding model does have glitches, “but that happens with any new initiative. I expect these things will be ironed out over time and I'd like to be there to help.”
With one seat vacant in the Carievale, Redvers, Carnduff representation area and with the possibility of some incumbents being challenged by newcomers ... there will be some type of election action on the public school board front this fall.