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Veteran looks for fourth term

Incumbent school board chair Sharel Warrington says not much has changed in the nine years since she was first elected.

Incumbent school board chair Sharel Warrington says not much has changed in the nine years since she was first elected.

"I ran on the importance of our students and support for our students," said Warrington, who is the board's current longest-serving member and is seeking her fourth-straight win on the trustee ballot.

Warrington was a teacher for 30 years, dividing her time between both elementary and secondary schools. "My commitment to students hasn't wavered from the very beginning."

Looking back, Warrington says she didn't realize how diverse the district was, from small urban schools, to rural communities, to the unique requirements of the cash-strapped valley schools in McBride and Valemount, which both fall in District 57.

"We serve a very diverse and complex district, so the responsibility as a governing body is very important."

As elected chair for the past three years, Warrington says voters can trust her experience and leadership. Last election, five of the seven trustees were new, and some of her responsibility as chair was mentoring the fledgling crew.

Warrington also acts as the educational representative for the Northern Interior Branch, a role that requires her to create professional development programs for trustees in its seven districts.

During her trustee tenure, District 57 has faced several financial challenges. In 2010, the board had to balance the books after a $5.2-million shortfall.

"We did that but four years later, we faced another $5-million deficit," she says, referring to 2014. "That sustainability of our programs and services and growing them, that to me is a very, very critical part of what the next board's going to do.

"I don't anticipate there's going to be new money," she says, adding trustees must make tough decisions and challenge the status quo - something she says she doesn't shy away from.

She also counts replacing the aging Duchess Park Secondary School and building Giscome Elementary School as other successes under her watch.

On Nov. 15, Warrington urges voters to consider the 18 trustee candidates as carefully as they would their mayor and councillors.

"We need to talk about why public education is important, " she says. "We can't assume the district knows how to do it perfectly. There has to be good questions asked. The future is built in our classrooms."