Incumbent sees opportunity

After six years as a school board trustee, Trish Bella still has a contagious enthusiasm for the job.

"I think that with the right dynamics we're going into a four-year term with an agreement in place for teachers and CUPE," Bella said. "We have a really great opportunity now to do some fabulous work on behalf of the students in the district; get together, get a united voice going and let's get into some serious education work, which excites me."

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The two-term School District 57 trustee is aiming for re-election on Nov. 15.

First elected in 2008, Bella has fostered a strong connection with schools and the education community ever since her daughter entered the school system.

Prior to getting elected, Bella was a parents advisory council chair who led a movement that consolidated fundraising and designing for more than 20 new playgrounds across the district.

Looking ahead, Bella said the school board now has the chance to seriously address and advocate for a solution to their funding challenges.

"We have to address the fact we are second from the bottom for per pupil funding and that it's simply not enough," she said. "You step out of the board office, you have four hours in one direction to the one border, you have two hours up to the other and you have every configuration of school inside our boundaries from the school that is the large - maybe more inner city school - to rural education where you're trying to make sure each of the communities have the opportunity to be the best they can be."

Bella has also served on the provincial B.C. School Trustees Association, but said she didn't run again for a seat on the board of directors so that she could spend more time with the local schools.

The school board often gets less attention than the other bodies holding civic elections, but what the public needs to understand is that K-12 public education is the cornerstone of society, Bella said.

"Quality accessible public education - that is the foundation. And I think that the strike action of late has gotten that out into the community more," Bella said. "With campaigning, you hear a lot of times people will say 'I don't vote for board' or 'I don't get involved with it because I don't have kids in the system,' but you should really be concerned about it because this is your society."

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