Saturday, July 28, 2007

Community Use to Save Schools

The School Board says it can't afford to keep schools open with low enrolment, but it seems to me that they've never really considered other sources of income. Renting schools during the summer months, weekends and after-hours could generate the needed shortfall to keep schools open. There are so many wonderful resources within a school: gymnasiums are obvious, but computer labs, art rooms, music rooms, even the staff rooms can be used by groups and organizations. I could see seniors updating their computer skills, immigrant families taking ESL classes in their own community, at risk youth playing late night basketball, clubs holding their weekly meetings and young mothers receiving parenting support. The current booking system needs to be changed, to make it more user-friendly. Principals and teaching staff need to be educated on the benefits of community use and the cost of the custodian needs to be factored into the rental agreement. But these are all minor adjustments in the face of the upheaval and community damage done by closing a school. There are always alternatives.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Partnering Seniors and Schools

Seniors and schools could work well together. Most families have two parents that work, so trying to arrange time off to go on fieldtrips or help out in the classroom is difficult. Seniors have more time available during school hours. As well, seniors have the knowledge and experience that could really bring history alive for students. In turn, schools have great resources like new computer labs that could be of benefit to seniors. Perhaps the kids teach the seniors how to design a webpage and the seniors teach the kids how things were done "in their day." A mutually beneficial relationship is a longer lasting one and I think schools have something to offer to seniors and visa versa.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Greatest Failure --- Eight Percent

I was reading a newspaper article in the airport which stated that the provincial high school completion rate for aboriginal teens is "about eight percent." I was shocked. This is an abhorrent failure. I don't know what is being done to help aboriginal students, but clearly it's not working. I would like to work with aboriginal leaders and elders to develop a clear plan to improve these rates.

Some other appalling stats:

"In Canada, the aboriginal teen suicide rate is three times the national average."
"In Alberta, 33% of all youth remanded in custody are aboriginal even though they make up only 6% of the youth population."

Education is the key to open the doors for a brighter future.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Website launch

I just previewed the website. It looks fantastic. Thank you David at Emergence by Design. It will be up with the next day... check it out:

I also have a superb leaflet and ad design ready to roll. Thank you Dave Jackson at the Wired Cup.

Lucky me!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Cash-seeking Cassandra

Cassandra and I met today to discuss our fundraising strategy for the campaign. It all felt very official--- handing over the receipt book, the deposit book and banking information for the "Sue Huff Campaign" chequing account. She wants to plan a couple of fund-raising events for August and September. Should be fun and a great way to meet more people.

Cassandra, if you don't already know, is a mighty dynamo of energy and commitment. I feel very fortunate to have her on my side!

I'm off to Toronto and Montreal for a family holiday, returning on July 31. I'm going to try hard not to do any Trustee work while I'm away.

Stay cool!!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Maps, maps and more maps

I've started printing maps of the neighbourhoods in Ward C. These will be used for leaflet drops and my own personal door-knocking. My lovely sister has agreed to coordinate all this in her kitchen.

I found the 2004 voter turnout list on the city's website. It tells you what the turnout was in the last election for each polling station. By cross-referencing the turnout with the ward map, I can start to focus my efforts. But everything ground to a screeching halt because the numbers don't match. It turns out the city has renumbered most of the polling stations. I've since found the document explaining the new numbering system and so now I will cross reference all three documents.

No one said it was going to be easy!!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

What the heck does a Trustee do???

It's been something I've been asked a lot, already. Most people have no idea, which is sad statement in itself.

I see the job involving three main responsibilities:
1) to be in contact with the Ward they represent, to hear what people's concerns are and to take these forward to the Board.
2) to examine the policies, actions, protocols and budgets presented by the administration to be sure they are in the best interest of children
3) to be a strong and passionate advocate for education to other levels of government, the media and the public in general.

On a side note, I think to do the job, you need to form working relationships with a lot of people: the other Trustees, the administration, parents, Principals and teachers, the ATA, CUPE, city councillors, community leagues, seniors, the media, MLA's and the Minister of Education, advocates ... the list is long.

Ray Martin described the job well: "It's what you make it."

Friday, July 13, 2007

Catherine the Great

Today I met with another Trustee hopeful: Catherine Ripley. She's running in Ward H. Three years ago, she ran for Trustee and very nearly won. She was very generous in sharing her campaign tips to me. We found that we share a lot of the same beliefs and values (and a similar sense of humour!). I know we could accomplish a lot together. I hope I have the chance to work with her!

Hot day out today...hope you kept your cool.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Two Designers named Dave Donating

I've sent off my stuff to the two fabulous fellas who have agreed to donate designs for my campaign. This is an enormous help and I'm most grateful.

Dave Boroditsky at Emergence by Design (124 St. and 102 Ave.) is setting up a website for me. Dave Jackson from Wired Cup (91 street and 94 Ave.) is putting together a design for my leaflet.

Both designs will use the colour green and have circles somewhere. Ah, the circle! So round, so inclusive, so child-friendly.


Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Family affair

My nephew and son painted a huge sign yesterday for the front lawn. My niece wants to make up t-shirts and my daughter wrote her own message to send out:

Hello, my mom is running for trustee. I am really trying to encourage you to vote for her. I think she is truly the very BEST choice. Her slogan is…Putting Kids First. I think that is a wonderful slogan, and she will make a great….. Well, let me rephrase that….. She will make the best trustee EVER!!!!!!! Oh, I also forgot to tell you….. She spearheaded the saveing my school from shutting down she can do it again!!!!!!!
Yours truly,
p.s. her name is Sue Huff so please vote for Sue Huff

I think maybe she's a little biased but, hey, she's nine.


Tuesday, July 10, 2007

July 10, 2007

Last week, I decided to run for School Board Trustee. The leap from acting to politics may seem unexpected, but I guess if the States can do it, so can we!

I'm going to attend the Rapid Transit meeting at City Hall this afternoon. The parents in Grovenor are concerned about the effect that a six-lane street with buses roaring down it will have on their community school. I've long maintained that more cooperation needs to exist between city planning and school planning.

I'll bring you up-to-date on everything that's happened over the past week. It's been a whirlwind already.