SD 57 Candidate Questions: Sarah Holland |

  1. Why are you running for school trustee?

I am running for the role of school trustee because I am passionate about the education and wellbeing of all students in our district. I’ve lived in Prince George for over 25 years, and have two daughters who both graduated from SD57. I’ve seen firsthand the impact of quality education, and the impact of having caring adults in our schools for our children. I am committed to ensuring that our schools provide an environment that encourages and nurtures learning for all students.

Having served as Chair of the District Parent Advisory Council, I’ve gained firsthand experience in dealing with district policies, participating in board and committee meetings with various partner groups, and understanding the roles and responsibilities of a trustee. In addition, I have dealt extensively with catchment questions and capacity issues. This involvement has given me a solid understanding of the district and its needs.

My professional qualifications as a financial planner, along with my personal experiences, equip me well for the role of school trustee. I have skills in budget management and financial oversight, both of which are critical in governing the school district’s $187 million budget. My professional experience gives me a unique perspective on fiscal responsibility and the financial challenges a district can face.

I am committed to fostering a culture of collaboration and respect on the board, and I believe transparency is vital in building trust within the community. I am excited about the opportunity to use my knowledge and experience to contribute to the success of our students and schools. I feel my knowledge of this district, commitment to integrity, and dedication to transparency make me a strong candidate for the SD57 School Board Trustee position.

  1. Do you support sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) education in B.C.? Why or why not?

Yes, I support sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) education in B.C. schools. Education is a powerful tool for understanding and acceptance, and including SOGI in the curriculum can contribute to a more inclusive and respectful learning environment.

Firstly, SOGI education can help reduce bullying and discrimination by fostering understanding, respect, and acceptance among students.

Secondly, for students who identify as LGBTQ+, SOGI education can provide affirmation and representation, helping these students feel seen and understood. This can have a significant positive impact on their mental health and academic success.

Lastly, SOGI education prepares all students to participate in a diverse and inclusive society. Understanding and respecting differences is a crucial part of becoming a responsible and empathetic citizen.

The goal of SOGI education isn’t to promote a particular lifestyle or belief, but to educate students about diversity and respect for all individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

  1. What does School Board transparency mean to you? How will you work to make sure school board activities are transparent for stakeholders and the public?

School Board transparency, to me, means open, clear, and timely communication of the board’s activities, decisions, and policies to all stakeholders and rights holders, including parents, teachers, students, and the general public. It involves being accountable for the decisions made, and ensuring the community understands the reasoning behind these decisions.

Here are a few ways I plan to enhance transparency if elected as a School Board Trustee:

Regular communication: I will advocate for regular updates to the public through responding to media, the district website, social media, and community meetings.

Open meetings: Board meetings should be open to the public, and the minutes should be made readily available. I support continued live streaming and recording of meetings, so those unable to attend in person can still stay informed.

Active engagement and community consultation: I will seek input from students, parents, teachers, and community members on significant decisions.

Clear rationale for decisions: When the board makes a decision, I believe it’s important to provide a clear explanation of why that decision was made. This helps people understand the thought process behind each decision and see that it was made with the best interests of the students and district in mind.

I hope to build a bridge of trust and mutual understanding between the School Board and the community, ensuring everyone feels heard, valued, and well-informed.

  1. What are the top three issues facing students?

Students have far more than three important issues facing them – I’ve chosen to expand on these particular three issues, although others are crucial as well.

Mental Health: The mental health of students is a growing concern, exacerbated by the pandemic. Students are experiencing increased stress, anxiety, and other mental health issues. It’s crucial to provide adequate mental health support, including access to counsellors and mental health education.

Safety, Equity and Inclusion: All students deserve a safe, supportive learning environment, regardless of their race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, or disability. However, discrimination and inequity persist, and it’s essential to continually work towards more inclusive and equitable school environments. This includes improving access to resources, enhancing representation, and addressing discrimination. Students should feel safe and have caring adults supporting them in their school community.

Changes to Education: Technology is changing the way we work, interact, and learn. However, schools often lag behind in integrating technology into the classroom effectively. Both students and teachers have varying levels of comfort with digital tools, and students have unequal access to technology.

  1. Is the school district doing enough to prepare students for success following graduation? If not, what could it do better to prepare students?

I would like to review what data is being collected regarding how our students are doing after graduation, as this may be valuable in assessing how this district is doing.

The district is certainly taking measures to prepare students for life after graduation, but there’s always room for improvement. It’s important to remember that preparing students for success means equipping them not only with academic knowledge, but also with practical skills, emotional resilience, and career readiness.

Some of the areas to examine, to see how the district is doing, would be:

Career counselling effectiveness
Real-world learning experiences, such as internships, job shadowing, etc
Financial literacy education
Access to both advanced and vocational courses
The district offers some very valuable dual credit programs, which would be of benefit to expand to even more students.

By sarah