Raquel Beitz hopes to take the one seat representing Ward 6 and Puslinch on the Upper Grand District School Board from the present incumbent.
1) In 100 words or less, what’s your main reason to run for school trustee?
It’s time for a fresh voice on the UGDSB to prepare students for a rapidly changing world. I have been a resident of Guelph for over 14 years. I’ve worked for OMAFRA, Agricorp, and the University of Guelph which gave me strong experience in administration and finance. I have volunteered for 14 years helping low income individuals complete their income tax returns. As a parent I want the best for not only my children but for all students in the school system. I am running to make a difference and enact policies that are good for students.
2) What is the role of school board trustee as you understand it?
School board trustees set policies and budgets for schools in its district to follow, while making sure that the policies are best for students. Trustees are accountable to the public on the decisions they make. They need to bring the perspectives of students, parents, teachers and the public into the decision-making process. I also feel that trustees need to build strong a relationship with the Ministry of Education and work together to better the lives of students.
3) How do you think the relationship currently stands between the Ontario government and your school board?
I’m willing to work with any government that is voted in and I will advocate for policies that are in the best interest of the students.
4) The mental health of young people is a growing priority; how will you help insure that schools get the resources they need to address this important issue?
There is an anti bullying program and staff resources available at schools to provide help. However, I think there is always more we can do to boost mental health literacy, improve access to resources and eliminate social stigmas associated with mental health issues. As trustee, I would advocate for additional funds and resources to help tackle this issue. I would push for the board to build strong partnerships with the Canadian Mental Health Association and the Province so we have a strong set of resources for students, parents and teachers.
5) Guelph will continue to grow in the next 20 years, where and when should the priority be for new school construction?
As trustee, I would work with the City of Guelph and Township of Puslinch so that we can anticipate where there will be further growth and make plans for school construction. The south end of Guelph is expected to see significant residential growth and a new high school is being proposed in the area.
6) While mayor and council candidates talk about city infrastructure, let’s talk about the infrastructure of our schools. How do our school buildings fare? Are they accessible enough? Are there enough resources to address repairs? Et cetera.
My understanding is that the UGDSB is doing a good job at maintaining infrastructure and ensuring schools are accessible. As in any building, there needs to be regular maintenance of the schools to make sure that they are safe and accessible to create a good learning environment for students.
7) What can the school board do to give teachers the resources to improve how students learn in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) courses?
We need to prepare our students for the high-tech jobs of tomorrow. That will require making sure teachers are equipped and have the resources they need. As trustee, I would want to encourage teachers to build their STEM knowledge as part of their professional development.
8) What’s an example of something that Guelph schools are doing well versus schools in other board jurisdictions?
The school board has been doing a good job at promoting student well being such as organizing Empowerment Day, increasing understanding of indigenous cultures and improving inclusiveness.
9) FRENCH IMMERSION: If you’re running in the Upper Grand District School Board, how do you think the board has handled the pressure of demand for French Immersion? If you’re running in the Wellington Catholic District School Board, should the board be looking at developing its own French Immersion programs to help relieve the pressure?
The French Immersion stream is experiencing growing pains across the province as boards struggle to find teachers and space to meet demand. École Arbour Vista Public School was recently built to help alleviate the pressures of demand for French immersion. However, they are at capacity and the board will need to look at opening another school for French immersion to help with the demand.
10) There’s a political question about dissolving the Catholic and separate school board system and creating one school board, what’s your opinion on the issue?
Having school boards for the Catholic and public systems works well. The specific needs for each are met by their own respective school board.
11) Is there an issue concerning education or public schools you feel needs more attention? What is it, and why?
I want to make sure that there is additional support for students that don’t have an Individual Education Program (IEP) but may need some additional help from time to time during their time at school.
Also the legalization of marijuana is on the horizon this October. I propose that there should be additional educational sessions for high school students so they have all the information about the harmful effects of marijuana use in the teen years.
12) For someone that doesn’t have kids in school, why should they care about who’s running for school board?
Well educated students result in healthier, happier communities, and will improve life for all citizens living in Guelph and Puslinch.
13) Where can people learn more about you, or your campaign, and how can they get in touch with you?
I can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To learn more about me and my campaign please visit my website www.raquelbeitz.com