St. Albert Public parents will get to vote for at least two new trustees this fall now that the board’s current chair has stepped out of the electoral race.
St. Albert Public School Board chair Glenys Edwards told The Gazette this week that she would not seek re-election this fall.
“I just decided I needed to step away and leave the board in new hands,” she said, adding that she felt ready to take on some new challenges after eight years as a trustee.
Edwards was first elected as trustee in 2013, having previously spent about 35 years as a teacher, principal, and associate superintendent with St. Albert Public.
Edwards said she sought to cultivate a collaborative culture while in office and spent much of her time managing the district’s rapid growth.
“We are one of the fastest-growing divisions in the province,” she said, and adding the division is showing no signs of slowing down.
Edwards saw the district gain some 2,000 students and three new schools in her time in office. She spoke with pride about being with the board in 2013 when it became one of the first in Alberta to create a standalone sexual orientation and gender identity policy, and of the board’s more recent efforts to advance Indigenous reconciliation and create an anti-racism policy.
Edwards said she plans to travel and spend time with her family after her term in office is up.
She encouraged skilled communicators and team players who are committed to putting student needs first and to supporting high-quality education to run in this fall’s trustee election.
Trustee Cheryl Dumont said earlier this year she would not seek re-election. The Gazette will speak to her about her time in office later this summer.
Becigneul rides again
Greater St. Albert Catholic voters, meanwhile, will see at least one familiar face on this fall’s ballot in the form of Joe Becigneul, who confirmed this week he will run for re-election this October as St. Albert ward trustee.
First elected in the 2016 by-election, Becigneul, 65, said he hopes to finish his work on school space utilization if re-elected.
“We’ve got several schools we want to right-size,” he said, and the board needs to find a way to fully utilize its school spaces.
Becigneul was chair of GSACRD when it attempted to address this problem in 2019-2020 through the controversial Faith in Our Future proposal, which, had it been approved, would have had radical effects on thousands of students spread across five schools.
That proposal was quashed last December in the face of public opposition, but not before the board implemented its recommendation to move École Secondaire Sainte Marguerite d’Youville’s high school students to St. Albert Catholic High.
“The key learning from the original Faith in Our Future was you need to involve the school communities that might be impacted right up front,” Becigneul said, adding that future efforts on this front would start with consultation rather than a proposed plan.
Becigneul said he is a good listener and communicator with five years of experience as a trustee. He has previously served as chair of what was then called the St. Albert Chamber of Commerce and the Northern Alberta Business Incubator, and is currently referee-in-chief for the St. Albert Minor Hockey Association and an active member of the Holy Family Catholic Parish.
Becigneul said his top priority, if elected, will be to lobby the province for sustainable school funding.
The Gazette will speak to GSACRD Trustee Greg Schell about his plans to run for re-election later this month.