Red Deer Public School District

Candidate Question & Answer - Week 3


* Candidates answers are published as submitted by the candidate.

*Posted in Random Order.

Candidate Name

Question 3: Are you in favour of one publicly funded education system?

Bill Christie

Yes I am in favour of one publicly funded education system.

Will this happen? Probably not in my lifetime, as it would require a change to the Constitution and to the Alberta Act of 1904. More than likely the lead would have to be taken by the Provincial Government of the day. Or even better why could we not hold a referendum and settle this issue once and for all??

But let me be very clear - this does not mean that I do not support Catholic or other Faith Based Schools.

What I would like to see in the meantime are discussions looking into ways that the different systems work together sharing: infrastructure, staffing, HR, Payroll, Transportation, Administration without outside interference ( Catholic Schools are Catholic Public Schools not Catholic Parochial Schools) in the operations of Publicly Elected School Boards.

I do support Parents Choice and I think that can be achieved within one Publicly Funded System as long as there is a will to try!

My end goal was and always will be to ensure as many dollars as possible go to the classroom!

Jim Watters

I am in favour of a one publicly funded education system. It is my opinion that our current system is not financially efficient because of duplication of services. Some examples of these services are transportation, staff and facilities. I also believe that one public system can support and represent the diverse values of Albertans.

Dick Lemke

My focus as a trustee will always be on the students.  I try to evaluate each policy on what is fair for our student population.

I believe one publicly funded education system is not in our mandate.  The Alberta Act of 1905 allowed for a public and a catholic education system.  This is part of our constitution and a constitutional change is beyond the scope of a school board.  Constitutions can be changed but it is difficult, expensive and time consuming.  A political party might decide this is important and make it part of their political platform.  Thus, those trustees who want a change can join and influence one of these political parties.  Our focus must never change as a school board, and that is the student being paramount.

Dianne Macaulay


Now I have thought long and hard about just leaving that as my response because if you google my name you will see news articles and a board motion indicating in more detail why I support One Publicly Funded Education System.

I strongly encourage everyone to pick up a copy of the magazine Alberta Views, the Sept issue. The journalists did a very goood researched based article on the argument against a dual publicly funded system. Here is just one of the articles  

I realise this will take many , many more conversations but it can be done. In fact it has been done in other provinces. The funding saved would be better used by going back into the classrooms. What is best for children? A school system where all students are educated together and all adults share in  a common practice of educating students. I believe  in Public education.

Chris Woods

I think having a variety of publicly funded education systems allows the parents to choose the right fit for their family. If we moved to one publicly funded system my concern would be that we eliminate the ideas of other systems that can fit certain family’s needs and requests for their child’s education. As well I think having multiple education systems creates an environment where everyone is continually improving and a basis for comparison of success. Without these other education systems I would be concerned that one publicly funded education system would begin to rest on their laurels and not always see the weaknesses that need to be addressed. Also I think if we created on publicly funded system that we would end up centralizing a lot of the decisions that would benefit the larger centers and not necessarily represent all of the smaller communities and districts that face unique challenges. Although we may be able to share some resources I don’t feel we would see a significant amount of increased funding at the school level as more responsibility and oversight would also require increased compensation in a single funded education system.

Bill Stuebing


I believe Alberta would benefit greatly from one publicly funded education system.

As befits the multicultural society that Alberta has become, our schools need to be inclusive, not exclusive. Our children’s education should proceed in a system that is a model of the civil democratic society we aspire to. In such a single, publicly funded educational system, all of our children will learn and live the values of democracy together, in a context of inclusion and diversity, thereby shaping the future of our communities. In recent years Newfoundland and Quebec eliminated faith-based school systems and the evidence is that it has been a very successful move. Alberta has seen the Protestant schools from almost 150 years ago become today’s Public Schools. These include children representing diverse faith groups as well as the almost one-third of Albertans who claim no formal religious connection, and provide a wide range of choice through alternative programming, including religious schools.

Today only one faith-based tradition remains. Some suggest that Separate schools allow for choice, but this option is denied all other faith groups in Alberta. And “choice” in schools has become competition,

Competition came into full bloom with the restructuring of education in 1994, when funding was no longer based on Public or Separate tax rolls, but on the number of students in the desks. Separate School jurisdictions expanded dramatically to almost all areas of the province, particularly into sparsely populated rural areas where the costs involved in overlapping educational offerings are significant, and the impact on local communities is greatest.

In 2017 Alberta, I see separate schools as an expensive anachronism. But this is not an issue to be resolved by the Red Deer Public School Board. As a Trustee I place my priority with matters that we can deal with directly and which will provide a real benefit for students in Red Deer Public Schools.

Jason Chilibeck


To quote Lord Acton: Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

When I think about education and in particular, my children in the education system, I want to know they are receiving a solid, core education that will allow them to not only function in the here and now with their peers but be well equipped to deal with situations well outside Red Deer borders.

Thus, I believe parents should be involved in the education of their children and based on their experiences, they should have options allowing them the ability to have their children educated in the manner they see fit, all the while meeting core Provincial objectives.

By having options available, and until a full suite of options are provided by society (reminder that funds are limited and as a result, decisions must be made; also, one should question at what level Provincial/local education districts should provide educational options when other sources exist...add in the Internet and now we literally have a whole world of education opportunities at our fingertips) several systems are required to meet the various needs. In addition, coming back to the quote by Lord Acton, I believe it is better for society to have competing systems to help maintain an overall balance. The alternative is that there is one group in authority and eventually another group will want to have authority over the first group and at that point I wonder if we forget the reason for the question - our children and their education!

However, when looking at the various local options being provided, maybe the Red Deer Public School District should look at investigating additional educational options and where it makes sense, incorporate additional activities into their programming.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Hope you had a great day with your children, family and friends. We have so much to be thankful for!

Please remember to vote for Jason Chilibeck on October 16!

Angela Sommers

Yes, I am sincerely in favour of one publically funded education system. Public sector debt and educational needs are both sky-rocketing to near catastrophic levels; this triggers the sustainability debate to merge school systems into one.

The estimated excess of operating duplicate systems may be as high as $200 million per year in Alberta says Luke Fevin - Alberta Parents for unbiased Public Inclusive Learning. - Alberta Views September 2017 issue. Our current situation is unsustainable; pooling resources and sharing infrastructure will yield a better quality education for all students. Sharing resources and infrastructure will enhance and not negatively impact today’s program choices. We could build better state-of-the-art science labs; have updated computer and technology and information systems and have better equipped art and music programs if resources were shared.

David King - former AB Education minister says "Public school education exists to be a deliberate model of a civil democratic community." A single public funded educational system would promote inclusiveness while teaching tolerance and respect for all.

I will be an accessible and equitable voice to find an inclusive and respectful outcome for all.

Laurette Woodward

I am in favour of parents having choice in how their children are educated. Therefore I do not support a move towards one publicly funded system. However, I am in favour of a more even playing field between the Catholic and Public systems.

If you are interested, I have written a detailed article about this on my blog: In summary:

The arguments in favor of one publicly funded system are largely based around resources and fairness. Because school jurisdictions are pushed for resources, it is prudent to explore ways to share. It is frustrating to hear that ecclesiastical leaders can determine whether the Catholic system will share resources, especially considering that all Alberta tax payers fund both the public and Catholic systems (not just property taxes as many people believe). There are other inequities to consider too. I am in favor of making changes to address the inequities.

However, in this discussion, I am not in favor of eliminating choice and flexibility for families. The proposed move to a single education system represents a huge change to the educational landscape in Alberta. Surely that should precipitate discussion about the full impact on students and families as well as schools. Would such a move also eventually cause the elimination of private, charter and home schools? What about choice of alternative programs within districts?

I know many families that rely on the flexibility that exists. For instance, a child that has special learning needs which are not being met in the public system and parents choose to home school. Or, a child in a class that is not a good fit for them. I have seen administration unable to make changes for individual students because of constraints in the system. It is the existence of other choices that helps these families.

I am very open to making better use of tax dollars and ensuring fairness, but while doing so also ensuring flexibility and choice continue to exist for families.

Cathy Peacocke

On a personal level I am in favour of one publicly funded education system which would operate under locally elected school boards and offer choice within the system. Such a change would require an amendment to our Constitution, which falls solely under the authority of the provincial government.

Notwithstanding my personal opinion, as a candidate running in a school board election I do not feel it is appropriate for boards to take a position supporting one system. It is essential that all boards across this province can work together in a positive and productive manner on issues affecting students. To do this effectively we need to maintain respectful and trusting alliances with our fellow trustees.

We must recognise that all trustees in Alberta are elected by their communities for a mutual purpose: to act in the best interests of students, both in our local jurisdictions and across Alberta. I believe that a school board taking a public position supporting one publicly funded system is divisive and may harm relationships with non-public school boards. Trustees on the Red Deer Public and Catholic Boards share the responsibility of being advocates of education in our community and thus we must retain a positive and collaborative relationship by recognizing the legitimacy of each other’s Boards’ roles on behalf of students.

With that in mind, it is important that we be respectful of the realities of our current education system which consists of public, francophone and separate school jurisdictions.

In my opinion if a school board takes a public stand against our current system, it causes division amongst Boards across this province, thus hampering our collective ability to be strong and focused advocates for students. I believe that for school boards to work most effectively on behalf of students that we need to focus on what unites us, rather than on what divides us, therefore allowing us to work together in harmony.

Jaelene Tweedle

Yes I am. There are only 3 provinces that have publicly funded separate school boards- Ontario, Saskatchewan, and Alberta. The UN Human Rights Commission, even found that Canada’s separate school system is discriminatory. I have two issues with funding 2 systems, through public dollars:

1) I believe to my core, that EVERY decision we make, should be in the best interests of students. In a time where dollars are stretched increasingly thin, we need to spend every penny to it’s maximum. Having two separate systems, results in so much unnecessary spending: increased number of facilities needing to be built, separate transportation systems for students, two school boards and, two sets of Senior Administrators. All this money could be so much better spent on our students: think of all the extra teachers and EA’s that could be hired, and all the extra learning resources and materials, that could be bought. Every publicly funded dollar spent, should be in direct relation to what’s best for Students, and we are failing to do that, the way our current system stands.

2) Division- We’re living in a time that seems to be facing more and more division, and pitting one group against another. Our students shouldn’t be seen with a dollar value on their head, to fill seats in a classroom. If religion is to be brought into curriculum, in one publicly funded system, let it be an overview of the various religions people follow, but let students know that everyone has their own beliefs ( or no religious beliefs at all ), and let them know than no religion is superior to another. I believe strongly in character education- Empathy, Tolerance, and Acceptance- but I don’t feel it needs to align itself to a religion. I have no issue with someone wanting to educate their child, in a religious setting, but I don’t believe it should fall under the umbrella of public funding. Public dollars should be about a universal system, and should not give special privilege to one individual religion.

Matt Chapin

To be truthfull I am not in faver of one publicly funded education system but I want to work with all systems. I beileve that parents and kids should the the right to choose what they learn and what system they go in. I will always want to work with everyone!

Nicole Buchanan To make an informed decision with regards to this matter I need to be presented more information. What are the benefits and drawbacks? If there is a benefit financially, how much would it be saving? I think this is something that should be asked of the students, parents, staff and families in our district. I don't think this is a decision that should be taken lightly and as a parent I would like to be included in the process to voice my feedback and concerns, as I'm sure many other parents and staff would appreciate being heard as well.