After working many years for government in a staff position, Patricia Sproule has decided she wants to see how the elected side lives.
In the Rocky View School Division election on Oct. 16, Sproule is the only candidate (as of the weekend of Sept. 16) for the newly created rural division that includes Langdon, Indus and the surrounding area.
Sproule works for the city of Chestermere right now and has for more than 10 years but she lives on an acreage southeast of the city. The mother of three grown daughters has more than 40 years of non-profit experience combined with a decade on staff of municipal government, so she believes she’s ready to step into the role vacated by the outgoing Bev LaPeare.
“When you are in a staff position, for a lot of people, think about what it’s like on the other side of the bench,” Sproule said. “For me, whenever I thought about elected office, the school board is the place that I thought I best fit and had the most to contribute.
“We’ve had the luxury of having a really great school trustee for the past 13 years. There was no reason to oppose her. She was doing such a great job. Once Bev decided she wasn’t going to run this time around, I had a conversation with her and decided now was the time to do that myself. I’m ready to throw my hat in the ring.”
Finding money is a big part of the job for a school trustee, but Sproule believes she’s qualified based on her experience.
“As a school trustee you are a part of a team and your job is to advocate for the appropriate amount of funding,” Sproule said. “There’s never enough funding. The population continues to grow and it’s a young community.
“Keeping up with that is really difficult and there’s only so much you can do. It is the job of the board to advocate to the province, the ministry of education, to get a larger share of the pie.
“I’ve been doing that pretty much my whole adult life, advocating for funding for youth and community.”
The biggest issue for Langdon in the next term is getting a greenlight on a new high school, which would ease the class burden on students from both the hamlet and the city of Chestermere, where rural and Langdon kids go now. This isn’t unique to the new ward of course.
“It’s a top priority to get more space,” Sproule said. “It’s a big challenge fiscally to get that space. I know we’re at the top of the list for a new school but that doesn’t mean it’s going to happen in the next two or three years. It appears no new schools are going to be built for the time to come.”
LaPeare’s advice for the new trustee is to follow what she did during her term and that’s by thinking of what’s best for the kids and make decisions based on that before anything else.
Sproule’s top priority is to give the students tools to survive in the world.
“We need to place as much emphasis on building resiliency in kids as we do in teaching them math and science and social studies,” Sproule said. “It has to be a priority and it’s something I make a priority in all the work that I do presently.
“I’ve done that for many years. I would want to speak to that. Not that I don’t think the Rocky View School Division isn’t doing that now, but I want to make sure I’m a voice for that at all times.”