2014 Winnipeg Civic Election

A Citizen Created Election Resource

Curtis Bilewitch

Candidate in the 2014 River East - Transcona - 2 School Ward race.

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Questionnaire Response

Why did you decide to run in the 2014 School Board Election?

I’m interested in serving on the school board because I want to be involved in helping shape education. I’m not entirely satisfied with what is happening in our school district and with our school board, so I have decided to run. I think my 17 years experience as a teacher will be extremely beneficial to the position. I am running in Ward 2 because I am a resident of the ward. I feel it is unfair that three out of the five candidates in Ward 2 do not live in the ward.

My two children have spent their whole academic lives as residents of RETSD. We have great teachers in the RETSD, and I want to see that they get the support they need to deliver the best program they can to their students.

From attending school board meetings, it seemed to me that there was underlying conflict between trustees and not enough collaboration and compromise, which saw good ideas defeated. I want to create an atmosphere of dialogue and respect.

What experience will you bring to compliment your role as School Trustee?

I have been a school teacher for 17 years, teaching from Nursery level up to grade 9 in those years. Having that experience, I know the different challenges that teachers face at each level, and what resources they require. As well, I have lived in the River East-Transcona school division for almost 20 years. I attended schools in RETSD, and so did my wife Linda. Our two boys have spent all their lives as students in RETSD. I have the perspective of a parent and a property owner and taxpayer. Living in Ward 2 I have had a chance to discuss issues with neighbours who have shared their concerns on what is happening in the division.

I have also been attending school board meetings when I could during the 2013-2014 board meetings, and reading the minutes from each board meeting for the year to keep up with issues that the school board was dealing with.

What are some issues that you would like to stand for in your role as School Trustee, and why are these issues important to you?

-An examination of upper management positions in the division to see if some positions can be integrated with others. Is it necessary to have five superintendents, or could we integrate positions together to save the division $200 000 or more each year?

-Setting up students for success in technology. The RETSD budget provides for around $500 000 for equipment for schools. However there is a disparity in use and instruction with the equipment between schools. I want to ensure that the school board provides funding for professional development for teachers in the use and implementation of the technology equally in all classes at all levels.

-Promoting a "bottom up" model in our division's educational system. Our teachers are our best resource and their wide variety of experiences and abilities should be used, rather than bringing in consultants from outside the division.

-Encouraging "Inclusive Sport": Everybody has a chance to play. At the middle and senior years levels, students drop out of school sports due to the anxiety at failing at at try-outs. Students are also added to teams, but end up sitting on the bench for the whole season. Inclusionary sport will allow all students to play.

What is one thing in particular that you appreciate about the school ward or school division you wish to represent?

Our school ward has a very diverse population. We have a number of retirement and assisted living homes with seniors who have worked hard supporting our communities. We have older areas, and brand new areas, with an increasing population. Ethnic diversity has risen sharply in the past 5 years, with many new immigrant families moving into the ward. The ward also has a diverse economic diversity, with upper-salary homeowners to people living at the poverty level trying to make rent each month. You can't put a label on this ward, unless it says "diverse."

The RETSD has excellent teachers that are equal to any in the province. They are very hard working, and want the best for their students. The amount to parental involvement in the division is impressive. We have parents volunteering in schools, working in lunch programs, and even in numeracy programs within the schools. Many parents have moved on to educational assistant or teaching jobs in the division because they volunteered in schools and found they loved working with the staff and students in the schools.

Do you have any other comments regarding your candidacy?

I entered this race to be the local voice for people in my ward. I believe that the voters in this ward should have a local candidate that is familiar with the area, and understands it's needs and issues.

If elected I know it could be challenging convincing other board members to support the ideas I campaigned for. However with compromise and collaboration, we can form an effective school board that respects each member's position and works together for the benefit of the ward.


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