Pembina Hills trustee Judy Lefebvre is now the only current board member to announce she is seeking re-election this October.
Lefebvre currently represents the Barrhead Town ward, but because of the re-drawing of electoral boundaries, she will be running in Pembina Hills West – Ward 3.
Over the past two months, trustees Jennifer Tuininga, Wendy Scinski, Jackie Comeau and Kerry McElroy have all announced they are not seeking re-election, while Jackie Carson submitted her letter of resignation at the Aug. 25 board meeting.
“Having served two terms on the school board, I feel that my eight years of experience can be used by the new board, if in there are some five other newly-elected members,” said Lefebvre, pointing out that the division is also welcoming a new superintendent and a new secretary-treasurer.
Lefebvre, who has lived in Barrhead since 1980, had a lengthy background in the education realm even before she was elected as a trustee eight years ago.
She began her career teaching junior high language arts and social studies before developing an interest in teaching at the elementary level.
That in turn led to eight years teaching a private Kindergarten, followed by a position as the instructor for a family grouping of five to eight-year-olds at Westlock Elementary.
Eventually, she took on the role of assistant principal and finally a job at the Pembina Hills regional office in Barrhead where she worked for nine years.
Lefebvre said she retired from education when her husband’s health began to deteriorate. When he was placed in long-term care, she ran for the position of trustee in 2013.
“As they say, the rest is history,” Lefebvre said, noting that all three of her children have graduated from high school locally and she is well aware of the challenges that have faced education in the past.
While education is always faced with a variety of challenges, the past two terms have been tumultuous, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lefebvre said declining enrolment has been an ongoing issue and the closure of local schools and programs has not been easy for the board to deal with.
As well, she said the government’s decision to close the Alberta Distance Learning Centre (ADLC) — which occurred in spite of trustees' efforts to point out the value of the program to Alberta Education — created many problems for the board.
Other upcoming challenges include the introduction of a proposed new curriculum, higher staffing costs, and of course, the learning curve that newcomers to the board will face alongside a new superintendent.
“I feel that my history with Pembina Hills can play a vital role in future board considerations,” she said.
Lefebvre noted that Pembina Hills’ current priorities of enhancing staff-student relationships, literacy and numeracy, and support for staff have been a focus of the old board and she would like to maintain whatever momentum they created.
“My presence at the board table will ensure that the division priorities from the three-year education plan will be kept in the forefront of any decisions made,” she said.