Public school candidate wants to get back to work
Gerry Martins seeks fourth term
By: Stu Salkeld
| Posted: Saturday, Oct 12, 2013 06:00 am
One St. Albert Public School board candidate has been very busy over the past three years, and wants to get back at it.
Incumbent trustee Gerry Martins was first elected to the board in 2004, and he said one major issue after that election was the acquisition of a new school. Nine years later the new school is on its way, named after Lois Hole.
But Martins said working as a trustee isn’t just ribbon-cutting ceremonies.
“There is a lot of work,” he said Thursday. “It is rewarding.”
Martins said funding is probably the most critical issue in the trustee election.
Money is not only needed for new schools over the next 25 years or so, but also for the maintenance, upkeep and modernization of existing public schools that, in some cases, are showing their age.
He cited W.D. Cuts as an example. Martins said the school can’t offer career and technology classes, previously called home economics, because there are no classrooms that can properly accommodate it.
Even portable classrooms are needy. Martins said some of those are 30 years old. Martins said provincial funding cutbacks that amount to 20 per cent have tangible effects and trustees must lobby the provincial government to place more emphasis on the “infrastructure deficit.”
Martins said complicating the matter is the fact school boards can’t collect revenue. Since the 1990s the provincial government controls everything.
Another issue concerning Martins is school site size. He said working with the City of St. Albert is crucial to ensure new school sites are a proper size. He said some sites have enough room for two schools, but requirements for walking trails eats away at the available space.
Martins said he’s proud of his work on the support staff negotiating committee, agreeing on a new four-year deal. Also, a lot of credit should go to administration and teachers for excellent academic results.
“We again rank very high in the province in that area,” he said.
Martins said he represents fiscal responsibility while maintaining excellence in education and priority on students.
“It’s hard to balance that,” he said. “However, that’s a balancing act trustees must keep in mind. We’re there for the students.”