Smith trustee needed

Pearl Lorentzen
Lakeside Leader

The school board trustee for Smith School had to step down after one year in office. Therefore, Aspen View School Division has a byelection coming up. The nomination deadline is noon on Sept. 26.

“It was a bittersweet moment for her (Cindy Lutz),” says Candy Nikipelo, Aspen View chair. Her family circumstances changed, so she had to step down after one year. “We wish her well,” adds Nikipelo.

Smith School is the only school within Aspen View Ward 1 (northwest)

Aspen View “obviously wants somebody who is going to serve the Smith community well,” says Nikipelo. Part of the job is “keeping that school very strong.”

However, people who live in other parts of the ward can also nominate themselves.

Ward 1 covers a long narrow area from north to south, on the western edge of Aspen View School Division.

“It’s just the weirdest shaped ward,” says Nikipelo.

Ward 1 starts at the Fawcett River in the M.D. of Lesser Slave River north of Smith. It includes the area around Smith. Then there’s a gap. It starts up again south of Lawrence Lake and west of Meyer Lake. It follows Hwy. 2 south to Baptiste Lake. There it continues south all the way to Perryvale, a hamlet in the southwestern part of Athabasca County.

Students around Smith attend Smith School. However, it only goes to Grade 9. Smith students attend high school in Athabasca. Some may also attend in Slave Lake if their parents drive them.

In the southern part of the ward, students go to school in Athabasca.

The Ward 1 trustee is encouraged to attend both Smith School council meetings and the ones for the high school in Athabasca.

“Ward 1 only ever has one trustee,” says Nikipelo. “It’s never not been filled.”

Aspen View has six wards with seven trustees. All wards except the Athabasca one have one. Athabasca has more people, so has two trustees.

School boards are the governing bodies of school divisions.

The two main priorities of the board are budget and policies, says Nikipelo. When it comes to budget the goal is “hopefully putting the money in all the right areas,” for students to succeed, she adds. Policies are “the rules by which we educate our kids.”

“It is a very important board,” says Nikipelo, which many people don’t know a lot about.

The exact time commitment is hard to nail down, but the school division is looking for someone “extremely committed,” says Nikipelo.

“We’re there to serve the families and the people of the community,” she adds.

As a public servant, Nikipelo makes herself available every day to talk to people who live in the school division, to go to school events, school council meetings, and for people who work at the school.

The board has regular meetings and committees.

To apply to be a trustee people need to live in Ward 1 for at least six months prior to the nomination day – September 26. They also have to be at least 18 years old and a Canadian citizen.

Nominees must go to the Aspen View main office in Athabasca to fill out and sign the forms, before noon on Sept. 26.

If more than one person nominates themselves, then there will be an election on October 24. If only one applies, they will be elected as the trustee by acclamation.

If there is an election, there will be two, possibly three, polling stations. These will be in Smith (probably at the school), in Athabasca, and possibly one in the southern part of the ward.

Aspen View School Division Ward 1 which includes Smith School.

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