Richard Gilchrist is seeking re-election for Ward 4 of the Parkland School Division.
In one of the most wide open Parkland School Division Trustee races in the last two decades, Ward 4 (StonyPlain) incumbent Richard Gilchrist is looking to extend his decade tenure with a re-election.
Gilchrist, originally elected in 2007, cites a formative period for the PSD board over the last decade given the circumstances which preceded it.
"What we've gone through as a board has really made me focus on the building of relationships," Gilchrist tells One News. "When we started as a board ten years ago, it was a very bad time. We had just come out of a very, very divisive teacher strike so there was an awful lot of rebuilding and relationship building we had to go."
"I think in the last ten years we've done a pretty good job of that. We're recognized in the province and internationally. I want to continue on that path, there's always room to go further," adds Gilchrist.
While support has come from the province to PSD over the last decade, Gilchrist notes the collective trustees still feel some issues need to be discussed, particularly the government's Bill 1 and new transportation rules for students.
"We've lobbied the minister and the department to eliminate that 2.4 kilometres. It dates back to the 1920's and 1930's when it was considered safer in rural areas to walk a mile and a half to get to school," explains Gilchrist. "We can't say that today, the world has changed so much. I don't believe it's any safer for rural students to walk 2.4 kilometres or our other students with the amount of traffic. I'd like to see, and I know the board would like to see, the elimination of that 2.4 kilometres."
During his time as a trustee for Ward 4, Gilchrist also outlines what he feels has been positive progress and what he hopes to pursue should he be re-elected.
"As a board and as individual trustees, we've set out to create relationships- particularly we needed to reconnect with our teachers, we needed reconnect with our parents, so there was a very sincere effort to do that. I think it's paid off," says Gilchrist. "We've gone out and been more generative, we're going out and bringing our constituents and stakeholders in to the planning process."
"Our last 3 year education plan had input from a number of different sources," continues Gilchrist. "This coming year, we'll be building a new plan."
Looking to the future, Gilchrist has very specific goals set for education's present and future in Stony Plain.
"We're running out of school space in Stony Plain. We all got together and lobbied hard for extra school space in Spruce Grove when it was booming, but our growth seems to be shifting," says Gilchrist. "A major consideration is we need to, one- replace Stony Plain Central School which is old and needs a replacement with a larger school and number two- depending on where development occurs, whether it's east of boundary road or west of the arena, we're going to have to get another school in there."
To hear the full, unedited interview with Parkland School Division Ward 4 candidate Richard Gilchrist, click play on the file below.