A letter to the community from your Ottawa-Carleton District School Board Trustee Justine Bell

Ottawa-Carleton District School Board Trustee Justine Bell. Photo courtesy of Justine Bell.

This Kitchissippi Times article is sponsored. 

By Somerset-Kitchissippi Trustee Justine Bell

I thought it best to let you know exactly how the upcoming school year will play out…the details of a costed plan that takes into account special education, ESL, transportation, socioemotional well-being, post-secondary planning, health and safety, parent work contexts, etc. Unfortunately, I can’t right now. Instead, I’m writing to tell you about my experience, commitment and projections.  

It’s been five months since I became the trustee for Somerset/Kitchissippi. I don’t need to tell you that in that time we have experienced a pandemic, labour negotiations, and a rising consciousness of racism…What a time to step into a leadership position! Throughout, my priority has been to listen actively and to make evidence-based decisions for the safety and well-being of all students. 

I’ve heard you. In the hundreds of emails, the daily phone/zoom calls, the news articles, the board meetings, I have listened to your stories.  I have heard about fears, uncertainty and frustrated children confined to their homes; about teachers’ concerns regarding the mental health of students and their desire to plan for and protect them; about the lack of funds to open schools safely, the threat to our efforts to create an equal playing field and so much more. I have heard resilient and committed voices.  

What has surprised me? How frustrating and scary it can be working as a parent, public servant and trustee in these unprecedented times. Despite how hard it has been, I have been inspired daily by the unwavering dedication of parents, educators, the administration and community organizations. I know now, more than ever, that there are so many that will not give up the fight to ensure our right quality public education. 

What’s next? The decisions made at the board directly impact your lives. I take our governing decisions very seriously and will continue to seek your input, speak up, ask the obvious questions, put forth evidence-based recommendations, fight for adequate funding and work to ensure that you are informed, and that your child and their teachers are safe. 

Although I can’t tell you exactly how things will roll out this school year, I am confident that it won’t be easy and that together we will move forward with great creativity, compassion and tenacity.

This Kitchissippi Times article is sponsored. 

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