“Julie Kusiek is a strong advocate for strong public services. I got to know Julie well through her initiative, Thrive YEG. This campaign rallied ordinary Edmontonians to urge City Council not to make budget cuts to vital city programs and services.
Thanks to Thrive YEG, city programs and services that Edmontonians care about were saved. Julie can and will do the same for public education. On October 18, Julie has my vote for EPSB Ward F Trustee.“
Public Funds for Public Schools
Julie has been a fierce advocate for public services for many years. She believes they are the heart of a civil society. This means public health care. Public infrastructure. Public parks. Public social programs. And, without a doubt, public education.
As Trustee, Julie will be a strong voice for public education. She will:
- Defend public funding for public schools. Julie believes public funding must stay in the public education system.
- Support the building of new schools to meet the needs of growing communities. Julie does not support the public-private partnership model for new school construction.
- Support keeping our mature neighbourhood schools open.
- Work to reduce user-pay in public education, like fees for lunch supervision, basic field trips, and basic school equipment and supplies.
- Advocate that teachers should not be paying out of pocket for classroom learning tools.
- Advocate to reduce financial barriers for yellow bus transportation and public transit.
COVID Safe Schools
Ensuring we have safe schools that can effectively reduce the transmission of COVID is a top priority. I support:
- Masking in schools
- Mandatory COVID vaccines for EPSB staff, contractors and volunteers
- COVID vaccination clinics for students (with parental permission) and staff
I will advocate for:
- Reinstatement of contact tracing and mandatory quarantine for close contacts. Thank you to the current Board for its leadership!
- Provincial and federal support for school ventilation upgrades
- Use of individual classroom HEPA air purifiers where ventilation experts say it will help reduce spread of COVID
In March this year, I put together a letter writing campaign to our Provincial government. In three days 525 people submitted letters. Read more in my blog post on Covid & Schools.
Julie supports the current EPSB position to re-write the proposed K-6 curriculum. The way to get to a better curriculum is to get a process that meaningfully involves curriculum experts, educators, and parents.
Julie believes that:
- Students must be able to see themselves reflected in the provincial curriculum.
- The content must be developmentally appropriate.
- No curriculum changes should hit Edmonton classrooms until concerns raised by parents, teachers, and curriculum experts are fully addressed.
As Trustee, Julie will:
- Put forward a motion to the new Board of Trustees to affirm the current EPSB position to rewrite the proposed K-6 curriculum draft, and to communicate this position to the Minister of Education.
- Provide EPSB leadership to advocate alongside other Alberta school boards for a curriculum rewrite process that is robust and transparent.
- Listen and learn about concerns about the curriculum, including hosting #KusiekChats-style events in Ward F about the draft curriculum.
Julie has also signed the Alberta Teachers Association Pledge for public education, including a commitment around curriculum.
“I have had several conversations with Julie over the past few months. She has impressed me with her intelligence and willingness to listen and learn. She is a parent and will bring a strong parent perspective to Board decisions. She has vision and has spoken imaginatively about improved inter-governmental collaboration leading to improved outcomes for communities and students. She understands the importance of public education to community. She will be a great addition to the Edmonton Public School Board.”
Funding for Equity
Julie believes that every child has a right to quality public education, but not every child’s learning needs are the same. Julie will advocate for:
- Students at every age and stage of their journey through Edmonton Public to get what they need to succeed. This is particularly the case for students with complex needs.
- Appropriate funding from the province over the longer term and for students needing support today. Specifically, Julie will advocate for a “growing district top up” that makes up the difference between new students enrolled and what funding Edmonton Public Schools would normally receive through the weighted moving average formula.
- Funding for levelled readers, technology, musical instruments and art supplies to be included in future provincial funding.
- Teachers to have the resources they need for calm and caring classrooms.
- An increase in the number of mental health support workers in schools.
Greener Spaces Together
Bringing schools and community members together strengthens students’ sense of connection and wellness. It also reinforces learning from the classroom, particularly in math and science.
Julie will work to create opportunities for:
- school gardens
- school yard forests
- permaculture experiences for students
Check out Kusiek Chats for more on schools and gardens.
“[Julie’s] been an amazing leader of active travel and safety within our neighbourhood.
Julie would be an amazing trustee because she can create platforms and has the energy to have positive debates and listen to each other on key social, learning, educational, and health issues.”
Julie believes students benefit mentally and physically when schools have infrastructure and resources that encourage healthy and active choices every day. Julie will work towards:
- An “active school travel” policy for EPSB that reduces walk/bike barriers for students and staff. This includes secure bike storage at schools (see my presentation at the 1:58:16 mark) and enhanced safety in school zones, parking, and pick up/drop off areas.
- Julie will work to connect schools and nearby recreation facilities to create more opportunities for students to be active, by requesting a “recreation assets inventory” for EPSB schools and strengthening relationships with the City of Edmonton regarding the Joint Use Agreement.
- Partnerships with local organizations like Ever Active Schools, Bike Edmonton, and Paths for People.
Local Program Choice
Families value program choice within Edmonton Public. Families also value their children attending their local neighbourhood school. Julie will advocate for:
- Excellent regular programming in every Edmonton Public school. Right now, not every school has regular programming.
- Excellent alternative programming that enriches student learning and community, and that keeps students in the public education system.
- Reduced barriers to accessing alternative programs, such as additional fees and entrance criteria.
- The right balance of diversity and distribution of program choice while keeping in mind the desire for children to attend their neighbourhood school.
- EPSB policies and direction that strengthen public education, keeping more families in the system.
“Julie has a vision of intergovernmental cooperation that will maximize school board, provincial, and municipal resources for the benefit of children and for the common good. The EPSB will be well served by Julie Kusiek.”
Edmonton Public School Board is a recognized leader in the province. For this to continue we need a team of strong trustee advocates who:
- know how to collaborate
- can be brave when it is needed, and
- can build consensus
Julie has a track record of taking contentious issues and turning them into opportunities for positive change.
Julie will work to strengthen collaboration with the Edmonton Catholic School District, City of Edmonton, Province, and Government of Canada around our common interests for student success. Learn more here.
To create thriving communities with education at its core, we must uplift one another. Julie will elevate students voices and champion awareness and meaningful action regarding the discrimination of marginalized community by:
- Standing against reintroduction of the SRO Program (uniformed police in schools). Instead, Julie supports the Youth Enhanced Deployment (YED) model with use of Safety Coaches.
- Supporting Gender-Sexuality Alliances (GSAs) in our schools.
- Championing that Edmonton Public Schools adopt an inclusive calendar for diverse faith and cultural holidays.
- Encouraging Edmonton Public Schools to hire more BIPOC teachers (Black, Indigenous, People of Colour) to better reflect our student population.
- Supporting actions towards Truth and Reconciliation, including those in the EPSB policy supporting First Nations, Métis and Inuit students.
- Listening to the voices and experiences of those experiencing marginalization, including giving youth a stronger voice.
Julie has been elevating these and other issues throughout her campaign. Check out Kusiek Chats for Julie’s conversations with community and student leaders about:
“Ms. Kusiek is everything right about community building.
Ethical and kind, I feel she is a positive voice for public education at a critical time.”