Cynthia Higgins will seek a second term as a Whistler school trustee.
First elected by acclamation in 2018, Higgins said she has thoroughly enjoyed the position, and hopes to continue advocating for education system improvements in the next term.
Higgins' platform is focused on improving school transportation and childcare access in the Sea to Sky School District (SD48), as well as improving the district's communications with the public.
"I want to work with both the policy committee, which I'm a member of, and the finance department to find efficiencies and improvements in the transportation system all across SD48 so that we're able to better accommodate the students and make transportation easier for families.”
During her time on the board, Higgins, 54, has served on the district's Early Learning Committee, and hopes to continue working with the committee to implement more childcare options by expanding the Seamless Day childcare program.
Additionally, Higgins wants to improve communication and transparency within the district, as well as hold staff accountable for delivering on the district's strategic plan and ensure that equity, diversity, inclusion and reconciliation are lenses that are looked through when the board makes decisions.
"I want people to know that my door is always open for conversations, because I believe that public engagement is one of the most important tools we have to improve public education," she said.
According to Higgins, one of the issues coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic is the long-term effects on young people’s mental health, which she also hopes to address if reelected.
Whistler's 2021 Communities That Care survey showed a notable uptick in the number of students with mental-health issues and substance use.
“I think that there are still mental-health issues that need to be addressed and supported. There's cognitive, socio-emotional and maybe even in an active community like ours physical bits of development that were significantly impacted by the effects of the pandemic,” Higgins said.
“Those things are going to affect how teachers are able to teach and how students are able to learn, how administrators will administer what goes on in their individual schools. So as much as I would love to say we've seen the last of COVID, I'm afraid we haven't.”
Seven school trustee positions are up for election in SD48: two each in Whistler and Squamish, one in the Village of Pemberton and one each in Electoral Areas C and D of the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District (Area A and B are in School District 74).
SD48 covers an area from Furry Creek to Anderson Lake, with 5,138 students in 15 schools. The district employs 885 staff and has a total budget of $71,844,525 as of 2022.
Higgins joins Deb Bordignon and longtime school trustee Rachel Lythe on the ballot for Whistler. Nominations close at 4 p.m. today (Sept. 9).
More information on school trustee elections can be found here.
Check back with Pique in the coming weeks for profiles on all local election candidates.
Whistlerites head to the polls on Oct. 15.