Candace Spilsbury has provided incredible service to the Cowichan Valley School District board. (File photo by Mark Margerison)

Candace Spilsbury has provided incredible service to the Cowichan Valley School District board. (File photo by Mark Margerison)

Board chair Spilsbury not seeking re-election

Long-time education advocate leaves a significant legacy

Board chair Candace Spilsbury announced at the Tuesday, May 3 Board of Education open board meeting that she will not be running in the upcoming trustee election set for October 15, 2022.

Spilsbury has been a fixture on the board for 14 years. She’s been instrumental in stewarding an effective, visionary and caring Board of Education for the Cowichan Valley School District.

First elected in 2008, then-trustee Spilsbury has been re-elected to the Board of Education four times. Additionally, she has been elected by her peers as chair for 10 one-year terms.

As the chair, Spilsbury has overseen the recruitment and hiring of three superintendents, spearheaded efforts to build the now-flourishing relationships with local Indigenous communities and is a stalwart community and childcare advocate.

She worked with other elected leaders to gather local government officials and service agency leads, creating the Cowichan Leadership Group which oversees the response across the Cowichan Valley.

With Spilsbury at the helm, the board made additional headway in other crucial areas. In securing a new Cowichan Secondary School, the board has laid the groundwork for generations of students to receive exceptional educational experiences in a modern, safe and culturally responsive school. She also played a crucial role in mobilizing the community around the additional Health and Wellness Centre in the school.

Under Spilsbury’s leadership, the board created Beyond Education, a visionary strategic plan.

This plan has led to the formation of the Board’s Ad-Hoc Anti-Racism Committee, Climate Change Committee and Early Learning Committee as well as a number of other initiatives.

Spilsbury’s focus on early education and childcare were instrumental in securing five new childcare centres in the district.

These centres will serve families for years to come.

She has thoughtfully led the board and district through the last three years of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This includes the district’s quick change into a community-support organization when COVID-19 first came to the Cowichan Valley.

All of this was done while ensuring all learners were well-prepared for a world they would create.

From improvements on Indigenous graduation rates to the building and implementing of the Framework for Student Learning, these evidence-driven programs have helped learners succeed.

“My passions are kids and educational success for every one of them,” said Splisbury. “I have worked in education for 47 years as a teacher, administrator and trustee, including 21 years in the Cowichan Valley, and I have loved every moment of it. I will really miss the relationships I have developed in the school district with trustees, staff, community leaders and students and their families. I will also miss the challenges of making things better for students in our schools.

“However, it is time to heed the call of my family, and not run for a trustee position in the fall election.”

School trustees in B.C. are elected on a four-year cycle. The current cycle concludes on Oct. 31, 2022 and trustees will be elected to the board of education on Oct. 15.

The new board will be sworn in during the first open board meeting in November.