SOUTH DUNDAS – For the first time in 15 years, there will be a contested election for school board trustee in Dundas County.
A well known former principal in North Dundas is the newest candidate for trustee in Ward 4 for the Upper Canada District School Board in the upcoming municipal election this fall.
Larry Berry, who served as principal of the now-closed Inkerman Public School, and at Nationview Public School, filed his papers last month.
The trustee for Ward 4 represents South Dundas and North Dundas at the UCDSB.
Jeremy Armer holds the position, and was first elected to the position unopposed in 2014.
In fact this is the first trustee election since 2003 that voters have had more than one candidate to choose from.
Berry started his teaching career in 1966 and quickly moved into the role of principal.
He was a principal in many schools in the former Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry County Board of Education, retiring in 1998 just after that board was merged into the UCDSB.
In addition, he founded and operated for many years Funtastic Pools in Winchester before selling that business 11 years ago.
“Education is a passion for me,” Berry told The Leader. “I want to represent the area and help where I can. I feel I have experience to offer.”
He said that he has been upset with how the board has dealt with education in recent years and that it needs to advocate more vocally for students at the provincial level.
“We need to be heard at in Toronto, to be vocal,” Berry said.
Small school funding is an issue that he is concerned about, especially after the recent round of school closures, saying that the boards have to be advocates for the communities.
“There were 648 petition responses to that last round of closing,” said Berry. “We all agree with being an advocate for our schools.”
Increasing the partnerships between communities and schools is another avenue he supports.
“We have to be open to any and all partnerships out there.”
Berry emphasized that while he has no personal axe to grind, the school board needs to work more as a team, including breaking down the barriers between administration and the classroom.
“When [Mike] Harris changed things, he took the principals out of the federations or unions that teachers are represented by, making the workplace less collegial. I’d like to work to reverse some of that.”
Berry has lived in Prescott for a couple years, but said his heart is still in Dundas County.
He will begin campaigning in September, citing family plans during the summer.
Elsewhere in school board trustee elections, former St. Mary-St. Cecilia principal Donna Neilsen is the lone candidate for the Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario in Dundas-Stormont. Incumbent trustee Jonathan DeSerres is the sole candidate for South Dundas, South Stormont and Glengarry for the Conseil scolaire de district catholique de l’Est ontarien (French-Catholic). Lisa Benoit-Léger is the lone candidate for Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry for the Conseil des écoles publiques de l’Est de l’Ontario (French-Public).
The nomination period closes July 27th with municipal voters across Ontario going to the polls October 22nd.