The longest-serving Portage la Prairie School board member is saying goodbye.

Yvette Cuthbert announced her resignation from the board earlier this week after 27 years.

In a statement to PortageOnline, Cuthbert said she will miss being a school trustee and being in tune with the needs and successes of the community at the ground roots level.

"I believe in community, pitching in to make the world a better place," continues Cuthbert. "I created the Parent Council at École Prince Charles School when my children started attending there. I planned many school trade shows. When funding for school field trips was cancelled, I spoke up against the then School Board's proposal to cut all extracurricular subjects, shops, physical education, music, and home ec. I can sympathize with them. They were trying to do the best they could with the money they had, but that wasn't an option. School Divisions are always struggling to balance the money available and the need to provide our students with their and our best future. When David Faurschou asked me to run for the position of School Trustee as he was stepping down, I did and have been a trustee ever since. 
You can't expect different results if you keep doing the same thing, so educators are always looking for different ways to best help our students be successful. There are many learning styles. The key is finding which one works best with the students you have. Making learning fun and engaging."

She noted that she still wholeheartedly believes in professional development for staff, admin and trustees.

"It's about lifelong learning. We also want to instill in students curiosity and the love of learning. I was with our school division when our student population was losing 100 students a year. We dropped by 500 students, that's a lot for a division our size. We are funded per student so that meant funding dropped considerably as well. We had to cut and cut. There was really nowhere else to cut if we wanted to maintain quality programming. That's when we did a major restructuring of the School Division, even closing Victoria School, now Red River College. Now, we are growing and could use that space back, but no one has a crystal ball for that far in the future."

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Cuthbert underlined areas she was proud to have been a part of with the division.

"I was part of the board when we expanded the Auto Mechanic program, a good portion paid for by local ratepayers, and it has been very successful. We created the football field, Mark Dibol's goal, a Vice principal at Portage Collegiate Institute at the time. We closed 4th St SW between the two now high school buildings. We upgraded the track at Yellowquill School. More recently, we installed new playgrounds everywhere, with some help from parent councils and the Portage Community Foundation; playgrounds are incredibly expensive. Classrooms have been added to Crescentview School and École Arthur Meighen. 
The Science lab and Cosmetology lab were renovated. Accessibility has been a huge goal of ours, making sure that those with mobility issues can get around ramps, elevators, and different counter heights. Special washrooms for some. Trying to make school better for those who are differently abled. 
We take reconciliation very seriously, even offering a full day of professional development for all our staff, including cleaners and bus drivers. A second day was also offered to the teaching staff. We have many positions and programs related to advancing reconciliation and work hard to communicate well with local bands. Supporting 2SLGBTQ students is also important. Food programs are now in all the schools. We made it through COVID and Bill 64; both were such a strain on our school division and others in the province, especially those in administrative positions. I thank them for their time and effort. One of the things I'm most impressed with as a change during my time is the mental health tool kit. We try to expose students to how to self-regulate. Do you have three trusted adults that you can talk to when you are faced with a serious issue? We all should have this. Everyone should feel safe and valued in our schools."

Cuthbert added that with her newfound free time, she will spend more moments with her family and friends enjoying her hobbies.

With the departure, the school division has confirmed there will be a by-election to fill Cuthbert's vacancy. However, no date or details have been provided at this time.