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New OFIS executive director looks to strengthen provincial presence

Written on November 24th, 2008

Barb Bierman says network is best bet for school choice

Barb Bierman is the new executive director of the Ontario Federation of Independent Schools (OFIS) and says she is excited to be a part of an organization that represents a spectrum of independent schools and aims to increase their credibility in the province.

The Ontario Alliance of Christian Schools (OACS) is a partner with OFIS, which represents all types of independent schools including religious, cultural, alternative methods and community-based.

“I am really excited for this opportunity,” Bierman says, adding this year will be big learning curve but she is up to the challenge.

Bierman says because OFIS has such a broad membership they are a natural base to build up more provincial presence for independence schools to approach the government and public.

“I’m a big fan of not reinventing the wheel,” says Bierman, who has previously worked for the OACS and is the Parents for Educational Choice provincial spokesperson.

“I would really like to see the independent schools be places that are publicly credible,” says Bierman.

“I want in my lifetime to see government funding for school choice,” she says. “I want my kids to have the total freedom to choose the school that’s best for their kids and not have financial penalties imposed from only funding some of those choices in this province.”

Bierman says OFIS is the best way to get that accomplished.

Helping to inform the Ontario public about independent schools is a goal for Bierman.

“If I can work in an organization that helps these schools become stronger and better they are more publicly credible,” she says.

Since starting as the executive director in August, Bierman says she has met “fantastic, committed parents, and teachers and school administrators” and feels she’s in the right place.

There is strength in coming together as a group, Bierman says.

“I don’t think schools can do it alone,” she says, noting that when school administrators and school boards try to make a public statement it can be difficult.

“I think joining a network and working together on common areas to address these things publicly and within the government is the best bet, and I see the importance of creating that network and strengthening it,” she says.

OFIS can help schools with resources including professional and policy development. To start identifying the areas where schools would like more resources, OFIS is engaging in winter regional sessions across the province to speak with school staff about their needs.

Visit www.ofis.ca to learn more and watch for the regional meeting dates.