Additional School Trustee Candidate Questions and Answers

This questions and answers have been posted to the DPAC website as being interesting and informative for parents. Responses were not received from all trustee candidates, which could mean nothing more than an email not having been received.

Dear School District Trustee Candidates,

I am an involved and interested parent with a child in Grade 2 and a child who will enter kindergarten in September 2012. I was unable to attend the candidate forums last week as I had to leave town unexpectedly.  I am doing my best to catch up via the DPAC website and via consultations with colleagues and friends.

I have a few questions to put to you and would very much appreciate your input so that I, and other voting members of the public, will be able to make an informed decision on voting day.  I will make your answers available to the DPAC and to others who are interested.

Sincere thanks to all of you for putting yourselves forward as candidates and for taking the time to answer the many questions you have received.

 

Jacqueline Dockray

Sharon Bourassa

 

1.  I go to practically all School Board meetings and I have not seen many of you there.

a)  What is your main source of information about District matters?  I have been attending the school board meeting since the start of the school year.  I have experience as a trustee (SD#33), so I am quite familiar with the way the district is run.  I have also watched some of the meetings via internet stream and kept up to date through reading local papers.  I have also had many discussions with Lyn Hall, as we work in the same industry (we are both gaming auditors).  I also attended a PAC meeting at Mackenzie, toured Hixon Elementary, and attended a DPAC meeting, to get a feel for what is currently happening.

 

b)  How have you remained current with the issues that are presently being considered by the Board?   Reading, going to meetings, discussions with the board chair has all helped to keep me current.  I also met with the superintendent early in September, prior to submitting my nomination papers.  I met with PGDTA to get a feel for their perspective as well.  I have maintained contact with other board chairs and trustees in BC, so I am also up to date on issues coming from the Ministry.  There will always be areas out of left field; however, true open communication can reduce this to a minimum.

 

c)  What do you think is the most pressing issue facing School District #57?  Class composition appears to be the most pressing issue.  Bussing and lack of communication with the board are a close second.  Issues regularly change, and trustees need to be able to handle a variety of issues that come forward.  I have this experience through my years as a trustee in Chilliwack.

 

2.  Do you have any concerns about the relationship between the School Board and each of the partner groups?  If so, what are they and how would you address these concerns as an active Trustee?  I think that communication is lacking.  I have always had open communication with the partner groups and attending meetings and visiting schools is important.  My job allows me the flexibility for both.  Most importantly, the stakeholders need to know that you are there to hear their concerns and bring issues to the boardroom table.  The liaison schools need regular visits and constant communication throughout the term.

 

3.  When faced with a Ministry directive that you are either unsure of or do not support, how do you intend to deal with it?   Ministry initiatives can certainly be opposed, and this can be achieved through sending letters directly to the Ministry.  I believe that face to face is more effective than sending letters.  If the Ministry directive is through legislation, it must be followed, regardless of whether or not it is favorable to do so.

 

4.   If you are elected as trustee, will you continue to support the delivery of the French Immersion program in its present three locations: Ecole Heather Park Elementary, Ecole College Heights Elementary and Ecole Lac Des Bois?  Why and how?  Absolutely.  I encourage the teaching of French as it is one of our official languages.  I also married a francophone, so I see the strong alliance to the language.  It is important to me that French Immersion be maintained and will fight for the programs based on the advantages to being bilingual.  If enrollment does not support the supply, then promotion of the program should be made to the community.

 

5.  How important are rural schools to you?  What ideas do you have regarding successful funding for these schools?  I would like to see the funding be changed to allow for the smaller schools to stay open, even at low capacity.  There is a strong sense of community in the rural areas, and this is lost when schools are closed.  The funding formula should incorporate a fixed cost structure that is not dependent on enrollment, so the smaller schools can survive.  Mixed use also seems to be viable option to keep schools open that are not at full capacity.  The idea of mixed use needs to be discussed with the community itself, as it directly affects their children.  I find that the rural communities have some excellent ideas that should be brought to the board table.

 

 

6.  How important do you feel choice programs/schools are to parents?  Not all students have the same interests and not all students learn in the same environment.  Choice schools are critical to take advantage of the students’ diversity.  I would like to think that choice schools are important to parents; but if they are not, we need to reassess what we are offering.  It is the job of the trustee to reflect the needs of the community.

 

7.  Is it important to ensure that schools are not over or under capacity?  Why?  Does catchment mean anything in this district?  School capacity is very important.  It is not safe to have a school that is over capacity.  The common areas are not equipped for a school that is over capacity (i.e. gym, washrooms, library use).  In Chilliwack, we had to change catchment areas to help with the rebalancing of school capacity.  This was a very tough decision to make, but it prevented a school from being closed.

 

 

8.  When policy is to be significantly changed, there is a process in place that includes a 60-day public consultation.  Do you think this process is effective?  Could it be improved/modified?  If so, how?  From what I am hearing, the 60-day is not always enough when the deadline is just prior to a school board meeting.  We need to assess current practices to ensure they are meeting the needs for proper consultation.  Normally, I believe that 60 days is sufficient, but again, timing to the board meeting is important.  I would also advocate for more frequent board meetings, so that issues are resolved in a more timely fashion.

 

9.  The present School Board Chair, Lyn Hall, stated at the last Board meeting what he felt was the most important issue facing the next Board.  Do you concur with his opinion?  I have had many conversations with Lyn over the past 2 years.  I believe the concern you are referring to is bussing, and Lyn had commented with regards to the Miworth decision.  Yes, this is a serious issue and requires an in depth review.  The bussing contract is also set to expire soon and perhaps renegotiation will help to achieve better servicing at a lower cost.  Bussing is $500,000 over budget and this needs to be addressed.

 

10.  You will experience a sharp learning curve in your first term as a trustee.  Many people feel that it is often in the second term that a trustee has enough of a handle on the issues that they can truly have an impact.  Are you planning on sticking with education, or do you have aspirations to move to municipal/provincial/federal politics? (If you are already a trustee, please answer based on a possible third term). I was a school trustee in Chilliwack and miss it terribly.  I never had aspirations to go into politics, I just have a passion for education.  In university, political science was my minor, but only because labour economics included a lot of political science, so they went hand-in-hand.   I don’t think my learning curve will be anywhere near as sharp as a new trustee because of my years in another district.  I fully expect to have an impact on the district, given my experience.  I think that the ability to decipher information, problem solve and analyze financial statements and budgets in a meaningful way is a huge asset that I bring to the table.

 

 

 

 

Tim Bennett

 

1. I go to practically all School Board meetings and I have not seen many of you there.

a) What is your main source of information about District matters? I am glad to hear that you as a parent are taking such an interest in your child’s education and attending board meetings on a regular basis. You are correct; I have not attended as many board meetings over the past term as I was hoping to. I have followed most board meetings online through the live stream on the School District 57 website (the quality of the live stream is not the best but that is a different discussion). I have also ensured that I went back and read any minutes and documents from meetings from the past three years that I was not able to view. When I decided to run I made sure to talk to a lot of different stakeholders including current and former teachers, parents, students, support staff and administration. This allowed me to get a lot of perspectives and ideas about education in our district. Running for trustee was a decision that I did not make lightly and ensured that I did my homework before “throwing my hat into the ring.”

b) How have you remained current with the issues that are presently being considered by the Board? Again, I have not made this decision lightly and ensured I did my research not only before I announced my nomination, but since that day I have spend hours each day researching topics, talking to people and ensuring that I am current with local and provincial issues regarding education.

c) What do you think is the most pressing issue facing School District #57?

In my opinion, there are three pressing issues that need attention from the new board. First is funding, while the new board needs to continue to advocate to the government to change the funding formula we have to understand that we may not see drastic changes to the formula in the near future. We need to find ways to reallocate the funding we already receive to find efficiencies and put money back into the classroom and try to ensure the resources are there for both teaching and learning. Second, the board needs to look at governance by reviewing policies and procedures and forming a 3-5 year strategic plan. This plan is a document that needs to be looked at and followed. It cannot be put on a shelf and never looked at again. The board also needs to ensure they are not making exception after exception because by doing that we are creating precedents and more importantly causing hard feelings between stakeholders and more problems for administration. Third, the new board needs to work at regaining the trust of our stakeholders. Parents and students have been on the defensive since 2002 and now the relationship between teachers and administration is not healthy. Trustees need to work hard to ensure stakeholders know that they are working for them and looking out for their best interests. A lot of people I have spoke to said that they do not feel that their voice was ever heard. It is time for that to change.

2. Do you have any concerns about the relationship between the School Board and each of the partner groups? If so, what are they and how would you address these concerns as an active Trustee?

Yes. No matter what partner group I spoke to they all had concerns about their relationship with the board office. Parents do not feel that their voice is being heard and comments and suggestions are written down and never discussed. Students feel that they are not given enough credit and feel that no one cares what they have to say. Teachers are asked to use new methods of teaching and embrace technology yet policies make it nearly impossible to do this and the resources are not always available for them to even try. Rural schools feel that they are forgotten and haven’t seen trustees unless it is an election year or they are closing a school. I have more examples from many different conversations but it proved to me that the board needs to do a better job. How can they represent stakeholders if they never talk to all stakeholders? How can you represent a rural school if you never stepped foot into the school? I committed at every All Candidate’s Forum that if I am elected I want to become an active member of the school communities that I am the liaison for. I will hope in my car if needed and work with the teachers, administration, support staff, PAC’s and students so I can truly represent them.

3. When faced with a Ministry directive that you are either unsure of or do not support, how do you intend to deal with it?

I believe that you have three different questions there. If there was an item that I am unsure about I will ensure that I do the research needed to make an informed decision. If there is an item that I do not support, but it is in the best interest of the stakeholders then I would need to ensure that I am voting for what is in the best interest of

the stakeholders impacted. If it is a decision that I do not support and it is not in the best of the stakeholders that I will let my opposition be known and try to make an amendment to the motion or find another solution if possible.

4. If you are elected as trustee, will you continue to support the delivery of the French Immersion program in its present three locations: Ecole Heather Park Elementary, Ecole College Heights Elementary and Ecole Lac Des Bois? Why and how?

Yes. I am happy that in 2010 they did not consolidate the entire French Immersion program into what is now Lac Des Bois. I spent eight years at Ecole Spruceland Elementary and while I was not in the French track I had many friends in the program and see great benefits to the program.

As long as it remains feasible to keep the program in the school I would not support removing the French Immersion Choice Programming from either College Heights or Hart Highway.

5. How important are rural schools to you? What ideas do you have regarding successful funding for these schools?

There has been great discussion about rural schooling on the “CoresFor Rural Schools” Group on Facebook and through that I have made my opinions known that I support rural schools and do not support the formation of these “super schools”. If you have a chance to check it out before Election Day I highly recommend it. With the current structure the district does not always have the funds or resources to keep a rural school open for declining enrollment. This is where I believe it is time that we look at partnerships and collaborations with the rural communities and regional district to find opportunities to turn the school into more than just a school. They are open to finding ways to turn the buildings into neighbourhood learning centres that house the school also houses facilities needed in the community such as space for groups, library, day care etc). I believe that the interest is there. We just have to be willing to work together and get the conversations happening.

6. How important do you feel choice programs/schools are to parents?

I fully support choice programming and schools and recognize that parents should have a say in the school that their child is attending. Not all students learn the same way and parents should have the opportunity to ensure that their child is getting the quality education they deserve.

7. Is it important to ensure that schools are not over or under capacity? Why? Does catchment mean anything in this district?

When schools are over capacity that is causes many concerns. First is that the solution seems to be portables or removing resources (such as computer labs) to put in more classrooms. We live in Northern BC and because of weather alone I don’t think portables are the solution. With so many students in the school it also limits the times that students have access to spaces outside the classroom such as the gymnasium and library. There are already schools in our district that also have more students then what fire codes allow in the gym. This means they can no longer have school wide spirit events or assemblies. We have one school in our district that has three portables and in September the board approved $1.1 million to build modular buildings on the sites of two more elementary schools. Under capacity is another problem. As I mentioned before it is important that we find ways to operate the school when numbers are low whether it is through a structure change (neighbourhood learning centre) or finding additional ways for funding efficiencies. This is all about proactive planning and consultation with stakeholders. In 2010 a group of parents and teachers met the challenge of the board and created the “More with Less” document. Not every idea would be feasible but many could help us cut spending. Yet at the October 25th, 2011 Board Meeting Trustee Crawford admitted that after the school closures they have not reviewed the ideas brought forward from stakeholders. Schools should be able to grow and contract and I believe this can happen if the board takes a proactive approach rather than dealing with the crisis when it is too late. Cutting service should be done as an absolute LAST resort. As for the catchment areas that brings up an interesting point. I understand the theory and support the catchment areas. This is an example of when I was referring to exception after exeption being made. There is now a lot of grey area to the black and white catchment area policy. The most recent example is the issue of courtesy bussing for students attending schools outside their catchment area. The one question that was never asked and perhaps what needs to be addressed is “why didn’t the parents want their child to go to the neighbourhood school”. We need to change the conversation and find ways to solve the root of the problem. If there is a problem with school or more importantly the school’s reputation we need to address

that and not keep allowing students to move to other schools, unless they are attending one of the choice schools in the district.

8. When policy is to be significantly changed, there is a process in place that includes a 60-day public consultation. Do you think this process is effective? Could it be improved/modified? If so, how?

I had the opportunity to attend a couple school closure consultations in 2010 and now speaking to stakeholders there is a general consensus that the process needs to be changed. I don’t feel that the process is effective and support change. My recommendation would be similar to the All Candidate’s Meet and Greet hosted in McBride. The first part of the consultation needs to occur with the information being presented. Why do we need to do this? The rest of the night needs to be more of an open house. Trustees then come out from behind the table and have open dialogue with stakeholders. This should not be a one sided conversation! Also I believe that one night is not enough. We need to have public consultations and “open houses” more often. This will let stakeholders know that we are listening and perhaps put some of the trust back into the trustee position.

9. The present School Board Chair, Lyn Hall, stated at the last Board meeting what he felt was the most important issue facing the next Board. Do you concur with his opinion?

I am going to be completely honest, over the last month I have spoke to many people and heard many ideas about what they feel is the most pressing issue in the district. At this time I cannot remember what Lyn stated as the most important issue. However after speaking with other current trustees both running and not I know that they all feel that the relationship with the board and stakeholders need to improve and needs to be a priority.

10. You will experience a sharp learning curve in your first term as a trustee. Many people feel that it is often in the second term that a trustee has enough of a handle on the issues that they can truly have an impact. Are you planning on sticking with education, or do you have aspirations to move to municipal/provincial/federal politics? (If you are already a trustee, please answer based on a possible third term).

You are completely right. There is going to be a steep learning curve and there is going to be a gap between what candidates want to do and what they can do during the first term on the board. That is why I am committing to things that I know I can do, and will be able to do during the first term. I have always believed that when youth are empowered and given the proper resources and support they can do great things in our communities. I have been an advocate for children and youth for many years and have sat on many local, regional and provincial boards through my work and volunteer jobs. I am the current Interim Executive Director with Big Brothers Big Sisters and have been with the agency for 6 years in a coordinator role. I am the current President of Volunteer Prince George; I sat on the regional and provincial council with Scouts Canada and was a Project Manager for the Northern Star Kids Program through Active Support Against Poverty. This proves I have a passion for advocating on behalf of children and youth. If elected and as long as I keep the trust of stakeholders and voters I hope to serve multiple terms as a trustee for School District 57.

 

 

Earl Krushelnicki

1. I go to practically all School Board meetings and I
have not seen many of you there.
a) What is your main source of information about District

matters? Newspapers, Media, Talking to people.  As an Instructor at CNC that had grads who had Developmental Delays and other challenges, from the School District coming  into the programs I taught I had the opportunity to learn from the students and their parents.  Also, both my sons got most of their education in the School District.

b) How have you remained current with the issues that are presently being considered by the Board?

Talking to people and above. Including Administrators and Teacher. Doing research.

c) What do you think is the most pressing issue facing School District #57?   The current model of education based on grouping of children by grades is,  I believe, contributing to many of the problems in classrooms.  The current model was in place over 50 years ago. The world has changed and students are different today, but the system of education remains the same.
> 2. Do you have any concerns about the relationship between  the School Board and each of the partner groups?  If so,
> what are they and how would you address these concerns as an active Trustee?

I would need to tackle issues.  I research issues, ask a bunch of questions and work with others to improve the education of students. I have worked closely with parents in the past and I believe that parents are the greatest resources regarding their children. If I do the best I can for the students, I think that would be a good start.

 

> 3. When faced with a Ministry directive that you are  either unsure of or do not support, how do you intend to deal

> with it? Find out more information, develop a position and meet with appropriate officials to get what is best for students. I have had quite abit of experience working with Government.
4. If you are elected as trustee, will you continue to support the delivery of the French Immersion program in its
present three locations: Ecole Heather Park Elementary, Ecole  College Heights Elementary and Ecole Lac Des Bois? Why and how?

Yes,  however I would also consider other options.

5. How important are rural schools to you?  I support Educating students in their home communities. When I started teach, it was in rural Saskatchewan schools and I know the value of these schools to their communities. Again, I believe changing the model  of Education will actually make it easier to provide quality education in Rural communities. What ideas do you have regarding successful funding for these schools?  First I understand that there are some restrictions on how to raise money to fund programs. I would need to get more background on these restrictions and then find a way to overcome them.   I wonder why there are not more $$$ gotten from the corporate sector.

> 6. How important do you feel choice programs/schools are  to parents? Very important. A few years ago I spoke against the closing of  Central Fort George’s Traditional Program.  My children never attended that program, but I felt that it was an important option to have in the School District. People were surprised that I did so as a member of the community.
> 7. Is it important to ensure that schools are not over or  under capacity? Why? Does catchment mean anything in

this district?  I think that Catchment is an issue that needs to be readdressed.

> 8. When policy is to be significantly changed, there is a  process in place that includes a 60-day public

> consultation. Do you think this process is  effective?  Well it might be if discussions actually took place. As I mentioned before, I was involved in defending a school. What I noticed that Trustees accepted presentations without commenting.  I noticed the same  interaction at the last Board meeting with a Presenter.  I think that  practice is not consultation. Could it be improved/modified? If so, how? I think Trustees should be more open and transparent.  One gets the impression that a number of decisions are made behind “closed doors” or via email.
>
> 9. The present School Board Chair, Lyn Hall, stated at the  last Board meeting what he felt was the most important issue facing the next Board.    I believe he was talking about bussing . Do you concur with his opinion? I think it will be easy for the new board to get involved with this issue.

>
> 10. You will experience a sharp learning curve in your  first term as a trustee. Many people feel that it is often

in the second term that a trustee has enough of a handle on the  issues that they can truly have an impact. Actually, I’m a pretty fast learner.   I expect that changes will happen in the first term.   Are you  planning on sticking with education, or do you have aspirations  to move to municipal/provincial/federal politics? I have no aspirations with other areas. Some people suggested that I  consider running for office in the City this time and I declined. (If you are already a trustee, please answer based on a possible third term).

I want to get elected as Trustee. However, If I do not get elected, I will continue being involved with Education in this School District.

 

 

Betty Bekkering

1. I do attend the board meetings.

I read the paper. I listen to the radio and I have several friends who are involved in the school system and we chat about the current issues and they lend me their copy of TEACHER.

b) I have accessed the websites relevant to the current issues. SD # 57, Teachers’ Assoc., CUPE, DPAC/ Prov. Employers’

c) Bill # 12 that is being read in the legislature as we speak! It couild have major impact on the entire province and the education system as we know it.

2. All of the relationships are strained. The lack of  bargaining in good faith from the Prov Emplyers’ Assoc. is making things worse. The lack of funding from the gov’t is putting a terrible strain on support staff and the inequities of the funding formula is detrimental to learning.

I would hope that the new board could stand as a united voice to say there needs to be a FULL REVIEW OF THE FUNDING FORMULA !!! and follow the recommendations that come out of it.

3. I have no difficulty standing up for what is right. I do not waffle on that.

4. French Immersion is a part of our Canadian culture. Of couse we need to support it. I will advocate for the 3 we currently have to remain.

5. Rural schools are very important to me. I once heard a quote” Every community deserves to hear the laughter of it’s own children” I believe that. I will fight to not see any more rural schools closed. I promised that in McBride , Valemount and Mackenzie.

6. I believe that French Immersion and our new Aboriginal Choice Schools are important. To allow parents to choose any school out of cachment is not right. It puts too many schools at a disadvantage of being underenroled. Socio economics tend to play more of a role than quality of education.

7..I answered in # 6.

8. 60 days consultation seems adequate. I would have to see it put to the test before answering this question.

9. He felt a total review of the “bussing” policy needs to be a priority with the new board……I think ther are more pressing issues.

10. You have asked questions that  already test my ability to grasp the issues. Your question of my longevity as a trustee is a tad premature. I’ll answe that after my first 3 years.

Cheers. Betty Bekkering

 

 

 

 

Andrew Burton

Hi Jacqui
Thank you for your detailed and thoughtful questions. I have taken the time
to try and address them fully.

Andrew Burton
Candidate for SAchool District 57 Trustee

In response to your questions:
1. I go to practically all School Board meetings and I have not seen many
of you there.
a) What is your main source of information about District matters?
b) How have you remained current with the issues that are presently being
considered by the Board?
c) What do you think is the most pressing issue facing School District #57?

My regular job is as a counselor and as a community educator focusing on
specific skills and awareness. I provide in-school presentations and
workshops. For three years I conducted weekly group sessions for students
in four high schools.  I have worked with many of our schools over the past
several years. I also work with many of the youth in the community.  This
experience has given me insight into the issues our children face and the
problems our schools encounter
A lot of people are going to say that the big issues is funding. I think
that funding is important but is not the most significant problem. I
believe the most pressing issue facing all our schools districts is the
relationship between the community, the teachers and the government.
Community members do not seem to give a lot of thought to school issues
unless there is a crisis such as school closures or cuts in service. I
believe this is because people do not believe they will be heard, that they
can have an effect. We need to change that. Relationships between school
staff, board and Ministry of Education are not open enough. The current job
action shows the adversarial relationship that exists between ministry and
teachers. We need to change that relationship.  We need to get past the
political games and get everyone, community members, parents, teachers,
board and government working together in good faith. We need a clear and
understandable plan for the future of our school system and the means to
fund it effectively. We can best do that by building open and honest means
of communication.
2. Do you have any concerns about the relationship between the School Board
and each of the partner groups? If so, what are they and how would you
address these concerns as an active Trustee?

I think my last answer spoke to some of this.
I believe that we need to start with some processes, such as open space
meetings, to engage all stakeholders in dialogue about what we want for our
schools and where our educational system is headed. We need to support our
PACs more effectively as a voice for parents. I have presented at a number
of PAC events over the past few years. Some of these were well attended,
some not. We need to engage more parents and promote PAC involvement
better. I think we do that by making a commitment at the board level to
connect with PACs more effectively.  Parents need to know they have a voice
and real influence. This will help to develop PAC involvement.
We need to change the story when we, as a board, connect to our teachers.
We have many really skilled teachers in SD57. We need to pay attention to
what they do and what resources they need to be effective. If our teachers
identify needs we, as a board, need to acknowledge that and involve the
teachers in making the case to government. If government refuses our
teachers the resources they need we need to involve the teachers in
planning to deal with the shortfall.
We need to engage the government, parents and teachers in developing a
clear plan for the future of our educational system. We need to connect to
government in ways that discuss how we get things done rather than why we
can’t. Too much of the connections with government seem to be driven by
partisan political agendas rather than by the needs of our students. We
need to change that.

3. When faced with a Ministry directive that you are either unsure of or do
not support, how do you intend to deal with it?

If I am unsure of a directive I will seek clarification. Depending on the
nature of the directive I will consult with those affected by it, with
other board members and with the community to determine a response or a
course of action. Sometimes a directive will have an effect that only
someone directly dealing with it can forsee. We need to ensure that voice
is heard.
4. If you are elected as trustee, will you continue to support the delivery
of the French Immersion program in its present three locations: Ecole
Heather Park Elementary, Ecole College Heights Elementary and Ecole Lac Des
Bois? Why and how?

French Immersion is an important part of our educational process. My
granddaughter attended French Immersion preschool and is now in CHE. The
program has been a very good experience for her. Language education has
some practical benefits in that speaking more than one language opens up
opportunities but there is more involved than that. Learning another
language helps to develop thinking and learning skills that are
transferable to other learning environments. I support the program. I think
we need to give a lot of thought to how we can best maintain or expand
these programs. We need to encourage programs to clearly document their
approaches and outcomes so that we can make a case for the programs.

5. How important are rural schools to you? What ideas do you have regarding
successful funding for these schools?

We need to look at developing a new way to allocate funding at a provincial
level. Current funding strategies are strongly influenced by school systems
in the lower mainland. However, new funding guidelines are in the process
of being developed. We need to ensure that our rural needs are properly
represented in the decision making process. That means creating a
connection between our representatives and the people living and working in
our rural communities. We need people from outlying communities such as
Mackenzie, McBride, Valemount and Dunster involved in reviewing our
position in negotiations with the province.

6. How important do you feel choice programs/schools are to parents?

I believe choice programs are very important. I believe we need better
means of engaging parents in awareness of what is possible through choice
schools and programs. Choice programs are a way to offer more specialized
and more relevant educational experiences to our students. Students who
have the opportunity to take part in such programs can potentially have a
better school experience making it more likely that they will succeed and
more likely that they will continue to Post Secondary Education. These
programs are of increased importance to rural schools where opportunities
are often limited. We need to develop innovative means of delivering
programs and offering alternatives in education so that our students have
learning opportunities at a par with anywhere  in the country. This may
involve developing our own means of service delivery and curriculum. We
need to work with our teachers, our students and our parents to best
develop such programs.

7. Is it important to ensure that schools are not over or under capacity?
Why? Does catchment mean anything in this district?

The issue of choice comes into this discussion as well. We need to set some
limits regarding catchment. Some schools are at capacity because of
students from outside their catchment area. Others are below enrolment
because parents choose to send their children to other schools. This
creates a hardship for both schools. We needto address this problem by
being more assertive about catchemnt rules and by addressing the issues
that lead to decisions to send children out of the catchment area.
8. When policy is to be significantly changed, there is a process in place
that includes a 60-day public consultation. Do you think this process is
effective? Could it be improved/modified? If so, how?

How you conduct consultation is important. Often there are consultation
processes that go by and, when asked, people say they did not hear about
them. We need to organize consultation better and advertise them more
effectively. We also need to consider how we conduct the process.
Consultation often consists of people sitting al istening to a presentation
making a case for something without meaningful discussion other than an
open mike for questions. We need to take the time to discuss the issues
related to change and potential impacts and alternatives. This may mean
creative alternatives to current consultation processes. I like the use of
Open Space meetings that engage participants in detailed discussion and
problem solving.
9. The present School Board Chair, Lyn Hall, stated at the last Board
meeting what he felt was the most important issue facing the next Board. Do
you concur with his opinion?

I do not recall what Lyn said on the topic. As I said in my response to
earlier questions, I think the biggest issue is the relationship between
parents, the board, the teachers, administration, and government. We need
to change the story we have about the roles responsibilities and vision of
all the stakeholders so that we are all working collaboratively toward
shared goals

10. You will experience a sharp learning curve in your first term as a
trustee. Many people feel that it is often in the second term that a
trustee has enough of a handle on the issues that they can truly have an
impact. Are you planning on sticking with education, or do you have
aspirations to move to municipal/provincial/federal politics? (If you are
already a trustee, please answer based on a possible third term)

I have a history of involvement with young people and with the school
system. I am not running to further a political career. I am running to
improve the school experience for our youth. I am aware of the learning
curve. I believe I can be a clear and valuable voice on the board.

Andrew Burton

 

 

Elona Arnett

 

From: Elona Arnett <arnett.elona@gmail.com>

Date: November 16, 2011 10:33:47 AM PST

To: Jacqueline Dockray <jacqui@webartz.com>

Subject: Re: Questions

 

Dear Ms. Dockray,

 

Thank you for your very thought provoking e-mail.

From your questions it is obvious that you are very well informed about the issues at SD#57. I agree with you that the learning curve is a steep and long one for newly elected trustees.

The main reason I am running for school trustee is what I see as the deepening conflict in public education. Over the last decade I have observed increasing aggravation between the provincial government and BC school districts, including parents, teachers and trustees. The current disastrous state of labour relations is, I believe, the most serious impediment to educational progress in our schools. Now you may be thinking that is a pretty ambitious project for just one person, but I am hoping that together with other school districts and the teachers union, we can approach the Ministry of Education looking for ways to bridge this divide. It has been done before; as a matter of fact, I was instrumental in creating a Funding Agreement Committee comprised of First Nation representatives and the Department of Indian Affairs in 2005 when I was working for a First Nation community in northern BC. This committee, which still operates, has greatly enhanced the working relationship and understanding between First Nations and government funders.

As far as all your points about issues in the district, I believe in consensus. That means that there will be times when I will have to put my own personal beliefs aside for the common good. That’s not to say I won’t try to convince others of my point of view first, but in the end we all must work towards the best solution for the students in school. I am committed both locally and provincially to improving public education, in addition to working to ensure children are well grounded in literacy and numeracy. I believe it is important that students be encouraged to develop their sense of social responsibility and citizenship, and am looking forward to working with teachers to provide the best quality education in the province.

I hope that you will support me on Saturday November 19th Jacqui, as I would enjoy working with someone as passionate and knowledgeable about education as you are.

Sincerely,

Elona Arnett, CGA

 

 

 

 

Sharel Warrington

 

Jacqueline:  I will try to address each question independently but I know there will be overlap so please bear with me.

 

1.  I go to practically all School Board meetings and I have not seen many of you there.

a)  What is your main source of information about District matters?

b)  How have you remained current with the issues that are presently being considered by the Board?

c)  What do you think is the most pressing issue facing School District #57?

 

I appreciate your question.  I also have  appreciated your attendance at our Board meetings.Your thoughtful and well researched suggestions regarding how we can better serve our students, the educational and organizational running of our district have given me much hope in building a more open and transparent relationship with all our partners.

 

In answer to part c of your first question I will share my thoughts in two ways, looking back and looking forward. Looking back we are at  the end of a most difficult term of office, we faced extreme financial challenges we made  tough decisions and unpopular choices . There were lessons to be learned  and there was a need to examine those lessons.  Unfortunately as a board this did not happen. However from my perspective some of the most important lessons included the need to find more effective ways for collaboration  and problem solving issues, for open and transparent communication.  The need for more effective ways  both formally and informally to engage our communities and  our partners in setting priorities,  long term planning,  developing and reviewing  policies, programs and services.

Addressing those lessons learned  is part of what I think is a most pressing issue.  However there are many pressing issues of equal importance. The board will need to continue  to address its financial issues, a shrinking budget, declining enrolment and an increasing mandate but now more than ever it will need to address our educational challenges which include but are not limited to  the challenges facing our rural schools, how we deal with class composition and school organization, how we support course delivery and course offering  in  all our schools, how we support choice. There is a considerable list .  Is there one most pressing issue – no there are many and this new board will need to be up to the challenge of addressing each of them.

 

2.  Do you have any concerns about the relationship between the School Board and each of the partner groups?  If so, what are they and how would you address these concerns as an active Trustee?

I have partly answered this in my first response.  For the past 6 years as a member of two boards, the relationship between the board and each partner group was a priority.  We did pride ourselves in actively working to improve that relationship, however I do believe that,as I mentioned earlier, in the process of addressing our financial challenges we did not meet our own expectations for open and transparent communication.  There were many questions not properly addressed.

If re-elected I have given much thought to the question of relationships in all aspects of a boards work. A first priority for me will to actively work to create a team that values the contributions and strengths of each member and will work to build and  foster inclusive, positive and productive relationships between each other, our partners and our staff. This will be my first priority in what ever roll I am to play as a member of this new board.

3.  When faced with a Ministry directive that you are either unsure of or do not support, how do you intend to deal with it?All boards need to be pro-active rather than reactive.  As a board and as individual trustees we must be prepared to speak and act on behalf of the best interests of all students in our distinct.  We need to demonstrate how and why we support or opposed  a Ministry directive. We need to be able to view all aspects of any directive knowledgeably and weigh the merits, benefits  and limitations in a thoughtful and respectful manner using all the channels of communication available to us to advocate for our students.

 

4.   If you are elected as trustee, will you continue to support the delivery of the French Immersion program in its present three locations: Ecole Heather Park Elementary, Ecole College Heights Elementary and Ecole Lac Des Bois?  Why and how? Yes.  I support the options of a dual track program for French Immersion at both Ecole Heather Park and Ecole College Heights.  Having a single track option at Lac Des Bois offers parents that choice as well.   I believe that within our public system parents and students should have the option to choose the programs that best suit their needs and goals.

 

5.  How important are rural schools to you?  What ideas do you have regarding successful funding for these schools? Rural schools are critical to rural communities.  The children of families in rural communities should be able to attend school as close to home as possible.  Rural schools require a different funding formula in order that  they are able to offer the same educational opportunities and support as students in urban settings.  Per pupil funding does not work for small and rural schools, a more sustainable and realistic formula is needed to address the costs of support for educational programs in rural schools.  All over the province, districts are struggling with ways to fund and meet the needs of their rural schools.  Putting our heads together, addressing and costing out these issues, developing an alternate approach to the rural funding issue would go a long way in advocating to the government for a realistic change in the way rural schools are funded.  Currently the BCSTA is considering recommendations from member districts on ways to address this and other funding formula issues.  These recommendations will go to the Technical Review Committee.  It is our hope that this committee will see the need for significant changes in our funding formula  to better meet the needs of all students including those who live in rural communities.

 

6.  How important do you feel choice programs/schools are to parents? I answered this in your 4th question.

 

7.  Is it important to ensure that schools are not over or under capacity?  Why?  Does catchment mean anything in this district? This question has much  to do with the per pupil funding formula that drives the funding for our schools.  Schools need to be able to focus on the ability to deliver quality programs for all students in an a quality learning environment.  Catchment was designed to  provide the geographic area that a neighbourhood school would serve. Population shifts , growth and decline in any neighbourhood school has always been a challenge  However,  when choice became another option the question of catchment began to take on a different meaning.   Then with  the change in the funding formula from funding schools to funding students along with the option of choice, over capacity and under capacity took on a new meaning as well.  The capacity of a school must be looked at as its capacity to provide quality educational opportunities and programs in a quality learning environment. If the concept of catchment is needed to protect that concept of capacity then catchment does have meaning in this district.

 

8.  When policy is to be significantly changed, there is a process in place that includes a 60-day public consultation.  Do you think this process is effective?  Could it be improved/modified?  If so, how? As I stated in the first question, how we engage our public in meaningful dialogue is the issue.  We need to be clear what consultation means and looks like.  There needs to be a far more open process through which the board invites the public for input.  The current process is  ineffective.  Opportunities for meaningful dialogue need to be established within that 60 day cycle.

 

9.  The present School Board Chair, Lyn Hall, stated at the last Board meeting what he felt was the most important issue facing the next Board.  Do you concur with his opinion? I need to apologize here because I do not recall Trustee Hall’s statement on what he felt was the most important issue.  As I said before, I believe there isn’t a most important issue,  There are many equally important issues and the new board will need to be up to addressing each of them if we are to move our district forward in a positive and productive way that meets the current and future needs of our students.

 

10.  You will experience a sharp learning curve in your first term as a trustee.  Many people feel that it is often in the second term that a trustee has enough of a handle on the issues that they can truly have an impact.  Are you planning on sticking with education, or do you have aspirations to move to municipal/provincial/federal politics? (If you are already a trustee, please answer based on a possible third term) There is always more to learn.  It is true the first term is a sharp learning curve however, each term presents different challenges.  Trustees must constantly be asking questions and seeking understanding on emerging issues and challenges.

 

I have been in education all my life.  I became a trustee because I wanted to continue to serve the students and families in School District 57. I am hoping to continue that work for a third term.   I have no desire or interest in anything more than the doing most important work of being a trustee.

 

Sincerely.

Sharel Warrington.

 

 

Brenda Hooker

1.  I go to practically all School Board meetings and I have not seen many of you there. Very true, I have only attended one meeting and had the same concern myself, do I really have something to offer in the Board role when I haven’t been extensively involved in the past? I struggled with the decision to run but decided that I would put myself forward this time and even if I am not successful this time it will only be the beginning of my extensive involvement for our children.

a)  What is your main source of information about District matters? My main source has been my sister who is in administration in the District but I have also had friends and family who have been affected by school closures and other decisions. Education concerns were my catalysts to run but since then I have met with concerned educators, sitting trustees, District administration, parents and children to find out more about the issues. My main focus as a trustee would be finances, communication and rural areas. I felt a stronger advocate in these areas was needed to address pressing issues for our District which to often come down to lack of dollars.

b)  How have you remained current with the issues that are presently being considered by the Board? I have done my best to do my homework about both current issues and the good things happening in education to prior to declaring and throughout this election campaign. This has mainly been done by talking to our learning partners however I have also done online research, met with concerned people and reviewed local pages like DPAC and SD57 sites. I poured over the District plan for student success and other documents, looked at blogs, researched recent education articles, signed up to twitter and began following education partners and reviewed past agendas and meeting videos.

 

c)  What do you think is the most pressing issue facing School District #57? I started out thinking that the most pressing issue was fiscal, the declining enrolment’s and the current per-student funding formula and how to navigate the financial pressures without further service cuts and closing more schools, but now I see an escalation in the teachers contract dispute and a barrier with the government wanting to listen to the concerns and address the issues. I think the most pressing issue is getting the contract settled without the need for a full-blown strike. The Ministry needs to listen to their educators and bargain in good faith.

 

2.  Do you have any concerns about the relationship between the School Board and each of the partner groups?  If so, what are they and how would you address these concerns as an active Trustee? This is one of my main concerns as a candidate, the sitting Board has not done a great job with facilitating relationships with it’s learning partners. We need ongoing, regular dialog with all stakeholders to learn about issues and solicit input into the decisions that are made at the board table. As a sitting trustee, setting up informal town halls and focus groups will be one of my main goals. It is crucial I believe because the Board is removed from the day to day operations in the classroom, without this type of dialogue how can we really identify issues and formulate solutions.

3.  When faced with a Ministry directive that you are either unsure of or do not support, how do you intend to deal with it? If I was unsure, I would do further research and try to discuss the directive with as many of the learning partners as possible. If my research lead me to the conclusion that I could not support it, I would voice my opposition both verbally and in writing and would never vote for something I could not support. That said though, sometimes my personal beliefs will have to be set aside for the wishes of the electorate. If our learning partners predominately support an initiative then I would have to vote in support. If I am so lucky to be elected, I am in that chair as your representative and never forget the need to always remain accountable to the folks that placed enough trust in me to put me there.

 

4.  If you are elected as trustee, will you continue to support the delivery of the French Immersion program in its present three locations: Ecole Heather Park Elementary, Ecole College Heights Elementary and Ecole Lac Des Bois?  Why and how? Yes, I do support both the single-track and dual track French immersion programs. I support this for numerous reasons: being bilingual is very valuable and we should offer programs to facilitate that, having the choice programs dispersed through the city is important and having the flexibility to have one child in immersion and another in regular programming at the same school is important for parents. Support at the board table would come from valuing the choice and voting to retain it if the issue came up. I do not believe that any cost savings that would come from closing the dual-track outweigh the benefits to our children by keeping them.

 

5.  How important are rural schools to you?  What ideas do you have regarding successful funding for these schools? The rural schools are very important to me and supporting them is another of my main goals in a trustee position. I moved into PG from McBride in 2000. I have friends and family in each McBride, Valemount and Mackenzie. I am very familiar with those communities and their needs. The identified urban/rural gap must be addressed and the main way we can do that by addressing the funding formula. There is a process in place that is reviewing the formula but the board needs to be a strong advocate for change. However, we cannot rely on those potential changes alone. We need to be meeting with communities and facilitating innovative ideas for retaining and supporting education our rural schools rather than just closing them. For example there is an innovative plan in Mackenzie for the District to partner with a local employer to share the closed Mack1 school and get it reopened. The community has come up with an innovative solution, now the board and district office also have to be creative in getting it to happen.

 

6.  How important do you feel choice programs/schools are to parents? Choice programs are extremely important to parents in finding the best education option that fits their child’s unique needs. My son was in a choice program and I sincerely appreciated that option. We need to value and support choice in our district to help meet the education needs of all our students. However, we also have to balance the choices with support for community schools. If we allow the parents with means and motivation to simply register their kids in any school they choose we abandon the schools that are seen as less desirable to a perpetual decline.

 

7.  Is it important to ensure that schools are not over or under capacity?  Why?  Does catchment mean anything in this district? Catchment is very important, I do not support schools that are over-capacity as I truly believe that does not facilitate good learning. I recognize having that option is important to parents but instead of allowing a stampede away from some schools we also need to address the  issues and concerns of parents in those schools. We also have to remember that the roads go both ways. Why do we allow children to be transported into a school that is over-capacity when we could be bringing them a short distance the other way to a rural school that could use more kids? Catchment an bussing will need to be one of the main areas of priority for the new board.

 

8.  When policy is to be significantly changed, there is a process in place that includes a 60-day public consultation.  Do you think this process is effective?  Could it be improved/modified?  If so, how? I do not think the process is currently effective. It is almost like negative polling, the changes are posted then we wait for input, this method is not effective.The Board needs to be proactive in setting up forums to facilitate discussions. We need to go to the people rather than waiting for concerns to come to us. As well, without ongoing dialogue, partners do not know if their suggestions have been considered and do not receive a full explanation as to why decisions were made. Proactive processes need to be in place BEFORE, during and after significant policy changes.

 

9.  The present School Board Chair, Lyn Hall, stated at the last Board meeting what he felt was the most important issue facing the next Board.  Do you concur with his opinion? I was at that meeting and Lyn mentioned that transportation will have to be addressed but I am not certain that was what he felt was the most important issue. Many things were discussed including the funding formula and the contract dispute and I have to admit that I am not certain of what he stressed was the most important. This question is like being caught without paying attention in class, I am sorry. I could pull up the meeting and watch it again but that would not answer your underlying question, which is was I paying attention and clearly I may be below average on that aspect.

 

10.  You will experience a sharp learning curve in your first term as a trustee.  Many people feel that it is often in the second term that a trustee has enough of a handle on the issues that they can truly have an impact.  Are you planning on sticking with education, or do you have aspirations to move to municipal/provincial/federal politics? (If you are already a trustee, please answer based on a possible third term). I am fully aware that it will be a steep learning curve and that it takes almost the full term to really get a sense of all of the issues and be effective in the role. I have served a term as municipal council in McBride so I have a little experience about those challenges but I almost fell into that role. Members of the community approached me about running, it was not something I had ever really considered. I had been active in the community and town leaders felt I could be good in the council role, it took some convincing but they were right. I was a good councillor. So did I grow up wanting to be involved in government, no but it seems it is something I am good at, only God knows why. I only served one term there because I needed to move for work and found myself in PG. Since moving here I have not been actively involved in the community because I was working full-time, raising my son and getting my CGA. Now I am ready to get involved again and really enjoy local government. I did consider council in PG very briefly because that is what I do have experience in but education is what I am really passionate about. I am a lifelong learner and really do want to offer my skills to help improve education for all our students. A position on School Board really would be a good fit for my passions and interest in public service. I would be humbled and honoured to be considered for 3 terms on the School Board and would love the opportunity to serve that long or longer. I do not have other political aspirations at this point, but I will never say never. I am very civically engaged and just like when I considered school board, if I truly felt I had something to offer, I may consider it way down the road. For me putting my name forward for school board was not because I wanted a stepping stone to other opportunities. If I am successful in the role, it may lead to something else but I would certainly not consider anything else in the foreseeable future. Education needs committed, dedicated advocates and even if I am not successful in this attempt it will not be the end of my involvement in doing my small part to better education for all our children.

Trish Bella

Good morning Jacqui
Hope you and your family are well.
I will skip your first question as that is directed more towards the new candidates and answer from there.
2)My feeling is that the input needs to be sought earlier than it currently is. When considering significant changes to policies or the way we “do business” input needs to be gathered from all those effected by those possible changes prior to the rewriting of the policies or procedures. This would elliminate the need for writing and rewriting during the 60 day consult.This process was used while writing the 2 new policies around Aboriginal Education. The wording was determined at the consultation stage and agreed upon prior to it go to the board for approval.  Also I would hope that the new board continues with calling on the partners at the public meetings.
3) During my first term on this Board I have been faced with Ministry directives I did not agree with and have voiced my opposition when this happens. If it is not in the best interest of our students, employees or district as a whole I will and have stood up and voiced those concerns.
4)I am formerly a French Imm parent. My child was not successful in the program however I continue to be a voice for choice programming in education. My choice as a parent was to move her into the English program. As we move forward with the focus on the success of the 21st Century Learner, how better do we supprt this success than by offering a variety of settings where our students can pursue their education.
5) Absolutely rural schools are important to our communities. The current per pupil funding does not suuport this adequately. What I see as a funding option is determining a theshold where the per pupil is no longer viable and we get back to funding the building and programs.
6)please refer to point # 4
7) Yes. Over crowding, lack of funds to provide programs and services, use of portables which we are committed to reduce, lack of space for students that move into the area during the school year to name a few issues around over/under capacity. Yes schools do have catchments assigned with the exception of choice programs which have the district as their catchment.
8)I think it can be improved. If input from partner groups is sought at an earlier stage in the developement or changing of policy wording the policy can better reflect the needs of those the policy effects most. The wording will also be in clearer more understandable terms for all.
9) Yes I do believe what was raised by our Chair however I feel there is one most important issue before the new board can move forward. This is the full orientation of all new trustees to the opperations of district 57 and providing them with the full knowledge of the work this current board has done and continues to do til the completion of its mandate. Then the new board be able to move forward effectively on the behalf of the district as a whole.
10) My passion has always been to advocate for School District 57 in a professional respectful manner. This district is where my heart is. I have no further political aspirations than to continue in my role as trustee and to be a fair, approachable and informed representative of our district at both the local and provincial level. By conducting myself in this manner I am better able to advocate for all of our students, employees and the district as a whole. My vision is an accessible public school system where all students have the opportunity to reach their fullest potential in an environment that supports their individual needs.
Thank you for asking these questions
Take care
Trish
(Trish Bella)

Kate Cooke

You ask great questions!!!! I wished you asked about greening up school grounds…. we need more trees everywhere….. I’ll even plant them myself.
On 15-Nov-11, at 8:16 PM, Jacqui Dockray wrote:
1.  I go to practically all School Board meetings and I have not seen many of you there.
a)  What is your main source of information about District matters?
-spending time at ECHE, as a parent & volunteer
-talking with parents like you
-talking with my husband who is a teacher
-talking with other teacher friends at DPTodd, PGSS, CHSS, ECHE, LacDesBois, Harwin
-memory of 2010 and consultation meetings, which I attended, program changes, etc. (not all good memories)
b)  How have you remained current with the issues that are presently being considered by the Board?
-I’ve been to 2 or 3 board meetings and watched parts of 4 more on webcast in the last year and a half
-I met with and talked to a group of teachers when I decided to run and got them to answer questions about what was important
-I’ve emailed a few teachers with questions and follow some on twitter, read their websites, etc.
-I read the stuff that comes from the board office and look at their website
c)  What do you think is the most pressing issue facing School District #57?
-If I had to pick just one it would be the relationship between the school board all of the people it calls their partner groups
-improve this relationship and it becomes much easier for a team approach to solving other important problems
-settling teacher contract has been mentioned by others as #1…. I agree it’s huge but wonder how much our trustees can influence the outcome
2.  Do you have any concerns about the relationship between the School Board and each of the partner groups?  If so, what are they and how would you address these concerns as an active Trustee?
-teachers: many committees that used to exist for teachers and district staff to sit and talk are gone, like technology. I would like to see some of these restored, and get the board office to respect who is actually teaching the kids…. this is a big one, right or wrong the teachers seem to think the board office is not listening or is going in a different direction
-parents: the 2010 sustainability process demonstrated this dysfunction. PACs and DPAC have set an amazing example for community involvement
-regional district: take their cue and sit down to discuss common issues…… they had to fight for this basic respect in 2010
-school administration: encourage them to be bolder educational leaders and advocates for public education
-students: tough one, I think most of their interests can go through their parents if the input process is fair
-aboriginal education partners: the issues are complex and we have more than one approach on the go for addressing the gap…. support and celebrate the work already being done
-corporations: scares me, don’t want them to have more influence, but how do you say no to a mill in Mackenzie if they wanted to help support a school?
-support staff & specialists: seek their input more often
-civic governments: look for ways to meet on common issues, we’re all a part of community sustainability
-university: are we listening or following their advice for educational change? worth investigating…
-police: can we involve them more in drug prevention and crimes in our schools?
-did I miss any?
3.  When faced with a Ministry directive that you are either unsure of or do not support, how do you intend to deal with it?
-need more info……. do you mean like an order to provide information or to put a new program in place or to balance the budget?
-to be honest, I would want to know how the other trustees felt about each directive so we could attempt a common front if we don’t like what we’re being served
-the current government plan is full of cliches and we need local leaders and teachers to let us know what this looks like for our schools
4.   If you are elected as trustee, will you continue to support the delivery of the French Immersion program in its present three locations: Ecole Heather Park Elementary, Ecole College Heights Elementary and Ecole Lac Des Bois?  Why and how?
-this issue is what made me talk about “honesty in education” in my platform….. we’ve heard the support for French Immersion message managed too many times to know what is going on…. does the board office want to squeeze out ECHE? Will Heather Park be next? It sometimes seems they want to consolidate schools the slow way, what with sibling priority and enrollment caps
-I’d ask for absolute clarity that 3 centers for French Immersion is healthy and viable (the research was already done by parents in 2010) and ensure there is no other agenda
-I would celebrate the success at all three… each one serves a wonderful purpose to communities and each has its own character
-If French Immersion is growing, giving full support to 3 centers or even more makes sense
-This needs more discussion, but the future of Gladstone needs to be talked about, and French Immersion may have a role there

5.  How important are rural schools to you?  What ideas do you have regarding successful funding for these schools?
-this was a big one for me to get right on my platform
-I think rural schools give small towns stability that they don’t necessarily get from natural resources
-rural towns are aging, and need younger families to feel supported,,, this is imoprtant for farming and resource stability, something we all benefit from
-shared use of buildings, pilot projects for anything they actually want to try to improve their situation
-support and encourage the other trustees who want to lobby the Ministry for better funding for rural schools
-from what I gather, it makes sense to re-open MAC1 in Mackenzie
6.  How important do you feel choice programs/schools are to parents?
-parents probably balance choice programs with the ability of their kids to walk to school
-choice schools are strategic choices for parents, but they sometimes create perceptions of rich vs poor
-every school can shine for its won reasons, they don;t all have to be the same but there should be fairness in the way they are supported
-sometimes fairness requires unequal funding: rural schools and inner city schools have some costs that other schools do not
-we picked French Immersion at ECHE because of bilingualism, because English and French were taught side by side, because the drive was the same as Spruceland (at the time), the school had trees and a good reputation for teachers and principal
-there are hundreds of reasons why each family does what it does and we are lucky to have so many good choices in Prince George
-I’m interested to know about choice options in rural communities…. for instance is there any interest for other programs in Mackenzie?
-there has to be a balance between choice and neighbourhood schools
7.  Is it important to ensure that schools are not over or under capacity?  Why?  Does catchment mean anything in this district?
-playing with catchment is tough because families want to know what to expect, you can’t change it too often or it makes chaos for communities
-having the whole district as the catchment for choice schools makes sense, it allows them to thrive based on their merits
-overcapacity means lots of different things, like Heritage is over full because parents want to send their kids there.. how do you tell parents they shouldn’t do that?
-capping enrollment make sense sometimes, it is logical, but isn’t always a good thing
-I don’t think bigger is better, but sometimes a school becomes so empty that we have to look at shared use and last resort is closure… I think the district should use other cost-saving options before even thinking about school closure
8.  When policy is to be significantly changed, there is a process in place that includes a 60-day public consultation.  Do you think this process is effective?  Could it be improved/modified?  If so, how?
-process is brutal, no process will please anyone and I understand the difficult position the trustees are put in, but the process needs fixing
-with school closures, they waited until January so that there could be no adjustments…. that’s not fair… most of the money problem was known long before, years before
-we should do like Kamloops did in 2010…… get input, put the input on the website, sit down and re-do the plan based on input, and come up with a final plan that actually reflects input
-an example is sibling priority…. they made up a policy as a knee-jerk reaction to enrollment pressure without talking to parents first….. they got their starting-point policy mixed up and caused parents alot of grief…. they could have started by asking the public “what is important to you as we consider changes to kindergarten registration?”
-once again, parents had to fight and present over and over again hoping to be heard… a more interactive process could have alleviated the doubt about how it would end
9.  The present School Board Chair, Lyn Hall, stated at the last Board meeting what he felt was the most important issue facing the next Board.  Do you concur with his opinion?
-do you mean bussing? its important but its part of a larger picture…. other issues are probably more important
-courtesy bussing should be extended to ANY STUDENT who can get on a empty bus and ride close to their school
-part of the problem is reserving seats for kids who might ride the bus… can this be tightened up so buses are filled by actual riders? (requires less busses)
-save money on busses by using drop-off points and shortening routes… requires public input, though
10.  You will experience a sharp learning curve in your first term as a trustee.  Many people feel that it is often in the second term that a trustee has enough of a handle on the issues that they can truly have an impact.  Are you planning on sticking with education, or do you have aspirations to move to municipal/provincial/federal politics? (If you are already a trustee, please answer based on a possible third term).
-I want to be trustee because its where I can make a difference….. fair policies and getting the board office to get their act together on some of their dysfunctional relationships
-I don’t want to be parent who just grumbles in the playground….. I’m probably living here for 13 years at least as my kids go through the school system and I want to make things better for them
-I find politics interesting but I have no interest in any other political levels, this makes me nervous enough
-I’ve been to a lot of different schools in my life, K-12 and post-secondary in many provinces and 3 countries, and consider myself a life-long learner… education is very important to me and I want my kids to value it for their whole lives
-I’d like to do one term, do it well, try and check off as many things on my to-do list as possible, and that’s probably enough unless I really enjoy it and I get feedback that suggests I should do it again
-I don’t think the incumbents should get a free ride just because they’re used to the job….. I think a rookie trustee could get up to speed in a few months
-I’m anxious about parts of this job, but its really important to do and I think I can help make a well-rounded team if I get elected
-I’m hoping for a good mix on the new board: listeners, leaders, organizers, educators, parents, funding specialists, caring advocates, dreamers
Thanks,
Kate

Valentine Crawford

Hello Jacqui,

My apologies for the lateness of my responses.

What do you think is the most pressing issue facing School District #57?

 

Declining enrolments, rural education, and bussing I believe are going to be the three biggest issues for the district over the next three years.

 

Do you have any concerns about the relationship between the School Board and each of the partner groups?  If so, what are they and how would you address these concerns as an active Trustee?

 

I do believe our relationships with our partner groups are strong as compared to other districts in the Province; however, I am more concerned about the relationship with the general community. Education continues to take a back bench to other things such as roads and snow removal etc. and I strongly believe that needs to change. My plan is engage other organizations such as the Chamber of Commerce to bridge the gap between the District and the Community.

 

When faced with a Ministry directive that you are either unsure of or do not support, how do you intend to deal with it?

 

The strong relationship the Board has with its Educational Partner Groups are the foundation in which Trustees explore difficult issues and try to understand the impacts of programs and directives from the Ministry. We need to be more willing to have open and frank discussions about issues together and when necessary we should tackle issues collectively.

 

If you are elected as trustee, will you continue to support the delivery of the French Immersion program in its present three locations: Ecole Heather Park Elementary, Ecole College Heights Elementary and Ecole Lac Des Bois?  Why and how?

 

We have three great French Immersion programs in this district and I am committed to seeing them stay as part of our divers educational offerings.

 

How important are rural schools to you?  What ideas do you have regarding successful funding for these schools?

 

It’s also important that communities have schools for current workers to send their children to. It’s simply unacceptable that provincial funding formulas have resulted in the closure of rural schools. School District 57 has been disproportionately hurt by the provincial government’s inattention to rural education. I am committed to pressing the province to revisit their cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all approach to education and ensure that schools in this region are able to remain open.
 
Is it important to ensure that schools are not over or under capacity?  Why?  Does catchment mean anything in this district?

 

In a district that has a declining enrolment such as ours it is important for the district to try and stabilize school capacities in order to prevent any further realignments of the district. I believe that we need to have a moratorium on the purchase of any additional portables in the district, outside of the Early Learning initiatives launched by the Ministry of Education.

 

When policy is to be significantly changed, there is a process in place that includes a 60-day public consultation.  Do you think this process is effective?  Could it be improved/modified?  If so, how?
 
The current process for Policy development and changes is not simple and we have done considerable work to make the process more open and understandable for the public. Trustees do have an option under their bylaws to make a motion that would create a public hearing/community meeting on a specific issue. When the Board is faced with a substantial policy changes that has considerable, I plan to fully support such actions when necessary to ensure meaningful engagement with the public.

 

The present School Board Chair, Lyn Hall, stated at the last Board meeting what he felt was the most important issue facing the next Board.  Do you concur with his opinion?

 

Lyn Hall is very correct that bussing is going to be a considerable issue for this Board to deal with; however, I don’t believe that this notion should overshadow the Education Agenda for learners over the next three years.

 

Are you planning on sticking with education, or do you have aspirations to move to municipal, provincial, federal politics?

 

My plan is to stay with Education as long as I am able to have a positive and constructive impact on the District. Beyond that I am not sure where things will take me.

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