DPAC questions emailed to trustee candidates October 28th, at 8:30pm. Answers received from Dennis Fudge November 5th
1. What do you think is important to parents in the district?
Since the people answering these questions are running for school board trustee there is a very good chance that most of the answers will be based on a good education and a safe and fun environment for their children. This question is a good example as to how one can miss the real question because they are too focused on a specific topic.
I believe what is most important to parents in the district is to have a good job that they enjoy doing so they can live comfortably and have a happy and healthy family. All parents want their children to be happy so by having a good job they can afford to buy what their children want and do what their children want to do. All parents hope that their children grow up to be an intelligent, healthy adult with a good secure job. That is where education comes in.
2. Why are you running for trustee?
I sometimes ask myself that same question. The position of school board trustee reminds me of the 1980’s song by the Northern Pikes called “She Ain’t Pretty, She Just Looks That Way”. There is a lot of time committed to the position, trustees get a lot of criticism and the pay works out to about $5/hr, if they are lucky. On the positive side a trustee gets to attend a lot of meetings, for those who love meetings. So why am I running in this election? I have an imaginative mind, a sense of humour, the ability to think outside the box, as well as the ability to spot patterns and trends in data. With these strengths I feel I can make a positive difference in the education in this school district. And I am willing to commit the time, take the criticism and attend all those exciting meetings to show that I can make a difference. Perhaps over the years, I, like the Grinch, had a heart that grew three sizes, and I am doing this just because I care.
3. What have you done to prepare yourself for the role of trustee?
If you are referring to what I have done prior to campaigning, the answer is quite simple: I have done nothing. Everything I have done related to education prior to campaigning was done for the students, the teachers, the parents and for all PACs and DPAC. When I helped keep Lakewood from closing ten years ago, it was for the students and the parents in the catchment area. I didn’t have children attending that school at that time. When I presented to the school board five years ago against a single track French Immersion school in Prince George, it was for dual track French Immersion schools in College Heights, Spruceland and the Hart. All the presentations I gave to the trustees, PACs, or other parents over the years were all given to point out certain issues. Even when I wrote a paper on the Fraser Institute Report Card on Elementary Schools, it was for the teachers and the trustees so they can have a better understanding of the strengths and weakness of this report. The seven years I was with DPAC was to represent the school my children attend, and to help DPAC as much as possible, to support PACs. So, I am sorry, but I could not think of one thing I have done to prepare myself for the role of a trustee when I never intended to run for trustee until October 10, 2014.
If you were referring to what I have done since October 10th, well, I had a haircut, bought a pair of shoes two sizes too big, to prevent me from putting my foot in my mouth, and I produced a few signs, since it appears that the signs I ordered may not arrive until after the elections. All are irrelevant for the position.
4. How will you ensure that the schools in this district are safe and caring places for all students?
There is nothing anyone can do to ensure that the schools in this district are safe and caring places for all students, unless they put armed guards around the perimeter and install security cameras everywhere. One cannot guarantee there will not be another Brenda Ann Spencer sitting across the street waiting for the Monday morning bell to ring. Presently, I think the school board has done a good job at keeping the schools safe, but yes, there is always room for improvement.
The main priority is to try to make the schools in this district as safe and caring as possible. Last year, the Board implemented policy 4117 (protecting LGBTQ). This policy should be revisited because it needs to be more enforceable. Even Policy 5131 (code of conduct) may need to be updated since it was revised almost six years ago. Other programs like Safe Start and ERASE have helped as well. Since there have been situations where children as young as eight years old committed suicide, bullying should never be ignored, even in elementary schools.
Other steps that can be taken, are to observe the physical environment and remove or clean up anything that may result in losing sight of students (i.e., low brush or high snow banks), and putting in more lighting for students that arrive early or leave late during the winter.
As for a caring place: if the teachers and PAC in other schools are like those in the school my children attend, then I know they are caring places.
5. How do you see your role as trustee in relation to the superintendent and staff?
I would echo everything the six existing trustees said in their response for this question, because after working with the superintendent and staff for at least three years they would be in the best position to answer this question.
The role as a trustee in relation to the superintendent and staff should be a partnership role. Everyone needs to work together, and before any decisions are made by the trustees, they need to get the advice from staff who have the experience to answers any concerns. As a team, everything needs to be fully understood and agreed by all that a decision is in the best interest of all involved.
6. How will you demonstrate and communicate the accountability and transparency of the school board to parents and to the community?
I believe in providing as much information as possible to the parents. It is known that too much information can be dangerous. Sometimes we need that danger to be brought to the trustee’s attention before it becomes a serious issue. But as long as everything can be justified and accountable there should be no problems. The school board web site needs to be more user friendly and easier to access data or information (like the latest or very old minutes to meetings). Perhaps during the board meeting (as long as they are) there should be question and answer period for the parents.
I am a strong believer in accountability whether it is for federal MPs or local trustees. Decisions are made in the best interest of the student and parents but unfortunately not all decisions are the right ones. Sometimes if problems develop based on a miscalculated decision someone needs to be accountable. If I am involved in any of those decisions I am willing to step forward and take the blame. There may be no “I” in “Team Work” but there is an “I” in “Failure”.
7. Is there anything else you’d like to add?
When asked how one can drop an egg on a concrete floor without cracking it, most people will spend time and resources trying to protect the egg. I would point out that it didn’t matter because no matter how you dropped the egg, it will never crack the concrete floor. Sometimes what seems to be the obvious is not the issue (as in the first question). In order for a board to be successful there needs to be a mixture of strengths in each trustee’s character. The board needs a strong leader, influencer, teacher and a strong innovator who is able to think outside the box.
You will not find a Superman out there to solve all the schools problems, but with the right combination you can have a super team. I am not asking for your vote, I am asking for you to vote, and to vote wisely.