DPAC questions emailed to trustee candidates October 28th, at 8:30pm. Answers received from Don Sabo November 5th
1. What do you think is important to parents in the district?
I think the most important thing that parents want in this school district is for their children’s education, and support service, needs to be met. I say this in a broad context because every child / student’s needs are unique and different.
Parents of special needs children, for example, would have different expectations of the School District than other parents. Aboriginal parents, given their past experiences with residential schools, may have a not so positive view of education, and because of that; their expectations for their children in the public school system may be different than other parents.
The one thing that a child most needs to succeed in our public education system is their parent’s support and involvement in his/her education. The chances of all children graduating and going on to become productive and engaged members of our society greatly increase with their parent(s) support and involvement. As members of PACs and DPAC you as parents already know this and are fully engaged in your children’s learning. Good for you all, and as an elected trustee, I will work with you to find and implement ways for more parents to become engaged and supportive of their child(ren)’s education.
2. Why are you running for trustee?
I am running for School Trustee because I believe education is the key to our children’s future. I grew up knowing what poverty was like, drinking my share of skimmed powdered milk, eating mush and fried bologna for meat. Our province has the highest child poverty rate in Canada and one of the key ways to raising children out of that cycle of poverty is through education.
I believe public education is being underfunded and undervalued, and I am running for school district trustee because public education in this district needs a strong outspoken advocate. I believe I am that advocate.
3. What have you done to prepare yourself for the role of trustee?
I have attended many school board meetings over the past years and have learned about the roles and responsibilities of all the stakeholder groups that are involved in delivering quality public education to our children.
I have been visiting, reading and learning about school board governance from a good source of authority; the British Columbia School Trustees Association. This is the website address where I am learning and preparing myself for school board governance:
4. How will you ensure that the schools in this district are safe and caring places for all students?
When I was sitting as DPAC Chair, we heard from the District Student Advisory Council (DSAC) that bullying was a problem in our schools, since then bullying may have become less of a problem, but still exists.
I think the new LGBTQ policy that the current school board has developed, and is implementing, goes a long way towards addressing bullying and harassment. However, based on evidence, i.e. the number of reported school place bulling and harassment incidents, targeted anti-bullying initiatives can be implemented at problem school and district wide. The Student Code of Conduct needs to be enforced while at the same time a bullying and harassment awareness campaign could be implemented.
Of course parent education and awareness initiatives would also help and as school trustee I would have the school district work closely with DPAC and the school PACs in delivering that bullying and harassment education and awareness initiative.
5. How do you see your role as trustee in relation to the superintendent and staff?
I see my role, and the school board’s role, as being one of collaboration and team work with school administration, in both delivering quality public education, addressing the concerns of parents, in this district.
As an elected school trustee, I would be one of seven trustees that sits on the school board. The majority of the time, I would work with the rest of the board to “collectively” provide direction to school administration on certain matters.
6. How will you demonstrate and communicate the accountability and transparency of the school board to parents and to the community?
The school board already undertakes a number of communication initiatives that keeps parents and the community informed about school board business: posting school board meeting minutes on the website, attending school PACs and DPAC meetings to report on school board work, inviting and including stakeholder groups on committees, etc.
Can the school board communicate accountability and transparency better, the answer is yes. By being more inclusive of our school district partner groups and the community in school board decision making we can increase accountability and communications.
The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIPOP) has been applied too liberally to restrict information flow out of the school district office. I will work hard at increasing public access to important public information about our public education system. Short of confidential Human Resource information, the odd school district business matters that would pose a possible conflict of interest, or have legal implications, should it be made public, ninety percent of school district operating information should be publically available.
7. Is there anything else you would like to add?
I believe in being more inclusive, and this means including the parents in this district. As school trustee I would be in favor of having dedicated space at the school district office for DPAC. In the interest of strengthening parent voice, I would also be in favor of having DPAC use the school board office, and use the school district’s communication system to have parents (PACs and DPAC) communicate better remotely (ie. Mackenzie, McBride, Valemount).
A small amount of additional funding could be allocated to DPAC for have remote PAC representatives travel and attend meetings from out of town. We need to strengthen parent involvement and participation throughout the school district.