Thank you so much for CKPG Today for the opportunity to respond to these questions. They will be posting all candidate’s answers on their website leading up to election day. Here are my responses.
Why run for a trustee position? Fist and foremost, I am passionate about Public Education and believe I still have work to do as a Trustee. I am seeking re-election for a third term on school board because there are some big challenges and opportunities on the horizon for both SD57 and Public Education in BC. I am confident I have the skills, leadership, and experience to support the district and board through these while also advocating for our students, staff and communities. These challenges include addressing the catchment and capacity issues in Prince George schools; advocating for our district and students as the government introduces changes to the education funding formula; supporting our staff through the final implementation of the new curriculum; and as the employer ensure a fair and respectful bargaining process with our teachers and support staff. These are all going to faced by the new board in the next 12 months.
What do you see as the biggest challenge facing SD57? One of the biggest issues facing our district right now is catchment and capacity. Our district is growing and we are quickly running out of space in our schools. This will need to be addressed by continuing the consultation started by the Board and looking at options to address the current and projected capacity crunches. These options could include changing catchment areas, trying to add space through the addition of portables and/or finding creative solutions that would not impact the education needs of our students. The first round of consultation regarding Ecole Duchess Park is complete and we learned a lot about what the community is looking for. We need to take some of that feedback and look at some different options presented as well. Before the final decisions are made the board needs to continue consulting with stakeholders, and make sure the process remains transparent.
Is the current curriculum preparing kids for success? Yes, I believe it is. The new curriculum was developed with extensive consultation with teachers across British Columbia and is designed to have kids learn and understand concepts rather than memorize and regurgitate. It is teaching core competencies and big ideas rather than ensuring kids remember a certain fact for a test. It will create more enriching learning environments and will help create better rounded citizens. I also believe it will provide teachers with more opportunities to teach to their passions and create even better learning opportunities for kids. I recognize that the roll out of the new curriculum has caused concern because it is a big change in how education looks and is delivered. The district has and will continue to provide support to our teachers through the first few years of the new K-10 curriculum and need to ensure we are supporting staff and communicating with parents, guardians, caregivers and students as the new graduation curriculum is implemented. The goal of the new curriculum is to produce well rounded graduates and educated citizens. I believe the new curriculum will do that and hep our students be successful in life after public school.
Do you believe the new ward system will be effective? I do, but it will take work and commitment from the new board. Once sworn in the board of seven is now responsible for representing and advocating for all students, staff, and citizens of SD57. The board still needs to be committed to visiting these communities and meeting with their local governments and community members, even if there is a trustee living there. The Board also needs to review our Ad-Hoc report on Rural Education to make sure the recommendations implemented have had the desired impacts and get updates on recommendations that have not yet fully been implemented. The voices and perspectives of the trustee from electoral area two (Mackenzie) and three (Robson/Canoe Valley) are going to be valuable. The District has also taken some actions to ensure these trustees are fully able to participate whether they make the trip to Prince George or participate remotely. We want to ensure they can participate fairly and represent the constituents they were elected by.
How should the funding formula look? The provincial government is reviewing it. It needs to be predictable and sustainable. There needs to be more funding and support for special needs students and that a model focusing on needs based supports and strategies rather than a dollar amount per student is beneficial. I believe CommunityLINK funding needs to be increased and tied to data such as EDI or other indexes that monitor a community’s vulnerability. I believe the formula needs to recognize the importance of a school to rural and remote communities and provide adequate funding to support rural education. I believe that the formula needs to give boards more flexibility and local autonomy. I believe the formula needs to increase capital funding and ensure it is distributed throughout the province. I believe targeted aboriginal education dollars need to stay as targeted dollars. The new funding formula may have a big impact as we have been told the quantum is not increasing, just being redistributed. When it is introduced we need to quickly model it and ensure it does not negatively impact our district, our students or our communities. If it does, we need to quickly respond to government. I support our motion asking government to delay implementation until 2020 rather than 2019.