- Why are you running to be a trustee in the upcoming municipal election?
It is because I believe I still have work to do as a Trustee. I strongly believe in the power of public education and the impact that it has on children and youth. I have also seen firsthand how our schools are so much more than schools, and our teachers are so much more than teachers. As a teacher you are a mentor, coach, friend, ally and advocate. I still have the passion for this role and when I look ahead at the next twelve months I believe we need experience and leadership to bring the board and district through these challenges and opportunities. This includes implementation of the new funding formula, ensuring fair and successful bargaining with both our teachers and support staff, supporting you through the final implementation of the new curriculum, catchment and capacity issues being faced in our schools, and improving relationships with stakeholders and community. I am invested in this role and in making sure SD57 is the best district to work and learn.
- Prior to September, 2018, had you ever been to a school board meeting?
Yes, I have been fortunate to be serving as a SD57 trustee since 2011 and have been Board Chair since 2016.
- What do you see the role of Trustee as it relates to the Superintendent of the school district?
The Superintendent of Schools is the employee of the Board of Education. They are hired by the Board of Education to supervise the day to day operations of the District and execute direction of the Board. The board regularly provides feedback to the Superintendent either through motion, and annually through a 360 performance review. Earlier this term, the board also approved a Role of the Board and Role of the Superintendent Policies that lay out the technical responsibilities.
- How will you deal with capacity and catchment issues in Prince George?
The million-dollar question. I will ensure that the board deals with them quickly (in terms of time into mandate) and transparently. I will ensure that consultation occurs and while final decisions may not always be popular they will be made after looking at all options and considering all the feedback. I don’t have the answers as to what the final decision at Ecole Duchess Park will be, but this is just one of the catchment and capacities areas we need to address. Most if not all areas of Prince George need to be looked at. I stated my position on both consultations during the September Board meeting and that is based on preliminarily information I don’t support moving French Immersion or Edgewood. In order for me to support these moves I would need very compelling evidence that it was the best option for the district and our students.
- If elected, will you speak out publicly about issues which are a direct result of government underfunding or inaction? Please describe what actions you will undertake
Yes. Over my past two terms I have done this in various ways and will continue to. While letter writing is not always viewed as effective it is something that will continue to be done as it an avenue open to us and one that could result in public pressure as well. We have finally created a better system for tracking these letters and the board needs to ensure that we follow up when we don’t receive a response. I have also engaged with our local representatives and members of government through social media about concerns faced in the district. Additionally, I believe we need to do a better job of using our representatives in local government to help us advocate. Quite often our Mayors and Council is able to meet with Ministers at UBCM. We want to ensure our message gets across to Ministers as often as possible. Finally, I am currently a Director with the BC School Trustee Association. This gives me a seat at various provincial tables including a table with Ministry Staff and the Minister on a regular basis. I have and will continue to use these opportunities to advocate for our region, our staff and our students.
- Are you aware of the technology concerns of the district, particularly referring to being restricted to one platform and the lack of accessible Wi-Fi? What will you do to address these concerns?
Yes. Over the past mandate I had the opportunity to chair the Ad-Hoc Committee on Technology. It is time that we do back and revisit these recommendations and hopefully implement those that we have not implemented yet. I hope Education Services Committee can make this a priority. In terms of the dual platform debate I am not necessarily in favor of bringing Mac desktops and Macbooks back into the District. However, I have been and continue to be in favour of allowing and supporting the use of IPAD’s. I believe in the current climate this is something that we should be able to successfully move forward on.
- What are your views on S.O.G.I. (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity), and S.O.G.I. 1 2 3 in the classrooms of this District?
I fully support the work being done both in our district and across BC in support of our LGBTQ+ students and proud to stand behind the SOGI policy approved by our district in 2014 and then strengthened a couple years later. I fully support an inclusive and safe environment for all our students and staff. SOGI 123 is a great resource and one that I am glad is being used in most districts across BC. I will be honest, shortly after I was elected in 2011 I was asked about a stand-alone policy. At that time, I didn’t fully understand the need for one as we had what I believed was comprehensive anti-bullying policies. After hearing more of the stories about what was happening myself I was happy to admit that I was wrong ( and did so both at the public table and on social media). I was proud to be chair of Policy and Governance when the policy came to the table for approval. I personally am so excited that all of our buildings now have at least one all gender washrooms and will be the norm in all new builds including Kelly Road when it opens in 2020.
- To what extent would you prioritize music and arts education in this district?
Being a band, drama and choir student all through high school I am a big believer in the arts. In this budget the board approved a Fine Arts Resource Teacher in the District. This was a great start. I want to see this position continue. In addition to being a fan at student events I will continue to support the Fine Arts at any opportunity possible.
- In the past few years, this district has had problems in recruiting and retaining specialist teachers, for example in French Immersion, Core French (elementary and secondary), music, and trades. How would you address this issue?
For the past year the District has had a lot of success bringing teachers into the District. This was done by investing money into the creation of recruitment materials and hiring a recruitment officer. We have been able to bring teachers to Prince George from all over the country. This strategy has been successful so far and I want to see the recruitment position continue to look at the ongoing recruitment of specialty teachers and TTOC’s. I want to see additional recruitment position to assist with the recruitment of EA’s and other staff needed for the District. I also want to work with our Superintendent and Director of HR to help streamline the onboarding process further so that when a teacher is hired they get their contracts sooner and there is less risk of losing people to other districts.
- Last year, the RCMP and the mayor asked that people stay home during inclement weather/snow storms. Our staff and students were expected to show up in these unsafe conditions. Will you support a change to the policy so that schools will close based on the recommendations of the RCMP or city staff during inclement weather? Why or why not?
Yes, I am generally supportive of the change currently being discussed at Policy and Governance. I know at my day job I told staff not to come when it is unsafe to. However, before I vote in favour of the change I will need to see a plan in place to ensure children who happen to arrive at school remain safe.
Please use this page to add any further information to the above questions.
Thank you for the opportunity to respond to your questions.
For those who don’t know me, or know me well here is a brief bio:
- Husband to my amazing wife Carli (SD 57 Teacher) and father to Ryan (Grade 1) and Ian (soon to be one)
- Belong to the Tsq’escenemc First Nations (Canim Lake Band), from the Shuswap Nation through my mother.
- Have worked with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Prince George since 2006 and have spent almost six years as Executive Director.
- Have been a School District 57 Trustee for seven years. During that time, I was Board Vice-Chairperson for four years and have been Board Chairperson since 2016.
- Served two years as the Branch President of the Northern Interior Branch of the BC School Trustee Association
- Currently a first term Director on the BC School Trustee Board of Directors
- Currently serving on the BCSTA Indigenous Education Committee, BC K-12 Aboriginal Partners Round Table, BCSTA Student Initiatives Working Group and BCSTA Election Advisory Committee.
My platform this year is built on the following pillars:
- Proven leadership
- Accessible, available and accountable
- A voice for venturing students
- Continue to improve relationships and resources.
I encourage you to learn more about me at www.timbennett.ca, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/trusteetim or on Twitter at @tiben12.
Thank you for your time and consideration.