The Capital News asked the Kelowna trustees candidates to answer a series of questions about issues facing the Okanagan School District.
Do you feel school board policies reflect the values of Central Okanagan communities?
The board has many policies, of which the majority are procedural and necessary. The school district’s mission is a wonderful vision to strive for, but my experience attending school board meetings for the past year, many of those visions have not been fulfilled.
In what way, if any, are parents not given the opportunity to play a role in their child’s education?
The role of the trustee is embedded in the name: to be a trusted voice for the community they serve. Parents need to know that the board works for them and serves their interests. The majority of parents don’t know what policies are on the table, or that the school board requires community feedback in order to vote appropriately on those policies. The board may give parents the opportunity to engage, but few parents know the questions they should ask or even that they are able to do so.
What is the Central Okanagan School District doing well or not doing well to allow our students to become productive adults?
The school board has faced some very difficult decisions over the last few years. They’ve had to navigate polarizing issues and blanket mandates from the province. Not an easy job. I addressed the board in January regarding the mental health of our students. Few would argue that students have suffered through the last few years, yet the response I received was that they had spoken to students and the students are fine. The majority of parents know their children have not been fine. As trustees, we need to echo the concerns of our community and advocate to do better on the concerns they bring forward.
What role should our education system play in supporting students facing gender identification issues?
Every student requires and deserves a safe, inclusive learning environment. Parents and caregivers need open communication with teachers, administrators and schools so the student and their family can get the support they need. Our schools are a place to educate, not push social agendas. Let us focus on creating the best education system we can so our children can achieve their goals – whatever they may be.