Why do you feel school boards are still relevant today given how much control the provincial government maintains over education spending?
I believe that although the Province provides the vast majority of the monies for our public schools, the disbursement of the funds and how they are allocated makes School Boards still very relevant today. Our Board has negotiated Dual Credit programmes with Okanagan College and BCIT. The Board has focussed on improving graduation rates and early literacy rates. The Board has also prioritized Aboriginal learning. Board approved and authorized courses (over 100) have been approved by the Board through a rigorous process. As well, Academies have been established to provide students in SD#23 with more choice. This is congruent with the personalized learning articulated in the BC Education Plan, which I support. There are numerous other examples where our local School Board has made a distinct difference in the educational experience of our students. It’s not where the monies come from, but how you spend them. Our students have always been our #1 Priority.
What personal characteristics or background do you possess that make you an ideal candidate for school trustee?
I have an overarching commitment to Public Education and I believe I have the education experience – over 30 years as a very successful educator in the public school system, in addition to a number of years as an Adjunct Professor of Education at UBCO. I also believe I have the financial acumen to deal with our School District budget of $220 million. I have served previously as School Board Chair and presently as chair of the Financial and Legal Committee of the Board. I have also had financial experience as Board Chair and Vice-Chair and Chair of the Audit Committee of Interior Savings Credit Union (assets $2.2 billion). Also, I have been involved in our local community for several years as a hockey and a girls’ soccer coach, church member, executive member of various charitable organizations (e.g. COBSS). I have had experience in planning as chair of the City of Kelowna Advisory Planning Commission. I feel I bring seasoned judgement and the experience of high performing Boards to the School Board table. I believe I have the skill matrix to make a difference on the Board of Education.
Do you now have or have you had children enrolled in the public school system? If so, what has that experience as a parent taught you about what the school board’s priorities should be?
My wife and I have had four children enrolled in the public school system in SD#23. All four graduated from RSS and all went on to public universities to complete various graduate and post graduate degrees. What this has taught me is that our students must continue to be our #1 Priority. We are preparing students for the 21st century. Many will be employed in jobs in the future that don’t even exist or one can even imagine today. It is critical that we prepare students to live full and self-sustainable lives in the 21st century. Our role as a School Board is critical to their successes.
Enrolment overall in private schools has shown an increase in recent years both locally and provincially. What do you think the school board should or can do to restore what perhaps is a reflection of lost confidence in the public school system ?
From all the studies and surveys I have read on enrollments in independent schools, the number one reason parents and guardians choose them is smaller class sizes. I have constantly supported long range, sustainable and adequate funding for our public schools. Having been a public school and university educator for over 30 years, I know that smaller class sizes do make a difference. Our public schools are like Pier 21 in Halifax, through which many of our immigrant families, including mine and my wife’s, came to Canada – all students are accepted. Our Public Schools are the hallmark of a democratic society! As a Trustee I will continue to work to make decisions that provide the very best of an educational experience from K to Grade 12 for all students.
Why do you want to be a school trustee?
I want to be re-elected as a School Trustee because I feel I have the requisite skill set (educational, financial, community experience, Board experience, etc.) to make a difference for our students. I also have two grandchildren in the public school system in SD#23, and five others who will be entering the public school system in the province over the next number of years. That in itself is a strong motivation for me!