1.Why do you feel school boards are still relevant today given how much control the provincial government maintains over education spending?
Within our district budget of approximately 220 million, there remains a sizeable portion that the district board members have a degree of autonomy over. Our budget includes fixed cost expenditures, which are 80% of the total budget that includes facilities upkeep and maintenance, salaries, curriculum delivery, utilities, transportation etc. This leaves 20% of the budget where there is spending allocation latitude given to board members. This is why it is extremely important to elect trustees who have strong background knowledge regarding School District 23.
2. What personal characteristics or background do you possess that make you an ideal candidate for school trustee?
My educational background includes: Bachelor of Arts, Teaching Professional Year and a Masters in Administration and Curriculum. My teaching assignments include Elementary, Middle, French Immersion and Secondary. This academic and front line experience make me an ideal candidate. I consider my strongest qualities to be dedication, listening, leadership and the ability to search for and to find common ground relating to contentious issues. However, my underlying core principle which I will not deviate from is placing the students first and foremost in all my decisions. I have done this as an educator and will continue to do this as your trustee.
3. 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 Linda and I have been blessed with 3 children who have all graduated from the public system. They benefited from their public school training and have gone on to receive undergraduate and post-graduate degrees. As a parent I want the board to emphasise programs that cater to students at both ends of the educational spectrum. These include enrichment programs and more comprehensive special-needs-programs. All too often these groups have been marginalized. Education has always been a top priority in our family and we are grateful for the grounding that they received from our dedicated and skilled educators.
4. Enrolmnet 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?
Statistics show that there has been decline in our public school enrolment while private and independent schools have increased. Unfortunately, we as a province continue to rank near the bottom in public school funding, deteriorating our ability to deliver programs. Provincial education budgets fund year to year using a 0.6% inflation factor, when real inflation is running at 1.7% (Conference Board of Canada Report, 2014). This structure has placed districts in deficit positions by not accounting for real inflation. As trustees we need to be fiscally prudent, but also advocate for fiscal fairness that will make our public schools stronger.
5. Why do you want to be a school trustee?
The new board will face some important issues in the upcoming year. These include the new grade configuration for elementary, middle and secondary. There is also a need to bring current capital cost items such as the construction of a new RMS into fruition. As a Trustee I will address the afore mentioned and put forth comprehensive strategies to increase revenues by expanding our International Student Program. I have a passion for education and feel that I can use my first-hand knowledge, experience and dedication as assets in my capacity as trustee.