The school trustee portion of last week’s all candidates forum may have generated less interest than the councillor portion but there was nonetheless many good questions and candidates with answers.
Topics that came up during the forum included bullying and child safety, grouping of kids, health of kids, and program funding.
Katie Jepsen, who runs a daycare centre in town, said that she knows the children and the staff and she wants to run for trustee because she wants what’s best for the children.
“It’s important that our children have a safe learning environment,” she said. “Together we can put an end to bullying and create safer schools.”
One resident asked about the possible health hazard of having Wi-Fi in schools.
Jepsen said she believed schools should keep up with technology and if it works, “we have to use it.”
A teacher in the audience asked incumbent (and B.C. School Trustee Association (BCSTA) president) Teresa Rezansoff about her group’s stance in the recent teacher strike.
Rezansoff replied by stating that her role as president of the BCSTA should be kept separate from her role with the local board of trustees.
“The labour dispute we went through was difficult for everyone,” she said. “The strike/lockout wasn’t anything anyone wanted. What we as a board wanted was to get to a resolution through negotiation.”
Another question brought up by the audience was about how trustees would go about advocating for more funding for key programs.
Jamie Massey responded by saying that kids are the most important asset in our school system.
“Right now I am learning about the role of school trustees and what they do,” she said, “but I would absolutely advocate for support for all children that need it.”
Val Rich, who is running against incumbent David Reid in Area D, spoke about the importance of assessing kids.
“If you don’t get those kids assessed those teachers are in trouble,” she said. “The students are in class now and the teachers are teaching but how do you do that without an assessment or some kind of plan in place?”
Asked about what issue trustees would like to tackle most if elected, incumbent Ken Harshenin said the biggest concern is the lack of funding for students.
“We have not been receiving adequate funding especially if we want to start developing more courses,” he said.
Rezansoff added that she would like to see a learning plan in place for every student in the district.
“We’ve started on something like that but if we could started as soon as a student entered school in kindergarten,” she said. It would be something that would follow them as they went through school, said Rezansoff.
Incumbent David Reid talked about the unfortunate decision of having to blend different grades into one classroom.
“I know we’re looking at declining enrollments,” said Reid. “This is not easy for the parents. I think the kids take it a lot easier than the adults sometimes.”
Reid said teachers need to be armed with the proper tools to make sure it’s successful.