RUNNING AS INDEPENDENT FOR PITT MEADOWS TRUSTEE
Retired teacher/principal, age 67
Resident of Pitt Meadows for 67 years
I grew up in Pitt Meadows, raised four children here, and worked for almost 30 years in this district as an educator and principal.
It has been a privilege to have served as a school trustee the past four years.
If re-elected, I will continue to make thoughtful, fair, and informed decisions based on what is best for our students.
My priorities, although not limited to, include ensuring progress on the action plan arising from the Deepening Indigenous Education and Equity Report, advocating at the provincial level for adequate funding necessary for safe and up-to-date school facilities and playgrounds, early learning, and most importantly, that the academic and social and emotional needs of all our students are met.
Have you held office in past? If so, please specify: : School Trustee from 2018-2022.
(These answers are presented as the candidates submitted them)
1. Do you agree with how SOGI material and other sex education is currently taught in the classroom, including LGBTQ2S content and sexual consent?
Yes. I think the SOGI material includes useful resources that teachers can use to help build safe, supportive and inclusive environments for our students. I have reviewed some of the curricular topics and suggested resources at various grade levels and found the material both age appropriate and sensitive to developmental stages. SOGI inclusive education is about creating spaces where students can talk about diversity and learn the importance of treating everyone with respect and dignity regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity. For students to see themselves and their families represented in a positive way is important for their well-being and success at school. In July 2016 gender identity or expression became protected under the BC Human Rights Code with the Ministry of Education responding later that year with the requirement for all school districts to reference and include sexual orientation and gender identity in their Codes of Conduct.
2. Are class sizes too big?
No. Having said no, of course many students could benefit from smaller class sizes, particularly with the increasing prevalence of students with learning and social/emotional needs in our classrooms. Class size formulas are part of the provincially negotiated collective agreement. SD42 historically has tried to maintain lower than the provincial average class sizes, particularly at the elementary level, but as our enrolment increases year by year, this has become increasingly more challenging.
3. Should students with diverse abilities or special needs be taught in regular classrooms?
I spent a considerable part of my career as a learning support teacher, and having students with diverse abilities or special needs in regular classrooms benefits everyone.
We fought long and hard to provide all students the opportunity to be welcomed and supported in their neighbourhood schools.
But this ideology has to go hand-in-hand with adequate funding to support these learners with the staffing and resources they need to be successful.
Being an inclusive school does not mean all students have to spend their whole day in a regular classroom.
Schools should be built or remodelled with alternate learning spaces to be able to provide small group or individualized instruction as needed by students.
This would not only better support our students with diverse or special needs, but also any student needing a quieter or less visually distracting environment from time to time.
4. Is the provincial government providing enough funding for public schools?
No. I strongly believe that a strong public education system is the foundation of our democracy and needs to be funded accordingly to provide robust, inclusive and equitable opportunities for our students. The underfunding of public education negatively impacts the ability of districts to recruit and retain staff, to maintain buildings and facilities to a standard of safety and serviceability that we would hope for, and to provide the programming and scaffolding to support all students, particularly those with disabilities or diverse learning needs. Over the next term I see this issue becoming even more prominent as districts deal with the inflationary costs of operating in today’s world. If the provincial government does not address these costs, it is likely that difficult budget decisions will be incurred over the course of the next term.
5. Should students be taught how to administer naloxone in school?
Yes. The training to administer Naloxone and any other lifesaving skills should be available to our students. It should be age and situationally appropriate and taught by qualified individuals.
6. Should there be more emphasis on STEM courses in schools?
Yes. A balanced education is important and the study of the sciences is no less important than the humanities. STEM education is the study and application of science, technology, engineering and mathematics and is part of the K-12 provincial integrated curriculum. Because the transferable skills developed through STEM education are in such high demand in today’s ever increasing technological world, educating students in creative and critical thinking in STEM is essential for developing innovative solutions that could have a positive impact on addressing some of the most outstanding concerns in our society. We do have to be sensitive to the fact that when we include more of something in our classrooms, we have to do less of something else. In elementary this can be a concern, however the course selection at secondary could easily include more STEM options. The earlier we engage students with STEM education the better though, as it is important for students to see themselves represented and having the skills and capabilities to further pursue STEM as they progress throughout their education.
7. Do we need a post-secondary institution/campus in Pitt Meadows or Maple Ridge?
Yes. This current Board of Trustees has looked at this issue and has held discussions with both the City of Maple Ridge and the City of Pitt Meadows in regards to exploring the need and possibilities of offering post-secondary opportunities within our community. SD42 has done an incredible job partnering with various organizations to provide very successful trades programs for our students, with many transitioning into the workforce with apprenticeships upon graduation; however, our rates for students attending university or college directly after graduation are not what we would hope for and we need to understand why. Is it accessibility? A transportation issue? Upon further investigation, I think the time is right to advocate for, at the very least, a campus that offers first and second year university transfer courses within our community.
8. Is bullying a problem in local schools?
Yes. Schools are a reflection of what is happening in our society, and it is evident that both bullying and harassment are on the rise, or at least, more visible in today’s world. Our district has taken a very proactive approach to address these concerns with safe, caring and inclusive schools emphasized in both policy and practice. The district encouraged and facilitated the grass-root movement to develop an Anti-Racism Committee and continues to ensure that the information from this committee is shared regularly with schools. Measures to address the mental health and well-being of our staff and students should continue to be a focus to ensure that necessary counselling and support systems are in place. The Equity scan the district undertook this past term clearly demonstrates that growth is needed in providing our Indigenous students and families with the space, resources and attention required to have every opportunity for success. We all learn best in an environment free from bullying, harassment and discrimination. It should continue to be a focus of the Board of Education to address these issues.
9. Should there be more emphasis on Indigenous-based history and culture courses?
Yes. As you probably know, beginning in the 2023/24 school year the Ministry of Education and Child Care is implementing an Indigenous focused graduation requirement for all students. Although there is considerable focus and work currently being done in our district with incorporating the First Peoples Principles of Learning and providing learning opportunities for students to learn more about the history, experiences, and cultures of the many Indigenous peoples in Canada, this is an area of continued growth for our district. The challenge now is to ensure these learning opportunities and the resources used are authentic and meaningful.
10. Should the district have a strategy to reduce the use of portables?
Yes. Of course, and the district has such a plan. SD42’s Strategic Facilities Plan is a well-researched and detailed document that addresses the needs of each school in our district, as well as, the growing and changing demographics for each community. Although the district clearly demonstrates where the need is, we are still very much dependent on the provincial government to provide adequate capital funding so these projects can go ahead in a timely fashion. Unfortunately, even when we get approval for a new school, it is funded for the students we currently have, never for the future enrolment we know will be there.
How the questions were presented to each candidate
Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows news readers have told us how much they value this important, straight-forward reference guide that helps orient them with the range of choices on the ballots – both at the council and school board levels.
Towards that end, we have attempted to make this package available (along with the following instructions) to each of the candidates in a timely fashion ahead of the Oct. 15 election.
Please read carefully before you start to fill this out.
To help voters in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows make their choices on election day, The News is asking local candidates 10 issue-based questions.
You must provide a ‘yes,’ a ‘no,’ or a ‘don’t know’ (Y, N, D) response to EACH of these questions.
Each question MUST be answered with yes (Y), no (N), or Don’t Know (D). This will be published in a grid in the Oct. 6 edition. Any questions not answered will be LEFT BLANK.
Candidates may also expand on ANY OR ALL of these questions (to a maximum of 200 words each). Please note any responses longer than that will be cut off at the 201-word mark.
Due to space limitations, we can only guarantee to run one of these answers in The News print edition ahead of the election. You must CLEARLY indicate which expanded answer you want to see published in print. If you do not specify, we will choose. Any and all expanded answers provided will be published online at www.mapleridgenews.com.
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