Candidates running for a trustee position on Surrey’s school board had a chance to speak directly to voters Oct. 4.
The Cloverdale District Chamber of Commerce held an all-candidates meeting for school trustees in the atrium area at KPU’s Cloverdale campus.
Chamber executive director Scott Wheatley organized the Q&A session, which is now online.
Candidates were given two minutes to introduce themselves and then each candidate was given one minute to answer questions that were submitted by Chamber members.
Of the eight candidates in attendance, five were from the Surrey First Education Slate: Garry Thind, Garry Tymoschuk, Shawn Wilson, Laurie Larsen, and Bob Holmes.
Lisa Dawn Alexis (Parents Voice BC), Balbir Gurm (Team Surrey Schools), and Sunny Mangat (independant) rounded out the eight participants.
Candidates answered a wide-range of questions including ones about vaping in schools, the use of cell phones in classrooms, and hot lunch programs.
They fielded big picture inquiries too, like how to best attract and retain teachers in Surrey Schools to questions about how to solve the problem of brand new schools opening alongside portables.
“Why do we continue to spend millions of dollars every year moving portables around instead of building schools big enough to meet our present and future needs?” a Chamber member asked.
One question that elicited a myriad of responses centred around extra-curricular activities in the Surrey school district and the lack of teacher involvement, compared to the past.
The trustee hopefuls were also asked how Surrey schools would meet the provincial emission reduction target of 40 per cent by 2030. Most of the candidates agreed it would be impossible to meet the target without an influx of cash from the province.
Visit the Chamber’s YouTube channel to see the full Q&A session.
As for the those running for school trustee positions on Surrey’s school board, they come from all walks of life, with a fitness instructor, a nursing assistant, school custodian, teacher, realtor and two registered nurses among them.
While the trustees’ public profile is typically not as high as that of city council members, they nevertheless share the onerous task of overseeing more than 130 schools, learning centres and district offices, as well as some 10,000 employees and 74,000 elementary and secondary students.
Surrey’s school district is the biggest school district in B.C. and it’s also the city’s largest employer, serving Surrey, White Rock and Barnston Island.
Voters will elect six trustees to the board, while veteran trustee Laurae McNally has been acclaimed to the lone seventh seat reserved for White Rock.
In total, 20 trustee hopefuls are seeking election.
Six candidates are running with Surrey First Education, four with Parents Voice B.C., five with Team Surrey Schools and another five also in the race are identified on surrey.ca only as “candidate.”
Those not running with an identified team are Murali Krishnan, Sunny Mangat, Aida Canonigo, Ernie Caranto and Jai Pratap Deo.
Running under the Team Surrey Schools banner are Dr. Balbir Gurm, Roxanne Charles, Maryann Pyne, Tony Rebelo and Bobbi Taylor.
Representing Parents Voice BC are Jasbir Narwal, Nasima Nastoh, Lisa Dawn Alexis and Dupinder Kaur Saran.
Trustee candidates running with Surrey First Education are Garry Thind, Garry Tymoschuk, Shawn Wilson, Laurie Larsen, Bob Holmes and Terry Allen.
As for other all-candidate meetings, two Chamber-hosted ACMs remain: an all-councillors meeting will be held Oct. 6 and an all-mayors meeting will be held Oct. 13.
Wheatley said they’ll both run from 7 to 8 p.m., with doors opening at 6:30 p.m. Admission is free, but registration is required. The Chamber prefers pre-registration, which can be accessed by visiting cloverdalechamber.ca, but, if meetings have not reached capacity, walk-ins will be accepted.
Questions for the candidates can be emailed to email@example.com. For more info, visit cloverdalechamber.ca.
KPU’s Cloverdale Campus is located at 5500 180th Street in Cloverdale.
The 2022 B.C. municipal elections will be held Oct. 15.