The North Delta Reporter sent school trustee candidates a list of six questions to gauge their positions on some of the major issues in the 2018 civic election campaign. We gave candidates a limit of 400 words total to answer. Here’s what independent candidate Dale Saip had to say:
(Note, all candidates’ answers have been edited for length, clarity and to conform with Canadian Press style, as required.)
1) Why are you running for school board?
I believe that a strong public education system is the basis of a thriving, healthy democracy. My history as board chair and trustee, experience as senior vice-president of the Vancouver Giants, chair of the Greater Vancouver Food Bank Society, director of the Gitxsan Development Corporation, as well as numerous other boards and charities, gives me real life expertise in helping govern our district.
2) What, in your view, is the job of a school trustee?
First and foremost a trustee is an advocate for the taxpayer, some of whom have children in our schools, but most do not and thus a disconnect with the system. Our elected responsibility is to find and hire the best possible people to run and administer our district within the means provided, and let these qualified folks do their job.
3) What are the biggest challenges facing students today and what will you do to help kids to overcome them?
We live in a world of increasing complexity, not just from a technological perspective but social, economic and environmental. Our schools need to provide safe and nurturing environment where kids can “learn to learn.”
4) What is missing in our schools (for students as well as staff) and how do you plan to address those shortfalls?
I think one of the biggest challenges we face in society today and in our schools is social literacy. The dependence on technology and constant screen time has deprived our kids of the ability to communicate and identify with the world around them. Emphasis on fine arts, physical education and collaborative learning through schools, families and community need encouragement.
5) Many issues that come before the board boil down to a question of money: how/where best to spend the funds allocated to the district by the Ministry of Education. Do you think that the district is adequately funded by the province, and if not, how will you advocate for more money for Delta schools?
I believe that school boards across this province have become embroiled in confrontational fights over funding rather than setting a strong fiscal policy that recognizes that school boards are not meant to be a lobby or activist organization, but are legally mandated to live within their means, which we have been able to do in Delta, while at the same time delivering programs to students.
6) Barring additional funds from the province, how can the district best cover budget shortfalls or pay for projects/programs on its wish list?
I will use fields and playgrounds as an example. It is my opinion that as the conduit and recipient of the Lower Mainland’s garbage, sewage, train traffic, ferry traffic and container shipments, that Delta should have the very best in recreational facilities to benefit our youth and general populace. Unfortunately we are near the bottom of the pile when it comes to fields and recreational opportunities. Delta is in need of a comprehensive parks and rec strategy that encompasses all public lands, whether school or city property. Since first being elected in 1987 I have been a advocate for joint use agreements and development of public facilities, and have had success at some levels and frustration at others. If re-elected I will continue to advocate for true value for taxpayer dollars in this regard.
The civic election takes place on Saturday, Oct. 20.