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 Achieving for Delta candidate Erica Beard 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 am a parent of a child that will be entering Delta schools. I have heard concerns from parents and teachers and I want to make positive changes to ensure Delta is the best school district in the province. I believe we need a fresh take on budgetary concerns and to rebuild relationships with teachers, staff, students and governing bodies.
2) What, in your view, is the job of a school trustee?
The role of the trustee is to be the voice of the community. They are elected to advocate for parents, teachers, students and staff, and to be the bridge between governing bodies and the community. Through consult with the community, we can understand the challenges and successes of the schools and work collaboratively with multidisciplinary teams to present solutions. We need to build relationships with local authorities, other trustee boards and education governing authorities in order to have outstanding schools. The trustee must also be fiscally responsible and ensure no money is being wasted or left on the table.
3) What are the biggest challenges facing students today and what will you do to help kids to overcome them?
I believe that students are under a lot of pressure today. I will advocate for mental health education starting from a young age in order to give our students the lifelong skills needed to be mentally and physically healthy. Managing stress is a skill that can be challenging to master. I will advocate for our children to begin learning these skills in school.
4) What is missing in our schools (for students as well as staff) and how do you plan to address those shortfalls?
Our schools are missing an adequate amount of teachers and support staff. We need to address the lack of recruitment and retention of these vital employees. I want to not only advocate, but also proactively address the wage discrepancy between districts and ensure positive working environments to help retain staff. I will actively listen to our staff’s needs and involve their ideas to better the school environment.
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 do not think the district is adequately funded. I plan to engage with school staff and parents to gain a clear understanding of the current shortfalls. I plan to take this information and, using my experience advocating for others, present it to the province. I plan to use data as well as personal stories to create a well-rounded case for our schools to obtain additional funding.
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 believe having a plan for the budget is a priority if additional funds are not granted. I will work closely with our city and use these relationships to assist with running programs and upgrading our fields. When we work as a team together, we can accomplish more.
The civic election takes place on Saturday, Oct. 20.