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 Independents Working for You candidate Joe Muego 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 we are obliged to contribute to society to ensure we continue to thrive as a community, city and province. I feel a strong social obligation to ensure our future leaders are the best citizens they can be and that those who help elevate them within the school system are of the highest calibre. Being on the board will allow me to use my skills and experience to prioritize district spending.
2) What, in your view, is the job of a school trustee?
The role of a trustee is ultimate accountability for student learning, accountability to the community and to provincial government legislation. This is done through superintendent relations, policy development, fiscal responsibility and, lastly, advocacy for all within the system.
3) What are the biggest challenges facing students today and what will you do to help kids to overcome them?
Mental wellness is at the forefront of my concerns. This includes regular stress, but also anxiety induced through the day-to day or exacerbated by outside forces such as inappropriate use of social media. Providing children with appropriate tools, resources and caring adults will help. I intend on continuing my work with the district’s healthy schools committee to ensure it remains a priority.
4) What is missing in our schools (for students as well as staff) and how do you plan to address those shortfalls?
We are a highly successful district. We have been refining the delivery of a world-class public education system with the implementation of the district’s Bold Vision that has placed us first in Metro [Vancouver] for graduation rates. There is still work to be done to improve our excellence. This would include revisiting our vision to ensure it remains relevant so that small gaps do not become bigger ones.
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?
The province is at the draft stage of the new education funding formula that determines which districts receive what amounts per student. Our district advocates for funding through mechanisms like this, but input is very limited. We must keep pushing our provincial leaders to view education as an investment and not an expense. This cannot fall solely to school boards, but must be pushed by the provincial electorate to increase the amount allocated to education overall which is then translated by the funding formula.
6) Barring additional funds from the province, how can the district best cover budget shortfalls or pay for projects/programs on its wish list?
Delta has been proactive in attracting students from other districts and internationally through our robust academy program and our international reputation for excellence. However, it is dangerous to rely on these as sources of income. That said, the district must collaborate with the city, provincial and federal governments to access creative ways of financing, such as the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Grant that is currently being applied for by the district and city to cover 75 per cent of the costs a North Delta competition-level track facility.
The civic election takes place on Saturday, Oct. 20.