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 Laura Dixon 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 an advocate for a strong public education system that will not only determine the future of our children but also ensure the future prosperity and well being of our community. I hope to be re-elected in order to continue to work hard supporting the innovative teaching and learner success in the Delta School District. I enjoy sharing with the community my confidence in the Delta School District and the fact that we are the leading district in graduation rates in our region because of the hard work and caring of our excellent staff.
2) What, in your view, is the job of a school trustee?
A school trustee’s role is to be the constituent’s voice and to ensure student success and accountability to Delta residents. Trustees need to be an advocate for public education and understand the priorities of our community. Trustees must be available to invest a considerable amount of time to be effective at local, regional and provincial tables.
3) What are the biggest challenges facing students today and what will you do to help kids to overcome them?
Graduation rates are at an all-time high but we are also seeing increasing rates of stress and anxiety among students. See my pledge here: northdeltareporter.com/municipal-election/delta-trustee-candidates-pledge-to-support-vulnerable-students.
4) What is missing in our schools (for students as well as staff) and how do you plan to address those shortfalls?
I am working as an advocate with the province to get the needed supports and services for Delta’s students: independentsworkingforyou.ca/index.php/2018/09/11/laura-dixon-to-head-provincial-trustees-mental-health-working-group. See more platform commitments here: independentsworkingforyou.ca/index.php/2018/09/29/our-campaign-commitment-school-board.
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?
There is a shortfall in funding for rising costs such as hydro, administrative salaries, unfunded benefit costs and more. Recent new funding was restricted to fulfill class size and composition requirements in the collective agreement so the pre-existing funding shortfalls have yet to be addressed. We continue to lobby as a board and alongside our provincial colleagues to resolve the shortfall. Of immediate concern is that the new funding formula is brought to us for consultation before implementation this spring. I am concerned that Delta does not see a further erosion of 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?
Responsible spending and aligning budget decisions with Delta’s vision. The district spends the most of any in the province on classroom instruction and is the fourth lowest in administration spending. As a result we have the top graduation rates in the region, second overall in the province. Our good reputation attracts out-of-district students and retains students in public education. This helps to offset the approximate 3,000 student decline in enrolment, preserving funding, jobs and schools.
The civic election takes place on Saturday, Oct. 20.