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 Delta Voices candidate Mita Naidu 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?
There are certain voices missing that represent the communities of Delta. I have been an advocate for youth, families, the arts and athletics- through my various board positions and community work. I am a mom of two Delta children, and a relationship-builder, policy-maker and fundraiser in my professional life. I believe strongly in equity, which means valuing all types of students, as well as families, teachers and staff. I understand the job, and have a long history of governance and leadership experience.
2) What, in your view, is the job of a school trustee?
The role of the Trustee is primarily centered on governance: interpreting large budgets, allocating those funds responsibly, stakeholder consultation, creating policy, relationship-building, knowledge of fundraising and grant writing, and ethical leadership. I have expertise and understanding in all of the areas, from the boardroom, to non-profits, to youth communities, to the Downtown Eastside.
3) What are the biggest challenges facing students today and what will you do to help kids to overcome them?
I am most concerned about funding in the district. The amount distributed to Delta by the province will directly affect a number of things I am passionate about, including school playgrounds and tracks, inclusive learning programs, and enough support staff in classrooms. I will ensure that, when the funding is delivered, the research is done, all the stakeholders are heard, and community needs are prioritized.
4) What is missing in our schools (for students as well as staff) and how do you plan to address those shortfalls?
Classroom resources (including support): I will address a lack of resources by improving stakeholder relationships, building stronger coalitions and being a powerful advocate at the board level, so that the funding bodies listen and collaborate. Improved transparency: I will suggest live web-streaming of board meetings, more media coverage and better community engagement so families feel invested. Voice: I want to embed all stakeholder voices in policy and practice at the school board. This includes students, staff, teachers and community. My ideas to accomplish this: a communications committee and an online community engagement platform.
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?
No I do not. This requires a multi-level approach and will begin with collaborations with other school boards, building a relationship with the city, ensuring all stakeholder voices are heard, and being honest and accountable when we lobby the province.
6) Barring additional funds from the province, how can the district best cover budget shortfalls or pay for projects/programs on its wish list?
Research ethical partnerships with charities, foundations, bursaries and endowments.
The civic election takes place on Saturday, Oct. 20.