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 Nick Kanakos 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 seeking re-election for my third term as a Delta school board trustee. Education in Delta has been the main focus of my professional life. I am a retired teacher. I taught for 33 years at North Delta Secondary. Our four children attended Delta schools. I have served as a trustee for seven years. I understand education as a teacher, a parent and a school board trustee. I believe education is a partnership between the parents, the schools and our dedicated staff.
2) What, in your view, is the job of a school trustee?
A school trustee is elected to represent the views of the parents and children of the district. We are their advocates at the board table. Trustees determine school policy, are responsible for operation of the district and develop the school board’s budget. Trustees represent the board at all school events, from Christmas plays to graduations. Trustees support parents, students, staff and public education.
3) What are the biggest challenges facing students today and what will you do to help kids to overcome them?
The majority of students are concerned about peer acceptance, the stress of doing well in school, and balancing their outside life with their school life. We can help students by supporting them within our safe and inclusive schools and by providing programs that develop empathy for others.
4) What is missing in our schools (for students as well as staff) and how do you plan to address those shortfalls?
Our student would be better served by increasing the number of teacher specialists and educational assistants at the elementary and secondary levels. This would relieve student stress, provide for emotional support for all students and allow all students the ability to reach their full potential, regardless of their abilities.
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 believe that the education system is funded adequately. Eighty-five percent of our budget goes to salaries and fifteen to operations and maintenance. Over the last 15 to 20 years there has been a significant downloading of additional costs to school districts. School boards have faced rising costs for services with no real corresponding increase in funding from the provincial government. I have recently participated in the provincial funding formula review and advocated for additional funds for Delta schools.
6) Barring additional funds from the province, how can the district best cover budget shortfalls or pay for projects/programs on its wish list?
In Delta we are fortunate to have a vibrant international student program. Our students form lifelong relationship and are exposed to different cultures throughout the world. Fees generated by international students are returned to the budget to support a variety of programs. These can include additional educational assistants, the professional development of teacher, and release time for teacher mentorship programs.
The civic election takes place on Saturday, Oct. 20.