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 Kids Matter candidate Randy Anderson-Fennell 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?
Under-funding affects every aspect of a child’s education, from educational resources to safety to maintenance to simple classroom cleanliness — it all goes back to funding, and we’re well past the point of merely being able to do more with less. I am running so I can advocate for our students, our parents, our staff and our community for fully funded classrooms.
2) What, in your view, is the job of a school trustee?
On paper, Delta trustees establish administrative policies and regulations in the district. But it’s a lot more than that. For me, being a trustee will allow me to contribute meaningfully to student success and the positive working and learning environments of students, teachers and support staff. I am passionate about the role of public education and see it as the basic bedrock of our society. I have experience working with trustees, senior management, teachers and support workers, and am well acquainted with how all the pieces come together to allow our school doors to open every morning.
3) What are the biggest challenges facing students today and what will you do to help kids to overcome them?
Our students’ challenges are as unique as their educational experience. Whether it is lack of support for special needs, resources for vulnerable students or funds to run meal programs so no child goes hungry, these and other aspects of public education are all equally important. I will lobby the provincial government for fully funded classrooms that meet the needs of all our learners.
4) What is missing in our schools (for students as well as staff) and how do you plan to address those shortfalls?
Last year, Delta struggled to fill staffing for teaching and education assistants. This is not unique to Delta as there is a shortage province-wide. We need ideas to recruit new staff to Delta and retain existing staff. Collaboration with the board, support staff and teachers to work on this issue is essential. And if we provide the supports and resources to adequately run our classrooms, our staff will stay in Delta.
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, the funding is not adequate. I will reach out to all stakeholders to make sure our case is strong and fact-based, and our advocacy efforts are inclusive, strategic and successful.
6) Barring additional funds from the province, how can the district best cover budget shortfalls or pay for projects/programs on its wish list?
We must make sure all stakeholders are at the table. Delta is innovative and there may be made-in-Delta solutions we can put forward. The one thing we cannot do is cut any more staff. Workers have been dealing with increased workloads for many years as budget shortfalls have fallen on their backs. We need to bring district budgets for teaching and non-teaching staff to reasonable levels, so our already underfunded schools can operate properly.
The civic election takes place on Saturday, Oct. 20.