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 Achieving for Delta candidate Sujay Nazareth 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?
1) My reason for running is to make an impact on our education system so that it becomes a system we can depend on to shape the next generation. It is important to work towards fixing problems that seem to be holding our system back and helping empower parents and educators to make sure that we can make Delta one of the best school districts in B.C.
2) What, in your view, is the job of a school trustee?
2) Trustees govern the local district, manage the funds, set budgets. They are also responsible for ensuring the school district is ensuring that students are receiving the required education as set out by the provincial government. It is important that the trustee is also able to work with unions and the provincial government to ensure concerns parents have are relayed to those parties and advocate for all parents and educators who have concerns.
3) What are the biggest challenges facing students today and what will you do to help kids to overcome them?
3) The biggest challenge today is the fact there are insufficient EAs in the system. This is hurting the children’s education as at times the teacher is the one who needs to spend time with the kids with special needs and can’t focus on the rest of the students. This is hindering students from getting the quality education they deserve. The other issue that I have heard is the cancellation of programs such as band at North Delta Secondary. You have students passionate about doing band but there is no program for them. We need to figure out how students can be accommodated. All potential solutions should be explored including busing to a neighbouring school which does have programs like this.
4) What is missing in our schools (for students as well as staff) and how do you plan to address those shortfalls?
4) Inadequate communication at all levels is causing confusion and many gaps which are affecting our students education. We need open lines of communications between all stakeholders and trustees to ensure that things are being handled right away before a situation gets out of hand. My plan is to ensure that the board is constantly in touch with all stakeholders and students to ensure their needs are being met and fix problems.
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?
5) I do not believe we are adequately funded. We do not have enough EAs and are constantly laying off our CUPE to ensure we meet our budgets. This is causing havoc in the classroom especially when there are special needs children and there are no EAs in those classrooms. We need to show the government we are not able to provide students with the quality education they deserve because of these shortfalls and demand they come to the table.
6) Barring additional funds from the province, how can the district best cover budget shortfalls or pay for projects/programs on its wish list?
6) Downloading costs onto PACs should be the last option. The board needs to continue to work with provincial, federal and municipal governments to receive any possible grants.. We also need to work closely with community groups and solicit their help.
The civic election takes place on Saturday, Oct. 20.