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 Victor Espinoza 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 want to make sure Delta schools are safe, inclusive and well-funded places where all students can achieve their maximum potential.
2) What, in your view, is the job of a school trustee?
I see myself as part of a larger board facing many changes in growth, curriculum, student needs, equity among schools and interaction with partner groups. My role would be to help the board navigate these changes in an accountable way. 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 will advocate for safe and inclusive schools, fully-funded classrooms that meet the needs of all, and respect for/collaboration with our partners.
3) What are the biggest challenges facing students today and what will you do to help kids to overcome them?
The biggest challenge facing students, apart from chronic funding shortfalls, is how students navigate the World Wide Web, their exposure to social media platforms and online bullying. The big question is how do we teach students to safely and critically navigate the web? Students forget that once something is put on the web, it is out there forever. Cyberbullying can follow a victim everywhere, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, from school to the mall and all the way into the comfort of their home. Schools need to have safe media use policies in place. Media courses and awareness needs to be taught starting at an early age. Students need to be made aware of the dangers waiting for them online, how posts may affect their lives or ability to get jobs down the road, the addictive nature of social media.
4) What is missing in our schools (for students as well as staff) and how do you plan to address those shortfalls?
Parents want to be heard, be included. We need to look at how parents are engaged and what mechanisms are in place for their voices to come through. What is missing is a means for parents to stay in tune with what is happening in their kids’ schools. What students learn in their classes can often be a mystery to parents. Open channels need to be established between all stakeholders.
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?
The district is not sufficiently funded. The funding formula needs to be reviewed. All levels of government need to be lobbied for funds. Partnerships with the city need to be formed. Take the state of disrepair that many elementary playgrounds or secondary tracks find themselves in due to years of provincial government neglect. Unfortunately, much of the work needed to raise funds has fallen onto school PACs. This problem is exacerbated by the fact that not all schools can raise funds equally due to demographic inequalities.
6) Barring additional funds from the province, how can the district best cover budget shortfalls or pay for projects/programs on its wish list?
Selectively and carefully partner with ethical and responsible private partners to bring funds into the school. Also, ultimately, the best solution would be to effectively lobby the provincial government.
The civic election takes place on Saturday, Oct. 20.