The other week I sent a questionnaire to every candidate running in the 2021 Langley School Board Trustee By-Election. The questions were intended to be nonpartisan, important, and focused on the future of Langley’s schools. I deeply appreciate the responses received as it would have taken these candidates serious time to respond. I hope that if you like the responses provided that you’ll share the posts of your favourite candidates. These posts are NOT endorsements of any candidate and the answers have NOT been edited. -Brad Richert
What current issues do you see as most pressing on the board?
– To continue to focus on, and emphasize, sound decision making focused on student learning and outcomes.
-To continue to deal with student safety focusing on issues such as inclusivity, racism, student and staff mental health, and other prevalent issues so students can learn in an enriching and receptive environment. I believe we don’t want to experience issues in our schools where the safety of individual or groups of students is put in to jeopardy.
-To continue to explore educational choice options for students to ensure each and every student that enters our school district, regardless of level, functionality or disability, has every opportunity to graduate.
What are the challenges you foresee arising for the board in the next 18 months and the following term?
-To focus on good synergy and working in harmony so the focus could be on sound governance ensuring the staff, students and parents have confidence in the leadership.
-To ensure supports and programs are in place to allow equal access to sound educational programming and supports for all students regardless of race, colour, sexual orientation, socio-economic circumstances or ability.
-To be a vocal advocate to the Ministry of Education on the challenges of education finance for staffing and programs, money for growth to allow purchase of both property and construction of new schools, and a new and more robust indicator of educational success and growth than the FSA testing.
What are your top 3 priorities for the remainder of this term?
-The strategic plan that was developed early in this past election term is a blueprint to identify the educational goals, priorities and outcomes for all students in the district. The strategic plan must focuses on measurable specifics to achieve each identified aspect of the plan. It would be a priority of mine to review this plan and ensure it is focused on student learning and student success and that it is in fact meeting or exceeding expectations. As a trustee it is my priority to focus on student learning and preparing our students for life not only at school but for the world beyond graduation.
-To develop a capital plan that reflects the needs of the district as it continues to grow in some areas and decline in other areas. This would reflect the needs and priorities for the next 5 years.
-To develop a plan to address the Covid pandemic for the next 2 months, 4 months and 8 months (September) should the pandemic continue to proliferate and be an issue affecting public and school safety.
How do you believe the board has responded to the COVID-19 pandemic so far? Do you believe any changes need to be made?
The Board of Trustees has taken 100% direction in its response to the COVID-19 pandemic from Fraser Health and the Ministry of Education. The Board and senior staff have handled the situation as well as one could expect given the orders they are mandated to follow. The one challenge that occurs is when an unexpected event should occur, like a power outage, as a result there were school closures, and the district policy for dealing with this type incident put staff in a situation where they felt, in a COVID environment, their health and safety was compromised. I feel, in this circumstance, definitely a different solution other than being assigned to go to another local school should have been sought. Lastly, I personally believe that masks should have been mandated in all schools right from the outset. I know this was a protocol that was not adopted by Dr. Henry and staff but as a school is a public space I feel it would have been a constructive decision to simply mandate them in schools. I know of some schools where they have gone to a full mask environment on a voluntary basis and I think that is a good choice.
How do you plan to foster positive relationships with parents & teachers over the remainder of this term?
The relationship with parents and teachers is fostered through the development of, and emphasis on, transparent governance at the Board level. In my opinion it is critical to engage and listen to concerns from parents, our indigenous partners and employee groups and where there is valid input, to take that to the committee meetings and Board meetings to ensure it is put on the table for discussion and consideration. I want to focus, as I have in the past, on a solution based approach to challenges and issues that come to the forefront. That does not always mean everyone may agree with the solution but any decision that is made is measured and given full consideration based on a broad range of input. I am particularly interested in seeking input on decisions that positively affect student learning and the operation of schools.
What sort of responsibility do you believe the board has in the overall community?
The board has definite responsibilities that are defined in the School Act. I fully understand and accept those. Above and beyond that, it would be my responsibility to develop robust strategic plan to address student learning which includes public and partner group input and scrutiny. Further, to develop a capital plan that reflects the need for addressing growth in certain areas and good asset management particularly in areas of population decline. I would emphasize student safety working to ensure a safe, enriching and inclusionary environment for each and every child attending school in the District Further, it is a responsibility to listen to parents concerns and to act on them in a professional manner following due process as outlined in District policy. It would be my responsibility to ensure program choice is available. To reflect on, and continue to emphasize, graduation rates.
I want every child who enters the school system in Kindergarten to have every opportunity to graduate from Grade 12 and I want every student to come to school on a daily basis feeling valued and safe.
There are just under 1,900 new apartment condo units scheduled to be completed this year in Willoughby alone. The school board currently projects an average of approximately 1 school age child for every 6 condo units – given the recent rise in housing prices, do you believe this is enough? Why or why not?
The calculation of expected students per type of housing unit is done by a computer program called the Bargar Program. It was developed locally, in Surrey, and is used extensively by school districts in growth scenarios (Surrey, Langley, Maple Ridge etc.) across the province and in other jurisdictions. The Bargar program calculates, based on a matrix, student generation predictions on a per household basis. Amazingly, it has been proven to be quite accurate in its predictions. The school district and the Township staff liaise constantly about this issue taking in to consideration market trends, housing build types, and development applications being processed. Therefore, I would suggest those statistics for student generation per condo to be quite accurate.
Do you or have you had children in the Langley school board system?
Absolutely, I have two children who were educated K-12 in the Langley school system. Both graduated from French Immersion. One now is an administrator in the Langley School District and the other is an environmental engineer who works in the green energy (windmills, battery and solar) business. I have a grand-son, who lives in our bubble, who attends Grade 1 and another grandson who will start school in a year.
Are you planning to run for school board trustee in the 2022 general election ?
My plan in running in this By-Election is to focus on winning this election and then give full consideration to running in the following term in the spring of 2022. The present mandate is through to October 2022 and I am firstly focused on that task at hand and making a positive and constructive contribution to the education of children in Langley schools.
Why you, why now?
In a recent conversation with a former Trustee they said it took a year for them to get fully ‘up to speed’ on the role, workings of the District, budgeting and commitment. So why not someone who has…..
*passion and energy – whether coaching in the community, on a board or more importantly to his chosen career.
*problem solving skill set – looking for solutions to challenges not conflict along the route to solutions.
*time – as a retired person, I have the time to commit to the job and meet the necessary time obligations.
*educational experience – I have worked in the school district for 33 ½ years so I know the inner workings of the district, how it operates, the planning processes the budget process etc. FOXforSD35.ca
*leadership experience – I have been on the board and president of boards of directors at the national provincial and several at the local level. Aside from that I have sat on the Metro Vancouver Board of Directors for 6 years and had a seat on the Township Council for 13 years.FOXforSD35.ca
*knowledge – I have experience in the area of budgeting in the public sector. I worked in the district when it was fully decentralized which gave me excellent experience in school based and district budget process. I also had experience as a member of TOL Council in public sector budgeting.
*relationships – most of the senior staff were former colleagues and I know I can work with them and engage in meaningful discussion directed at student based outcomes.
*community – I have a long history of commitment to my community and working with youth. I would bring that experience and knowledge to the table and utilize it in making student based decisions. Read more at FOXforSD35.ca
*commitment – since my retirement I have continued to support schools and student education in many ways. This is a passion and I cannot understate my life long support of this community and schools. Read more at FOXforSD35.ca
*nourishment – because I run a program that feeds 67 student families weekly and have done for over 5 years and over 10,000 backpacks. Students need nourishment on the weekend and I am acting on that each and every week.
Thank you Charlie Fox for your responses and good luck on the rest of the campaign!
I invite my readers to join us for the “Meet Your Candidates” Live Event at TalkLangley.com on February 17, 2021, 7:00-9:00pm.
The event will be hosted on Facebook Live Stream by former Langley School Board Trustee Candy Ashdown and myself, Brad Richert, with opening remarks by former Langley School Board Chairperson Megan Dykeman, MLA (Langley East). We hope to see you there!
Authorized by, Brad Richert, registered sponsor under LECFA, 123-456-7890