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?
Overall – continued advocacy for supports for students with diverse needs, transparency and engagement at board level.
More specifically – New schools, COVID-19, mental health, walk limits, and declining enrollment at Aldergrove High school.
What are the challenges you foresee arising for the board in the next 18 months and the following term?
It doesn’t matter which candidate is elected, making space for a new colleague partway through a term will be a challenge. I am confident in my capacity to hit the ground running—with a willingness to collaborate, learn a new role and contribute to positive work.
Addressing COVID-19 (the actual logistics—call for masks, additional protocols and long term consequences to mental health, education, teacher and staff burnout, etc)
What are your top 3 priorities for the remainder of this term?
1. COVID-19- student and staff well-being and mental health, as we hopefully move towards recovery.
2. Increased engagement and transparency. Currently the community only has one opportunity a month to engage with the board, and that is at the public board meetings. There is much more room for public involvement in committee meetings and other board functions and I will work to make those opportunities happen.
3. Increasing classroom supports for diverse learners, which will lead to better outcomes for all students and staff.
How do you believe the board has responded to the COVID-19 pandemic so far? Do you believe any changes need to be made?
As a parent, I felt there could have been more communication from the board prior to school starting in September. I acknowledge the complexity of this situation and that there has been some political finger pointing, as to where the responsibility for COVID-19 protocols, etc. I believe communication is rarely wasted and an earlier dialogue with parents/guardians re: return to school would have been helpful and appreciated.
How do you plan to foster positive relationships with parents & teachers over the remainder of this term?
The key to fostering good relationships is making yourself available and truly listening to peoples concerns. When it comes to parents concerns regarding their children, they need to know that you truly care. We are very fortunate to have many parents that are engaged in volunteer roles via PACs and DPAC and continuing to strengten those relationships is vital.
At the end of the day, staff need to feel respected and valued for their contributions to the district. Ensuring that there is a foundation of meaningful communication contributes towards a healthy and vibrant workplace culture.
What sort of responsibility do you believe the board has in the overall community?
Schools are truly the heart of our community. Part of what makes the Township of Langley unique is the fact that we are comprised of many communities. What happens in our district and the well-being of students and staffs impacts the overall health of these communities. In my opinion, there is no greater investment in society or our community, than to invest in our public education system. SD35 is a large employer within the TOL and this must not be overlooked.
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?
No, I do not believe this is an accurate projection. They said this in Vancouver and the projections were incorrect.
Do you or have you had children in the Langley school board system?
I have two teenagers in high school and they have attended school in SD35 the entire time. I have volunteered with DPAC and have been active in advocacy and activism via BC Families for Inclusivity and Safe September BC groups.
Are you planning to run for school board trustee in the 2022 general election ?
Yes. I had planned on running in the next local election for a seat on the Langley School Board. With an unexpected by-election, I decided to run now because I am ready to get to work.
Why you, why now?
I have a proven track record of being a collaborator and leader who is ready to listen to the voices of students, parents and staff and I am not afraid to speak up and challenge the status quo to affect positive, meaningful change. I am looking forward to putting my proven skills to work for our school community at the board table here in Langley. I believe in the power of municipal politics and the ability of elected leaders to make a positive impact on their communities and this is why I am running for a seat on the Langley School Board. We need to build bridges and foster a culture of respect with each other moving forward. We need strong, kind, empathetic leaders at the table who are committed to serving the district. I am ready to do just that. The work I have done as an activist, advocate, and a community leader, coupled with my experience as a business co-owner and operator, has provided me with the perfect combination of skills to excel in this role.
Thank you Stacey Wakelin 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