BETTER LANGLEY: What are your top 3 priorities as a trustee?
SCHOOL TRUSTEE CANDIDATE ANSWERS (by ballot order)
RAI (Contract with Langley): I am committed to improve the quality of education for all students, and to be an ally and source of support for students, parents, and the community. I want to create a school learning environment based on acceptance of differences while adhering to the school policies
If elected as a School Board for the Township of Langley, I will advocate tirelessly for the following:
1. To streamline a structure and efficient training process for the Special Education Assistants and advocate for changes in the Prevalence Model so that parents get a fair deal.
Over the past 20 years, the job of an Education Assistant has drastically changed, making it challenging to help students maximize their learning potential. These educators are overworked, have oversized classes, and have less instructional time to provide the support and encouragement that diverse learners need. Unless a child shows an extreme need and requires constant supervision, the support is not available. Education Assistants are burned out and overworked—running from classroom to classroom, student to student and don’t have the chance to create the bond with kids needed to make a positive influence and help them to gain confidence in their learning. It is a broken system.
Post-secondary education training programs for Education Assistants are not consistent across schools in British Columbia, and often unqualified staff are hired to remedy the shortage. This method does not align with providing students equitable education. It is vital that provincially mandated standards of practice for Education Assistants be established in British Columbia. The current training is open to all high-school graduates and only includes a two-week program. There is no requirement for early childhood training, and the program does not equip educators to learn how to work with lower functioning students or those with physical challenges.
I will lobby for additional resources for diverse learners that will include more staff support. It is critical that teaching assistants have sufficient and consistent education and training, and understand their job. To fill the shortage of Education Assistants, I support stronger employment packages that follow a pay-scale based on education and experience. Additionally, ongoing training beyond the two-week program is essential to support the Education Assistants, as they are the foundation of inclusivity in the education system.
I will actively fight against the prevalence model of funding for special needs programming. The model uses economic factors and population statistics to determine funding without directly measuring the need in the community. Furthermore, the model allows funding to be taken away from other programs, thereby, limiting other programs, and potentially creating greater inequities. The model is imbalanced.
The panel recommending this change does not include representation by parents, teachers, or school support staff. Both the prevalence model and the recommending panel disregard the link between student needs and program funding, and neither are aligned to support inclusive education for students. Teachers are experienced to speak on the matter and should be consulted on the decision.
All students, of every level of need, deserve to have access to a wide range of programs, and funding should not be taken from one group of students to accommodate another. Programs should be equally funded, and the focus on education and development needs should be prioritized for every student. It is long overdue for the government to significantly
2.To enforce an anti-bullying program with defined procedures :
I understood the effect of bullying and how it correlates directly to a child’s mental health and feeling unsafe because my daughter was bullied and is still dealing with the devastating impacts. As society we recognize bullying is happening more and more in schools which is why I understand the seriousness of its effects.
● Protocols need to be in place that outline conflict resolutions and the correlating consequences. In school suspensions are not enough. Parents need to be notified of a situation immediately. If a resolution can not be made at the school level then it needs to escalate to an independent tribunal for mediation and swift reprimand.
● Currently, there is no follow through with swift policy or regulation because the teachers or principal are powerless, or to the other extreme, favoritism plays a role.
● To correct this, parents, students and school staff need to work together to create an inclusive and safe school environment.
3. Promote education and support for Mental Health and Wellness:
The Ministry of Education’s VISION statement: A whole-school system that promotes positive mental health, where mental health promotion is embedded in all aspects of the education system, including culture, leadership, curriculum and learning environments.
To reach this vision it would benefit students to be more aware of mental health challenges so that they can identify their challenges and learn how to deal with it in a healthy manner. Being open about mental health, and providing education also helps to minimize stigma and support inclusion. It’s also important to ensure that mental health efforts are culturally relevant, equitable and safe for all students.
The Mental Health in Schools Strategy focuses on three main elements – Compassionate Systems Leadership, Capacity Building, and Mental Health in the Classroom. I am committed to building on these elements with educators and board members so that students build a capacity to better understand mental health wellbeing, and that the system-wide mental health strategy is incorporated into classrooms. mental health capacity building, and will advocate to hire counsellors and psychologists to help develop and nurture students’ mental health. After all, their education is the future of our community and our country.
I support mental health capacity building, and will advocate to hire counsellors and psychologists to help develop and nurture students’ mental health. After all, their education is the future of our community and our country.
LOCKHART (Independent): 1) Communication. This seems cliche and I think a lot of people preach it but don’t understand that you talking isn’t the complete communication cycle. Trustees need to be a conduit of information to Parents, Teachers, Staff and Students. One of the many reasons I decided to run for a Trustee position is because of the disconnect that our Local Government has with Parents. I asked friends, family, neighbours and co-workers the simple question, “what does a School Trustee do?” I did not find one person who knew the answer. I want to change this. I want Parents (and by extension, their Children) to have a “go-to” person that they can feel comfortable and confident in when bringing up their concerns (or their praise!) of our education system in Langley. I also want to use my decade of experience successfully advocating on Public and First Responder health and safety issues to Local, Provincial and Federal Government to get a better foothold in the worlds of our elected officials so that our district is always top of mind and they are ready to work for us, to advocate for us. I also want to ensure a “team” atmosphere at the Board Level, where all the members can feel comfortable in thinking and speaking as individuals, but also collaborating and operating as a team.
2) Representation of Today’s Student and Parent. I believe that we need a portion of our team to be individuals that have children currently in the school system. We need that parent perspective on the Board to compliment the other areas of experience that will be brought with successful incumbents and new voices. A parent of a school aged child has a unique perspective that has a foothold in today’s education system, with an eye on the future. Again, I want to be that representative that parents can be proud of, and open the door for them to know who, why and what about their Trustees. We need to ensure that learning outcomes are meeting the needs of the individual student and the pathways to education are equitable for all.
3) Advocacy for Financial Support Beyond Local Government. Right now there are two areas, very much entwined, that bare the brunt of the fiscal demands on our education system. Those are our municipal tax payers and our parents. Parents and by extension, our Parent Advisory Committees, are the lifeblood of our schools’ success. Some schools have robust PACs aided because of socioeconomic conditions and large enrollment. We can not get away with “have” and “have not” areas of our district if we want all students to have the best chance at success. We need to find creative ways to ensure that Parents and taxpayers (and Teachers spending hundreds to thousands of their dollars) aren’t continually subsidizing an underfunded system. I will explore avenues that get our Langley Board more involved with the Provincial and Federal Governments, while also bringing our Teachers and Staff on to the team.
PERREAULT (Independent): My three top priorities continue to be:
1) Equity, Inclusion and Diversity to include Mental Health and Wellness & Trauma Informed Practices
2) Emergency Preparedness & safe schools
3) Communication (within SD35, with our Partner Groups and Co-governing groups)
DICKINSON (Contract with Langley):
i) Overcrowding and Portables.
We need progressive long term plans to ensure schools become central hubs for each new neighbourhood plans. There simply is not enough space in our schools to keep up with the record growth we are experiencing. We must increase communication and working relationships between all levels of government.
The budget must be adjusted to hire more support staff- in particular SEAs and Psychologists.
• Education is a fundamental Human Right and currently there are a number of diverse learners in our district who are not provided with equitable learning opportunities (at times, even sending children home because they can’t be properly cared for by the school). Many of these issues stem from there not being enough SEAs.
• Evaluations by psychologist evaluations often have a 1-2 year wait list. While many parents opt to take their child to private practitioners for diagnosis, privileged access to private practitioners creates a major division between the haves and have nots, and is one of the biggest indicators of societal inequity.
o The time “wasted” while waiting to be assessed and access supports are often some of the times that students have highest success rates for interventions.
iii) Mental Health, Safety and Belonging
Better policies and programs to facilitate:
• Stronger anti- bullying policies & restitution practices.
• Better mental health supports.
• Inclusion and safety of all students & staff.
TURNER (Independent): Due to the issues with your online account, I have chosen not to fill out the survey.
WAKELIN (Independent): 1. Mental health and well-being of students and all staff: This must be viewed as an urgent priority, especially as we move beyond the pandemic. How can we achieve student success without creating a foundation of wellness?
2. Communication throughout the District: this seems to be a widespread concern for many stakeholders that I have had conversations with. This was a topic mentioned at the recent Langley Teachers Assoc. All Candidates meeting. If elected, I will take my role as representative of the parent and stakeholder voice extremely seriously.
WILSON (Independent): 1. More supports and resources for mental health and inclusion. 2. Advocating for more schools and reducing overcrowding. 3. Building stronger relationships with partner groups and creating more opportunities for engagement.
ROSS (Independent): More Schools; K-BA school district; Entrepreneurial Hub/Incubator
FOX (Independent): -To develop a robust 4 year Strategic Plan based on student achievement outcomes for all students and abilities, safe schools and learning environments and the recruitment and retention of excellent staff.
-Advocate for new school buildings and new school sites to meet growth needs as outlined in the 5 year plan.
– Support a balanced and sustainable budget that reflects the district’s needs for today and in to the future.
NEUFELD (Contract with Langley):
1. Support Families
Expand before and after school programming and childcare options by advocating for joint programs with Township & City councils to increase recreational based programs such as Active Beyond the Bell and expand these programs to include before school opportunities for students.
2. Prioritize Staffing Needs
Appeal to the Provincial Government to provide more funding for teachers and support staff.
3. Capital Expenditures and School Improvement Plans
To achieve a progressive long-term plan for schools, it is imperative that school boards, local and provincial governments all work together to build new schools. We are committed to scheduling standing monthly meetings between the School Board, Langley City and Township of Langley.
Do you believe in a more economically and environmentally sustainable Langley? Do you believe in the work being done here? Do you want to support the work of Better Langley?