How would you address balancing the school district budget given the ongoing funding challenges? Provide pre-budget opportunities, both formal and informal, for input from partner groups (COPACS, STA, CUPE, SAA, the provincial government and the district educational directions committee); establish decision-making criteria based on values, principles, and community established priorities; distinguish between wants and needs and determine what will benefit the most students, and make the necessary cuts but submit the budget accompanied by a document describing the drastic effects these cuts will have on services.
How do you see the current teacher dispute affecting students? Judging from my conversations with parents and students, I would say that the effect on students has been minimal and meeting students’ needs is still the top priority. Teachers are still assessing learning and reporting student progress to parents, either face to face or via email. Grades for Grade 12 students are being provided in writing to the school offices. Teaching and learning are occurring in our classrooms as per usual. Most extracurricular activities are being offered.
What would you do with the North Saanich middle school property once the new school is opened? That property is a valuable community asset that will go through the full consultative process, as did the McTavish school property. With the old building probably to be torn down, capital raised from the sale of the land will help pay for the new school. The future use of the land is really up to the community and the Town of Sidney and very dependent on zoning.
How would you address balancing the school district budget given the ongoing funding challenges? The funding model penalizes declining enrolment districts like ours. I will focus on working to see a more equitable funding model implemented. I would also continue to work with parents, teachers and the community to set priorities. I believe we can live within our means and still provide a first-class education.
How do you see the current teacher dispute affecting students? To this point, the direct impacts on students have been minimal. The impacts will certainly increase if the job action escalates. It’s vital that we avoid impacts to students as we work through negotiations.
What would you do with the North Saanich middle school property once the new school is opened? The district owns a number of properties that are no longer required for educational purposes. Where those properties are being put to community use, this should continue. As managing empty schools takes funds from education, with North Saanich middle school I would support disposal of the property so that it could be redeveloped.
How would you address balancing the school district budget given the ongoing funding challenges? Advocate for more funding, push for revisions to the current funding formula, look for innovative infusions of revenue, look at each situation and separate the needs from the wants, and look for alternative avenues to sustain diverse curriculums that support an inclusive education model.
How do you see the current teacher dispute affecting students? The dispute has had minimal negative effect on students. Teachers have more time for lesson plans and to actively teach. Time spent on administrative duties is now focused on the students. Teachers are available for discussions on student performance and continue to engage in extracurricular activities. Reports for post secondary enrolment are being completed and forwarded.
What would you do with the North Saanich middle school property once the new school is opened? Look at all options and advocate for the best choice, consider the needs of the community, the students and the district, and ensure the district and community work together to find a solution within the framework of fiscal responsibility that keeps our children at the core of public education.