Current Chilliwack school board chair Paul McManus will not seek re-election this October.
The first-time trustee, who has sat the last two years as board chair, made the announcement Sunday evening.
He said the importance of his family, coupled with the demands of his full time career, made it difficult to dedicate the time, energy and resources necessary to be an effective school trustee.
“I strive to perform at a high level in everything that I do, and it has become clear that those expectations are unrealistic with all of the things that I have on my plate right now,” he said. (Read his full statement below.)
The decision by McManus comes after one of the most contentious years in the school district’s history. Faced with growing enrolment, ambitious grade reconfiguration, and the need for new school construction, the board has been mired in debate over the education ministry’s teaching resource on sexual orientation and gender identity – SOGI.
McManus offered three pieces of advice for people preparing for the Oct. 20 civic election:
Get out and vote.
Know your candidates.
And, “Don’t make SOGI the factor for how you cast your vote in this election.”
Watch Friday’s Chilliwack Progress for more on this story.
Full Statement from Chilliwack school board Chair Paul McManus:
I have decided not to run for re-election as a School Trustee in the 2018 municipal elections.
This was a very difficult decision, one that I have considered for many months, and there were many factors and variables that were a part of my decision making process.
The number one priority in my life is my family, with my second priority being my full-time job. Not surprisingly, that puts my role as a School Trustee in the number three position. With the workload in my job continuing to grow over the past 4 years, it was becoming increasingly difficult to put the necessary time, energy and commitment into my trustee role.
I strive to perform at a high level in everything that I do, and it has become clear that those expectations are unrealistic with all of the things that I have on my plate right now. After four years as a trustee, and the last two years as Board Chair, I realized that the stress and time commitment involved in juggling these three priorities was negatively affecting my family life, my work, and my ability to effectively perform the role of School Trustee.
I have learned a great deal over the past four years. The most significant thing I have learned is that trying to influence improvements in student achievement and our public education system is a huge and complicated task. I believe that it is extremely difficult for School Trustees to have the vision, knowledge and understanding to do so. I also believe that our public education system has a reasonable level of success in spite of itself, being wrought with inefficiency, handcuffed by collective agreements that are not designed in the best interest of students, and woefully underfunded by whatever political party happens to be in power.
I have great respect for many of the teachers, administrators, and staff that work in our district, many of them are close friends and have been significant supporters of me in my role as a School Trustee. I thank them for the tremendous support and encouragement they have provided in the last 4 years, and I know they will continue to fight the good fight to do everything in the best interest of our students, in spite of the many challenges and issues that exist in the system. I know many of them will be disappointed in my decision not to run again, just like there will be a group of folks high-fiving when they hear the news! Ah, life in the political world.
While I leave the political arena behind for the next four years, I do have some advice, a checklist if you will, for the voters in the community as we approach the municipal elections on October 20th:
1) GET OUT THERE & VOTE – particularly parents of school-aged kids and “future parents”, whose lives will be most affected by the outcome.
2) KNOW YOUR CANDIDATES.
Take the time to get to know who is running, what their background is, and what they bring to the table. While 7 trustees are elected in our district, it is a rare situation that you should vote for 7 trustees on your ballot. Vote for 1, 3, 4 – essentially however many you feel are worthy of the position.
3) Don’t make SOGI the factor for how you cast your vote in this election. Believe me, if you talk to most teachers and administrators in our schools, you will discover that this ‘concern’ has been overblown by some members of the community. Our school board should not be determined by a candidate’s stance on SOGI or SOGI 123.