Chris Braun has seen Chilliwack school district issues firsthand his entire life.
His father was a principal and teacher in the district his entire career, his brother and sister-in-law are teachers in Vancouver, and his cousin currently teaches at Chilliwack Middle School. He also has four adult children that went to Chilliwack schools and two more still attending.
“The Chilliwack School Board hasn’t been proactive in keeping up with Chilliwack’s rapid growth,” Braun said in a statement issued Thursday. “Ninety-three portables is simply unacceptable and not only do we need to solve that issue quickly, we need to be looking forward at future population growth and proactively work with city planners and the province so we’re not just opening new schools that are already overcrowded.”
Braun has lived his entire life in Chilliwack and worked at the downtown Save-On-Foods for 27 years. As a long-time union member, he’s seen the battles that unions and employers can get into and the harm it can cause. He points to recent co-operation between his employer and union as a model that he’d advocate for as a Trustee.
“For the last 16 years, we’ve watched public education be a battleground and everybody suffered because of it. I’ve seen the positive effect that co-operating can have, as Save-On worked together with the union for a mutually beneficial agreement and is expanding, while Safeway is still at war and closing stores. I’d take a similar approach and encourage transparency between all parties so we can rebuild trust and work together toward our common goal of the best education for our children.”
A long-time music lover and “band geek” in school, Braun is a strong believer in fine arts programs and their positive effects on learning.
“My girls recently finished up at F.G. Leary Fine Arts and it was a fantastic experience for them. However, we’re also seeing programs shutting down in middle schools thanks to reconfiguration and many children have minimal access to art, drama, or music in their schools. The arts enrich a child’s scholastic experience and has many learning benefits, so I strongly feel we need more fine arts programs in schools.”
Braun has also been a vocal ally of the LGBTQ community for years, and while he’d considered running in past elections and had some of his old teachers encouraging him to do so, it was the current furor over the SOGI 123 program that pushed him to finally throw his hat in the ring.
“A fast growing city is an increasingly diverse one and it’s been exciting to watch the changes in Chilliwack as it grows up. As a school board, we also need to be looking forward, not living in the past. Inclusive schools provide a safer and better learning environment for ALL children and their teachers. When everyone feels part of the community, everyone can thrive!”
Braun encourages voters in Chilliwack to reach out to him to discuss the issues. He can be reached at ChrisBraunForSchoolTrustee@gmail.com or at Chris Braun for School Trustee on Facebook.
Braun is on a list of 17 candidates running for the seven seats on the Chilliwack school board on Oct. 20.