A second incumbent school trustee announced over the weekend he will not seek re-election to the Chilliwack school board in October.
Bob Patterson said that his decision not to run was made with mixed emotions, and that it was time to start the next chapter of his life.
Patterson’s departure will leave an experiential gap on the board, as the former teacher and counsellor worked in all sides of the education system, also serving as a senior administrator and consultant before being elected trustee in 2014.
His announcement also came over the long weekend one day before board chair Paul McManus also announced he would not run on Oct. 20.
Both Patterson and McManus served with steady hands during what became an increasingly divisive and controversial period over the last year as the board dealt with a vocal minority upset about the Ministry of Education’s anti-bullying teaching resource regarding sexual orientation and gender identity.
In announcing that they would not run this year, both men also expressed advice to voters regarding the issues that matter, pointing to the so-called SOGI 123 “debate” as little more than a distraction.
“SOGI 123 are resources that are made available to our teachers (if they so choose) to support students,” Patterson said in a statement. “These resources are designed to support the [physical education] and health curriculum, as outlined by the Ministry of Education. The resources are designed to support students by reinforcing acceptance, tolerance, and promoting self-esteem.”
(See below for Patterson’s full statement on his decision to not seek re-election.)
Looking back on his time as trustee, Patterson said it is the board’s job to do whatever is needed to support all students.
He said he learned that for the district to be effective, a strong working relationship with all those involved in education is important. That includes the unions, the Indigenous community, administration, and parent advisory groups.
“The analogy ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ is so true,” Patterson said. “Our partner groups need to be aligned in purpose and focus. Trustees need to nurture this working relationship among our partner groups. This requires our Trustees to have strong listening skills, be flexible in their thinking, have strong communication skills, be open minded, and having a sense of humor.”
As for a suggestion to voters, he urged people to take the time to understand candidates’ backgrounds, and to vote for candidates who will serve the community “and the needs of all our students.”
Of the incumbent board of School District 33, McManus and Patterson are the first to announce they will not run again. Barry Neufeld said in November of last year that he would seek re-election. Incumbent Dan Coulter announced earlier this year he would also run again. And as of Sept. 4, Walter Krahn, Silvia Dyck and Heather Maahs had not yet made announcements either way.
See all the Chilliwack Municipal Election coverage on The Progress website at www.theprogress.com/municipal-election.
Full Statement from Bob Patterson on his decision not to run Oct. 20:
It is with mixed emotion that I have chosen not to run in the upcoming election.
I would like to thank the Chilliwack community for your support and trust in me to serve you for the last 3 years as a School Board Trustee. It has been an honor and privilege to represent you. Chilliwack has been my home for over 40 years. It is also where our kids were born and where they graduated from one of our public high schools. Chilliwack was and still is a wonderful place to raise a family.
In addition I am very proud of our School District and the incredible dedication that I see from our employees who provide wonderful service for our students and families. I have been fortunate to be part of this school district for approximately 40 years. I have served as a teacher, counsellor, administrator, Assistant Superintendent, consultant and now as a Trustee. As rewarding as my affiliation has been with the Chilliwack School District, It is now time for me start the next chapter in my life.
What are some of the key things that I have learned as a Trustee?
An effective School District puts its students first. We are in the “people building business” which means that it is our job to do what we can to support “all” students in order for them to be the best they can be. As a result, Trustees need to be passionate about supporting all students. Trustees need to be dedicated and very visible within our community and within our schools.
An effective School District has a strong working relationship between the Board of Education and the Senior School District Staff. In addition, an effective School District thrives on building outstanding working relationships among its partner groups. (CTA, CUPE, Aboriginal Community, Administrators, DPAC) The analogy …”it takes a village to raise a child” is so true. Our partner groups need to be aligned in purpose and focus. Trustees need to nurture this working relationship among our partner groups. This requires our Trustees to have strong listening skills, be flexible in their thinking, have strong communication skills, be open minded, and having a sense of humor.
It is the Trustee’s role to do what he/she can to represent the views of our community. While Trustees have individuals views decisions at the Board Table are made as a collective “Board of Education.” As a result, Trustees need to be open minded. Sometimes this requires setting one’s personal beliefs aside in order to make the most effective Board decision.
Finally, during the last year, there has been much attention about SOGI (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity) and SOGI 1,2,3. What is this all about and why the controversy? SOGI 1,2,3 are resources that are made available to our teachers (if they so choose) to support students. These resources are designed to support the PE and Health curriculum, as outlined by the Ministry of Education. (Refer to the Ministry Website.) The resources are designed to support students by reinforcing acceptance, tolerance, and promoting self-esteem. Despite what some people indicate, I believe that SOGI 1,2,3 is not about making students into something they are not. It is about supporting students with their social and emotional needs, requisites for strong student achievement.
Looking ahead, what suggestions can I provide for the upcoming School Board Election?
• Take the time to really understand the skills and background that each candidate brings.
• Please take the time to vote for the candidate(s) who you believe will best serve you, our Chilliwack community, and the needs of all of our students. Your vote is important.