Brian VanGarderen said he’ll fight for equity, inclusion and greater support for teachers if elected to the Chilliwack school board.
VanGarderen is one of 11 candidates declaring for the race so far. Seven will be elected, and if he’s one of them, he said he’ll try to counter the divisiveness that has dominated the local school board in recent years.
“There will always be difficult discussions and debates around such a sensitive topic as education but if we cannot be respectful and communicate clearly, it can feel like a never-ending battle,” he said in a news release. “The role of a trustee is to set policy for school operations, create budgets and capital plans, and be involved with our leadership that meets the needs and aspirations of the community.
“If we cannot work through difficult decisions with all parties, then are we providing the best education for our children?”
Working as a teacher of the deaf and hard-of-hearing in the Abbotsford school district, VanGarderen said he’s gained an appreciation for how many people play important roles in the public education system, and he believes all of those people need to be heard.
”A trustee needs to be someone who listens to the different stakeholders who are involved in the child’s life and be able to set policies that support teachers, support staff, and parents with feeling confident about each child’s education,” he said. “The budget is given to each district by the government but if we have a board that is united and clear with our struggles and successes we can be a voice that helps create a stronger education system.
“Along with inclusion, I would like to be able to give teachers and support staff opportunities to strengthen their abilities to feel more confident in meeting the needs of their classrooms/schools. There are many incredible staff that work all across Chilliwack and we need to make sure that they do not burn out or leave because they do not feel supported, and that comes from the budgets and policies that are set by the trustees.”
Other candidates entering the race so far are Willow Reichelt, Barry Neufeld, Teri Westerby, Heather Maahs, David Swankey, Darrell Furgason, Margaret Reid, Kaethe Jones, Carin Bondar and Elliott Friesen.