Trustee candidates answer the ‘why vote’ question

School board elections are often forgotten elections when it comes to voting.

School board elections are often forgotten elections when it comes to voting.

And yet, everyone – not just parents – have a stake in the success of public schools.

School trustees are responsible for setting and maintaining the school district’s budget, which this year totaled $109.2 million; for creating policy to guide the school district; and for hiring a superintendent.

Many of the decisions made by trustees today will affect the community for years to come.

In the final question posed to school trustee candidates, The Progress asked why Chilliwack residents – whether they have children or not – should care about school board issues and vote for trustees in the Nov. 19 election?

These were their responses:

Kirsten Brandreth:

As a community we have to look out for our younger generation whether they are our biological children or not. It’s a selfless act to vote for trustees to help support students to be stable successful individuals. For the community, successful students become healthy successful citizens. A healthy school system is a healthy community. We need to support the student`s road through the local education system.

Electing trustees that make budget decisions, policy decisions and hire our “CEO” being the district superintendent is one way to have your voice heard. Voting is a way to voice our support for up to 7 individuals to be our community representatives.

Yes, with 24 trustee candidates, it does feel overwhelming as to who you should cast your vote for but vote you must.

Trustees make decisions that affect us all whether it’s providing an exceptional educational environment for the children of our community or providing a productive employment opportunity for the many teachers and staff of our district and or creating a sense of community for all that live here.

I encourage everyone, 18 yrs. and older, to read through the material provided by our local papers or community website links (mychilliwacknews.com or starfm) and vote for 1 to 7 (you don`t have to choose 7) to let it be known who you would like to see sit on the 2011-2014 Board of Education.)

I would feel very honoured and proud if I was one of those fortunate individuals. You’ll have to scroll down the ballot sheet as I`m number 20. Thank you.

Karen Conway:

Schools are the foundation to the success of our future community. Children touch everybody’s lives, in any community. For the residents who don’t have children, they once were children in a school district and I’m sure they had issues then which factored on whom they are as adults today.

I reflect on the young man who wrote recently in the paper that he is unable to vote, because he is 15, and he wants his voice heard. I contacted him and told him he was not wrong in his thinking. Students should have a voice, since we are all after one goal and that is to better their learning environment.

To the parents who have children in the school system, every vote counts, talk to your kids, ask them what is needed to improve their learning environment, and for the families with young children coming into the school system, get involved.

I feel a trustee board is there to manage, maintain, and prosper funds, so all students have a fair and equal education.

And to all residents, your right to vote is on November 19.

To parents, take your kids, tell them why you are going and how important it is to vote.

Jack Bass:

Why Care? Why Bother Voting?

Whether you’re a member of a family with or without students or you are a single community resident considering whether or not to vote – you can  play an important role in keeping the education system a strong and vital part of our community. Individuals just like you are working together to make education stronger by staying informed about school, board and education issues.

Voting gives you the opportunity to speak out about issues that could affect the services your family receives, your school, your tax dollars and your community. The right to vote was won at a terrible price we just now commemorated on Remembrance Day – don’t ignore that sacrifice.

Your School Board, Your Community:

You can shape the future of Chilliwack’s education system by becoming informed and active about the issues affecting you, your family and your community. This vote allows you to communicate with elected officials about how government proposals impact student achievement delivery and the governance that took place in the last three years and will decide issues for the next three.

Your Future:

We all share the same objective: to ensure a strong education system helping each student maximize their potential. It’s true that no one person, group, government agency, or business alone can do this. It requires the combined efforts of everyone, along with leadership from our elected officials to help meet the education needs of students and our community.

Why care? Because  the health of  our education community is critically important. Together as partners and advocates, we can ensure continued access to quality education. Stay informed and become part of the education community. Study each candidate and select those that will put the achievement of each student above their own interests.

Our Social Responsibility:

Social responsibility is the idea that every individual has an obligation to act to benefit society at large. This responsibility can be passive, by avoiding engaging in socially harmful acts, or active, by performing activities – like voting- that directly advance our community well being. It is a commitment everyone has towards the society – contributing towards social, cultural and educational causes, instead of giving importance only to those areas where one has direct material interests the individual supports issues for the benefit of others and thus benefits our community as a whole.

Doug McKay:

We are spending over $110 million a year to help assist our students be prepared for life beyond grade twelve. That investment is supported almost entirely by your tax dollars. That’s the simple economic reason. However, a more detailed rational of the value of literacy to society as a whole is clearly explained by Craig Alexander, senior vice president and chief economist, TD Bank Financial Group.

“Studies show that strong literacy can lead to increased ability to do on-the-job training, better team performance, improved labour relations and increased quality of work, reduced time per task, increased output, lower error rates, better health and safety records, reduced wastage, better employee and customer retention and increased profitability. Is there any other single factor that can have such far reaching positive outcomes?”

Your children, our students, everyone’s future.

Les Mitchell:

It is my thoughts that we need to vote for trustees because they are the ones that set up the polices that educate our children. Our children are the ones that will be our future leaders and we want them to have the best education available. So Vote on Nov 19th.

Vern Tompke:

The question reminds me of the story of the two men in the boat – one looks at the other and says, “I am glad the hole is on your side.”  Beyond the fact that our taxes pay for the school system,  the success or failure of public education has an impact on the entire community. Well trained and educated students provide a huge societal and economic benefit to our community. Students who drop out and fall between the cracks negatively effect our society for years to come. We are all in the same boat!

Heather Maahs:

Residents of Chilliwack need to care about who is elected to the board of education because being responsible for the education of children is sacred trust. These elected people will make important value and morals based decisions that will affect our future society. Our children are our future and the people elected must put the children at the forefront of every decision they make.

Nicki Redekop:

School board issues and our children’s best education should absolutely be an interest to you whether or not you have a child in the public school system. The children of today are the future of tomorrow and the successes of our city and country will depend on the successes of our children. It is important to give these children the best chance possible by voting for the best team of school trustees. If you are an aunt, uncle, mom, dad or grandparent, you must realize that someone cared enough to vote to make sure you were given the education and skills for your success.

Walt Krahn:

Is a vote for public education important on November 19th?  Absolutely!  Education is all encompassing and has far reaching affects into every aspect of our democratic society. Through your vote, you become an advocate for our children, a voice for our youth, and a champion for our future leaders.

I would encourage you to be an informed voter; to learn about each candidate, their experience, their belief in working collaboratively and their desire to listen and work on behalf of you, the voter. Whether you have children, or not, our education system will have an impact on your future, hence it is imperative to vote for trustees who support your beliefs and your goals.

A healthy school district can only be sustained within a partnership which is embraced by the entire community. We are a good district with an urgent desire to get better, but we need your voice on November 19th and beyond.

Education is not done in isolation, but instead the entire community must support and encourage the child.  It takes an entire village/community to raise a child.  Please remember; WE are ALL in this TOGETHER!

Harold Schmidt:

To not vote in a civic election is to decry the responsibilities and liberties that our society provides it citizens to give direction in our government, and to choose our elected officials. Unfortunately too many people are complacent in not exercising their voting privileges or rights and leave it to a minority to make decisions for them (only 20% – 12,633 ballots cast – of eligible voters in Chilliwack voted in the last municipal election).

As a teacher for 40 years, I have routinely stressed the importance of social responsibility and involvement in our society’s affairs. We recently celebrated Remembrance Day where veterans fought and died for our freedoms, including the right to choose our own government and how that government operates. To not vote, in part says that those efforts were not important. I recently returned from teaching at LCC University in Lithuania. That country has just thrown off the old Soviet yoke and celebrated their 20th anniversary as a free country. There the right to vote is a cherished freedom. Let us not lose our freedom to vote by casting it aside and not exercising that privilege and right.

But there are selfish reasons to vote:

Firstly, each person who pays property tax to the City of Chilliwack should examine their 2011 Notice of Current Real Property Taxes. The school tax rate is set at $2.44860 million which translate into about 25% of the basic property tax. That tax is paid by property owners whether they have children or not. Although renters do not pay property tax directly, the landlord pays the property tax and recoups that tax through the rental income. In one form or another we all pay to support the schools through our taxes, and as taxpayers we should vote for those who will spend our tax dollar wisely.

Secondly, an uneducated population costs society tax money. According to Correctional Services of Canada, the average education level of newly admitted offenders, serving two years or more is grade seven! 36% of offenders have not completed grade nine, and as many as 75% of Canadian inmates have low literacy skills. It appears that there is a correlation between low education levels of not graduating from school and prison offenders. To keep the average inmate in a federal prison costs the taxpayer $87,665 per prisoner per year. If through proper education a person can be kept out of prison, the savings to the taxpayer are very great. We need to elect a school board that is concerned with students continuing their education through to graduation; only 69.1% of those students entering grade seven actually continue to graduate six years later in grade 12.

Thirdly, students with less than a high school graduation diploma are more likely to have jobs in the unskilled work sector paying the lowest wages, whereas those who graduate and attain some post high-school training are more likely to have skilled jobs with corresponding higher (2-4x) wages. Our society is increasingly demanding occupations requiring greater education and training. Our current students need to be prepared for life, and electing a school board with a vision for ensuring greater student achievement is one step towards that end.

Louise Piper:

Great question!

Here is why I think it’s important to vote for trustees:

• Student achievement is our number one goal

• Public education is the foundation of a democratic society

• It prepares our children for adult life

• Our children will be the leaders of tomorrow

• Education is second to health in BC as far as the public purse goes

• It is a huge responsibility

• The school board has an annual budget of approx. $105 million

• It is one of the largest employers in Chilliwack and makes Chilliwack a strong community by fostering positive relationships with many local businesses and services

• Board decisions have a direct impact on the local community

• Boards address the needs of the community, as it relates to public education through public policy

• Co-governance with our provincial government to meet the needs, vision and expectations of our communities

Trustees are community leaders who are responsible for our children’s success in the public education system.  Need I say more.

Martha Wiens:

This is very important. If you are a voter you have the responsibility to elect the very best board possible. You research the candidates, find out as much as possible about them, what is their career, what role do they have in the community. Are they a good role model. What do  they do for the community that contributes to making it a better place to live. A trustee should be no less then a model community member. If they have a business, is it one you would support? Do they share the values that are important to you and your children? These issues are also  important for the  voter that does not have children in the school, to consider. If the board member takes the role seriously they will understand  why you research the potential board member before voting for him/her. They must have the ability and commitment to serve. Ask each candidate, what they will do for the children, students and education in School District 33. Everyone should get out to Vote!!

Karen Jarvis:

As the old saying goes, “It takes a community to raise a child”. The students of today are our doctors, chefs, barristas, trustees, clerks, lawyers, engineers, decorators and painters of tomorrow. Some may become the people who will decide our future as we grow older. I consider it an investment and I suspect that those who vote think of it the same way.

Voters understand the importance of their voice and exercise the freedom to share it. It would be wonderful to have more people, who do have children, get informed and vote. November 19th is bring a friend to the polls day! Promote the Vote! Kids matter! People matter! It’s a community matter!

Barry Neufeld:

The main reason residents should vote for the Board of Education is because this privilege has been a hard won democratic right for the public to have a say in how the next generation will be educated. The children we are educating now will be the ones who ensure our seniors are properly cared for in their declining years! If the school system turns out illiterate ignoramuses who can’t get a decent job and pay taxes, guess who will be turned away at the old folk’s home and forced to live on the street and sleep in dumpsters or (hopefully) dry culverts?

The majority of voters in municipal elections are older citizens, who take their democratic responsibilities seriously. That being said, they should NOT vote for any candidate unless they have done their research and know what the candidates stand for. Personally, I hope that people don’t vote for me (or anyone else) just because of a familiar name. I hope they vote for the candidate who stands for SOMETHING! Even if you can’t completely agree with everything they say or write, give them credit for seriously thinking through the issues and not dodging the hard questions.

A good quality public education system is preventative medicine: preventing sick societies like the Mediterranean countries who are experiencing the “Arab Spring!” Here in Canada, we are experiencing a sort of “North American Spring”  in the activities of the “Occupy Vancouver” protests. The question is: “Are these people who are just lazybones with no intention of ever supporting themselves and becoming productive citizens, or are they genuinely frustrated young people who despite great personal effort can’t find a career that is meaningful and can support their dreams of establishing and supporting a family?” The crowd is probably a mixture of both: we should be careful to take note of social unrest and find its’ cause.

I suspect that many of these protesters are the ones who fell through the cracks in our public education system. Part of the problem of lack of funds for public education is caused by the trend of the Canadian federal government to discontinue funding transfers to the provinces for public education. A well educated populace ensures a stable society. In years gone by, the federal Canadian government was more generous in cost sharing of K-12 education in public schools. However, today they have their priorities set on warmongering (oops! Peacemaking!) and propping up foreign countries run by corrupt politicians and fanatical fundamentalists. Rather than give more stimulus and opportunities for our Canadian youth, the federal government is waging a very expensive war on crime, by spending billions of dollars on expanding an increasingly punitive prison system: downloading the costs of policing and prosecution to the provinces. What a waste of taxpayer’s money! They want to send petty criminals to Crime College and then graduate persons who have master’s degrees in how to commit crimes and not get caught.

Our society is heading down the same dead end path as California where in 2010 they spent more on prisoners than K-12 students. http://prospect.org/article/education-vs-incarceration. It hasn’t stopped the criminal behavior, but the students are suffering.

A school trustee must advocate for public education and emphasize its priority and importance to the ruling classes and the general public. They must call the decision makers to account when they neglect our most important resource: our children. Everyone– young and old — should be concerned who is elected to a public board of education.

Dan Coulter:

People should care about voting for school trustees because education is one of the most important functions of our government.  Education is where equal opportunity is put into action and public education is the foundation for future learning. Education levels are both indicators and determinants of wealth, health and lifespan. All citizens should be concerned about the core of the government’s mandate and a foundation of our democracy.

Don Davis:

We must support our democratic institutions. We have just observed Remembrance Day where we honour the brave men and women who have fought for our freedom. We need to honour their sacrifices by voting in all elections for the candidates of our choice. Our democracy should never be taken for granted.

Education is a public good. Our government charges school districts with the responsibility to provide education to students. This responsibility is also the opportunity to tailor and customize programs and curriculum to the needs in our community. Voting for trustees of your choice is one way of supporting our education system.

Today’s students are tomorrow’s leaders. As a society, we need to ensure that we have prepared our youth for the future. The proving ground is our education system. The trustees are the stewards of the system. We need to support our future leaders by choosing trustees who we think will be the best stewards.

The school district represents your tax dollars at work. As a major employer and a significant economic driver in our community, we all have an interest in the school district whether or not we have children going to school. If we have an interest in the school district, then we should have a say in its governance. We exercise that “say” by voting for the trustees who can provide that governance.

The school district provides support for the most vulnerable citizens in our society. Our physically and mentally challenged students, those with autism and other developmental delays all deserve society’s help to become the best adult citizens that they can be. School trustees play a part in ensuring that our special needs students are properly supported in their difficult journey.

I am prepared and ready to undertake this important responsibility of governance and stewardship.  Please vote for Don Davis for School Trustee.

Darlene Wahlstrom:

In the first place, having a say in local politics is fundamental to ensuring that politicians at all levels of civic politics are held accountable for their actions and policies. All residents with or without children should be concerned about how taxes are levied, distributed and what priorities take precedence over others. It is a case of residents having their voice heard in managing the scarce resources of the school board so that all children get the maximum benefit from the educational system.

Secondly, residents with or without children should be aware that they all have a shared responsibility in educating the workforce of the future. Our schools are the foundation of building competitiveness in all aspects of life and it is up to the residents to decide how best to do that by voting for those candidates that they think will look at the future of our children while focusing on the short-term goals of the board.

Finally, all residents should be committed to grooming the next two or three generations of leaders from among the great young and fertile minds of the children in the school system. It is the responsibility of all taxpaying residents to embrace that vision and take an active interest in the affairs of the school board.

Audrey Stollings:

As a community, we should care about the school board issues and vote because the children being taught today, or not being taught, are the citizens of tomorrow.

Children who do not have goals, aspirations or the feeling of worthiness are the children who are out burning school playground equipment and getting into trouble. They are also the ones who end up quitting school and then become a tax on our system. Whereas children who are taught well and have goals, are given the opportunity to thrive even though they may have a learning challenge and are made to feel included and safe. These children will continue to grow in their education and be a contributing member of our society.

We as a community, have a responsibility to make sure the children of our city get the best quality education there is!  As the saying goes, it takes a whole village to raise a child.  In our case it takes the City of Chilliwack to raise well educated children.

Tammy Brown:

The school board is responsible for the education of our future generations. Everyone should care about how our children are being educated and who is responsible for it. Whether you have grandchildren, children or no children in our education system, you should care. This future generation will eventually be responsible for the next generation and the previous generation. These children will eventually be responsible for the world we live in. They will be teachers, manual labourers, health care providers, dentist, lawyers, elected officials, etc. It takes a community to raise a child and if that community doesn’t care then why should the children.

People may think that this is just the school board. I hope people realize that it is so much more. It’s about educating our children to make sure they are properly prepared for secondary education, whether it is going on to college, university or a trade school. We should all care about the children and making sure they receive the education they deserve. Children or no children, this will eventually affect us all.

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