Trustee hopefuls discuss the ‘key issue’ facing Chilliwack school district

Chilliwack school district byelection candidates discuss the key issue facing the district and how they could help.

Six candidates, five different views.

The Chilliwack Progress posed one question to all candidates running in the upcoming school trustee byelection, and received five responses.

The question:

What is the key issue facing Chilliwack school district in the coming year?

The answers:

Dan Coulter: Completion rates for secondary schools in Chilliwack are roughly 72 per cent – a full ten points lower than the provincial average. That means over one quarter of Chilliwack high school students don’t finish their schooling and receive their diploma. Two years ago, completion rates for aboriginal students was 45 per cent. That’s just unacceptable.

Chilliwack needs to build programs that equip all students to succeed in the workforce and in life. Expanding pre-apprenticeship programs that lead to real credentials in trades that students want to learn will help keep students engaged throughout their studies, and give them a leg up once they graduate. Leaving behind 25 per cent of all of Chilliwack’s students and over 50 per cent of all aboriginal students is a serious failure of leadership.

Ben Besler: I believe the key issue facing the school district this year, is balancing the budget. By law, the school board must balance the budget despite a few unexpected strains this year.

As a small business owner, I understand the need to keep a high quality of service within budgetary constraints.

If we can encourage an efficient and positive approach to service delivery, we can increase effectiveness in helping our children reach their greatest potential.

Corey Neyrinck: The fact the board can’t get along. Spending $25,000 on a consultant to pretty much tell them how to get along. To me, that’s the biggest issue they’re going to be going through for this next year. Are they actually going to be following up with the suggestions that were given by that consultant? I’ve never actually seen what he said, so I don’t know what the accountability is for the board on that giant chunk of money that they spent.

If I get elected, I’d be the youngest trustee on that board. I’d bring a younger perspective, a younger voice to the table.

Karen Jarvis: With a 2010-2015 Strategic Plan in place and a three year District Achievement Contract set until 2014, we need to ensure that we are following the plan and the contract. If we aren’t, then I would say that would be a key issue in the district.

According to the Strategic Plan we are to aim for every student to be prepared for opportunities beyond graduation. Our motto is – Partners in Learning and our beliefs are that student literacy, academic achievement and social development are fundamental to everything we do. We also believe in a safe caring equitable, accountable and collaborative learning and working environment. The working and learning environment should be that way for everybody.

Communicate with the partner groups and work on the goals set before us.  Relationship building is important for success of the larger group.  I must listen to the issues at hand and then through collaboration work on the areas of the Strategic Plan and the District Achievement Contract that need improvement. The plans are in place, we need to follow  them .

Rob Stelmaschuk: Have funds available to cover any pay increases for teachers and school employees. Find out how much budgeting is available provincially and locally.