1. – What is the most important issue facing the Board of Education, and how would you propose to deal with it?
The most important issue facing the Board of Education is the issue of lack of school space on the Willoughby slope. The fact that there will not likely be enough classrooms for all the students next year is extremely concerning. For the past several years the board has consistently raised the matter and expressed our concerns to both the municipal and provincial governments. We have met with the Ministry of Education several times, in fact as recently as Oct. 28 to discuss the needs and to try and find a way forward. Township council has been working hard with us to lobby for funding. Until such time as the Ministry of Education approves capital funding for a new school, we will work with the community and our partners in and open and transparent consultation process to find solutions to this challenge.
2. – Should the school district sell surplus school sites to help fund capital projects in Willoughby?
Yes, I believe that this is something we need to do. It has been the expectation of government for several years now that school districts contribute to the cost of capital projects. In fact, this was the case of the recently built new elementary schools and the new middle school. At its Oct. 28 regular board meeting, the board unanimously passed a motion that district staff begin to look at the disposal of surplus school sites. While some may argue that we need to hold onto closed schools in case we may need them for future use, I believe that we have an obligation and responsibility to take care of the students we have now and ensure that they can go to a school close to where they live. If we are to accomplish this, then we need to sell surplus sites in order to contribute to building schools where they are needed.
3. – Is there enough timely communication between the board and the two local governments regarding development and its impact on school population?
Communication between the board and the two local governments is excellent. For several years, the Board has met from time to time with both the Township and the City to discuss issues of mutual concern, in particular growth and development and its impact of school populations. Our district staff has also met regularly with municipal staff to discuss these issues. During this board’s term, a more formal structure was put into place when liaison committees were established with the City and the Township. I believe that good and timely communication with our municipal governments is something we must continually nurture in order to ensure that Langley school district students’ needs are taken care of, and I am confident that at this point we are in a very good place with regard to communication.
4. – What is the best way to deal with class size and composition issues, so that all students get the maximum attention from teachers?
Class size and composition are two important areas the board has worked hard to address. At the recent Oct. 28 regular meeting of the board, district staff advised us that there are a total of five classes, all at the high school level, that are over the 30-student limit, excluding those that are exempt such as band and drama. This is a significant improvement from the past few years. This board has worked hard, through its budget process, to ensure that as many resources as possible are being directed to the classroom. With regard to composition, we continue to monitor and address needs as they arise, and utilize the Learning Improvement Fund, to provide the additional support and resources that may be required to help ensure that students are getting the help that they need.