Election 2014: Langley school trustees debate (with videos)

Langley Board of Education Candidates Forum held on Nov. 6

More than 100 people braved the wind and rain on Thursday night at the Christian Life Assembly gymnasium to hear candidates for the Langley  Board of Education answer questions from the Langley DPAC, along with a few questions from the floor. Candidates were selected randomly to answer a given question, and given one minute time limit for their response.

(More videos following story)

One concern raised was whether the district was doing enough to encourage girls to get into the trades. Megan Dykeman addressed the issue by saying that “trades offered through the district are excellent…and there has recently been a big push to give girls the opportunity to participate in the trades, to try to attract more people whether male or female. The programs we offer are introduced to all students and although there is likely room for improvement, I believe our district has excellent opportunities that could still be made better.”

David Tod was asked, “with the new collaborative learning in the classroom, do you feel that the teachers are onboard with this idea and for the teachers struggling with getting the ideas going, how can you support them?”

He responded “Collaboration learning is very effective but it needs to be a slow process. You can encourage it, and if the district staff and leadership of the school want to go there, they will buy into it.”

An issue that was mentioned more than once was the difficulty of children getting into a “choice” school, such as the Fine Arts School.

Alison McVeigh acknowledged the long wait list and said there is existing policy on how kids get onto waiting lists and “that if something was a real concern, we could open up the door and have a look at it and see if there’s something we can do differently. The Langley Fine Arts School is one of several schools where there are significant wait lists and I think finding a balance between providing choice opportunities for kids and keeping neighbourhood schools viable and strong is a tight balance we walk on a regular basis.”

Pamala-Rose Combs when asked if she thought the district could use funds from selling properties to fund schools or operating costs.

“No, I believe that would be a slippery slope. That would be like selling your car to buy your groceries. I’m not completely against selling school sites for building other schools if the site in question is deemed to be of no use at any point in the future. I think there are other avenues we could explore.”

In reply to the question, “Do you think the district is doing enough for English language learners (ELL),” Lorraine Baldwin replied, “I think the district is doing the best it can with the resources being provided. I do feel that with the lack of proper funding into the school system that there could some more support.”

Other issues raised were concerns that once trustees are elected, parents would not hear from them until the next election, inadequate provincial funding, getting others to support a specific vision of education and how a system can be put in place to evaluate schools and ensure that each school’s students have the same advantages across the district.

Other candidates running are: Rob McFarlane, Candy Ashdown and Shelley Coburn, for the two Langley City seats; and Rod Ross, Lawrence Chen, Trudy Handel, Kristine Ketter, Lisa Moore, Suzanne Perreault and Rosemary Wallace, for the five Township seats.

This is the first election where trustees will be in office for a four-year term.

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