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 our urgent need for new schools in Willoughby. At present we are getting positive messaging from Victoria which we are grateful for. The district is doing all it can do to present the business cases for a new secondary school. That being said, even if we get a new secondary school we will need to follow it up with a further request for at least two new elementary schools immediately after. So you can see that this is a long-term issue that will be with the Board for the next term and beyond.
Should we not get the proposed school from the ministry, I have proposed that the Board consider my “Is there Another Way” document (July 2014) that outlines a search of potential solutions for the Board to consider.
2. Should the school district sell surplus school sites to help fund capital projects in Willoughby?
Yes, Surplus sites are there to serve the greater needs of the district. We must deal with what we have, not what we wished we had. The reality is we have sites that are available. The reality is we need to bring something to the table to support our request for a new school. Some districts have nothing to bring to the table and Langley does, so that encourages me that we it will be favorably received at the ministry.
3. Is there enough timely communication between the board and the two local governments regarding development and its impact on school population?
We can always improve. That being said, we have bi-monthly meetings with the mayors of both Langleys through our liaison committees. They exist for this reason and my only suggestion at this time to move to monthly meetings.
Development is something that politicians like in their communities and they do not like to reduce it. Growth is much more enjoyable to community leaders than decline. I have been there and I would chose a growing community any day. That being said, if we keep the same paradigm we will always be playing catch-up when it comes to new schools.
It does little good to have great community plans when the ministry funds new schools based on the number of current students you have. They do not look at the future and plan accordingly, as they have the entire province to manage. They are busy with the here and now…and being that they are the funders of our buildings…we are beholden to their generosity and timing.
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 is managed well throughout the district and we have a handful of classes that are over the maximum of 30 students. Those classes are mostly band and gym classes where the teachers are supportive of the larger class size.
Composition is one that is a tougher challenge. The Education Fund ($2,483,791) is jointly administered with the Langley Teachers Association and the superintendent, on the board’s behalf. This allows the extra staff support that meets student needs. This year we added seven new full time positions; 45 new part-time positions and 16 teachers had their hours increased from part-time to full-time. Also six new part-time support staff positions were created. CUPE $247,719; Local Support Staff initiatives $373,229. The total for Langley’s allocation is $3,104,739.
We are working with the unions to do our best for our children. Not perfect but the numbers listed above tell the story the district is investing in the classroom.