Brenda McEachern Keen questions if business company is best use of school resources [school board]

Brenda McEachern Keen would like to improve the structural readiness of our school district to improve its ability to take advantage of new opportunities for students. She'd also like to see improvements in project management of new school construction.

The following questionnaire was sent to all New Westminster school trustee candidates a little over a week ago. Questions were selected based primarily on comments from readers of Tenth to the Fraser collected via Twitter and Facebook, with a few of my own questions added in. Responses are published in the order they were received. Spelling/grammar are not corrected and candidates’ responses are published unedited.  

Brenda McEachern-Keen
Brenda McEachern Keen

1. First, let’s hear a little about you:

  • What’s your name? – Brenda McEachern Keen
  • Do you have kids in our school system? – 2 graduates of SD40 2009 2011
  • What do our schools do well? – programs of choice – many ways for students to excel
  • What is the biggest area (aside from building schools) that needs improvement? – Structural readiness for new learning opportunities
  • What education-related idea or issue is most important to you personally as a candidate? – see above. Also business company disclosure. Is it the best use of our resources?

2. How do you think schools could improve engagement and communication with parents and the broader community? Select all that apply.

  • Identify a dedicated communications resource for the district (employee or shared services) to improve communications protocols and materials
  • Use social media to reach out to parents and the broader community
  • Increase frequency of public consultation opportunities
  • Expand public consultation beyond parents of school aged kids to include those with preschool kids and concerned community members

3. Why should residents who don’t have children care about school board issues?
Empowered students = empowered citizens. The social skills students learn as children will be the social skills they take into adulthood. The values our schools instill will be the values they live.

4. Which of the following statements most closely represents your views on bottled water in schools?
Allow it. It’s important for students to have choice, and bottled water is healthier than other bottled drinks.

5. Assuming it is possible within our district’s budget, should New Westminster expand programs of choice to include sports academies (hockey school, for instance)?
Choice is good. But within budget is only one criteria. Is this the program with the most demand, the available human resources, and the clearest outcome? Would assess it in context of other programs that parents have been asking for.

6. What will you do to expedite building the new schools?
Implement project management criteria. What are individual steps, obstacles, timing, approvals, consents, consultation. Bring in outside resources as needed. Develop each project as ready, and concurrently if possible.

7. Would you support prioritizing the construction of the new high school before the other new schools planned for the district?
Play ready golf. Proceed with whichever project is ready first.

8. What should be done with tiny Hume school?
Await the input and recommendations of the study that is currently in progress.

9. What more do you think schools could do to improve the health of children? (physical activity, healthy eating habits, etc.)
SD40 is already active in breakfast and lunch programs, and after school care. An increased emphasis on physical activity throughout the school day, including in class, is both achievable and proven to enhance learning.

10. What do you think of the idea of expanding the use of school facilities to act as satellite community centres in neighbourhoods that lack such amenities? (For example, offering recreational programming outside of school hours or offering free space for nonprofit groups to meet, such as residents’ associations)
Great idea, I support it.

If you’d like to learn more about Brenda McEachern Keen, you can find her online:

Briana Tomkinson

Briana Tomkinson is a Montreal-based writer and original founder of Tenth to the Fraser. She really likes to write letters by hand.

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