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.
1. First, let’s hear a little about you:
- What’s your name? – Michael Ewen
- Do you have kids in our school system? – no, they have all graduated
- What do our schools do well? – Increasing student achievement, and providing choice
- What is the biggest area (aside from building schools) that needs improvement? – communication with the public, and trustees need to be more respectful to each other
- What education-related idea or issue is most important to you personally as a candidate? – providing choice for students and support for staff as we move forward into 21st Century Learning
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?
Beyond the democratic and economic argument about a well educated work force being more able to contribute to the development and hopefully evolution of our economy, residents should care that our schools are more fully utilized for the community. Due to budgetary constraints we are looking at a new policy that will see us charging our community user groups. We should be continuing the practice of keeping these facilities open and available to our community, at little or no cost.
4. Which of the following statements most closely represents your views on bottled water in schools?
Ban it. Metro Vancouver’s tap water is the best in the world. There’s no need to add more plastic to our landfills.
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)?
Definitely – choice is good.
6. What will you do to expedite building the new schools?
We have completed our agreements with the city and are now waiting for the Province to approve the land exchanges before moving forward to Treasury Board (the next step). We need to continue to work collaboratively with the Province and City
7. Would you support prioritizing the construction of the new high school before the other new schools planned for the district?
8. What should be done with tiny Hume school?
Keep it open – the families that it serves need a school they can walk to, plus smaller classes are nice for the kids
The Board made a unanimous commitment to Hume after 2 years of dithering to set in place a process for Hume to try to grow back to 60 – 90 students. That process is due to report back in March/April of next year. We should wait for this process to complete and give Hume a couple of years to grow. It seems ridiculous to me that with 7 new modular classrooms we should be looking at closing a school that could help relieve some of the pressures.
9. What more do you think schools could do to improve the health of children? (physical activity, healthy eating habits, etc.)
We need to look at our curriculum as we move forward in 21st Century learning. We need to have more personalized learning and less of the current often too boring curriculum. We need to work with the Provincial Government to make these changes. Once those changes have been made, and I believe that they are coming in the next year, we need to emphasis that we all need to put healthy living as the central core of the new curriculum, and build time and effort for that into every day. All too often teachers don’t feel they have the time to focus on healthy living because of all of the Provincial Learning Outcomes that they feel they are required to focus on, we need to provide them with that time.
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 know more about Michael Ewen you can find him on Twitter: http://twitter.com/msewen