Jonina Campbell wants to improve kids’ activity levels, expand community use of schools [school board]

If elected, trustee candidate Jonina Campbell says she would initiate a task force aimed at improving physical and mental wellness, which would include initiatives to get more children walking and biking to school.

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.  

Jonina Campbell
Jonina Campbell

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

  • What’s your name? – Jonina Campbell
  • Do you have kids in our school system? – Yes, two. My son is grade 3, my daughter is in kindergarten.
  • What do our schools do well? – When I am talking with parents and students, they respond to this question with the same answer: the teachers. It takes a team of people to make a school a welcoming, safe and inspiring place to learn and we need to everything possible to support our schools.
  • What is the biggest area (aside from building schools) that needs improvement? – Services and support to children with complex and diverse needs.
  • What education-related idea or issue is most important to you personally as a candidate? – Encouraging more students to lead an active life, starting with walking or biking to and from school.

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

  • Use social media to reach out to parents and the broader community
  • Expand public consultation beyond parents of school aged kids to include those with preschool kids and concerned community members
  • As we look for ways to improve communication between the district and the community, and between the schools and parents, we need to consider a few items. First, what gaps currently exist? What impact would changes have on those involved: staff, students, parents, and community members? What is best practice within our own district and what are other districts doing? Having said that, I would like our schools to be ‘near paperless’ with communication, recognizing that for some families this would not be an option. Electronic communication with the home is more seamless, less work for school staff, and cuts down on paper use and saves money. The district and school websites have great potential to facilitate communication with the public but it does require someone to keep them up to date. Social media has possibilities as well, but this would need to be carefully considered as not everyone, including staff and parents, use it on a regular basis. The city has a staff member that handles all communications. This may or may not be possible for the school district but it is worth looking at how the district and schools can improve communication and the broader public.

3. Why should residents who don’t have children care about school board issues?
Education matters to everyone. How we educate and raise youth affects all society. Furthermore, there are issues relating to schools that affect local neighbourhoods such as traffic planning, playground space, and space for community use. Already our schools are open for recreation and the arts (ie. Massey Theatre). I’d like to explore ways we can continue to expand the use of our schools. For example, because New Westminster has limited space available to build new recreation facilities, our schools could be used for recreational opportunities on the weekends. This might include something like a yoga class or open gym for children.

4. Which of the following statements most closely represents your views on bottled water in schools?
I need more information on this issue to respond.

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)?
There are many pathways to student achievement and well-being. New Westminster has a number of successful programs of choice and I will work hard to protect and strengthen those. New programs of choice, such as sports academies, should be considered but we need to ask: what is the demand, is it sustainable, and what impact will it have on existing programs?

6. What will you do to expedite building the new schools?
We need to expedite the request for Ministry approval of the capacity of the elementary school on the St. Mary’s school site. We need to quickly move forward beyond preliminary discussions on preparing requirements for the St. Mary’s and John Robson’s school facilities. We need to engage in a consultative process with staff, parents and community members to determine these requirements. The School District needs to develop a plan to address the archaeological risks to the John Robson site.

7. Would you support prioritizing the construction of the new high school before the other new schools planned for the district?
Given the information available to me at this time I support building the schools in oder that they have been approved: first the elementary school, then the middle school, and lastly, the high school.

8. What should be done with tiny Hume school?
I will support Hume Park parents as they determine and potentially strengthen the support for their local school. In March 2012 when the Hume Park School report comes before the Board of Education we will need to begin thoughtful conversations around factors such as enrollment, growth projections, the student capacity at McBride. Ultimately the school needs to have an enrollment high enough to keep it open.

9. What more do you think schools could do to improve the health of children? (physical activity, healthy eating habits, etc.)
One of my platform issues is to promote physical and mental wellness for students and staff. If elected I will initiate a task force with the purpose of getting more students walking and biking to school. We need to do more to support schools and teachers in the implementation of the ministry mandated daily physical activity. We also need to look at our playground designs and gym availability to determine if there are ways students could be outside and undercover or more active inside during the rainy, winter months. Many schools participate in programs that promote healthy eating and I would continue to support and strengthen those types of programs. Finally, we need more school counsellors. The mental well-being of our students must be a priority.

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.
See my previous comments for #3.

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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