I would first like to thank and commend Trustee Patti Bacchus for her service as Chair of the Vancouver School Board.
I made a difficult decision in voting for a School Board chair at my first meeting on December 8, and one that I believe is in the best interests of our students. I admire Trustee Bacchus’ advocacy work for public education, but over the last six years our School Board and the Provincial Government have entrenched their positions. I am hopeful that a new approach under a new School Board chair will improve funding.
Vancouver voters brought change to the School Board. No one party has a majority, in part because three Vision incumbents were not re-elected. After six consecutive years with Trustee Bacchus as chair and chief spokesperson for the Board, I wanted to reflect the public’s desire for change in my vote for chair, and made this clear in my meetings with the Vision and NPA School Board caucuses prior to the December 8 meeting. I also explained that I think the chair should be rotated over the course of the next four years, to reflect the more evenly balanced membership of the board.
In voting for Trustee Richardson I did not align myself with the NPA. The chair must represent the School Board and the decisions made by the Board, even if they did not vote for that decision. As a three-time Park Board Commissioner I believe Trustee Richardson fully understands this role and responsibilities.
School trustees are elected to a four year term, but the chair is elected annually, and can be replaced at any time by a majority vote. The chair does not appoint the five Committee Chairs, where important work gets done; the Board votes on these appointments. I support a good balance for the Committee Chairs.
All trustees, and the public as a whole, understand that public schools need for more funding from the Provincial Government. I believe the nine trustees will all use our strengths, experience and expertise to collaborate on working towards this goal. Other common goals we share are feeding hungry children, completing long overdue seismic upgrades as quickly as possible, increasing childcare spaces in schools, and supporting all of our students in reaching their full potential.
I will vote independently based on Green values and my own conscience. I will not vote for Chevron funding because the use of fossil fuels is causing climate change and harming our children’s future, because such funding comes with strings attached such as the possibility of advertising in schools, and because the funding is tied to sales of gas. I will not vote to close schools. I will vote to prepare a restoration budget.
During my term I have much to learn about Vancouver’s school system. I need to learn from all points of view; from my fellow trustees, educators, district staff, the unions, community partners, as well as parents and students. I am indebted to Vancouver’s teachers for their support of students during their recent job action. I have and will continue to support and stand behind our teachers.
Vancouver has great schools and I ran for trustee to make them even better for our students. The core of the Green Party School Platform is fully funded public schools, and as a trustee I will do my very best to ensure full funding for our students.