Langley School Board hopefuls have their say

Thursday evening was the Langley District Parent Advisory Council’s turn to showcase the people running for school board.

Several candidates used the forum at the Christian Life Assembly church to urge people to vote.

Local elections have a record of low turnout.

Most used their introductions to list their involvement in education and the community.

Trudy Handel said she grew up in a rural area and education changed her life. She worked in the film and TV sector for several decades in addition to teaching.

Rosemary Wallace has seven children and has volunteered in schools for 18 years, saying she’s passionate about education.

Suzanne Perrault said trustees need to be advocates for education. Two of her children are on the autism spectrum and she has volunteered with DP AC, Langley Parents as Partners, and other groups.

Perrault said class size and composition are the most important for the trustees.

Rob McFarlane has a long history in the business world and brought that experience to the board table.

“In education that’s about student success,” McFarlane said referring to staying focused on the key issue of education.

Shelley Coburn has volunteered in the Langley School District since 2005 and is studying for her masters of education.

She is deeply opposed to privatization in education.

“Everybody has a stake therefore everybody should have a say,” Coburn said.

She committed herself to consultation, collaboration and involving the community.

Megan Dykeman said the accountability and transparency of the school district board has increased since the last election when she was elected.

Candy Ashdown has worked with the parent advisory committee and DPAC.

Like Dykeman, Ashdown pointed to the districts paying down of its $13 million deficit earlier then required as a key accomplishment.

She added the board has worked to regain the trust of the community.

“Our students, parents and staff need to be consulted,” Ashdown said.

Kristine Ketter made a point of saying she has no affiliation, a reference to the candidate slates and endorsements by various third parties. Ketter worked as a sign language interpreter in the education system and chairs the group Langley Parents as Partners in Learning.

“My focus has always been education and always will be,” Ketter said.

She said as a trustee she would commit to finding out what’s working and what’s not and what the district can do about it.

Lorraine Baldwin said she has a track record of advocacy in education.

“Teachers working conditions are our children’s learning conditions,” Baldwin noted.

Teachers and parents are subsidizing education because of lack of adequate government funding.

“We need to shift the power back where it belongs,” Baldwin said.

Langley resident and Abbotsford teacher David Tod said he would commit to things such as listening and learning.

“If you’re going to pick somebody, you need to pick someone who is passionate,” Tod commented.

Alison McVeigh said she’s lived here for 27 years and has been on the board for 15 years.

This board has worked extremely hard to get another new school in the overcrowded Willoughby area, she said.

Pamala-Rose Combs has lived here since 1997 and has a background in IT, human resources and business, noting she has the skills to be an effective school board trustee.

“Education doesn’t end with school,” said the advocate of lifelong learning.

Combs said schools have to keep the kids engaged.

Lisa Moore comes from a business background and said the board has to fight to get what kids need.

“It comes down to money,” Moore said.

Rod Ross teaches in another district and has been on the Langley School Board for several years.

“I’m not a great trustee, Ross said. “I’m just a good. I’m good because I think differently.”

Ross told crowd to be willing to vote for someone who will say ‘no’. Government can’t solve all people’s problems.

Questions to candidates included school closures, selling surplus sites, collaborative education, the new math.

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