Langley school candidates in spotlight

Approximately 70 people attended an election forum co-hosted by the Langley Teachers Association and CUPE 1260.

The Oct. 30 forum used a unique format more familiar to beauty pageants than political meetings.

All the candidates were escorted from hall at the Langley Seniors Resource Centre and were brought in one by one to respond to the same opening question so they all had the same time to think about their answer.

They were asked what they consider the most important issue for the Langley School District and how they would tackle it.

Candy Ashdown’s reply was funding.

“We are not going in the right direction,” she said.

She said there’s been too many cuts since approximately 2001/2002.

Shelley Coburn said the district needs to engage stakeholders about its spaces and how to best use its resources.

Rob McFarlane said the board must keep focused on student achievement.

“Education in the world around us is changing,” said McFarlane.

Lorraine Baldwin said the top issue is inadequate funding but the district must be a stronger voice.

During the labour dispute she was vocal about education issues and wrote to Langley’s two MLAs daily, she said.

“We need to band together with other districts and use a collective voice and demand that they fund schools properly,” Baldwin said.

Megan Dykeman said underfunding starts at the federal level which downloads on the province which downloads onto local governments.

“We have a chronic underfunding problem,” Dykeman said.

Trudy Handel and Lisa Moore said more funding is needed.

That was echoed by Kristine Ketter who noted that the provincial government expects districts to absorb increasing costs such as wage lifts, utility costs and now part of school construction.

Alison McVeigh said the biggest issue for the district is “our facilities challenge.” Despite new schools in Willoughby, there’s still insufficient space for all the students.

“We have advocated as a board for more school space,” she said.

Suzanne Perrault said there needs to be better communication between all the stakeholders in education.

“I think there’s a multitude of issues,” said Pamala-Rose Combs.

She added that until she’s actually elected and sees the inner workings of the district, there’s little she can propose to change.

“I would like to be part of the solution,” she added.

Rod Ross said the big issue for the district is the Willoughby slope and overcrowding.

“If we don’t solve that issue, we’re going to have some serious challenges,” he said.

Ross said the school district must educate kids even as the province footdrags and said the district has to look at new or innovative ways to find funds.

“I know being a teacher what is happening in the classroom,” said David Tod, who teaches in Abbotsford.

He said funding is the key issue for districts.

Rosemary Wallace said the district must work with the municipalities to find solutions to the Willoughby slope overcrowding.

The candidates also drew random questions from a bowl on issues such as private schools, LGBTQ policy, technology, corporate sponsorship, where to obtain more funds, and others.

The Langley Teachers Association has posted video from the forum on YouTube.

Another forum

The Langley DPAC has a trustee forum 7-9 p.m. on Nov. 6 at the Christian Life Assembly, 21277 56th Ave.

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