2011 Municipal Election – School trustees

Trail Daily Times has offered candidates the chance to express in their own words responses to three questions posed by the editorial staff.

  • Nov. 8, 2011 6:00 a.m.

With the 2011 municipal elections on Nov. 19, the Trail Daily Times has offered candidates in each community the opportunity to express in their own words responses to three questions posed by the editorial staff.

Why are you running for election?

What is the biggest issue facing your community?

How do you hope to resolve that issue?

Candidates were given a maximum allotment of 500 words for their response. Some reached the maximum while others opted to be more succinct. Some submissions have been edited  for brevity.

Over the course of the next two weeks, the Times will print the responses from candidates in Trail, Montrose, Fruitvale, Rossland, Area A as well as candidates from school trustees.

Today, the Times will highlight the candidates for school trustees. Two positions are up for election in Trail and two for Fruitvale/Area A.  Trustees have been acclaimed in Rossland (Gord Smith) and Warfield/part RDKB Area B and part RDCK Area J (Tony Driutti)

Mark Wilson (Trail)

Sixty-two-years-old with 35 years teaching experience and currently working for Century21. Bachelor of Arts, Teaching Degree, Masters of Education, Real Estate Licence.

The word Trustee says it all – as a School Trustee we have the trust of our communities.  We represent our Communities interest in achievement for all of our students. We must be accountable to our communities. We must work to ensure that our public schools deliver the best education possible. We need to ensure that the public voice is heard in public education and we must strive to ensure that all learners realize their potential and their ambitions. We must pursue equity within our school district and base our decisions on educational rational.

I want to be a strong voice for Trail. Say no to any Trail school closures. Promote our schools-students-teachers-special needs-programs and achievements. I want to work with local municipalities for planned progress.

Lorraine Manning (Trail)

Trail resident for the past 50 years. Former supervisor of administrative services with the B.C. Government. Elected School Trustee on the Kootenay-Columbia Board of Education since the amalgamation of Trail and Castlegar in 1996 and previous to that a School Trustee on the Trail School Board.

I am passionate about educating our students.  I believe we have to provide opportunities for all students to reach their potential. Students learn differently and have unique learning needs.

A challenge now is implementing the Education Plan from the Ministry referred to as personalized learning for the 21st century.  This plan will change the way we deliver services, courses and resources to our students.

Much of this is happening in the classrooms now but it will be of the utmost importance that resources go into the classroom when we approve budgets for the coming year to meet the requirements of this mandate. It is very important to me that we provide the opportunities for ALL children to excel and be successful and this plan has my full support.

Our funding is based on enrolment and as we still have declining enrolment, we must budget effectively with the student at the centre. I am a strong advocate for children who need extra help in dealing with challenges and do not fit into the normal classroom.   Alternative programs are required for some students.

Helping these students stay in school and feel important are dollars spent wisely.  We must ‘provide a good course selection for our secondary students in order to further their interests at universities, colleges or employment opportunities.

A concern facing the district and province is the teachers’ strike.  The teachers have a provincial collective agreement which is negotiated between the British Columbia Teachers’ Federation and the British Columbia Public School Employers’ Association and funding provided by the Government. Presently the mandate is 0% so a settlement is not likely soon.  Phase 1 of this strike is starting to impact our students, parents and staff.

The next term will be an important time for our district. The right decisions have to be made.  I have the knowledge and experience to meet the challenges ahead of us to advance our district.  This requires good judgment, fiscal responsibility and commitment.

These are my strengths and I will continue to work toward making our district one of the best in the province.

Terry Hanik (Trail)

Sixty-two-years-old, born and raised in Trail. President of Trail Wildlife Association, Warden for Fort Shepherd Land Conservancy. Retired from Teck where he served as a Local 480 shop steward.

There has been little change on the board over the years.  I believe the school board needs new blood, new ideas and a new approach. Personal goals have come before some of the board members instead of representing the children in the entire district.

The board has got to show more concern for the parents and children. The future of these children are in the hands of the board. I want to give back to the community by protecting the interest of our children. I feel the voters would like a fair representation on the board.

One of the biggest issues facing the school district is the declining enrollment and the way resources are used.

When “planning for the future document” came out it shows there will be a steady decline of students. That means we will lose student/teacher programs. If that’s the case, what can we do? We have to be prepared for this.

The board has to step back and take a look at the whole picture. The future is going to be tough enough for our children without the board making it even tougher for them.

We need equal opportunity across the school district. The board can develop a plan that meets the needs of all the students in the district. It’s time to take the politics out and make sound decisions. The board is committed to the students and parents, not for their own personal goals.

One possibility is that the board has to tighten their belts on resources. They have to make wiser decisions to make an impact on our students future.

We have to provide the best programs for our children if they are to succeed.

Vince Morelli (Fruitvale/Area A)

About to complete his second term as a school trustee. The West Kootenay/Boundary representative on the Local Government Management Association, with involvement on the education committee, as well as the MATI (Municipal Administration Training Institute), which is training for members in the profession.

I want to see that every young person is given the opportunity to reach their potential and succeed in whatever endeavor they may choose.  I want to do my part so that every young person has that opportunity, and is able to achieve their ambitions.

I am very proud to be able to say that our district is moving in the direction that the province’s plan for education excellence prescribing.  This plan includes:  personalized learning for every student; quality teaching and learning; flexibility and choice; high standards; and learning empowered by technology.

With my municipal background, I approach things from a different perspective.  I see the economic development value of a school in the community.  Whenever a new person wants to move into a community, they phone the municipal office and ask, what do you have for schools in your community.  I had the situation in Fruitvale one time when a businessperson said to me; that if we had K – 12 in Fruitvale, his family would be living in Fruitvale.  I believe that partnerships can be developed with local governments, and that there can be more shared resources, between municipalities, school districts, and regional districts.

A large portion of my municipal experience has also been in the financial end of the business, where in a larger municipality, where the budget exceeded $75,000,000.  I have worked in municipalities that have had large amounts of money, and municipalities that have had to count every penny, where a large project would have to be spread over several years.

The biggest challenge that we will be encountering is having adequate funds to provide, all the resources in all our schools so that we prepare the young people for the future.  I am prepared to try to come up with different solutions.

What I will say about myself is that I am a logical thinker. I like to hear everybody’s side of the discussion.  I like to approach all decisions open minded, and like to create a win-win situation wherever possible.  I know that is not always going to happen, but working together and putting our ideas together we may come up with better solutions than any one individual can.  I believe there are opportunities for school districts and local governments to share facilities, and assist keeping some of the schools open which otherwise might be closed.

I am not going to make a bunch of promises, about how I am going to change a lot of things, but I will promise that I will work hard and do my best to come up with the best solution with the resources that are provided to us in the best interest of all children in our district.  Keep up the good work School District #20.

Kim Mandoli (Fruitvale Area/A)

A resident of Montrose and lived in the Beaver Valley for over 20 years.  Employee of Kootenay Savings Credit Union. In 1999, elected to serve the Beaver Valley to SD #20 after serving as the PAC Co-President from Montrose Elementary School. In 2003, elected to serve as a Trustee for the Beaver Valley.

When asked why I decided to come back and run again as a trustee my answer is that “I love public education.”  I feel it is important to build a positive foundation for all children and offer them the best possible experience while meeting their needs.  I believe that this requires a strong voice, a balanced point of view and the opportunity to think beyond what you are being told.

I bring a unique perspective to SD#20 as my children have recently completed their secondary school experience.  My son was a student of the JLC 2011 Grad Class, so I have a recent view on how changes and funding impact the students in our District.  This allows me the opportunity to look back and see what was positive and what could possibly be done better in our education world. As a trustee, I would like to see students at the High School level be given more selection around electives.  This provides them the opportunity to expand their view of what is possible for their lives and education ahead.  As for Elementary students I feel these important years of their education need to be filled with reading opportunities and innovated learning.  My hope is when students leave this District we have given them the tools to move forward in their lives to become successful citizens.

Currently, the biggest issue facing SD#20 and districts throughout the Province is the impact over the unsettled teachers’ collective agreement and what effect this has on our students within the district.  Parents are equally concerned over receiving report cards that do not identify how their child is doing academically. I have been told by a number of parents that they are very concerned that their child may be slipping through the cracks and it will be too late to get them the help they need to have a successful school year.   Another issue will certainly be balancing the budget.  There are parts of resolution that are in the board’s scope of decision making.  Not all issues are. Some are mandated and handed to the boards to deal with.  The creativity comes with looking at what we can do.  If we keep the students in the forefront of our decision making, I believe, there is room to save and room to move. It takes resolve, creativity and courage; I know we have creative, determined and courageous people here.

Darrel Ganzert (Fruitvale/Area A)

Retired teacher, living in the Fruitvale Area. President of the union on two different occasions most recently from 2006-2010.

I have put my name forward for trustee because I believe my years of experience in different facets of education will be of benefit to the community.

As an educator and advocate for public education for many years, I believe that a strong education system is good for both the child within the system and for a bright future in our province.

All children need an opportunity to become successful in life and a good education helps them achieve that.  As well the province of B.C. needs the best educated citizens possible in order to compete on a global basis.

Our Board of Trustees face a number of difficult issues in the future.

Two of the many are the ever shrinking education budget and a breakdown of the relationships between certain board members.

First I will continue to be a strong advocate for public education.  If elected as a trustee I will make it a priority to seek out other like minded trustees throughout the province who want to see education funding in BC return to historic levels and I will begin lobbying the provincial government.

If you are overly concerned about the cost of education consider for a moment “what is the cost of ignorance to society?”

A second problem facing the Board comes from the stress of cutting from the education budget year after year.  The meat is now gone from the system and children are being impacted.

The issue of school closures has polarized the Board and this polarization impacts all decisions made by the Board.

While I was the teachers’ union president, our union team worked well with the management team and the Board to solve very complex problems in a respectful way.  I led our union from a confrontational position when dealing with the Board to one of solving problems that worked for both parties.

Dick Bilenki (Fruitvale/Area A)

Dick Bilenki has been on the School Board from 2005 to 2008. After 30 years at Teck-Cominco as a Power Engineer he retired moved from Trail to the Fruitvale area, nearly five years ago.

I believe strongly in pubic education and that my broad job experiences, my energy and my knowledge of the Board will help to provide the Beaver Valley children with the best education, promote wellness and a safe learning environment. Furthermore, I keep myself well informed, can be fearless in my pursuit of issues. For example, with the high rate of childhood obesity in Canada we could focus more and expand the Parent Advisory Council (PAC) fruit and veggie programs in the District Schools. In one word, finances. Lets face it. The government is not going to give us, more money. So, it is imperative that the Board implement its “Planning for the Future” or parts of that document. School District good news is that for this coming year the student population appears to have stabilized at the kindergarten level and we are no longer losing 150 students per year. Let’s hope this is a trend. Nevertheless, the decline of students still has to work its way through the upper grades in future years.

The Board will still have budget pressures. I am however, impressed with the PACs’ take on how to approach Board issues. The PACs’ demand [see TDT 11 Feb 11] to have “all the facts presented to all the affected areas of the District.” Any significant change that has been advocated in “Planning for the Future” will affect the whole District not one community.

Lets take the politics out of decision making when students aren’t directly involved. I would therefore, support a business decision for moving the Board Office or the Maintenance Centre. Few if any people would be displaced and this should not affect any students. So, let’s look at some of these ways of economizing within the District.

First, let’s make sure we have all and the latest facts regarding the District situation with the issues identified in the planning document. Secondly, the BOARD should prioritize all the items in the document, first dealing with the issues that don’t involve students directly. If the Board hits an impasse on an issue then I suggest we get an outside opinion to be made or suggested by someone from another School District Board or retired from another Board. We might get a different perspective or a suggestion for our issue and this could help us break an impasse. Therefore, I like the PACs’ continuing suggestion that the Board” needs to respectfully and openly discuss and challenge ideas head on following them through to their logical conclusion and determining if they are feasible.” [TDT 11 Feb 11]