View official candidate video

Video Source: City of Surrey

Below read her answers to OUR questions

1. What is your key, or main, motivation to run for a school trustee position?

I am passionate about public education, I have been an EA for 20 years, I have worked in the public school system, with many teachers, many other staff and many children. We can do a better job, here in Surrey. We have a good school district, I did work in Surrey for 14 years, but when I was elected in 2011 I had to resign and I worked in Delta. I still have that passion that we can do a better job in Surrey.

2. How do you see the role of the school trustees in addressing the issues with space, overcrowded classrooms, and new school construction in this rapidly growing district?

Yes, I have experience with my 3 years on the board, although at the time I was a rookie, I was vocal. At the time we had some “interesting” ministers of education, but this time, I am determined we can have better conversations with the ministers. We need to work with the MLAs, all of them, and with mayor and council. Trustees need to keep that top of mind, to interact with these other politicians. The District often says that they meet with the City but to my mind that meeting is just one way with the City telling the District what they’re going to do. There’s no real consultation, no real collaboration. Our team, Surrey Students Now is all on the same page on this and we can take turns to do what needs to be done on this. The last time I was a trustee there were all kinds of plans but this time I want to focus on what we are actually going to do.

3. Currently, Surrey is short of classroom teachers and teachers teaching on call. What ideas do you have for recruitment and retention?

It’s difficult but I think it is doable. If we strive to make Surrey the best school district in the province, we can attract people to come here. There are things that aren’t perfect, but we can look at how to improve it, by asking the teachers! We could also ask the other support staff, we are short of EAs, but how?, let’s ask them!

Let’s talk to HR and see what they can come up with by talking to the actual workers we have.

4. Surrey Schools are still short of Learning Support Teachers. How will you advocate fully implementing the language in the collective agreement so that Surrey students will have enough specialist teachers to meet their learning needs?

Having attended every board meeting since Jan 2015 I’ve heard various people from the STA speak to this issue many times. You know during question period, it seems to me that the district has kind of been playing a shell game, moving positions and renaming positions and then saying those are the LST positions. The bottom line: if students are being denied services then that’s not good, and if the collective agreement is not being followed that has to be corrected, immediately.

My best ever classroom even now after all these years as an EA, was in Surrey. That because the teachers were caring and understanding and great leaders. When you have teachers who you’ve worked with and they’ve shown the amazing ability to do that, and it’s wonderful for the kids and it’s wonderful for the staff.

5. In bargaining for a new contract, what actions will you take to ensure that BCPSEA and the Provincial government will reach a fairly negotiated contract with teachers?

Surrey will have a rep at the BCPSEA table like we did before. As a trustee I will be advocating to make sure that teachers get a fair deal. I work in public education, so I see what teachers do, and I see that teachers go above and beyond what their mandate is. Teachers become parents to kids… they become social workers, they provide food for the kids, and much more, they buy their own resources and bring them into the classroom, it’s just unbelievable.

Teachers in BC have been at the bottom of the pay scale for too long, so there’s one thing that definitely needs to be brought to the table, and that’s a pay hike so that BC teachers are no longer near the bottom of pay in the country.

6. What is the best way for the Board to hear from and respond to concerns from parents, employees and other community members?

First and foremost, question period needs to become part of the agenda at the public board meeting so that questions and answers can be shared with the public, because as you know, right now they adjourn the meeting, then they have a half hour question period, and the questions have to be written down and passed to the administrative assistant person, and answered in private. That needs to be changed right away. We could have some informal trustee meetings, maybe being able to invite the public in to those kinds of meetings. I think that trustees should attend PAC meetings. Also trustees two or three times a year should go to the staff rooms and have an conversation with the staff. And I know a lot of that does go on, but I think certainly not every trustee does that.

7. How can the Board support the recommendations and calls to action of the Truth & Reconciliation Commission?

When I was a trustee, I did put forth a motion about stating at every board meeting that we are on the lands of Katzie, Semiahmoo and Kwantlen. That was taken and changed a bit by another trustee and out into a committee, and came out as a watered-down declaration which is stated only at the first board meeting and the last board meeting of the year. How does that make our aboriginal community, our First Nations community feel welcomed? In a recent conversation with the Superintendent, the money put forth is still only for cultural events, has been for the students who identify as first nations, but where can we get some more money so it can be embedded in the curriculum, so that we can have the professional development needed?

8. As school trustee, how will you use your role to support the sexual orientation, gender expression, and gender identity development of Surrey students?

I fully support SOGI 123. That’s another place where we need some more funding, some designated funding, to present it to the teachers to work on that. I know that some training has gone on, probably through the BCTF and the

through the district as well, but we obviously need to be more. I think that as a trustee I would be supporting and making the community know where I stand. We need to be informing people about what it is.

9. As school trustee how will you actively advocate for a better funded public education system?

I had a question from a teacher in the summertime and he challenged me to find out how much more Vancouver had than Surrey even though we’re a bigger district by about 25000 students or so. So I did, and I took their budget number and our budget and divided it by the number of students. And yes, Vancouver does get $200 more per student, which is 14 million dollars. Obviously this needs fixing, I think there are ways to do that, by connecting with MLAs, Minister of Education, politician to politician, and say, here it is, and of course to get our Secretary Treasurer break it down some more.

What do you see as the difference between a needs-based budget, and a balanced budget?

I know in the past, this has been a big topic, where districts have put in a needs-based budget and not balanced it, and then been fired. I think we could have an option to do both. Say to the Ministry, this is what Surrey needs, and here is our balanced budget. For example, here is $8.5M that could be used for operating funds which has been used to take care of portables or get new portables, and that’s wrong. Take that 8.5 million and make it separate funding and use it for the resources we need, which is more teachers, more support staff, more programs to help our kids. I think we could definitely do that, have two budgets, and have that good conversation with the politicians, the MLAs, the minister of education.

10. How can trustees ensure that the leadership in Surrey schools reflects the diversity of Surrey’s communities?

I think about what trustees can do as part of hiring committee for principals and vice principals. I think that those are things that need to be top of mind when we are thinking about diversity, as in women and different cultures which are represented in our community which is very multicultural, getting more and more all the time. I think those things can be top of mind when trustees are actually at the table, encouraging from the top down. I think as trustee we can ask questions, why has this person not been invited?