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?

It was born out of necessity. I started advocating for my daughter’s program, and it opened my eyes to all the other issues that we’re having in the District. Our current board has been very quiet. They could do a much better job in terms of advocating and lobbying for our students. It’s actually in the job description and they’re not doing their job.

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?

It all comes down to advocacy. Neighbourhood concept plans are deviated from constantly (NCP), and the developments are amended, but they didn’t amend for the schools. Trustees didn’t lobby for the need for additional schools!

I will continue to be vocal whether elected or not. I’ve established good relationships, so I can reach out to discuss the issues. I think we need to motivate staff to get creative, in the short term. It’s supposed to be short term. We’re pulling $8 million dollars out of our operating budget to pay for portables? It doesn’t help that Vancouver gets $200 more per student. That’s another approximately $14 million dollars that Surrey students should be getting. Current board hasn’t said anything! It all comes down to using our voices and not being quiet.

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

It comes down to the fact that we don’t pay our teachers enough. We need to do a better job lobbying the government. Especially with the housing affordability issues. We need to make this an attractive option. Give teachers ability to teach in the areas where they live.

[We should be] coming up with ideas that we haven’t thought of before, or fully explored. Let’s be creative and push those boundaries.

Teachers don’t have opportunity to give feedback to the district because they’re afraid of their bosses. Want to sit in a room with teachers to hear from them what the issues are so trustees can better advocate.

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?

We need to educate the public on the difference between an IST teacher and an LST teacher. It’s a source of frustration that they’re making an equivalency between the two. So they boosted numbers for IST but they they have not restored for LST. There’s a collective agreement and we’re bound to it. No ifs, ands, or buts about it.

Maybe we need to have an interpretation guide for the Collective Agreement so everyone’s on the same page when they leave the room, so we don’t have to spend time and resources figuring it out later. We can get started right away.

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?

We talked about this earlier, how do we retain/recruit for Surrey? We need to pay them better; compensation needs to be a priority this round. People will come here and live here if they feel they are being compensated fairly. If this is a place they want to live. Making sure that interpretation guides are there; so we come out of the collective agreements so we can get started right away. If we don’t support the teachers, they won’t be able to support the students. We have to do better than that. The government needs to do better. As a board, we need to not placate, and not minimize the issues, [and we should] use the media to talk about the issues.

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

I’ve been to most of the school board meetings in the last couple of years. It’s a source of major frustration to stand up in front of your school board and it’s all off the record, and you only have a short period of time for your preamble before asking your question. Then you have to wait weeks or months for an answer.

First thing I would do is make the question period part of the record so that others can hear and see the answers to the questions. You ask the question publicly, but get an answer privately. That needs to change. We created a Facebook page called Surrey School Board Q&A so people could share their answers.

It all comes down to opening those communication channels.

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

I love this question! It can be something as simple as actually acknowledging the land that we’re on at every board meeting, rather than just the first and the last meeting of the year.

We were at a school announcement for the addition for Sullivan, and the person that came to do the welcome did a wonderful job and her voice just reverberated across the entire courtyard. Then Laurie came up and introduced the trustees that were there, and they all stood right in front of her to block her out! I just still remember the disrespect of that.

There’s still a lot of work to be done I don’t have all the answers, but I know there are partners out there that can speak to this better, that can help us shape what it looks like for future students that are aboriginal and make it better and make it more inclusive for them.

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 1000% support SOGI 123. I’ve been vocal about that and will continue to vocal. We’re working with Dr. Jen Marchbank to run a SOGI 123 information session on the 28th. Not only do we support it, but that we want others to understand it because there’s a lot of misinformation out there. We want to do more professional development with our staff that may be struggling to understand the purpose or how to invest purpose that into the classroom. We know it’s not curriculum. We know it is a resource. I think that’s a really big piece of it, is to incorporate it every day into our daily thought process, our language, how we work with our students, how we make them feel comfortable and safe. We need to support safe, inclusive classrooms. Full stop. If you can’t do that, maybe this isn’t the environment for you.

9. As school trustee how will you actively advocate for a better funded public education system? What do you see as the difference between a needs-based budget, and a balanced budget?

We need more schools, not bigger schools. In bigger schools, student start to get lost because there are just that many more people trying to reach those programs. Use the analogy of the basketball team. 12 team members, in a school of 1000. Add 700 more students who are potentially interested in the basketball team and there’s just that many more kids not getting on the basketball team. More schools, not bigger schools.

What are we willing to do to make sure that our foundation is laid now so it doesn’t cost us later? We want to see less homelessness, less poverty, less crime. It all starts in the foundation of our children. We can’t decide how students arrive at school, or where they come from. We need to be ready and set up to meet the needs of all our students.

I will continue to use my voice and those communication channels. If at the end of the day, we can’t get the province to make education a priority maybe we need to force that issue a different way.

Need to see both a balanced budget and a need- based budget. Trustees need to do a better job illustrating what the needs actually are and advocating to close the gap between the two.

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

We can start doing some mentoring. We can start reaching out to teachers who seem to show interest in the leadership roles, and start grabbing them earlier, rather than waiting for them to come to us. Students need to see themselves reflected in order to feel safe, secure, invested in. As a trustee, I’m part of the hiring package. If I see the same names on a list that are not getting to the interview stage, I want to start questioning why are they showing interest and why are we not looking to them? [I would be] asking more questions about the process.