Patti Bacchus: Questions for Vancouver school board candidates

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      With about three weeks to the municipal elections, have you figured out who you’re voting for to serve on the Vancouver school board (VSB)? Yeah, me neither.

      With a total of 33 candidates, including those represented by 10 parties fielding candidates, along with a handful of independents, it’s tough figuring out what each candidate stands for and what kind of a job they’d do over the next four years. But what the heck, let’s give it a shot.

      And no, that wasn’t a typo back there. Ten parties are fielding VSB candidates. Alongside the more well-established parties—like the Non-Partisan Association (NPA), the Coalition of Progressive Electors (COPE), the Vancouver Green Party, and Vision Vancouver—there’s OneCity Vancouver and five lesser-known parties: the Independent, Democratic Electors Alliance (IDEA), Yes Vancouver, Vancouver 1st, Coalition Vancouver, and Pro Vancouver.

      You know where they all sit on the political spectrum and school-board issues, right? No, of course you don’t. I don’t either. So I’m going to ask them questions and then I’ll tell you what they tell me.

      Here is the list of questions I invite the candidates to answer individually. I don’t want to hear party lines. I want to hear from each candidate in their own words. I will read and sort through answers I get by October 8 and relevant responses will be posted in my Georgia Straight education column.

      So here are the questions for VSB candidates. Please respond to each question in 75 words or less. 

      1. What are the top three challenges facing the VSB?
      2. What do you believe are the two most important responsibilities for school trustees?
      3. Do you fully support the VSB’s Sexual Orientation and Gender Identities Policy and are you committed to implementing it? If not, why?
      4. What’s your position on school closures?
      5. What’s your position on the sale of school board-owned lands?
      6. What will you do to ensure VSB schools have the funding they need to offer all students the programs, supports, and services they need to be successful?
      7. What will you do to make the VSB an attractive place to work, in order to recruit and retain teachers and support staff?
      8. What will you do to get at-risk schools seismically upgraded or rebuilt as soon as possible?
      9. What will you do to expand access to out-of-school care in VSB schools?
      10. What will you do to ensure there is transparency and meaningful consultation in all VSB decision-making?

      Please email your individual responses to by noon on October 8 and I will share them—with an emphasis on standout solutions and unique platform points—with my readers prior to the election (probably in two installments). Please note that only responses from individual candidates will be posted.

      Patti Bacchus is the Georgia Straight K-12 education columnist. She was chair of the Vancouver school board from 2008 to 2014.