Mike Lombardi: Vancouver needs an experienced team focused on student success

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      In 2008, I asked Vancouver voters to give me the opportunity to represent them at the Vancouver school board—and they did. Since then, I’ve worked hard as board chair and trustee on the Vision Vancouver education team, advocating for our schools and the children who attend them.

      In 2016, the board was dismissed by the then minister of education. I was proud to put my job on the line to stand with students, parents, teachers, stakeholders, and community organizations and my trustee colleagues in refusing to make further budget cuts to programs and services. We said no to the cuts, and we said no to closing neighbourhood schools.

      While the past decade has been challenging for education in B.C., we have accomplished a great deal in Vancouver—and now there’s still have more work to do to make our public schools even better. From advocating for seismic upgrades to make our schools safer and new schools, or building on our success increasing Aboriginal students’ graduation rates, to leading the way by implementing the most progressive LGBTQ2+ policy in the country, you can count on me to stand up for students and public education.

      Following the provincial election, we now have a government that supports public education. We have an opportunity to hit the “reset button” on our relationship with the Ministry of Education. It’s an exciting time to put the focus back where it belongs: on student success and learning.

      I am very proud of the strong, diverse team Vision Vancouver is putting forward in the by-election. We are experienced, energetic, and passionate about public education and learning. Our team is running with a spirit of cooperation and collaboration, and we will work with anyone to accomplish our goals of building thriving neighbourhood schools where all students can succeed.

      Our education team has a proven track record. We secured more than $200 million in funding agreements with the Ministry of Education to rebuild or upgrade seismically at-risk schools. And more advocacy is needed to ensure adequate funding and resources are dedicated to implementing the class size and composition agreement and the new curriculums to ensure needs of students are met.

      Vision Vancouver trustees worked hard to establish a culture of consultation and collaboration in the district, working with parents, teachers, district employees, stakeholders, and unions. It’s critical these strong relationships continue so that everyone is working together to meet the diverse needs of our students.

      As an advocate of student leadership, I worked with the Vancouver District Student Council to increase the student voice in the district. Ours was the first school board in British Columbia and Western Canada to have a student trustee. 

      If re-elected, in addition to focusing my efforts on leadership, advocacy, and stewardship, I will concentrate my efforts on:

      • improving learning conditions by expediting the implementation of the class size and class composition agreement;
      • supporting student success, teaching & learning and ensuring funding is available for the resources needed to implement the new provincial curriculum;
      • ensuring that seismic upgrades are a priority for Vancouver schools and planning ahead for increased density, new school construction, and advocacy for new schools;
      • restoring a culture of consultation and collaboration in the district;
      • fostering vibrant, inclusive neighbourhood schools with access to choices and options;
      • working with the City of Vancouver and B.C. government to expand access to childcare spaces in Vancouver schools;
      • and helping Vancouver become the greenest school district in North America.

      I look forward to your support on October 14.

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      Mike Lombardi worked in public education for more than 35 years as a teacher, teacher educator, and professional development expert. He is a Vision Vancouver candidate in the October 14 Vancouver school board by-election. Follow him on Twitter @LombardiMike.

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