Joe Muego is one of the Delta school trustee candidates running in this month's civic election. Here are his responses to a questionnaire from the Optimist:
1. Bio – Tell readers a bit about yourself and why you are running for office.
I am a stalwart parent leader and volunteer in schools. Over the last decade I have chaired or attended hundreds of PAC, DPAC, School Board public meetings and committee meetings. I have a deep understanding of the system from a parent’s perspective. I feel I am the most qualified and well positioned to bring the parent voice to the Board.
2. Most pressing issue – What issue are you most passionate about and what action will you take on it?
Mental wellness for staff and students. In order to continue the outstanding success in the district, staff and students need to be adequately supported. All students and staff experience some normal stress in schools; however, there are times when stress becomes anxiety. Unchecked anxiety will eventually interfere with teaching and learning. Providing support helps prevent anxiety from becoming debilitating. School, as a place of working and learning, should feel safe.
3. The Delta school board has been able to bring additional per-pupil funding and revenues by attracting out-of-district students to Delta’s specialty academies. Should these programs be made free for Delta residents without having to apply for special exemptions?
The Academies are an invaluable option for students and their attraction to out of district students is a testament to their success; however, there are significant costs to running these programs that need to be offset by enrolling families and other fundraising efforts. Subsidizing Delta residents would mean moving funds from other valuable programs – district staff have struck a fine balance. For those families in need there are bursaries available.
4. The district has seen steady increases in the number of students from other countries in the International Student Program. By 2016/17 revenue climbed to just over $10 million. Part of that money has now gone into offsetting budget deficits. Do you support using those revenues for the operating budget and, if not, where should those monies be targeted?
Provincial funding is a constant struggle. Attracting international students is an example of Delta taking some measure of control of its own destiny. Because of our international profile, this source of income should be fairly stable and should be used to benefit all students within the operating budget. There is a tremendous benefit and learning opportunity for our teachers and children to build friendships and relationships from around the world.
5. The school board is proposing to work out a land deal with the City of Delta to build a new track facility in North Delta. Many other schools in the district will still be without upgraded tracks. Do you feel corporate sponsorship may be a possibility or are there other options you believe can be explored?
Collaboration is the key to successful community building. Instead of operating in silos, I believe an effective school board should continue to remove civic and provincial political barriers to progress. There needs to be a mind shift in the importance of sport facilities locally, regionally and provincially. Assets such as world-class track facilities not only elevate individual schools, but our city and province. Corporate sponsorship should be a last resort.
6. As a candidate for trustee, please explain the role of trustee and explain why you among all of these other candidates should be elected to it.
Beyond the millions of dollars in public money entrusted to trustees to prioritize its movement within the system, there is the expectation that the success and well-being of every child and staff member is relying on sound fiscal management that is underscored with values of caring, respect and community mindedness. I am an architect, and as such, I am legally sworn to protect the public. Trusteeship is a natural extension.