Nick Kanakos 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.
Education in Delta has been the main focus of my professional life. I am a retired teacher. I taught for 33 years at North Delta Secondary. I have been a School Trustee for seven years. I am committed to providing the best education possible for the students of Delta. I understand education from the inside out.
2. Most pressing issue (70 word maximum) – What issue are you most passionate about and what action will you take on it?
I will work to continue to provide the best quality education for all students in Delta. Delta has one of the highest graduation rates in the province. In British Columbia, Delta puts the highest percentage of our budget into classroom instruction while having one of the lowest operational and administrative costs. My commitment is that every child receives a quality education, regardless of their abilities, and reaches their full potential.
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 costs of the Delta Academies are recovered through the fees charged to the parents of the students attending the Academies. The School District does not receive supplemental funding for the operation of the Academies. There are very few ‘out of District’ students attending the Academies – they are mainly Delta student based.
The academy program began as a request by parents in the District for enhanced student learning in the areas of: the visual and performing arts and athletics.
The academies have additional costs that are required for the academy to operate such as: additional instructors, bus transport, and some equipment requirements. The academy program cannot be offered free to students because of the addition costs involved. The School District does not have the funds to cover these additional costs.
All students throughout the District are eligible to attend academy programs and bus transportation is provided for students to attend the academy programs.
To support students who wish to attend the academies financial bursaries are available. The academy program staff host a number of fundraising activities, including a Gala Dinner, to provide bursaries for students who wish to attend and who have a financial need.
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?
Every International Student who comes to Delta provides an invaluable cultural experience. Our students are exposed to the different cultures throughout the world and they build lifelong friendships. The International Program has also provided the Delta School District with an ongoing source of additional revenue.
I do not support the use of these funds for the district operating budget. Each year at budget time, I have raised my concerns that these funds are not a dependable source of income as world conditions can change and students may choose not to come to Delta.
These funds should be used with the knowledge they might not be available next year. These funds should be used to enhance teacher mentorship programs, additional educational assistants, and additional classroom programs. They should not be used for operating expenses.
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?
There are four high school tracks in Delta. All require upgrading and the capital costs to repair these tracks is significant. The long-term plan is to repair all of the tracks starting with one in the south and one in north. This year the board has committed funds for repairing the track at South Delta Secondary School.
In addition, the School Board is in consultation with the federal, provincial governments and the City of Delta regarding a new track facility in North Delta.
Corporate and private support is an option for track replacement. The district has a policy that protects students from corporate influence and advertising within our schools. They are safe havens from corporate influence. I would support any corporate or private sponsorship provided our students are not exposed to corporate advertising or influence.
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.
As a Trustee I have many roles and responsibilities. My overarching goal is to provide the very best quality education for our students – in partnership with parents, teachers and staff. As a member of the School Board, I oversee and make decisions regarding budgets and operations relating to the School District. I attend School events and celebrations and encourage students, teachers and staff to continue to seek excellence in education. I have gained extensive experience and background in our District serving on: the Tsawwassen Education Committee, the English Language Learners Committee, the Board Budget Committee, the Emergency Preparedness Committee, the Aboriginal Enhancement Committee, the British Columbia Public School Employers Association and the British Columbia Schools Trustee Association.
I have been a Trustee for seven years and bring experience, commitment and enthusiasm for our students and School District. I am proud of our track record and seek re-election to serve the education community in Delta.
I understand how our schools operate and the role of a Trustee on a board within the Delta School District. I have a proven record as hard-working Trustee. It would be an honour to serve the people of Delta for another term.