Val Windsor is one of the Delta school trustee candidates running in this month's civic election. Here are her responses to a questionnaire from the Optimist:
1. Bio - Tell readers about yourself and why you are running for office.
I am a retired teacher, past President of the Delta Teachers’ Association and a 7 year School Trustee. My involvement in public education spans 47 years and I bring a unique and useful perspective to the Board. I have the passion, commitment and time to focus on the work of being a School Trustee in Delta.
2. Most pressing issue - What issue are you most passionate about and what action will you take on it?
One passion/concern of mine is the lower graduation rates of vulnerable students compared with other students. A Dogwood diploma opens more doors to post-secondary education than an Evergreen certificate. Through the budgeting process and by continuing to serve on the Inclusive Education Committee, I will advocate for the funding and support that will enable those students who have the ability to do so, to graduate with a Dogwood diploma.
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?
Academies are expected to pay their own way without funding from the operating budget and specialists who teach in the academies are not funded by provincial government education funding. When I was DTA President and academies were first being introduced, I raised the issue of students whose parents were not in a position to pay for their child to attend an academy. The district set up a fund for students’ parents to apply for funding grants as needed. While it would be ideal for Delta residents to not be charged for the programs, I don’t know how the district would be able to afford the specialized instruction that is a feature of the academies. The grant should remain a necessary feature of the academy structure.
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?
Unfortunately, with the Province’s underfunding of the education system, the revenues from the International Student Program have become integral to the operating budget. At one point, the district used the revenue from the previous year to fund “extras” but as the system continued to be “starved” for funds, trustees were forced to draw on the revenues of the current year to support current year instruction. I don’t see an end to this situation any time soon.
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?
Corporate sponsorship is permitted in the school district. See: Procedure AP525 Revenue Enhancement. The district follows Ethical Guidelines for Business-Education Partnerships when considering a proposal. Any partnership must complement but not replace public funding for education. Sponsorship performance is reviewed regularly to ensure that it continues to meet the stated goals and objectives of the agreement between the school district and the sponsor. Donations to the school district are another way monies for specific projects can be received as long as they are sanctioned by the school or the District and they follow the Ethical Guidelines outlined in Procedure AP525. I am not opposed to corporate sponsorship as long as Procedure AP 525 is adhered to.
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.
Trustees are elected to represent the views of the community and to continuously advocate for public education. They are the public face of the school district. I have many years of experience in the education system as a classroom teacher, President of the DTA and as an incumbent school trustee. My work involves serving on the Indigenous Education and Inclusive Education committees in Delta and chairing the Metro Vancouver ELL Consortium, a group that advocates for services for immigrant and refugee students. It is my pleasure to show support for our schools in the district beyond Board meetings and committee work by attending school celebrations and events and by helping to adjudicate Science and Heritage Fairs. Given these experiences, I bring a knowledge based perspective to Board discussions all the while keeping at the forefront the question, “Is what I am promoting/supporting good for students and public education?” It would be an honour to continue serving as a Delta school trustee.