District electing first new board after firing

Plenty of familiar faces are back on the ballot for the District 79 school board. There are only seven seats on school board now, as opposed to the previous nine. Some of the candidates supported the controversial “needs budget” that got the previous board fired, while some do not this time around.

Arthurs has spent more than 20 years as an advocate for public education. The needs budget brought awareness about funding struggles, she said.

Barrett brings a background of working with special needs and admires those who voted for the needs budget, standing up for students.

Buckner wants an audit of district finances to look for efficiencies to free up money that could then be put back into the classroom.

Chicquen has spent 25 years as a teacher. The province underfunds education, but submitting the needs budget was a blow to democracy.

Roger Chin has been a teacher for 20-plus years in public and private schools. Underfunding in education denies students proper programs.

Croft brings the perspective of a parent to the table. The school board needs “a more varied gene pool”. The needs budget risked our democracy.

De Groot says public education needs support and not rhetoric. The board’s firing took away our local voice and didn’t benefit students.

De Lure says healthy debate in needed, and politics should be left at the door. The board must collaborate with, not demand of the province.

Doman, a parent, says the district needs to focus all resources to support students in the classroom. He has been a regular at board meetings.

Foster was part of the previous board and supported the needs budget, saying it raised awareness. Keeping schools in communities is key.

Hutchins feels that passing a balanced budget is important. He’d like to see improved graduation rates and special needs support.

Matamba was a music teacher for 21 years. She wants to bring fresh ideas to the board, and develop innovative programs.

Oxman was part of the last board and continues to heartily support the decision to submit a needs budget, which was ahead of its time.

Amrik Prihar, who was standing for election, died suddenly of a heart attack on Thursday, Nov. 6. Our condolences to his family and friends.

Schmidt was part of the previous board, and opposed the needs budget as it silenced local voices. Aboriginal and special needs are a key focus.

Spilsbury was part of the previous board and opposed the needs budget. More money is needed, especially for aboriginal education.

Thorne has worked closely with the school district and VIU to develop successful trades training programs for aboriginal students.