SD78 School Board Candidate Q&A: John Koopman

SD78 School Board elections: Trustee candidate Q&A

John Koopman (current school board trustee)

Q1: What experience do you have that will make you a good trustee for SD78?

I feel my diverse back ground experience, coupled with my collaborative, insightful critical thinking and problem-solving skills make me be an effective advocate in the decision making process for our students so they can thrive academically, socially and emotionally in our inclusive schools.

Q2: What are the two most pressing issues facing SD78? How do you plan to address them? (be specific)

Meeting the concerns of our most vulnerable students is important. Our superintendent and secretary treasurer work hard to address and fund this priority by seeing adequate support systems are in place for these children. Secondly, I would like to see our younger students – perhaps beginning in grade three, begin to discover, explore and experience their passion for what excites them about potential career choices. Hopefully, by starting this thought process earlier in life – more students will stay actively engaged and excited with what they are learning in school. Hopefully, this will result in improved student achievement.

Q3: How do you plan to listen to parents and students about the issues they care about? (be specific)

Listening to parent exists in each school with the principal and parent advisory committee. This can be followed up with our district parent advisory group who will forward any concern to the Board. I am always receptive to parent input. One student recently sat on two of our committees.

Q4: The SD78 board has faced a number of controversies over its last term, including a letter to former education minister Mike Bernier stating the board was “severely dysfunctional” and requesting a special advisor to review SD78’s governance, two censures of a trustee – one of which cost the school district $48,000 and allegations from the censured trustee about bullying, a disrespectful workplace and a lack of transparency on the board. Given this, how do you plan to instill trust in and build a healthy workplace culture on the SD78 board?

Just saying the words “bullying and disrespectful workplace” does not make it true and therefore is simply speculative thinking. We have a process in place where any trustee can file a formal complaint to start an evidentiary process that searches out the facts. If the evidence bears fruit and is truly warranted then an investigation can take place. The three trustees who wrote the letter never filed a complaint and only one seems to maintain these allegations are still taking place. A dysfunctional Board would not generate the wonderful accomplishments we make that create a real difference for kids.

Q5: What is your position on the implementation of the SOGI 1 2 3 program in SD78 schools?

I feel is important that all students feel safe and welcome in our schools, free of harassment and bullying as outlined in Bill 27 entitled, Human Rights Code Amendment Act. Teachers are best equipped to determine what are the best age appropriate SOGI learning resources for their students.

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