About 20 people gathered at Hope Secondary School on Monday night to hear local trustee candidates share their views on a range of issues.
The four contenders discussed everything from class size and composition, to budget constraints and standardized testing. They acknowledged smaller class sizes would be ideal, but it’s something determined by enrolment and provincial funding.
If elected, Linda McMullan said she will continue to seek a needs-based budget. Pat Furness believes trustees should spend more time in classrooms with teachers and students to determine exactly what is needed. She also supports allocating additional funds towards extra-curricular activities and field trips to limit the dependency on fundraising efforts.
All candidates agree students and parents should be more involved in the educational decision-making process.
Marv Cope suggested students join district committees, while McMullan recommended utilizing media to keep parents involved.
The candidates also support the proposal for a district-wide personalized learning program, but noted the fiscal challenges of implementing such an initiative.
“It’s a wonderful concept, but who on Earth can afford it,” said Cope. “There is never enough money for what we want. It will always be a problem.”
Despite funding challenges, the trustee candidates are committed to providing an adequate learning environment for students with quality teachers.
However, each defines the ideal classroom setting differently.
Furness believes it’s one where each child feels safe, respected and comfortable, and where teachers are able to meet the individual needs of their students. McMullan said an ideal setting involves mutual respect between teachers and students, while Cope points out students should feel successful and excited about learning. For Heather Stewin, who represented her father Jim Sinclair at the meeting, an ideal setting occurs when materials are readily available and everyone’s voice is heard. Sinclair is currently recovering from health problems.
Hope voters will elect three school trustees on Nov. 19, along with mayor and six councillors.
In the canyon electoral area, Tom Hendrickson has been voted in by acclamation.