2014 Citizens for Good Government Endorsement Brochure

The brochure went out this week and should be delivered to all households by Wednesday November 12th.  Please look for it in your mailbox and feel free to contact us if you do not receive one.



Authorized by West Vancouver Citizens for Good Government (WVCGG), registered sponsor under LECFA.
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Q&A – School Board – Dave Stevenson

1. What community involvement have you had? How many school board meetings have you attended in the past 3 years?
I have lived in West Vancouver my entire life and have been active in numerous community activities during that time.  My first notable trip to Municipal Hall was as a student to lobby for the construction of an indoor pool at the West Vancouver Recreation Centre.  I have been back to both buildings many times since.  I have served on more than thirty municipal and community committees in my professional life and as a school trustee beginning in 1985, including most recently the Family Court Youth Justice Committee and the North Shore Substance Abuse Working Group.  I have had broad involvement with church, and coaching elementary, high school, and community sports teams.  I have deep roots; my family settled in West Vancouver in the 1940s.  I love my community and have, like many others, added my energy to the West Van we all enjoy.
I have attended almost every board meeting for the last 21 years while serving as one of West Vancouver’s school trustees on the Board of Education.

2. What are the challenges facing the school district? How would you address them?
Our school district needs to continue making effective teaching our number one priority to assist all our students to have the best possible learning experience.
This is accomplished by being current with the best methods.  As a member of the Board of Education, I monitor and support new programs and professional development for all our staff.
One challenge facing SD45 is the changing demographics in the school district.  As our community welcomes families from all over the world we continue to provide a great classroom experience, aided by our support staff members who assist with the adjustment to a new set of learning and cultural expectations.   There is opportunity to grow together as we live in an increasingly blended community.  As a board member I keep the reality of the new West Vancouver in my thinking and planning for new services.
The Board of Education is continuing to engage all members of our community to rebuild the confidence in public education.  The key element is to create a more effective working relationship with our teaching staff to move the focus from labour issues to student issues.   At the same time the Board will continue to advocate with Victoria for a budget that supports the increasing cost of providing effective and high quality classroom education.

The Board also needs to keep our aging facilities in the best possible condition through ongoing pro-active maintenance, and I will continue to advocate for a 10 year action plan for building renewal in partnership with Victoria.
The Board of Education needs to build on its history of implementation of innovative programs and initiatives that improve student outcomes and create motivated students.
The Board of Education also needs to continue looking for shared service savings with our education and municipal partners for effective and efficient resource allocation.  I will continue to look for the best deal for our taxpayers.

3. What makes an effective school board?
An effective Board of Education engages in broad community consultation,
has an open transparent process of governance, has full and open discussion of all issues at the Board table, is proactive in planning for the future, respects the diversity of community opinion, keeps an active review of all financial accounts, and works as a corporate board that respects individual trustees and speaks with one voice.  For most of the past 21 years that I have served as one of your school trustees, I have been part of such a Board.

4. What action might be taken to compensate for financial losses caused by reduced enrollment of international students?
Currently the enrollment of the International Student Program of our school district is at peak levels.  The program has been built with an incredible thoughtfulness to ensure the arriving students are prepared to have both academic success and an outstanding experience in our community.  The program brings students from a variety of countries around the world, which mitigates our financial risk.  Our International Student Program has a long history of providing revenue which assists with our funding to keep the West Vancouver school district a wonderful place to learn and teach.  I will continue to monitor that we are meeting the needs of our local students while also providing space and support for international students.   I have several ideas I would like to explore with the new board to diversify revenue opportunities for SD45.

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Q&A – School Board – Irene Leschert

1.    What community involvement have you had? How many school board meetings have you attended in the past 3 years?
My main community involvement encompasses two areas:  our schools, and the broader North Shore.
My work in the schools began when our youngest entered kindergarten 10 years ago, and continues today.  I have held Chair positions on both the elementary and high school Parent Councils, and served a two year term as President of the District Parent Council.
My commitment to the broader community is reflected in my 10 year involvement as a Director, including two years as Board Chair, of the Harvest Project; a non-profit charity helping North Shore families through difficult times.
I have attended approximately five board meetings over the past 3 years, and 15 prior to that.
 2.    What are the challenges facing the school district? How would you address them?
I see two main challenges facing the school district, neither of which is unique to West Vancouver.
The first challenge is adequate funding.  To make the right budgetary choices, we must know our educational priorities with absolute clarity.  We must continue to advocate for higher per-student funding levels, knowing the provincial government must make difficult decisions in light of multiple challenges and priorities.  We must be open to additional sources of revenue and tirelessly pursue cost savings.
The second challenge relates to tensions created by the 21st Century Learning approach adopted by the B.C. Ministry of Education.   From Ministry publications:  “Such a system is one that individualizes learning so students engage in issues important to them. … engaging the student in charting their own path”.   One tension affecting our schools lies between the importance of community, and the importance of the individual.   Another tension lies between a student’s desire to follow “their own path”, and the need for a mastery of basic skills.  This mastery (broad and deep readers, excellent oral and written communicators, and students fluent and strong in mathematics) allows for the most effective creative process in discerning and creating an individualized path.  Conversations about addressing these tensions are best had with our Administrators (building community) and Directors of Instruction (enhancing basic skills).

3.    What makes an effective school board?
An effective school board:
1)  clearly understands its roles and responsibilities  (particularly differences  between Board and Management)
2)  understands, and adopts, good governance practices
3)  is united in educational priorities, and united in voice
4)  understands “the market”
5)  works from a platform of confidentiality and respect
6)  is a champion for public education.

4.    What action might be taken to compensate for financial losses caused by reduced enrollment of international students?
The answer to this question ties into Question 2) above.
We cannot assume any provincial budget shortfall will annually be made up by international student fees.  Being absolutely clear on our educational priorities is essential.  The Board must remain open to alternate sources of revenue; ideas can come from alumni, local businesses, educational suppliers, and other school districts.   Cost savings must be adopted wherever possible, whether working from our own district, or partnering with other school districts.  We cannot, however, compromise educational integrity for the sake of expediency.

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Q&A – School Board – Rob Inman

A) What community involvement have you had?

– West Van District # 45 Parent Advisory Council (DPAC) –  8 years,  served on Executive Committee as vice-chair and co-chair, 3 years finance committee
Westcot Elementary School – 8 years – Served as a member of PAC
Sentinel – – 5 years member of PAC, serving each year as 1st vice president or co-president, also 15 years as head coach of Soccer program and Badminton Coordinator
West Van SPCA -Life Member -Director and President
West Van Parks and Recreation Commission –  6 years, Member and Commission Chair
3rd West Vancouver Scouts – 6 years, Head Beaver and Cub Leader
West Van Little League and West Van Softball Club 7 years head coach
West Van Soccer Club – -12 years boys Divisional Co-ordinator and head coach

B) How many school board meetings have you attended in the past 3 years?

4 meetings.

What are the challenges facing the school district?  

We need to continue to develop innovative and personalized educational programs and meet the needs of the 21st Century learner. We need to find ways to continue to improve the existing district facilities as well.

How would you address them? We need to support our teachers and administrators to develop these programs. We need to continue to lobby government to increase the per student funding allocation for West Vancouver. We also need to develop greater community relationships and private/public partnerships in developing our facilities, such as turf fields, and multi-use facilities that can be used year round.

What makes an effective school board?
An effective school board is one that works collaboratively together as a team including, staff, students, parents and administrators in the process and decision making.

What action might be taken to compensate for financial losses caused by reduced enrollment of international students?

Currently West Vancouver is seeing the highest enrollment of international students in its history, however in the event of global recession, we need to realize that this is a fragile situation, and we need to continue to offer such innovative programs, that students from all over the Lower mainland will want to attend our schools.

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Q&A – School Board – Pieter Dorsman

1. What community involvement have you had?
Vice-Chair, West Vancouver Arts Centre Trust (Kay Meek Centre) (2013 – present)
Summits of Hope, fundraising for BC Children’s Hospital (2013 – present)
Chair Lions Bay Community Centre Taskforce (2009 – 2011)
Chair PAC, Lions Bay Community School (2007 – 2010)
Member, Tree Committee Lions Bay (2007 – 2010)

2. How many school board meetings have you attended in the past 3 years?
2 – although I would add that attending board meetings should not be taken as a measure of involvement in local education. Apart from my years as PAC chair, I have had many one-on-one meetings with administration, trustees and teachers as well as volunteered at many events in the West Vancouver district with a view to engage and bring new ideas forward. With two children in the West Vancouver school system right now I have first hand experience with the workings of the district and the way it is governed.

3. What are the challenges facing the school district? How would you address them?
(1) The first one is demographics as reduced enrollment has a direct financial impact on the district and thus on its ability to provide the best possible education which in turn would also mean its ability to compete with private schools.
My Approach: As trustee I will make it a top priority to work with West Vancouver, Bowen Island and Lions Bay municipalities to see how we can address this as it is an issue that affects different levels of government. I am also not opposed to attract students from other districts in order to maintain current enrollment levels.

(2) Challenges of a rapidly changing global environment driven by technology require us to educate a new generation of students for a very uncertain world.
My Approach: I want to ensure our schools are able to adapt to this new landscape and are given all the necessary resources to accomplish this. Schools need to contribute to raising creative, resilient, tech savvy, multilingual, global citizens who have the foundational skills to reinvent and have multiple careers.

(3) What we have in West Vancouver is unique and there is always a danger that districts may be amalgamated by the province and that smaller schools are closed to save costs.
My Approach: I will strongly support the independence that school districts have now and where possible seek to enhance this independence while at the same time supporting and nurturing smaller schools and their unique learning environments.

(4) The labour dispute this summer has left many teachers, parents and students unnerved. While there is a long term contract in place now, the conflict left wounds and the underlying bargaining structure has not changed so this could potentially happen again in the near future.
My Approach: As a school trustee I will make it a top priority that we realize that not a lot is needed to see a breakdown in social relations and that all parties need to work together, every day, to maintain and build out our success as a free, open and shock absorbent society. The art of compromise is central to that. We will have to work with other districts to take this issue to a provincial level and try to establish a new model for labour relationships in education.

(5) Finances in general.  Districts will have to learn to look for alternative sources of funding and build up reserves going into an uncertain economic environment. This is not exclusive to education, all publicly funded sectors in BC will have to become more creative with funding while balancing the books at the same time.
My Approach: I want to start to seriously look at how we can better leverage our resources and find alternative funding mechanisms so we can deliver what our students need and what our staff requires to deliver the education that enables students to compete and co-operate, but also enables the school district to compete effectively with alternative schooling options.

4. What makes an effective school board?
The board provides leadership and good leaders listen.  I think we need to have our ears on the ground and fully understand what the broader community, parents, teachers and administrators value about education and how it should be delivered. That means having an open door for all as informed decisions need to be based on broad community input.
Boards also work best if a variety of skill sets is represented at the table and the five trustees actively collaborate in finding consensus.  Boards that fit this description should be able to figure out any problem or challenge.

5. What action might be taken to compensate for financial losses caused by reduced enrollment of international students?
There is a lot we can do. As I experience daily with 2 children in West Vancouver schools, we have a great public education system and it is in all our interest to not only maintain but build upon what we have. Reduced foreign enrollment can be compensated by increased marketing activity in and close to West Vancouver (win students from other districts and from private schools), but also internationally as Canada is a very attractive place to learn.
But there are other ways to strengthen the district financially.  The previous board set up the framework for the West Vancouver School District Foundation for education.  We need to build this out so as to have a reserve for special initiatives in the future. Other areas that need to be explored are partnerships with local businesses and joint use agreement with local municipalities.  The latter would not directly increase revenue, but could help reduce the districts’ expenditures.

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Q&A – School Board – Sheelah Donahue

1.  a) What community involvement have you had?
In addition to my Parent Advisory Council work at the school and district level:
·   Cypress Park Little League Past President, Board of Directors, volunteer of the year
·   Little League BC District 5, CPLL Representative
·    West Vancouver Minor Hockey board of directors, division coordinator, coach, Giants Night Coordinator, volunteer of the year
·    Coordinated fundraising nights to raise money for scholarships and Safe Grad
·     Several roles as a parent volunteer for rugby and sailing clubs
b) How many school board meetings have you attended in the past 3 years?
I have not kept track but since becoming DPAC Chair at the end of the 2012/13 school year I have attended all but one.

2.     a) What are the challenges facing the school district?
The biggest challenges are related to funding, changing demographics, and balancing Ministry and parent demand for solid literacy and numeracy skills while pursuing innovation, digital literacy and inquiry based learning opportunities smoothly across K-12.
b) How would you address them?
Some funding challenges can be addressed by advocacy at the provincial level, pursuing additional sources of locally generated revenue, and cost savings opportunities like sustainability initiatives and harmonization of wages and benefits. I support current endeavors to implement community partnerships and teaching practices that simultaneously enhance learning for students new to Canada and those already showing proficiency in English. The challenges that come with curriculum changes and other twenty-first century initiatives can be overcome by inclusive collaboration between all partners in our children’s education and by maintaining and respecting relationships with senior administrators and staff, many of whom are highly regarded subject matter experts.

   3. What makes an effective school board?
An effective Board of Education is composed of trustees who understand and respect fiduciary responsibilities, are non-partisan and act with integrity in all matters. An effective Board of Education must engage with all partners, advocate for enhanced funding, and act as an ambassador for public education.

4.     What action might be taken to compensate for financial losses caused by reduced enrollment of international students?
Should this happen, the Board of Education would need to evaluate alternate sources of locally generated revenue and consider partnerships in areas not traditionally associated with public education.

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Q&A – School Board – Nicole Brown

 1. What community involvement have you had? How many school board meetings have you attended in the past 3 years?
I have a strong record of public service in our community and am very proud to have been selected to receive the 2014 West Vancouver Community Award for Civic Commitment.
Over the past decade, I have been actively involved with the West Vancouver Memorial Library serving as a Trustee on the Library Board (2004-2008) and later, Chair of the Library Foundation (2009-2014). I ran all major fundraisers for the library between 2008-2012 and over $1M was contributed to programs and improvements for the Library during this time.
For the past two years I have been the Chair of École Pauline Johnson’s Parent Advisory Council and I am also a member of the District Parent Advisory Council Executive.  In preparation for this role I have attended 5 School Board meetings as well as 3 Finance and Facilities meetings. I have also attended many West Vancouver District meetings regarding community affairs.

 2. What are the challenges facing the school district? How would you address them?
West Vancouver has a very strong public school system and parents, students and residents should feel confident that every child is receiving an excellent educational experience.  However, there are challenges that need to be addressed going forward.

Technology in our Schools – Challenges and Opportunities.  Our schools are integrating technology into students’ day-to-day learning in remarkable ways and “bring your own device’ is the new normal.  I led our school’s Technology Committee in 2013/2014 and learned firsthand about the challenges our district is facing in this exciting but transitional time.   A public system must have supports in place for students that cannot afford their own devices.  Our teachers need training on how to use these powerful tools to their full advantage in classrooms. School libraries need to be modernized so that they can continue to be a vital and relevant resource for students and staff. Digital literacy in a competitive 21st century environment is not optional for our young people, it is a lifeskill.
Engage and Support ELL Students.  West Vancouver’s demographics are changing and this is reflected in an increasing number of English Language Learners (ELL).  SD45 has identified 924 ELL students enrolled at school this fall, up from just over 700 three years ago.  Our district’s ability to offer support for these students at school and reaching out to engage their families is critical to building a cohesive school community and society. I will fully support existing District programs like SWIS (Settlement Workers in Schools) that help connect newcomers to West Vancouver but will also focus my efforts on establishing additional relationships with existing multicultural agencies that provide outreach services across the lower mainland.
Collaborative Partnerships – Public and Private.  The building of bridges with other school districts, government leaders and community organizations leads to idea sharing and opens the door for collaboration.  Beyond these relationships in the public sphere, private donors and organizations may also be interested in partnering with our school district to fund unique projects or programs.  My experience on the Library Foundation involved many such partnerships and I will be open to bringing some of the creative approaches forward to the School Board. It is important to be mindful about any marketing or messaging that impacts students, but this sensitive area can be navigated with careful consideration.
3. What makes an effective school board?
The West Vancouver Board of Education for School District #45 is a corporate board and all trustees are expected to work together to make decisions and form policies that are collectively believed to be in the best interests of West Vancouver students and residents. Board solidarity and willingness to work collaboratively and respectfully with one another – and the staff – will result in better outcomes.
An effective school board should be laser-focused on student achievement as the key priority in all decisions.  Trustees are also accountable to the community and are expected to manage their resources wisely.  Taxpayers and parents want policy makers to ask appropriate questions, regularly measure and report on ROI of the education dollars spent and carefully manage their budgets.
4. What action might be taken to compensate for financial losses caused by reduced enrolment of international students?
West Vancouver’s International Student Program has been in place since 1982 and is very successful.  The 2014/2015 school year is hosting the largest cohort to date with 625 students enrolled in the program. Our school district continues to be a big draw for new students around the world and many of our international candidates have decided to return.  Last year, the program brought in $8 million in revenues.  The funds are a significant part of the SD45 budget, however, it is important that a balance is maintained.  West Vancouver, Lions Bay and Bowen Island families must be confident that their children are receiving an excellent educational experience that is not overshadowed by the success of this program. As School Trustee, I will make every effort to ensure that our district can adequately absorb the influx of international students. The goal is excellence in education for everyone in our schools.

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