Saturday, November 16, 2013

School News

Candidate Exams

Two questions, eight answers to grade hopefuls by

Staff/Voice photos


Corey Neyrinck (L to R), Ben Besler, Karen Jarvis and Dan Coulter took turns answering questions last week during the All-Candidates meeting at Sardis Sr. Secondary.


hilliwack School Board candidates had a chance to sound off in front of about 50 people at Sardis Sr. Secondary last Wednesday.


The first meeting was poorly organized—and as a result—sparsely attended by the public. Wednesday's meeting was moderated by DPAC chair Don Davis. Two candidates were no-shows because they didn't hear about it, and one was late because he said he'd just heard about it a couple of minutes before the meeting was set to start.


It has to be noted that all of the candidates with the exception of Ben Besler are against any kind of corporate money for food, sports equipment and text books.


"Public education should be public," said one candidate.



1. Drug and Alcohol Policy 500 question; Would you change it, or would you leave it?


Ben Besler

That's definitely a hot topic. You know what, the fact of the matter is kids need boundaries and they need to be supported at the same time, so how do we do that? I would have to go with the current board's decision. I wouldn't go against their wisdom on that.



Dan Coulter

I think I agree, but I think I'm with the same line as Barry Neufeld in that I think we can make allowances for. I believe the kids that came forward and spoke at the committee, I believe they aren't representative of kids who have trouble with drugs and alcohol. Many of them come from difficult backgrounds and I think we should temper our policies. Kids need boundaries but they also need support.



Karen Jarvis

I think we need to focus on the people not the problem. I do agree with both of my colleagues that we need to have boundaries but I also believe in restorative justice. I've seen it work. I know from myself as a parent, that had that happened on my watch, it would make me think twice about what road I want to go on. So I believe that the policy can be adjusted to include or create a new policy regarding restorative justice.



Corey Neyrinck

Something does need to change with the Policy 500. I like the idea of a zero tolerance policy but it can't always be that way. It should be based on the student itself.  Growing up, I've met a lot of people that had lots of problems with drugs and alcohol, family members being one of them, and I know that you have to think beyond the situation and look at all the aspects of what's going on, so with that you have to make sure you're looking at all their grades and everything before you make a major decision on that. Everything needs to be investigated.


Editor's Note: It's not clear how you apply a zero tolerance policy to some kids and not to others. Do you kick a kid out with low grades caught smoking pot and keep the kid with higher grades caught drinking alcohol?



2. What do you consider to be the most pressing educational issue in School District, 33 and as a trustee what would you do to address that issue?



Corey Neyrinck

I believe the most pressing issue is the completion rate of high school students. That should be a concern if it's not 100 per cent. We need to always work harder at getting that percentage higher. One thing that I would do is making sure we keep programs that target the at-risk student at early ages. Like our program now called Early Success. I believe that's one program that will definitely help the completion rate, and I've seen it work for my daughter. She went into that program in grade two and (was) raised an entire grade level in just under two months in reading and that alone, if we keep that up it will bring up the completion rate.



Karen Jarvis

There's many different things that are working. I think it's really important that we don't always focus on everything bad and we focus on that a lot, but the Strategic Plan talked about engaged all learners, effective communication, discuss transitions and technology integration.


If we're doing this according to the Plan, I believe that our completion rate could be more successful. I don't necessarily believe we've got everything mastered. In the Strategic Plan or the Achievement Contract, in the Achievement Contract for one; it's for students; for two it's for staff; and three its for parents and communities.


I come from a parenting position. I would like to see more parents involved. A lot of parents will step up and complain about an issue. There's a few of us doing some of the work. I believe that if we can get parents involved, if we can be engaged as leaders, we will engage the learners and it will help us with the student completion rate in the district. We need to keep it simple and stick to the plan.



Dan Coulter

I think the Strategic Plan is a good plan. I think it's quite vague though if you've read it. It's how you achieve those goals. So, I have some concrete solutions. Our provincial graduation rate is at 72 per cent—that's 10 per cent below the provincial average. We have a regional completion rate of 45 per cent.  Obviously, we're not engaging them in school enough and I think we should be doing better.



Ben Besler

The absolute most important thing that we can do this next year is make the school district the best place to work, and the best place to give our children an education in the world. That should be the way we go about doing anything. We can talk about all the specifics and there are so many of them. I don't think you can confine it to one thing because there are so many issues out there; literacy and making sure that everyone can read, the completion rate, engaging parents, collaborating and I know we have so many great teachers that are really motivated and opening up the doors to communication with parents.


I think the Strategic Plan is a good plan. I think it's quite vague though if anyone's ever read it. So it's how you achieve those goals. So I have some concrete solutions I think and just our graduation rate's at 72 per cent. That's 10 per cent below the provincial average.




What's the foundation of this School District and what will we be actually, tangibly as a trustee sitting on a board. Well, we're going to have to play with the budget and we're going to have to address that dry, boring topic that nobody wants to talk about, but I can conjure up some passion around the subject and why not? And, we need to discuss it, and we can't do is we can't spend money we don't have.


First of all, we're legally obligated not to. I know this question is out there addressing those points, would you support the budget or not, but legally I can't and what happens is when you try to, you end up having happen what happened on the island, a board dismissed for trying to do that. We need to have someone to see beyond frivolities and come up with something concrete. We're not here to build a house without foundation. We're not here to hang grapes on the wall. We need facts in order to elect with substance on the School Board.


There is another All-Candidates meeting scheduled for 7 p.m., Wednesday, November 20th at Chilliwack Middle School in the library.


Download the candidate's introductory comments in MP3 format here.


Election Day General Voting: Saturday November 30, 2013


Advance Voting Opportunities:

Wednesday November 27, 2013

Wednesday November 30, 2013


Advance Voting Opportunities will be held at City Hall, 8550 Young Road, Chilliwack, BC on

Wednesday, November 20, 2013, and Wednesday, November 27, 2013, between the hours of 8:00 am and 8:00 pm each day.


General Voting Day

Saturday, November 30, 2013, between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. at the following locations:



Chilliwack Middle School Gymnasium

46354 Yale Road


Cultus Lake

Cultus Lake Community School


71 Sunnyside Avenue



Sardis Elementary School Gymnasium

45775 Manuel Road



Rosedale Traditional Community School


50850 Yale Road


For more information, download the School District pdf file here.



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