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THE VANCOUVER COURIER FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 4, 2011

DENTURES

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Education matters? 11077330

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It seems to take a crisis to fill seats at an educationrelated meeting. Parents and community members packed school gymnasiums when five East Side elementary schools faced closure recently, but trustee elections typically don’t generate that kind of drama. School board candidates discovered that Tuesday night. Ten trustee hopefuls faced mostly empty chairs at a two-hour all-candidates forum in Britannia secondary school’s auditorium, which attracted 15 to 20 spectators. Britannia Community Services Society, Britannia elementary and secondary parent groups, and neighbourhood community organizations such as the Grandview-Woodland Area Council, sponsored the event. Jane Bouey, Al Blakey, Gwen Giesbrecht and Allan Wong represented COPE, Mike Lombardi and Rob Wynen spoke for Vision Vancouver and Ken Denike, Stacy Robertson and Fraser Ballantyne appeared for the NPA. Louise Boutin was Green Party rep, while Lily Harvey was the only one of five independent candidates to participate. Despite the low audience turnout, there was no shortage of submitted questions. Candidates were

quizzed on wide–ranging subjects from provincial education funding and aboriginal students’ graduation rates to whether trustees should take a pay cut and if high schools should start later to allow teenaged students more sleep. For the record, trustee candidates want more education funding, though differ on how to get it; they acknowledge aboriginal grad rates are “abysmal” and are optimistic a new aboriginal-focused school and other programs will drive up success rates; they don’t think trustees’ pay should be cut given they don’t earn much in light of the work involved; and they’re prepared to look at studies about teenagers’ sleep and learning.

Jane Bouey For those who haven’t kept up on education matters, it would have been difficult to decipher many differences between candidates based on their responses. There was more agreement than disagreement on many issues. Occasionally, distinctions emerged. The COPEVision coalition stressed “advocacy” and the need to pressure the provincial government for more money, while the NPA contingent highlighted the need for “sound financial

management” of existing resources and accountability. “The differences between us tend to be the way we look at advocacy and management,” Denike said, adding, “The system we have in place is due largely to the work of the NPA over the last 20 years.” Ballantyne noted he’s passionate about public education and students and the NPA is not bound by what unions want. Robertson agreed advocacy is important, but said that alone doesn’t address problems faced by the district. He noted the Vision-COPE approach to advocacy didn’t generate more money for last year’s budget. Lombardi asked voters to look at the current board’s record. “When you go to the ballot box, ask yourself who will stand up for the kids of Vancouver and go to Victoria and get the funding we need for the kids of Vancouver,” he said. Bouey and Blakey’s answers centred on pushing for more government funding, particularly to help vulnerable students. “Public education is a right that’s being undermined and underfunded globally,” Bouey said. Boutin insisted the Greens bring fresh ideas and, if elected, she’ll focus on areas such as neighbourhood schools, childcare and the budget. Harvey, who immigrated to Canada in 1995, has run businesses and earned an MBA, promised to bring project management skills to the board table and said she would be “inclusive, open, caring and transparent decision-making.” noconnor@vancourier.com Twitter: @Naoibh

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Friday, Nov.4, 7am Jewel Ballroom and Catering Vancouver Masonic Centre, 1495 West 8th Ave. Suzanne Anton, City Councillor for Vancouver Friday, December 16th at 7:00 AM Fairmont Waterfront Hotel Rev. Ian Powell, General Manager of the Laurel Point Inn Victoria

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Vancouver Courier November 4 2011  

Vancouver Courier November 4 2011

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