Candidates for School Board

Don’t forget about the school board when you vote! There are twelve candidates running for nine positions (so you'll be picking your favourite nine).

What's at stake?

The Board of Education for School District 61 manages the budget, facilities, policies, and resources for the school district, which is one of Victoria’s largest employers and land holders.

A big issue over the next few years will be increasing enrollment, due to cyclical birth rates (because the baby boomers’ kids are having kids). The new provincially-mandated smaller class sizes, coupled with increasing demand for French immersion, means pressure for more classroom space. A few neighbourhood schools, such as Richmond, Uplands, and Sundance, were closed over a decade ago when the student population dropped, and now the district is in the process of planning a school-boundary review. It will be the board who decides if the district will reopen schools, build new schools, or make do by adding more portables to existing facilities.
Other issues of note include the future of Vic High (which needs to be seismically upgraded, renovated, or replaced), gender and sexual orientation inclusivity in schools, the impact of the provincial government's upcoming funding formula review, and the continuing integration of special-needs students in classrooms.

A NOTE ON TRACK RECORDS: Some incumbents haven’t shared any specific track record information on their websites or social media pages. But collectively, over the last few years the board has approved an ‘inclusion’ policy and funding for inclusion measures, run a surplus for the 2017-2018 school year (and a balanced budget this year), added and replaced water fountains at all district schools, and changed catchment rules to place new in-catchment students ahead of out-of-catchment siblings. Since the last election, the board has worked to open meetings, record board votes, and improve external communication to make proceedings more transparent. The board approved a strategic plan in 2015, but it expires this year.

Nicole Duncan


BACKGROUND

Nicole is a mother to a student in School District 61, and a privacy consultant.  Nicole ran for school board trustee in 2014. She has an MA and a BTech.

CIVIC EXPERIENCE

Nicole is a volunteer at her son’s school, and has served as Chair and Treasurer for the school Parent Advisory Council.

WHY SHE'S RUNNING

Nicole believes in a “strong and vibrant public school system,” supported by “fair and respectful collective bargaining and adequate and predictable funding.” Nicole thinks her experience in “policy development, budget management, and conflict resolution” would serve her well on the board.

TOP PRIORITIES

Transparency/accountability, engagement, advocacy

NOTABLE PROPOSALS

Nicole wants “proactive reporting” of board decisions (no further details on this yet), and proposes board meetings be open to the public except in instances of privacy issues (which is actually already the case, according to incumbent Rob Paynter). Nicole would lobby for an increase in per-student funding to meet the national average (that would be a $1200 per-student increase, according to 2014-2015 numbers). She also wants more funds for up-to-date classroom resources.

Learn more on her website > > >

Aidan Elkin


BACKGROUND

Aidan is a Coordinator of Employee Records at Island Health. Previously, he was a Human Resources Assistant for BC Assessment and Esquimalt Military Family Resource Centre. Aidan has a BComm from UVic and a diploma in Human Resource Management from Camosun.

CIVIC EXPERIENCE

Aidan ran the ‘Business Power-Speaking Society’ at UVic for 6 months, and served as a volunteer coordinator for a Bays United soccer tournament. He also organized conferences and events for business students while completing his BComm.

WHY HE'S RUNNING

Aidan wants to support public education and help teachers provide a “superlative education experience.” His mother is a teacher, and he feels his success is in part because of the great teachers he had in the district.

TOP PRIORITIES

Infrastructure, engagement, ‘wellness’ (for staff, students, families)

NOTABLE PROPOSALS

Aidan wants to see more “inclusive decision-making,” and “equitable” catchment rules, but doesn’t yet explain in his platform what either would look like.

Learn more on his website > > >

Tom Ferris

INCUMBENT

BACKGROUND

Tom is a retired businessman who has been a school trustee since for at least 22 years (I couldn’t find election records prior to 1996). He’s served as board chair and is currently vice-chair. Tom is also a former board member for Swan Lake Nature Conservancy.

TRACK RECORD

Tom doesn't have any specific track record information available. But it seems worth mentioning that he was chair of the board during the 2011 controversy over strategic planning.

TOP PRIORITIES

‘Exemplary governance’, strategic planning

NOTABLE PROPOSALS

Tom hasn’t put forward any specific proposals, but has indicated that strategic planning, math proficiency, and ‘aboriginal learners’ are “areas of particular concern” to him.

Learn more on his website > > >

Vincent Gornall


BACKGROUND

Vincent is a ‘technical investigator’ for the provincial government, which sounds like a job from CSI, but it’s part of the Registration and Certificate Division. He’s a father and a union steward.

CIVIC EXPERIENCE

Vincent coordinated and led guided walks as part of the Greater Victoria Placemaking Network and Jane’s Walks. He’s also been an active member of the Hillside-Quadra Neighbourhood Action Committee and the Gorge-Tillicum Community Association.

WHY HE'S RUNNING

Vincent’s daughter will be starting school soon, and he wants to “ensure that public schools provide the best education that they possibly can.”

TOP PRIORITIES

Community use of facilities, after-school care, supporting ‘diverse learners’

NOTABLE PROPOSALS

Nothing specific yet, but more generally he wants to improve school transportation, and expand learning opportunities around “food systems and the natural environment.” He’s also indicated that he supports SOGI 123 (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity inclusiveness program produced by the ARC Foundation).

Learn more on his website > > >

Angie Hentz


BACKGROUND

Angie is a stay-at-home mom who sells handmade jewelry. Previously, she worked as a high school science teacher.

CIVIC EXPERIENCE

Angie volunteered on the board of the Strawberry Vale Preschool for five years and has served as its vice-president.

WHY SHE'S RUNNING

Angie’s children are entering the public school system, and she wants to “help shape their educational future” as a trustee, “while still having time to be home with them after school.” She believes her experiences as a teacher and parent would be useful for the board.

TOP PRIORITIES

Out-of-school care

NOTABLE PROPOSALS

Nothing yet, but Angie has indicated on her Facebook page that she supports SOGI 123 (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity inclusiveness program produced by the ARC Foundation).

Learn more on her website > > >

Elaine Leonard

INCUMBENT

BACKGROUND

Elaine has been a trustee for 22 years, and chaired the board for three. She works in administration for a nonprofit. She’s a former director of Silver Threads and Rock Solid. She and her children attended school in the district, and she was a PAC volunteer.

TRACK RECORD

Elaine doesn’t have a campaign website - the only information she’s shared is in her candidate profile, which states that she’s served on many community advisory committees, and chaired the Operations and Planning committee. While running for trustee in 2011, she spoke about how the board had successfully advocated for increased funding for the district.

TOP PRIORITIES

Diverse programming, funding

NOTABLE PROPOSALS

All that’s mentioned is her belief in “a diverse program program of the fine arts, physical activity, and academics.”

Diane McNally

INCUMBENT

BACKGROUND

Diane is a retired district teacher who was first elected to the board in 2011. She’s served on the board of the BCSPCA Wild ARC, the BCSPCA Victoria Community Council, and Early Music Society of the Islands. She’s a former executive of the Greater Victoria Teacher’s Association, and former President of the Local Specialist’s Association, Special Education. She has a B.Ed and an MBA.

TRACK RECORD

Diane has pushed for greater board accountability. She runs a blog where she publishes detailed records of board debates and votes (she introduced the 2012 motion that allowed for board votes to be recorded). She’s shared a track record of every single motion she’s introduced since her election in 2011 (if you have time to read that, send me your findings!). Diane also pushed for a Student Trustee on the board, and recently led the first draft of the new Animals in Classrooms Policy.

TOP PRIORITIES

Indigenous learners, program fees, special-needs students

NOTABLE PROPOSALS

Diane’s platform is a summary of her stances on issues, rather than a series of concrete proposals. Notably, she’s against private funding of the district and individual schools (through a foundation or charitable donations) because she feels it undermines school equity. She also believes sports or other “‘academies’ are a soft slide to privatization,” due to their program fees. She questions why ‘gifted’ special education programs have been retained, while other special-needs programs have been subsumed into the classroom.

Learn more on her website > > >

Ryan Painter


BACKGROUND

Ryan is an Administrative Officer for the UVic Faculty Association. Previously, he worked for BC Assessment, and on BC NDP campaigns. He’s also worked as a constituency assistant for NDP MLA Gary Holman, and as an ESL teacher abroad. Ryan has a BA in History from UBC.

CIVIC EXPERIENCE

In addition to his work with the BC NDP, Ryan has been outspoken about struggling with mental illness and it’s stigma (“utilizing social media and various blogs” as well as giving presentations).

WHY HE'S RUNNING

Ryan has struggled with mental illness since childhood, and he found some of his greatest supports at school. He wants to bring his experience with campaigning and advocating for those with mental illness to the board, to “ensure that no child, youth, or young adult had to struggle to manage their mental illness like I did.”

TOP PRIORITIES

Mental health, engagement, funding

NOTABLE PROPOSALS

Ryan wants to implement a “district-wide mental health framework,” and ensure every school has a “dedicated grief and loss counsellor.” He also proposes monthly board ‘open houses’ throughout the district to engage parents and community members, and monthly meetings with union officials and administrators.

Learn more on his website > > >

Rob Paynter

INCUMBENT

BACKGROUND

Rob is a manager at BC Ministry of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resource Operations, and is running for his second term as trustee. Previously, he was a junior officer with the Canadian Armed Forces and worked abroad on UN Peacekeeping missions. Rob initially got involved with the school board as a public participant and observer of meetings, after he was frustrated by the district’s response to the “protracted bullying” of one of his children. Rob has a B.Sci in Geography and Environmental Studies.

TRACK RECORD

Rob was involved in the 2015 strategic planning process, and supported motions for more transparency and accountability on the board. He’s also the chair of the newly-formed Finance and Audit Committee. On his website, Rob shares a breakdown of the progress made by the board towards his 2014 platform goals, but doesn’t stipulate which initiatives or motions he’s led.

TOP PRIORITIES

Strategic planning, accountability, engagement

NOTABLE PROPOSALS

Rob’s platform is focused more on the governance process (openness, consultation, procedures) than outcomes. Some notable specifics include introducing regular “town hall meetings” with middle school and secondary students, requiring all board sub-committees to publish their meeting minutes, and assigning trustees to schools across the district, instead of within a catchment area.

Learn more on his website > > >

Zul Rajabali


BACKGROUND

Zul is a retired IT Supervisor for the RCMP. Previously, he worked for the provincial government as a telecommunications officer, and before that, he maintained radio systems for the City of Victoria. Zul has college diplomas from BCIT and a technical college in Ireland. He’s father to three post-secondary students in Victoria.

CIVIC EXPERIENCE

The only thing that’s mentioned is that he’s “served on several committees at all levels of government.”

WHY HE'S RUNNING

As a recent retiree, Zul feels he has the time now to contribute to public education in a way he couldn’t when he was working and his children attended school in the district. Zul didn’t like the large class sizes at the time, and the lack of support for students with special needs or working parents. He now wants to “inspire a passion for learning and encourage students to reach their fullest potential.”

TOP PRIORITIES

Infrastructure, special-needs students, “higher education standards”

NOTABLE PROPOSALS

Nothing specific yet.

Learn more on his website > > >

Jordan Watters

INCUMBENT

BACKGROUND

Jordan is a research consultant and an Investigations Analyst for the BC Representative of Children and Youth, with a research interest in “traditionally under-serviced populations and communities.” She is running for her second term as trustee (first elected in 2014). Jordan has an MA in Sociology from Queen’s, and is a mother to three young boys.

TRACK RECORD

In the last four years, Jordan has led a number of initiatives, including the development of the “most progressive Gender Identity and Gender Expression Policy and Regulations of any school district in the province.” She also developed an ‘Equity Policy’ to direct resources to schools with the greatest need, led the revision of district dress codes (on the principle that “no body is a distraction”), initiated the participation of the district in Victoria’s Pride Parade, and served as the only trustee member of the Strategic Plan Writing Group. She also runs an advocacy page on Facebook called Support for BC Students (18,600 subscribers).

TOP PRIORITIES

“Student-centred governance,” inclusion, school equity

NOTABLE PROPOSALS

Specific proposals include adding out-of-school childcare spaces by deploying the district’s “own CUPE staff.” She also wants to lead a district-wide “strategy in support of healthy relationships and the prevention of sexualized violence.” Jordan would advocate for opening (or re-opening) a new elementary school by the 2020-2021 school year, and working “collaboratively with Esquimalt and Songhees Nations” on an “ambitious new vision” for Craigflower and Shoreline schools.

Learn more on her website > > >

Ann Whiteaker

INCUMBENT

BACKGROUND

Ann is running for her second term as trustee. She’s a former financial administrator at Swan Lake Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary. Previously, she served as a council member of the Teacher Regulation Branch, and as president of the BC Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils. She’s a volunteer Mentor Mom with 1Up Single Parent Resource Centre, and a volunteer Parent Support Circle Facilitator with Parent Support Services of BC. She has diplomas from Camosun in Business Administration and Human Resources.

TRACK RECORD

Ann led the creation of the Parent Education Fund for “school-based parent education opportunities” in the district.

TOP PRIORITIES

Equitable access to resources, long-term planning, “effective leadership in schools”

NOTABLE PROPOSALS

Ann wants to increase “resources that build mental health literacy” in schools, and increase student and community engagement when planning big changes to school facilities or land use. Ann would also introduce new “expectations” (such as “student-focused decision-making”) to ensure principals are up to snuff.

Learn more on her website > > >

candidate summaries

Discover the platforms for all candidates running in the 2018 Victoria municipal elections.

About

This website was haphazardly created by unaffiliated Victoria resident, Danielle Leduc McQueen.

All information was compiled and collected in my spare time from candidate websites, newspaper articles, and LinkedIn profiles. I’ve tried to reference sources where relevant and keep a neutral stance, but this website was necessarily informed by my perspectives - I’m a millennial renter and new mom. I’m also a believer in the importance of democracy, and think government should be informed, policy-driven, and inclusive.

I created this site to hopefully encourage more people (especially young people) to get interested in municipal politics, get informed, and get voting.

I hope to continue to edit and update candidate summaries as the election approaches and more information becomes available.

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