A candidate with a lot of experience around the school board table wants to resume work as a Nanaimo Ladysmith trustee.
TerryLynn Saunders is one of 20 candidates running for nine school board seats. Saunders is a former school board chairwoman and has 18 years’ experience as a trustee.
“I really believe in kids and I’ve been a supporter of education for a long, long time,” she said.
Saunders said student achievement and a balanced budget are the two main responsibilities of a school trustee. She said it’s the role of a trustee to be accountable and to make decisions on behalf of the general public that can’t pay attention to everything that’s going on in the boardroom. She thinks therefore, more decision-making needs to be done at the board level rather than at the school district administration level.
“You can’t always get the opinions of all the people, so they elect someone to make those decisions for them. So that means I am being held accountable for the decisions I make … How can you as the public hold us accountable if we are giving the responsibility to staff?” she asked.
Saunders added she doesn’t have difficulty with changing her mind, when she’s given good reason, and said that’s a part of accountability.
Speaking to the News Bulletin last week, she didn’t criticize past facilities decisions, but alluded to the district’s reliance on Learn at Home correspondence courses to fill gaps in course offerings. Some students are motivated and can handle it, but others can’t, she said.
“I don’t think it’s fair to those kids that they cannot have a teacher standing in front of them and teaching them,” she said. “But if you’ve only got that many kids and it’s [Grade] 8-12, it’s impossible. We just don’t have the money to have a class of 10 kids, 16 kids.”
Equal learning opportunities are the goal, but geography and demographics come into play.
“We’ve got a really huge area that we have to look at, for everybody, and all those kids and it’s a real balancing act, particularly if you’re not getting the funding that you should get,” Saunders said.
As the school district continues to make those decisions, more time needs to be spent in consultation, Saunders said.
“Consultation is difficult sometimes because you know it’s going to be contentious and you want to get it done and over as soon as possible, and I think that’s a mistake,” she said.