Charlene McKay, Nanaimo district parent advisory council past-president, has announced her intention to run for election to become a school trustee. (KARL YU/News Bulletin)

Nanaimo DPAC past-president seeks seat on school board

Charlene McKay hopes to use experiences if elected in 2018 municipal election

The Nanaimo school district parent advisory council’s past-president has entered the school board race in the 2018 municipal election.

Charlene McKay served as president for three years before stepping down last October, as per council rules, and is familiar with the school district given her time with the council. She thinks that experience will serve her well if elected.

“I think the most important thing would be relationships,” said McKay. “Looking at relationship-building and teamwork, that’s key and I’ve built relationships with all of our stakeholder groups, as well as the management team, which I think is different from a lot of previous DPAC chairs and it translates into actually getting work done.

“So even when I have differences of opinion with trustees, management, we always seem to find a way to work together and I think that’s key.”

Going into the election, McKay said one of the biggest issues is planning for growth. Over the last few years, the district has seen a trend of declining enrolment reverse.

“We’ve got every community, and it’s funny, everybody talks about Nanaimo, but Lantzville has growth, Ladysmith has growth, we have development all over the city popping up and we need to make sure our schools are prepared to have space for those kids,” said McKay.

In terms of school district priorities, McKay said the trustees and staff must look at district goals and ensure that student needs are being met, which isn’t always an easy task.

“Our schools are so diverse, we need to make sure that we’re looking out for all students and making sure they’re getting what they need to achieve their graduation,” McKay said.

The DPAC past-president said she is ready to transition from the gallery to the board table.

“Everybody keeps asking me for a political opinion, ‘What’s your platform?’ and really it comes down to six years of experience working in the system, four years of participating and advocating for things that we believe are good for kids and making things more accessible for students and so, this is a natural next step,” McKay said. “I’ve often brought a voice to the table, but I’ve never been able to have a vote and so I think that’ll be the biggest difference.”

For additional interviews with school district, city council and mayoral candidates, click here.

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