Longtime Nanaimo-Ladysmith Public Schools trustee Bill Robinson seeks another term on the school board. (NICHOLAS PESCOD/News Bulletin)

School board candidate hopes to recognize student excellence

Bill Robinson hoping to earn another term on Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools board

A longtime Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools trustee is seeking another four years at the school board table.

If he is elected, it will represent Bill Robinson’s third term. He said the board has made tough decisions over the last two terms with school closures and job cuts, which aren’t fun, but it has resulted in $4.3 million for the classroom this year. Robinson said he’s “had the salt and would like the sugar” and would like to be around when there’s money to do things he feels passionate about.

He talked about a program he created last year called ‘The Best Me I Can Be.’

“It’s meant for all students to encourage self-esteem, self-confidence, but especially kids who are underachieving or who haven’t been prepared for school. It’s a certificate … the kid is not necessarily and not likely the top math student in the class, I don’t know if they teach [multiplication] tables, anymore, I don’t think they do, but if the kid was up to three times and then went up to five, [he or she would] be recognized.

“The kids are thinking constantly about the best they can be and it has made an amazing difference with a lot of kids.”

Student enrolment is anticipated to increase in the 2018-19 school year. The district projected there would be 13,875 full-time equivalent students in 2018-19 last February and according to 2017-18 numbers submitted to the Ministry of Education in June, there were 14,012 FTEs. According to Robinson, this will be the No. 1 challenge.

Robinson said a Supreme Court of Canada ruling related to class size and composition is good for teachers, students and the school system, but it used up 100-plus classrooms. He said it’s going to be a challenge to address the increased number of students. The district will be OK this year, but addressing the issue has to be a focus. Stakeholders and the district will have to work together to address the problem, according to Robinson.

When asked if re-opening schools may be a way to alleviate the increased amount of students, Robinson said he isn’t opposed to it.

“We’ve got [Vocational Adult Secondary Training] going into a small part of Woodlands,” said Robinson. “As far as I’m concerned, if it’s needed, that’s what we do. I’m not against re-opening, but the closing put us at a point where $4.3 million went into the classroom, so it paid off. It’s paying off and we’ll deal with challenges as they come up.”

To read interviews with other local government election candidates, click here.


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