Name: Bill Robinson
Age: I’m a semi-retired person with time, energy and passion to dedicate to Nanaimo’s students.
Our Hidden Heroes columnist and creator of the Our Hidden Heroes Social Responsibility School Program (Grades 1 to 8), community volunteer (Rotarian and member of more than a dozen not-for-profit boards and city committees over the years), speaker, writer, former Toronto broadcaster (CBC, CKFM, CKEY).
Why are you running for school trustee?
Our school district is in an important time of transition where decisions made in the recent past and the next few years will be pivotal to improving the quality of education for our children. I am passionately committed to seeing these decisions bear fruit for our students.
What three priorities are important to you?
I will support efforts to improve our classroom size and composition challenges; I will focus on promoting the ongoing positive growth in SD68; I will continue my work to improve the graduation rate of our Aboriginal students.
How do you plan to tackle these issues, if elected?
I will continue my practice of meeting frequently with teachers, staff and parents to gather and digest ideas and represent them at the board table. As a full-time trustee, I have both the time and energy required to make a difference for our students and teachers.
I will find new ways to publicly celebrate the many exciting successes achieved day after day by our students, teachers and other staff.
In an effort to help aboriginal students feel more welcome in our system and therefore be more successful, I will continue, as I did last term, to work toward integrating more Hul’qumi’num language and culture into our schools. The current aboriginal grad rate of 56 per cent is simply not acceptable and it does not paint a true picture of aboriginal ability and potential. This must be improved both for the benefit of these students and for the long-term social and economic health of our province.
How do you plan to work toward a balanced school district budget?
Given our ever-older buildings and diminishing student population – down by approximately 260 this year, which equals more than $2 million funding lost – difficult physical and academic decisions have to be made. I know that making the changes required is not easy and those most affected know that living with them is also not easy. Each budget year my efforts have been, and will continue to be aimed at finding the monies required to save what I, after listening to a variety of opinions, believe to be especially important positions and programs. To date there has never been enough funding to support our system as it should be supported.
What do you think it takes to be an education leader in Nanaimo? Describe your leadership or co-working style.
To be an education leader, I believe a person must first have a passion for public education and then be a calm, open minded voice of reason in all their work. For the past 30-plus years, my personal mission statement has been, ‘To motivate myself and those I reach to seek out and activate the best in ourselves and each other.’