Name: TerryLynn Saunders
I have been a Vancouver Island University homestay mom for the last 14 years and am currently the caregiver for my terminally ill mother. Elected to the school board in 1993, I served five consecutive three-year terms and after taking a voluntary break in 2008, I ran again in 2011 and was returned to the board. With my 18 years’ experience, I have a lot of corporate knowledge and memory.
Why are you running for school trustee?
I am running for school trustee because I believe that educating our children is the most important job a person can have outside of the parent/caregiver role. Children are the future and they will be making decisions for us so we had better take good care of them now.
We have a good strategic plan that will need tweaking from time to time because when circumstances change we must adapt. I would like to see the board spend more time consulting in depth with our partners and the community on issues that affect schools. We will have four years, so no excuse to rush any consultations.
What three priorities are important to you and how do you plan to tackle these issues, if elected?
Governance is a big issue for me. The public expects their elected officials to have some semblance of control and our new governance model abrogated some of our responsibilities to senior administration which I believe we need to revise to better reflect our publicly elected role.
Dealing with poverty issues is a major priority for me considering Nanaimo is one of the top five cities with the highest family-poverty rates in B.C. and these children attend our schools. A child who comes to school unprepared, hungry and not properly clothed is a child who has difficulty learning. We need to expand our working relationship with other agencies and government that focus on children and family issues.
How do you plan to work toward a balanced school district budget?
By law, the school district must present a balanced budget so that’s what we do. However, it is how and where we allocate our funds that make a difference to the child in the classroom. For the first time in my 18 years as a trustee and after much consideration, I did not support the last budget. I felt strongly we were cutting programs that helped our kids as well as programs that would extend the life of our facilities which are major public assets. I also felt we were top heavy in several areas and suggested or supported changes to adjust those areas but was not successful in the proposals making it into the final budget.
What do you think it takes to be an education leader in Nanaimo? Describe your leadership or co-working style.
I believe to be a good educational leader for Nanaimo-Ladysmith, one must be accountable, accessible, attend meetings and be prepared for those meetings as well as visit schools, talk to parent and employee groups and make sure you get all the information before making a decision.