Forum focuses on education

Penticton school trustee candidates square off Tuesday at Days Inn

Next week, the public will have a chance to directly address the eight candidates for school trustee at a forum being arranged by the District Parents Advisory Council.

Daryl Clarke, president of DPAC, said that when he realized nothing had yet been arranged for the trustee candidates, he decided to take it on.

Clarke, the husband of candidate Shelley Clarke, said it’s strictly a hands-off approach for himself. He has booked the hall, arranged the time and the moderator, and is leaving the gathering of questions up to the other DPAC members.

He’s also stepped out of the regular circles to find a moderator for the forum, which takes place on Tuesday at the Penticton Days Inn from 7 to 9 p.m.

“The moderator is going to be a young lady named Kenya Rogers from Penticton Secondary,” said Clarke, who added that Rogers has come to the PAC many times to ask for funding for various projects, so he decided it was time to ask a favour of her in return.

“She was absolutely thrilled that I asked her. She is a Grade 12 leadership student,” said Clarke. “This is all about the students, so that is why I picked a student.”

All about the students is an attitude shared by Kevin Andrews, one of the trustee candidates.

“It is, ultimately, their education and I think they need to be involved in the process,” said Andrews, who served as a trustee from 2005 to 2006.

“Schooling isn’t just about the academic process. It’s about community involvement, about leadership. It’s about excelling in every way you can.”

Andrews, who describes himself as “a really approachable person,” said he wants an open-door policy, to keep communication open with not only students, parents and educators, but the wider community as well.

“As a community member, if we are going to make a difference, we should start with our youth,” said Andrews. “We should make sure there is a strong connection with the children and the rest of the members of the community.”

Andrews, who has worked for Interior Health for 21 years, has spent the last year working as co-ordinator of volunteers for the South Okanagan. Working with the public on a regular basis, he said, makes a big difference when it comes to communication with people.

“I still have a strong interest in education in this community. I have a fairly good connection with an awful lot of kids,” said Andrews, whose son is in Grade 12 preparing to graduate. “I have always volunteered and made myself available in the schools to help wherever I can.”

Chuck Simonin said one of the reasons he is running for school board is that, with all the people not running again, he wanted to be sure the people of Penticton had a good range of choices for who they wanted to see in the trustee position.

“I always like to give something back to the community. It’s been very delightful for me for years,” said Simonin, who was lived in the area for 27 years and put his two children through the school system.

Besides being a businessman, Simonin said he has been involved in a long list of volunteer works.

“I built the BMX track that is now on Warren Avenue,” said Simonin, who also went from being the president of Penticton BMX Club to being the president of the national BMX organization, where he campaigned to have the sport included in the Summer Olympics. He also oversees the annual motorcycle raffle fundraiser held by the OSNS, and along with his motorcycle club, completed a toy run in September to collect toys for kids in the valley.

But it is his business skills that Simonin said are the assets he will bring to the board.

“I bring great leadership qualities. Because I am an entrepreneur, I know how to negotiate situations and contracts,” said Simonin. “I know how to work with people because I have been in the tourism business all my life.”