Funding a focal point for candidates

Eight candidates for Penticton school trustee square off at forum

Retired principal and school trustee candidate Bruce Johnson stands to address the crowd of about 60 people that turned out to hear his views and those of the seven other candidates running for four available seats on the school board.

Retired principal and school trustee candidate Bruce Johnson stands to address the crowd of about 60 people that turned out to hear his views and those of the seven other candidates running for four available seats on the school board.

Though the questions varied, money was the topic that kept appearing in the answers of Penticton school trustee candidates at a public forum Tuesday evening.

Whether they were discussing the school budget, the role of Parent Advisory Councils, technology or other issues, funding and money was an issue never far from the minds of the eight candidates competing for the four Penticton seats on the Okanagan Skaha board of education.

Tracey St. Claire, summing up the role of a trustee, saw the job in financial terms.

“I see the school board as being like managers of a business. You are a board like any other business and there is quite a budget to manage,” said St. Claire. “If you are looking at kids and education, I think you need to look at how you can best get money from that big budget out there into the classroom to help the kids.”

Though he sees the role of a trustee in terms of a liaison between students, parents and the province, James Palanio also said it comes down to funding.

“We need to tell them what we need, whether it is more funding, which we do need,” said Palanio. “We have lost close to $3 million over the past two years.”

More money, too, sums up Cary Schneiderat’s views on what the education system needs.

“It’s a very simplistic answer, but in reality, that is the biggest struggle that we have. The forecasted shortfall for this year’s budget is about a million and a half,” he said. “That, to me, is the biggest issue that a trustee would have; to not only get out there and manage the budget, but to improve the budget.”

Shelley Clark, the only incumbent running for re-election, is no stranger to the budgeting process.

“Yes of course I feel we are underfunded,” she said. “We keep asking and we keep sending more resolutions that we need more money. Every once in a while they surprise us and give us more money. We just keep plugging along and make sure the provincial government knows we care about our kids and that we want as much of the provincial budget as possible for those kids.”

Even while talking about the role of PACs, Kevin Andrews saw education funding as part of the equation. Like other candidates, he has served on the councils while see his son progress through the system.

“Our goal as a PAC is to make sure we are heard, to make sure that every single dollar that can be spent and be directed to the benefit of our children is done so,” he said. “We want to make sure that every student’s needs are met without the money that is available.”

Bruce Johnson, a retired principal, applauded the work of the current board in keeping money in the classroom.

“I think with every budget we have to be very careful in this day and age,” he said.

“The money that we do get, the budget that we do have, must be allocated to student services, specialist teachers, making sure the students in special education are treated fairly and on the other hand, making sure that the enrichment programs also get school district funding.”

Walter Huebert, also a retired teacher, was asked what he saw as the biggest issue in the current teacher contract negotiations. Class size and composition, the number of special needs students in each class, was at the top of the list. But to make the situation better, he said trustees across the province need to work together to get funding increased.

“They can cooperate to put pressure on the government,” he said. “For one school district by itself, it is very difficult, but when all the districts work together to improve those conditions, I think things can go forward.”

Chuck Simonin, asked about the role of the trustee, also summed up the tone of the forum.

“There are tough decisions to be made, there is no question about it,” he said. “The bottom line for me is to make sure that as much of that money as possible funnels down and gets to the students. Whether it is football equipment or lunches or special education help, I want to see it funnelled down until it gets to the bottom line, where our students are.”


Just Posted

James Miller, the managing editor at the Penticton Herald, has been voted in for Jake Kimberley’s vacated council seat. (Submitted)
James Miller elected as Penticton city councillor

Penticton also voted yes to allowing up to 25 years for a Skaha Marina contract

The Eyes of the Tigers on the 2021 Beer Run on June 19. (Brennan Phillips - Western News)
Penticton Beer Runners take trip around local beaches and brews

Over 160 people signed up to come back after the 2020 run was cancelled

There was high voter turnout for the first of three advance voting days for the Penticton city by-election.
Penticton city by-election general voting day is today, June 19

737 voters on June 9 in comparison to 2018 general election, which had 1,001 on first day

Police are asking for public assistance in locating Anthony Graham who has been charged with the murders of Kamloops brothers Carlo and Erick Fryer. (RCMP photo)
2 Penticton-area men charged with Kamloops brothers’ double homicide

Brothers Erick and Carlo Fryer were found deceased in May in Naramata

(File photo)
Penticton not holding Canada Day activities out of respect for Indigenous people

Cities across B.C. are cancelling the holiday after an increased spotlight on Canada’s dark history

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed Eli Beauregard facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

A aerial view shows the debris going into Quesnel Lake caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C., Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Updated tailings code after Mount Polley an improvement: B.C. mines auditor

British Columbia’s chief auditor of mines has found changes to the province’s requirements for tailings storage facilities

Starting in 2022, the Columbia Shuswap Regional District is extending dog control to the entire Electoral Area D. (Stock photo)
Dog control bylaw passes in Shuswap area despite ‘threatening’ emails

CSRD board extending full dog control in Electoral Area D starting next year

A North Vancouver man was arrested Friday and three police officers were injured after a 10-person broke out at English Bay on June 19, 2021. (Youtube/Screen grab)
Man arrested, 3 police injured during 10-person brawl at Vancouver beach

The arrest was captured on video by bystanders, many of whom heckled the officers as they struggled with the handcuffed man

Most Read