Shelley Coburn

ELECTION: School trustee City candidate Shelley Coburn

A Voter’s Guide to key election questions.

Shelley Coburn

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Running for school trustee in the City of Langley

Age and profession not provided

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Have you held office in past? If so, please specify: Yes, I was elected to the Board of Education in 2014.

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Candidate provided bio:

Born in Langley and having spent most of my life here I have developed strong ties to this community. I have spent the last four years passionately advocating for students and parents in a system that is stretched to capacity. We are experiencing significant growth and will be faced with difficult decisions, decisions about who gets what and where. The last new school opened in the City in 1982, I know, because I went there. The City residents deserve a strong voice at the table to represent their interests – I want this voice to be mine. I am deeply committed to this community, I live here, and I raise my children here. I love what I do – I have enjoyed nothing the way I have enjoyed being a trustee – it has been my honour and my privilege to serve and I cannot wait to serve another four years.

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Facebook: search Shelley Coburn

Telephone number voters can reach you at: 604-868-1114

Who is your favourite superhero, and why?

My mom. As a single mother she went back to school, earned her grade twelve, attended university and changed her life and the lives of my sister and I. She recently retired from her position as a special education assistant in the Surrey where she worked for over twenty years. Through her actions I witnessed the transformative power of education. She showed me that no matter where you are in your life the potential and possibility to better yourself always exists. She showed me what it means to be limitless— she exemplifies the power and importance of public education.

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There are 12 candidates running for seven positions on Langley School Board. The following are questions asked of each trustee hopeful. They were directed to provide a minimum of a Yes, No, or Don’t Know answer, and given an option to expand on one answer in print (to a maximum of 100 words per question). They could expand on all questions online, if they wished to do so. The following are their replies.

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Questions and Answers:

1. What neighbourhood of Langley do you live in?

Answer: Blacklock.

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2. How many years have you lived in Langley?

Answer: Most of my life, probably over 30

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3. How many Langley School Board meetings have you attended in the past year?

Answer: Too many to count. Every public meeting, in addition to the otehr committee meetings I attend – both within the school district and the broader community.

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4: Do you support the use of the SOGI resources in Langley schools?

Answer: Yes. SOGI123 is not curriculum. It is ministry approved teaching resources to help support teachers as they try and navigate supporting our LGBTQ youth and staff with the very real and dangerous bullying, harassment and stigma that they face on a daily basis. This is what SOGI123 is, nothing more, nothing less. With this in mind, my position is I support the use of SOGI resources by teachers. SOGI123 does not teach anything to students. What it does is help teachers should they choose to use it. It is a tool to help teachers support a vulnerable population in our school communities.

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5. Should school districts once again have authority over municipal school taxation?

Answer: Yes. I say yes with some caution. If we are not getting enough funding for new schools or other things that we need in order to manage our growth and accommodate our students, then I would be in favour of raising taxes. This would only be to fund capital projects and not to be used for operational purposes.

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6. Are school administrators overpaid?

Answer: No. In fact, I would suggest that relative to other people in the system they are underpaid. Unfortunately, their salaries are not set by the Board but rather the Province. I am an advocate of moving our district into Metro so that we can pay not only our administrators more but also our education assistants who are underplayed relative to neighbouring districts.

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7. Should the province have the power to dismiss school boards?

Answer: Yes. With caution and with limits, only if they are in gross violation of their duties or otherwise acting in a negligent manner.

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8. Should Langley offer incentives to attract more teachers?

Answer: No. I would like to clarify somewhat here. What I am not in favour of is offering monetary incentives to attract teachers, we want people who are here because they want to be, because they are passionate. Also, I do not think it sends a very positive message to the people who are already in the district. I know myself I would not find this very fair nor would I feel valued or appreciated for my years of service.

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9. Do schools rely too much of parent fundraising efforts?

Answer: No. As a board and as a district I can say with confidence that we have never decided to underfund anything in the hopes or with the expectation that parents will come up with the funding. We have funds specifically to help families. This is policy 7250— Hardship, which states “The Langley Board of Education is committed to ensuring that no student of school age will be denied an educational program due to financial hardship. Within the fiscal ability of each school and the District, no student should be denied access to programs, events or field trips that are aligned to and enhance the BC curriculum.”

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10. Should the district do more to lobby for new schools in the faster growing areas?

Answer: Yes.

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11. Do you think the province is underfunding public education?

Answer: Yes. It is hard for me to comment on other districts throughout the Province but what I can say is that in Langley we are very fiscally responsible, yet we still find ourselves unable to accommodate all students in their neighbourhood schools. Our system, with respect to capacity is stretched to the limit. Where we are being underfunded especially is with respect to capital projects. We have had huge growth and it is not slowing down, we need schools and they are expensive. As a district we cannot be expected to be solely responsible for bearing the brunt of these costs.

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12. Should the school district solicit corporate money by way of sponsorship to fund education?

Answer: No. Although I understand the logic underpinning the question I do not think we should advocate for school districts to go and solicit for anything. I think the danger in this is there will be a further downloading of responsibility by governments to school districts to find ways to funds things that schools districts should not be funding- for example capital projects. This would likely also create huge disparities in wealth between school districts within this province. We would risk creating a system of “have and have not” districts, to a greater extent than what already exists.

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13. Should the school district cut down on using technology, like iPads and computers – to save money?

Answer: No. In fact, as a district we do not spend a tremendous amount of money on technology. We do our best to make sure our staff have what they need to do their jobs and we do our best to make sure our students have the tools they need to be successful once they leave our walls. In my experience it is usually the PACs that really contribute to the technology schools have through their fundraising efforts and other initiatives.

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14. Should the district have a strategy to reduce portables?

Answer: Yes. As a district, as in most districts, portables are a last resort. Unfortunately, due to rapid growth and the Supreme Court of Canada’s order to restore class size and composition to 2002 levels we have no choice to have portables and lots of them. It is the only way we can accommodate both the growth and the language. In addition to not being the most ideal for our families and our staff, portables are also expensive. What I can say is that as a district we are doing the absolute best that we can to manage this extremely challenging situation.

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15. Should we re-instate the previous busing boundaries for students?

Answer: No.

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16. Should students requiring extra attention – such as ESL or those with behavioural or learning disabilities – betaught separately from other students?

Answer: No.

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17. Do you support increasing the amount of international students to help fund education?

Answer: Yes. To the extent that there is space and we can accommodate families in the district first I am support of increasing our international student spaces. Many of the extras that we enjoy in the district is as a direct result of the funding we receive from our international student program.

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18. Should a trustee live in the community they want to serve in?

Answer: Yes.

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19. Should there be a limit to the number of consecutive terms a trustee can serve?

Answer: No.

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20. Should the district redevelop vacant school sites to bring in revenue?

Answer: Yes.

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