Candidate Statement

My Opening Statement from the October 2nd Candidate’s night.

Hello Everyone.  

Thanks for coming tonight.   I write more clearly than I speak – so let’s see how this goes. I’m not going to go into my background just now, but have left an info packet at the door I’ve made copies of and will email to anyone who would like it.

I’ll try and be straightforward and open – and trust that my directness does not offend.  Having only been here since January, surely some of my views are not fully informed. But I make it a practice to change them when faced with evidence to the contrary.  I simply care about what makes good sense.

My wife and I chose to move here with considerable intention and forethought.  I wanted my family to participate in a public school district and I wanted us to be part of a broad community where virtually all the children went to the same local school.   It came down to Bowen Island just outside of Vancouver, BC, with 3500 people, and here. I’m very happy we chose this community and appreciate the warm welcome we’ve experienced – including from the current board members.

Finding housing was very difficult.  We started with our family of 5 and 2 friends in one bedroom with a murphy bed.  Addressing the housing problem would be my main focus on the School Board. This is because at the end of the day, from the perspective of a child’s educational experience, I don’t feel that there is an optimal number of kids in the school and wider community.   

I think we need to get more intentional in doing something about that.  I’ve only seen Jenny and Bob begin to tackle this issue with the level of commitment I think necessary.  I feel the entire board needs to make it their top priority, as unusual as that might be for a school board.  But eventually, with no kids, there will be no school. It isn’t frequently discussed, but I suspect families are leaving because their child simply does not have enough peers.

Last year my 2nd priority would have been more cohesion between the teaching staff, administration, and parents.  As someone who has worked with a lot of people, I feel a community’s “culture” is of utmost importance and nurturing it well is never-ending.  I’ve included a letter I wrote last spring to all the staff and parents (whose emails I could find) that will give you a sense of my commitment to this.  I’m greatly relieved by our selection of Michelle as our principal as I think she is especially attuned to creating an optimal school culture. I think the stars aligned and we lucked out.

So my second priority going forward will instead be to help increase parent involvement.  Most agree that the three supporting components of a healthy school are the kids, the parents, and the teachers and staff.  We’re a small, agile school and I know we can find creative ways to engage more parents in a manner that works for them.

I’m not fully convinced I need to be on the school board to help the school, but I do believe that with two and soon three kids in the lower grades, I have the best view of the daily comings and goings on the Stinson Campus.  In my professional life, I’ve also come to realize that striving for excellence and attention to detail on the front line are vital to success. I’m committed to being heavily involved as I think the teachers I interact with will attest, and doing what I can to continually raise the bar for the educational experience we’re offering the children.

If you have questions or ideas, please feel free to reach out to me directly.

Thank you,

Steve O’Neal