Name and pronouns: Danielle Connelly (she/her)
Affiliation: New West Progressives
Tell us about yourself:
Community engagement is huge to me, and once we had kids, it became an important way to connect with other families. From serving on PACs and the NWMHA executive, to organizing the Rally to Rebuild NWSS and helping with multigenerational projects at Century House, I’ve had the opportunity to meet so many amazing people and gain a broader appreciation for and understanding of our diverse community! I have a background in business ownership and communications and have worked in the non-profit and government sectors, both of which have taught me a lot about the importance of collaboration and community.
Why are you running for school board?
Being re-elected would help bring some continuity to the board, which is especially important given what we have collectively been through over the past 2.5 years. I also believe it’s important to have a diversity of voices at the table, and that is something I would continue to bring.
What do you think the current school board has done well? Where has it missed the mark?
A lot of important work to support diverse learners in our district. Two new schools opened and an expansion is on the way. There needs to be more collaboration with the city to ensure we find spaces to build schools to accommodate the tremendous growth we are continuing to experience.
What are the top three issues facing the next school board?
- Capacity issues for students and child care (which is now part of the provincial education portfolio)
- Inadequate per-student funding from the provincial government
- Covid Recovery — being prepared and planning ahead to meet the needs of students and teachers as we recover from the effects of the last 2.5 years
How do you plan to address those issues?
Through continued advocacy, planning and collaboration. We need to continue raising our collective voices on behalf of students and families to ensure we can meet the needs of all students. We need to revisit our long-range facilities plan with updated growth projections and ensure we have plans in place to meet the growth. We need to continue advocating to the provincial government and the ministry to adequately fund our education system. We also need to continue advocating for recovery funding to ensure we can meet the needs of all our students, including both educational and mental health needs. The current ratio of funding one counsellor to every 693 students is beyond inadequate, and as a board we can continue advocating to see this changed. We also need to ensure we work more collaboratively with the city to get more schools built to meet the rapid growth we are experiencing.
New Westminster schools are facing a serious space crunch. What does the next board need to do to address it?
Advocacy, planning and collaboration. Revisiting long-range facility plans on a regular basis to ensure we account for and include updated growth projections, advocating to the ministry for adequate funding and collaborating better with the city to find space to build and to expedite the building process. We must also continue advocating to the ministry to update their funding formula for replacement and new school builds. The current formula only provides funding for current need, which often means new schools are seeing the need for portables shortly after opening their doors. This is an outdated practice and an uneconomical formula.
Health and safety has been a topic of discussion on multiple fronts over the past few years. What are your health and safety priorities for New Westminster schools, and how will you address them?
We have all learned A LOT (probably more than any of us ever imagined we would want or need to know!) in regards to health and safety in our schools over the past several years, and it’s important the school district continues moving forward with the lessons learned. As for safety, that’s a bit of a loaded question for just 100 words! I think the district has some really important work ahead of it, and a lot of it boils down to listening to students, as well as working in collaboration with school teams, with community partners and with families.
And just for fun: If you got to spend one full day in school again, what grade would you return to and why?
Gosh, that’s a tough one! I’d probably say kindergarten. There is something that is so innocent, carefree and magical about that first year of school!
Note: All candidates received the same questionnaire, including word limits. (If candidates ran over word limits, answers are cut off at the limit.) Contact information and social media details are presented as provided by candidates.