Name and pronouns: Gurveen Dhaliwal (she/her)
Affiliation: Community First New West
Tell us about yourself.
I was first elected to the New Westminster school board in 2018 and am currently serving my second year as board chair. I lead with passion and expertise to ensure students and families of New Westminster feel heard and supported, and my track record supporting the building of new schools, increasing child-care spaces, and increasing mental health supports reflect my belief that community starts in schools. I’m a lifelong resident of Queensborough, where you’ll often see me walking on the Port Royal trail with my corgi Roy.
Why are you running for school board?
I want to continue to support the expansion of mental health supports and services for New West students and families. The last few years have heightened the importance of mental health and it is vitally important to ensure students are well supported in this area.
What do you think the current school board has done well? Where has it missed the mark?
I'm proud of planning for the future. From building new schools to expanding current ones to purchasing land, we’ve focused on ensuring our long range facilities planning remains a priority. I’m excited to continue building on that and bringing more options for New West families within our schools.
What are the top three issues facing the next school board?
- Building quality educational facilities to meet the needs of our fast-growing community
- Expanding mental health supports from K-12 for both students and families
- Ensuring staff receive the professional development supports they need to better support the success of our students
How do you plan to address those issues?
I’ve spent the last four years contributing to the foundational roots of those issues from purchasing land and planning future school builds to chairing the Wellness Centre planning committee. I’m excited to build on these steps and use my knowledge and expertise to continue acting and ensuring our budget invests in these necessary priorities.
New Westminster schools are facing a serious space crunch. What does the next board need to do to address it?
New West is a small city with land availability and constraints being the biggest issue. As board chair for the last two years I’ve been working with the Minister of Education and the city to advocate and problem solve issues related to our capital plans. This work needs to continue as well as a reimagining of how we use and build schools to allow for the transition to an urban environment. Advocacy and clear communication to the Ministry of Education is also important to ensure our plans are fully funded within the necessary timeframes.
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?
Delivering compassionate services for our students is a top priority. Students who are well cared for succeed inside and outside our schools. My priorities include increasing and expanding mental health supports and services and ensuring inclusive health education and policies that promote respectful behaviours.
And just for fun: If you got to spend one full day in school again, what grade would you return to and why?
Grade 2, my favourite thing this past term has been visiting elementary schools, there is a level of excitement and opportunity you can’t find elsewhere.
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.