Name and pronouns: Teo Dobre
Affiliation: New West Progressives
Tell us about yourself:
My story is not much different from the many immigrants and newcomers who enrich our city and work toward its growth and success. I was born in Romania and moved to Canada in 2007, where I would attend high school and university. With my Master's in Library and Information Science, I have built my career around research, education and community involvement, particularly within the Romanian immigrant community. I am a husband and a father who has called New Westminster ‘home’ since 2017.
Why are you running for school board?
I believe that our school board is in need of new trustees who can bring fresh perspectives and experiences to the table. As a published author and librarian, I have a distinct awareness of our students’ literacy needs as well as their need for improved access to information.
What do you think the current school board has done well? Where has it missed the mark?
I believe the current school board has done a good job navigating the many difficulties posed by the recent pandemic. However, the same pandemic has affected how the board communicates its activities. As a result, the board should have done a better job ensuring better communication between it and parents.
What are the top three issues facing the next school board?
As I see them, the three most pressing issues facing the board are: lack of space, lack of communication and better mental health support.
How do you plan to address those issues? Regarding the first shortcoming, see next section for more details.
Regarding the lack of communication, I want to reduce the frequency of in-camera meetings currently taking place; opening up these meetings will encourage increased attendance from parents and students, thus opening up more avenues of communication. Second, I would press for the development of a formalized relationship structure between city council and school board for better coordination of student and school needs.
Regarding mental health support, I recognize the foundational connection that strong mental health brings to school safety and the well-being of our children. Therefore, I would work with all stakeholders (community, provincial, federal) to advocate for more funding and its proper allocation. As physical and mental health are closely related, I will also advocate for an equity audit of physical education equipment, ensuring that our students have equal access to better physical development.
New Westminster schools are facing a serious space crunch. What does the next board need to do to address it?
According to statistics released by the City of New Westminster, our city’s population is projected to grow by about 50% by 2031. The current funding model employed by the school board does not take into consideration this monumental growth. The next board will need to find better ways to advocate with the province for a new and improved funding model, one that focuses on anticipating and readily meeting projected growth rather than relying on what the current needs are.
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?
I believe the school board has done a good job following the provincial government’s rules and recommendations during the pandemic. I would therefore continue to follow the same policies and procedures, while keeping in mind the changing physical and mental health priorities of our students. As an improvement to the current procedures, I will advocate for inclusion of better ventilation in our schools, further reducing the need for school closures and thus reducing the disruptions to our children’s education.
And just for fun: If you got to spend one full day in school again, what grade would you return to and why? I would return to the excitement of my first day of high 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.