Ansari named New West school board chair; Dhaliwal named vice-chair

Trustee Anita Ansari, New Westminster school district’s incoming school board chair, says one of her big focuses for the coming year will be implementing the school district’s new strategic plan.

Ansari was named school board chair recently, replacing Mark Gifford in the board’s top position, while Trustee Gurveen Dhaliwal will be replacing Ansari in her former post as vice-chair.

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Ansari said the transition from vice-chair to chair felt like a natural one, and she’s had a good teacher in Gifford for that change. She said she expects not to be “leading from the front; I’m a leader from the back,” meaning she will be pushing relationship building and ensuring everyone on the board is heard.

The school board’s operations and education committees held a joint meeting Tuesday evening, with a draft of the forthcoming five-year strategic plan a topic of discussion.

That strategic plan, Ansari said, will be a big piece for her as the board’s chair, as the school district navigates finalizing and implementing the plan.

“We’re just polishing that, and part of the things we do is the language explicit to us moving forward and making good leadership decisions,” she said.

Ansari said she’s also expecting to be working hard on fine-tuning the district’s new nutrition program, the completion of the new New Westminster Secondary School, getting a start on the Richard McBride Elementary School rebuild and advocating for work on Queen Elizabeth Community School.

“Over my tenure, I will likely see the funding formula be changed. … I’m looking forward to making budget decisions with new rules and seeing where we can go with what we’re given,” Ansari said.

Working on the school district’s recently announced climate plan will also be a big piece, she said. School board recently voted on strict greenhouse-gas emissions targets, which staff are expected to report back on in September 2020 with a plan for reaching those targets.

Dhaliwal, who was nominated by Trustee Danielle Connelly, said she felt she was prepared for the vice-chair role after heading up the education committee.

“I’m actually really excited to be working with Trustee Ansari, as her being the chair,” Dhaliwal said.

“I think we have a really strong working relationship, which I see will support and enhance the work of the district and the relationship with the board our senior staff have.”

Ansari and Dhaliwal both ran unopposed for the chair and vice-chair posts.

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