Two candidates are running for the open trustee position on the Nanaimo-Ladysmith Public Schools’s board of education – Naomi Bailey and Steve Rae.
General election day for the by-election, triggered by the election of former trustee Lisa Marie Barron to Parliament, is Jan. 15. Two special voting days have been set up for Gabriolans at the Gabriola Elementary School gym: Jan. 8 and 13 from 2 to 6 p.m. All voting locations are posted on the school district website, www.sd68.bc.ca.
The Sounder asked each candidate a few questions about their candidacy.
A Nanaimo resident who grew up in Cedar-Yellowpoint and attended NLPS schools, Naomi Bailey currently works for Vancouver Island University in the office of Indigenous Education and Engagement as the manager of Indigenous Protocol. Previously she worked for the school district as an academic advisor, teacher, counsellor and administrator.
“These experiences have provided me with an ‘insider’s’ view of what is working and what we need to do to improve the learning conditions in our district,” Bailey said. “I have a very good understanding of the culture and needs of the different communities that are a part of our school district,”
Bailey is a member of the Mid-Island Metis Nation. Her three children have also attended school in the district.
The three areas that are top of mind for her are facilities, including addressing the capacity issues occurring in the north end of the district, student support and the safety of students and staff.
“In the area of student support we are struggling,” Bailey said, noting more educational assistants are needed as well as mental health supports such as addressing the counsellor to student ratio. Child and youth care workers are also a “vital component,” she added.
With the pandemic ongoing, Bailey said daytime custodial hours should be a priority as should communication between the district and schools about outbreaks.
Bailey is also concerned about equitable natural disaster preparedness, saying parent advisory councils often raise funds for supplies and resources, but not all PACs are in a position to do so.
According to the nomination documents, Bailey has been endorsed by the Nanaimo-Ladysmith NDP electoral district association.
Steve Rae is running again after previously being elected as trustee.
“I think that there is further work to be done and that I can assist in this process,” Rae said of his decision, adding his past experience means he can “hit the ground running with no disruption to the district or the kids by joining midterm.”
Rae served as board chair from 2014 to 2018 and highlighted some of the work of the board at the time, including the building of a full-size gym at Hammond Bay Elementary, the 2016 merging of the district’s elementary and secondary learn-at-home programs into Island ConnectED and the 2018 establishment of the artificial turf NDSS Community Field partnership with the City of Nanaimo.
“These accomplishments occurred due to a considerable amount of work building relationships with management, community, union, board members and political designates,” Rae said, adding his work as a manager for Navico, a marine electronics company, has given him experience in this.
Rae stated his first priority is continuing the ongoing efforts to replace NDSS. He also wants to explore opportunities for partnerships with Nanaimo in the north end of the city similar to the turf field partnership as well as strengthen relationships with Indigenous communities. “Our board started the rebuild of the relationship and this board has done a great job building on that,” Rae said.
Currently a director for Nanaimo-Ladysmith Schools Foundation, Rae said he is also concerned about the number of vulnerable students in the district and wants to “continue to push to support all families in need.”
Rachelle Stein-Wotten, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Gabriola Sounder