Name: Nelson Allen
Occupation/background: Property management. Career in teaching, 22 years, and in financial planning, 14 years. Community volunteer.
Why are you running for trustee?
I have served in the past on the board of education and worked for over a decade to improve education outcomes in this district and to see the construction of a new school on the NDSS site along with the improvements to property adjoining NDSS in cooperation with VIU and the City of Nanaimo. The plan calls for an expenditure of some $100 million that will improve education outcomes, will bring jobs to the community and provide facilities for VIU and city recreation needs. I wish to see these projects to completion.
What three priorities are important to you and how do you plan to tackle these issues, if elected?
Students first. By this I mean that all of our focus must be on our students. Provide them with the very best instructional supports and house them in new or renovated classrooms to improve learning outcomes.
Promote higher graduation rates. We have seen some improvements with our graduation rates in the last few years. However with the highest number of our students living in poverty in B.C. we must do more to ensure that each student has the opportunity to graduate from secondary school.
Skills and trades training. In this rapidly changing world we have to provide the opportunities for our interested youth to learn skills in traditional and new trades. We have 500,000 jobs in Canada available and very few Canadians to fill the jobs because of limited opportunities for trades training.
How do you plan to work towards a balanced school district budget?
The preparation of the budget is a complex and comprehensive process that involves all the stakeholders in the district. Senior staff, administrators, teachers, support workers, parents, parent advisory committees and the NDTA and CUPE unions. Preliminary budget proposals need to reviewed by these stakeholders and shared with the general public to determine that the allocation of resources to each area are in line with the district strategic plan.
In the past 10 years, our school district has seen a reduction in funding for our children of some $20 million. At the same time, the cost of living increases by an average of 2.1 per cent per year and additional costs have been downloaded onto school board budgets We are in a very serious crisis of underfunding and we need to find ways to fund public education to the Canadian average. Students in B.C. receive $1,000 per student a year less than students in the rest of Canada.
What do you think it takes to be an education leader in Nanaimo-Ladysmith? Describe your leadership or co-working style.
In December 2012, I was recognized for my contributions when I was awarded the Queen Elizabeth Jubilee Medal for making contributions to B.C. and Canada in education, the environment and for my work in promoting democratic institutions.
I have also been a leader in education in B.C. during my career and also have provided leadership locally and regionally. I can work well with individual with diverse styles to find common ground upon which to reach a consensus.