Mark Gifford answers New Westminster School Trustee questions

Mark Gifford is running for School Trustee in New Westminster, and he answered my questions. Thank you for answering!

Obviously this is all satire, obviously.

The biggest issue in this year’s election is undoubtedly the replacement of New Westminster Secondary School, an issue that has been going on for at least a decade. Every legitimate candidate (sorry, Jim Bell) is on board with getting the rebuild started quickly. When you run for re-election in 2018, what promises will you make to convince voters that the NWSS rebuild will start in 2019?

Mark Gifford: After finally realizing the growth potential in cemeteries, we auctioned a lucrative parcel of new gravesites and columbaria in 2017. Not only did it finance a shovel-ready project that will meet Living Building standards when completed in 2019, it inspired groundbreaking pedagogical approaches to cradle-to-grave learning, and a green jobs innovation hub for students pursuing careers in the new Centre for Estate Planning and Mortuary Sciences. And for all you Rick Grimes fans – Season 10 is going to shoot on location. Tie the ribbon, bring the scissors and pass the popcorn.

There was some recent discussion on Twitter about entering discussions with Richmond towards building a high school in Queensborough that will also take students from the Hamilton district of eastern Richmond. Two part question here: As school trustee, what will you do to ensure that New Westminster students at this Queensborough high school are reminded daily that they are better than their Richmond counterparts, and will you join forces with the pro-expansion council to annex Hamilton and make it part of New Westminster?

Mark Gifford: You think we’re stopping at Hamilton? We’re Queensborough and the Royal City, and as such, deem territories to the Knight Street Bridge to be rightfully ours. Once we fight through cranberry bogs and have IKEA in our sights, we’ll reroute all southbound traffic east to Columbia Street via newly tolled Queensborough Bridge. In a total state of gridlock, rejuvenated bridal industry will extend all the way up Stewardson Way. But I digress. Q-BRO High will be built at the top of Ewen Mountain, allowing us to keep an eye on Translink’s new floating school bus, carrying newly annexed students up and down expanded ditches once per day, but not after 5PM and only with a two-zone pass.

One of your fellow school trustee candidates asked why three schools (NWSS, Fraser River Middle, and Qayqayt Elementary) are being built instead of just one. That’s an excellent question. Why not one school? In fact, why not tear down all of our schools and take over the Anvil Centre as “New Westminster School”?

Mark Gifford: One of the great pleasures of this campaign is getting exposed to out-of-the-box thinking from fellow candidates. Unfortunately, Anvil Centre is spoken for – we swapped it with Urban Academy for Robson Manor and their 2009 remainder uniforms. The good news is that the other 6095 New West students have a partially-renovated character space to share in 2015.

What is your favourite New Westminster school and why is it Urban Academy?

Mark Gifford: One, I love the Anvil Centre. It’s a great choice. Two, I was trying to figure out what I was going to do with the extra $20,000 I had in a shoebox, when I heard about the Parent Equity Program. Then I cashed my savings bonds to find another $8,000 for my son’s Grade 1 tuition. Then he’ll go back to Lord Kelvin for Grade 2, and tell his buddies about his time at the Anvil Centre.

Enroling children for Early French Immersion in New Westminster means signing up within the first six months of your child’s life because of the first-come-first-served process. What will you do to change this and require parents to sign up their children for Early French Immersion before they are born?

Mark Gifford: We’re not going to do Early French Immersion anymore. Sorry to break it to you. However, we’re still going to move Royal Columbian’s maternity ward into the Neighbourhood Learning Centre at the new Fraser Middle School, and ask kids to complete a short questionnaire about their career aspirations before release. They can also complete a Parent Equity Request, to hold a family site at NWSS.

Bonus question inspired by Jen Arbo: Fundraising for a playground at Qayqayt Elementary has been a community-lead effort. As school trustee, how many bottle drives and online contests will you help push instead of getting proper funding for these things?

Mark Gifford: Great question. In the future, “likes” and “retweets” will determine revenue sharing ratios between PACs. Once that framework is established, we will implement a One Child, One Bottle, One Day policy to ensure predictable, sustainable funding stream. Compliance and enforcement will be crucial, so steep fines for breakage, incorrect label removal or transport in plastic bags will be in order. Unless you’re from Queensborough – you guys are cool.

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