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New parents group formed to be voice in school board election

New Westminster parent Kelly Slade-Kerr; whose daughter Sophie; 10; is a Grade 5 student at Herbert Spencer elementary; has helped to start Parents For Public Education in New Westminster to advocate for parents during the campaign for the upcoming school trustee election in November. - Grant Granger/NewsLeader
New Westminster parent Kelly Slade-Kerr; whose daughter Sophie; 10; is a Grade 5 student at Herbert Spencer elementary; has helped to start Parents For Public Education in New Westminster to advocate for parents during the campaign for the upcoming school trustee election in November.
— image credit: Grant Granger/NewsLeader

A group has formed to give parents a voice in the New Westminster board of education election in November.

New Westminster Parents for Public Education (P4PE) spokeswoman Kelly Slade-Kerr said the group got its start two months ago.

A bunch of friends were chatting about what they'd been reading in the newspaper about the district's financial problems.

"We thought we should get a bit more organized instead of talking about it on a sidewalk outside of a school or in a living room," said Slade-Kerr, a lawyer who has children at Herbert Spencer elementary and Glenbrook middle school.

"It's no secret the community has lost confidence in our school district. And that's been highlighted by the deficits and the budgets and the cuts that are in the works," she said.

"There's a need for renewal."

During civic elections, the district parent advisory council (DPAC) usually holds an all-candidates meeting.

"We see our goals as going a little bit further than DPAC," Slade-Kerr said.

One of the goals is to have parents more involved and have a voice in the election.

"But we want to go a step further and bring forward a strong field of candidates with the skills and the motivation, and the passion to run for school board."

She added P4PE has about a dozen members.

They plan to identify and support people thinking of running for school trustee.

But the group has not discussed who they would support, including current trustees.

"We're planning a parents meeting (for mid-April) to mobilize a broad group across neighbourhoods and across schools to determine those things such as what skills and type of people we want on our school board," said Slade-Kerr.

"We're very excited about it."

The parents in the group tend to stay under the radar, said Slade-Kerr.

But "the trustees know who I am. Instead of writing letters to the editor I go straight to the sources."

She claimed the P4PE parents are not affiliated with any political party or position.

"The common denominator is we're all parents who want a renewal in our district. There's been a crisis of confidence," she said.

"People can't just sit back and watch it unfolding. If we want change, we have to be the masters of that change. I believe there are a lot of parents out there waiting for this platform where they can be involved in this way rather than just talking on the sidewalk or in the living room."

The group is working on a Facebook page. Its current contact info is P4PENW@gmail.com.

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