While the focus during the municipal elections may have been on the races for mayor and council, the selection of school trustees in the Sooke school districtwas at least as important, says Bob Phillips, who was returned as a trustee on Saturday night.
“It’s going to be an uphill struggle to have enough seats for the kids in the coming years, to begin with,” said Phillips.
“We have all these aspirations about what we can do in education, but the reality is that we have to be able to accommodate every student in a school if we’re going to have a chance at meeting those aspirations.”
Phillips was joined by fellow incumbent Margot Swinburnson and new trustee, Allison Watson to make up the three-person Sooke representation in the Milnes Landing Zone of the Sooke schools district’s board of education.
They will be joined by four trustees selected in the Belmont Zone of the District where incumbents Ravi Parmar, Wendy Hobbs and Dianna Seaton were returned to their positions, joined by a new face at the table, Bob Beckett.
Beckett retired from his position as fire chief in Langford in June 2017 and had first been approached by several community residents to run for council.
“That really wasn’t something I wanted to pursue, but then I was at a Rotary meeting and heard a speaker talking about shaping the children and giving them the education, values and life skills they need to be a productive part of the community,” said Beckett.
He said that as the father of two children still in school, he found that the speaker’s words struck a chord with him and, after speaking to some friends, he decided to throw his hat in the ring for the trustee position.
“I’ve done some humanitarian work in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Haiti, and I know the impact that good schools can have on a community,” he said.
Beckett also echoed the feelings expressed by Phillips in saying that the group of men and women elected as school trustees are all outstanding with a strong sense of commitment to the community.
For his part, Phillips was quick to point out that he sees part of the job of the board of education is to support the job being done by the staff of the district’s schools.
“The teachers, the vice-principals, the principals, the volunteers and the custodians. They all care about the children and they do just a fantastic job. We need to help them accomplish their goals,” said Phillips.