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Sooke School District trustee candidates

Those running in the Milne's Landing region speak out
Vote on November 15

Arthur Everett Russell Chipps

I have been the Chief Councillor of Beecher Bay First Nation for the past eight consecutive years. As chief I am involved daily in the governance of my nation, business opportunities, and many community initiatives, including education, that will move my community forward in a positive way.

I have lived in Beecher Bay since I was four years old and live with my wife and three children.

I currently sit on the South Island Wellness Board, Inter Tribal Health Board, Spirit Bay Development Board and am the representative for the First Nations Health Council.

Why I am running for Trustee?

I want to support, strengthen and make a positive impact at School District 62 through leading by example. It is important to show students and youth that anything is possible, especially if you commit to your surrounding communities and the people in them.

For the last eight years my priorities have focussed on children and advancing their education. This includes the wellness of School District 62. Building relationships with stakeholders and advocates by taking the time to listen and hear their concerns is key in finding a common ground we can all stand on for the same purpose – our children’s future. I would like to see improved class sizes because every student who comes to school deserves the best that we have to offer. There has to be accountability on the government’s commitments to their teachers and students. Our classrooms should have adequate resources for our children as an integral part of public education.  Adequate resources should be made available with funding plan initiatives and a balanced budget to support successful learning.

My Style of Leadership:

I always say “Don’t ask anyone to do something that you won’t do yourself, and don’t take people for granted”.  People and their views are important. I have a strong voice and say what needs to be said. I believe it is better to speak straight from the heart. I also know when it is time to listen and when it is time to talk. As I move forward in life, I always fully believe in the choices that I make because if you believe in yourself and the people in your community there will always be hope for future.

Doris Gulmans

Motivation: I have the time, energy, enthusiasm, experience, commitment and knowledge.

Background: Married 48 years with five daughters (all of who, went through K-12 in Sooke School District schools. Two grandsons currently attending Sooke school.

Graduated from UBC with a BEd (Elem) degree; taught in North Vancouver and the Northwest Territories; over 20 years substituting in every Sooke elementary school; volunteered as student/parent coordinator for 20 years in the PACE musical theatre programs; founding member of SPEAC - helped write the Constitution; since 1979 we have lived in Colwood, Glen Lake, Metchosin and now Sooke (7 1/2 years).


The most important component of our society is our children.

As a trustee I see my role as follows:

To ensure teachers have the resources needed dot excel as they teach out children;

To have in-depth, honest, and continued consultation with parents and other affected groups as we plan and move forward with future developments;

To strive for excellence in all aspects of education;

To lobby the government to put more value on education and to supply the needed funds to aspire for excellence in all facets of education.









Benula Larsen

I believe education and health care should be the main priority for government and citizens. We must demand that our decision makers ensure public education is funded properly because that is our right and our kids deserve it.

Education is the great equalizer and all students, no matter where they come from, or who their parents are or do, must have access to the type of education that provides opportunities for a brighter future.

As citizens we must create a culture where our teachers are valued for the important work they do and we must stand with them in their advocacy for students.

As citizens we must create a culture that understands that well-educated students will grow into well-educated adults that will make better choices about issues that are crucial to the well-being of our society: the attention and care we give to our public services, the stewardship of our environment, the people we elect for office, the opportunities we seize for our economy.

I am a parent and a public school teacher with 25 years in the Victoria public school system. I know the issues well; I know the challenges that teachers and trustees face every day. My voice will carry my experience, my passion and my worry for the future of public education.

Bob Phillips

School District 62 has 9,300 students, over 1,500 staff and a $90 million budget.  This year, without additional funding, we faced a shortfall of $3.5 million. The board took measures such as reducing funding for some programs, cutting staff and increasing bus fees. BC School Trustees face the challenge of increased costs without increased funds. Our funding is below the Canadian provincial average. After the recent strike, SD 62 has even further substantial “cost pressures”.

Up to now, teachers and staff in B.C. have held the line. The Conference Board of Canada 2014 reports B.C.’s adolescents placed higher in academic achievement than Alberta or Ontario. Internationally, only students in Japan and Finland outperformed B.C. students, notable because B.C.’s child poverty rate is at 20 per cent while Japan and Finland do not have such poverty. B.C. adolescents rank # 1 in the English speaking world in problem solving test results. In SD 62, our Grad/Completion rates and academic awards continue to trend upwards. This year, 70 per cent of EMCS seniors are taking “dual credits”, compared to 20 per cent last year. We produce excellent results for First Nations and Special Needs students. This is a result of board policy to develop  better learning cultures in our schools for all children.

Parents and staff (usually teachers) have spent generously from their own time and funds. Their experience and creativity has helped students succeed despite funding shortfalls. The board’s decision was to promote social and emotional learning, with expert administration to plan and implement the policy based on recent research. Allowing parents and teachers to shoulder costs is not a sustainable model. It is unfair to students, parents and staff. We need a new provincial funding formula that provides increased funding based on our best educational research.  The overall economic and social benefit of well- educated citizens is the reward for investment in public education.

Some of my priorities are: advocating for an immediate 10 per cent funding lift for all; special needs designations to strengthen the most vulnerable students and families in the province. SD 62 would get an additional $750,00. Partnerships with our municipalities and Camosun College to expand “dual credit” courses for secondary and adult students to lessen the cost of tuition and travel for Sooke students and families. Better communication with the public and SD 62 education partners when the new board makes  all difficult decisions: expanded use of the SD 62 website. Advocating  for research-based staffing  and instruction. Within four years our superintendent and one assistant superintendent will retire. We need to begin a succession planning process.

My trustee experience includes three years as Vice-Chair and 12 years as the SD 62 rep to the BC Public Employers Association. I bring some valuable personal experience: teaching at high school, college and university levels, 30 years clinical work in child protection, addictions and health care and 25 years in administering and negotiating collective agreements. I am an open minded, well informed and hard working trustee.

Neil Poirier

Through my involvement with parent groups, and now my first term as a trustee I have gained thirteen years of valuable experience.  As a Trustee, I have served the educational system and ultimately the children of the Western Communities in helping achieve their higher educational goals. We must ensure they have what they need to achieve these goals, whatever they may be.

If elected:

I will endorse open discussions with the public, especially with the parents in our community, and I will support continued transparency of School Board meetings.

I will work at building and strengthening healthy supportive relationships with parents, teachers, our community and the School Board team by promoting honest and open communication.

I will support the continued funding of our schools sports, music, drama and art programs, which are an important part of a well-rounded education.

I will support teachers and administrators who are developing and implementing programs that support alternative education, for example, ‘Academies’ and ‘Ed West’.

I will work toward ensuring that as a community, we are ready for growing enrolment numbers and that there will be appropriate education facilities available for our kids.

Margot Swinburnson R.N. BSN

Employer: Vancouver Island Health authority as an Assisted Living Case Manager.

Trustee, Milnes Landing Zone, first elected 1999

Presently: Provincial Councillor: 2005-present National Healthy Schools: 2011-present (appointed by BC School Trustees Association). BC School Based Mental Health Coalition: 2012-present.


Extensive volunteer experience within the Milnes Landing Zone. Founding member and Chair of SPLASH, the community group that lobbied for a swimming pool in Sooke. Past President Sooke Figure Skating Club, past board of the Sooke Philharmonic, president and founding member Juan de Fuca Community Land Trust,  new Rotary Club member.

Many committees at the School Board Level. With other serving Milnes Landing  trustees, sit ex-officio on the EMCS Community School Board.


I believe in Team. Research shows that boards that are cohesive will achieve their goals. Divided boards do not.

I will continue to work with the board and administration to advocate for fair funding for education; I will continue to support mental health and wellness initiatives for students and staff. I believe early and appropriate intervention will improve the graduation rates (the province’s measure) and the life opportunities (my measure) for the greatest number of students.

I will continue to work as a team member to make this the best district in the province I will always keep an eye on the budge;to work with, not against; do my best to improve every child’s opportunity

Keep an eye to the big picture so we keep on moving towards our goals, ask the difficult questions.