Elect Piers MacDonald for School Board Trustee

About Me

I'm a father of two kids. I'm a software engineer. I try to see the world through an analytical lens.

If you're a one issue voter then I'm probably not your guy. Common issues found on other platforms aren't front and center for me. I think disproportionate attention leads to divisive politics.

There are some candidates who used various dog whistles that sound reasonable like "focus on the classroom" but a cursory look shows they really want some exclusionary and anti-science values. Then there's another group that are diametrically opposite to the point that the entirety of the platform is SOGI, reconciliation and climate action. To be clear on my views: I'm in support of all of those issues and believe they're important. However I don't believe they constitute an entire platform and represent a fraction of what happens in school and making them platform focal points simply invites engagement from ideological wingnuts. I want to represent the voters who support inclusivity, who understand the importance of reconciliation and who believe climate change and covid are real threats but don't need to debate it any more than debating grass is green. From this point on I will focus on how I approach problems.

It's been a challenging few years for everyone and the school district is no exception. Yet, if you take a step back, our school district is incredible. Rankings place Victoria schools as some of the best in the province. A province which is amoung the best in the country. A country recognized for having one of the best public school systems on the planet. Polling data shows that parents are overwhelmingly satisfied the school system. Add it up and it's no exaggeration to say we have a world-class public school system. I want to add some stability with outside experience and an objective approach to keep a great thing going.


Budget Focus

The primary lever of the school board is setting the budget as such the most helpful thing a trustee can do is be a good fiscal steward. Spending decisions shouldn't be used to send signals. As much as possible allocating resources should be approached as an optimization problem improving key metrics.

Follow empirical evidence and make data-driven decisions.

What matters most are the students, parents, the staff and everyone else involved in the school system. Those are all measurable through a variety of metrics: academic outcomes, parent convenience, employee retention etc. Let that be our shared focus. What doesn't get measured doesn't get improved. I will ensure we focus on making change for the better.

Improve discourse

Civic engagement requires an informed and knowledgeable public. One less responsive to pleas to emotion and more armed with fact and reason in order to hold elected officials accountable. If we want better public discourse that needs to come from the public.

I took a straw poll of voters interested in education issues. While everyone was aware of the common wedge issues, no one had much to say about the budget. I believe this is a poor footing for civic engagement: how can anyone express meaningful thoughts about how the district should allocate resources if they don't know what resources are available? Anyone can bemoan not having infinite money but real improvement happens when we agree on what's important and make the best of what we have.

Back to the budget, I sympathize. The details can be difficult to grasp. So if we want to expect more of each other we help everyone understand. For example the budget information is publicly available but spreadsheets aren't overly engaging. Even the cleanest financial statement can't convey information as clearly as a simple chart.

I want to bring clarity and share the inner workings for all and I want to demand higher level conversation in return. After all, education is a life-long pursuit.

Contact: piers@votepiers.ca