2014 TCDSB Election: Ward 12 – Scarborough

The Incumbent:

Nancy Crawford

The Race

All candidates want to look for savings, with some providing more specifics than others. Mr. Nutter stands out with a 3-point plan to address failures in special education that was perhaps the best answer to this question from candidates in all TCDSB ward races. Be sure to read the full survey responses in this ward for some great ideas!

The Breakdown

  • Candidate Response
    Alvarez, Ace Yes
    Corpuz, Paulina Yes
    Crawford, Nancy Yes
    Nevins-Selvadurai, Ronald Yes
    Nutter, Ryan Yes


  • Candidate Response
    Alvarez, Ace Private investment and austerity
    Corpuz, Paulina Find efficiencies that don't compromise educational quality and seek further funding from province
    Crawford, Nancy Look for opportunities to reduce expenses
    Nevins-Selvadurai, Ronald Fight for more grants
    Nutter, Ryan Find efficiencies in non-educational revenues, and maximize external grants and partnerships


  • Candidate Response
    Alvarez, Ace Parents must always be involved
    Corpuz, Paulina Transparency, engagement, accessibility and visibility
    Crawford, Nancy Engaging our community members is an essential aspect of good governance.
    Nevins-Selvadurai, Ronald Open dialogue with school communities and ratepayers
    Nutter, Ryan Will engage community through traditional means and will also utilize technology


  • Candidate Response
    Alvarez, Ace No
    Corpuz, Paulina No
    Crawford, Nancy Will consider
    Nevins-Selvadurai, Ronald No
    Nutter, Ryan No


  • Candidate Response
    Alvarez, Ace Yes
    Corpuz, Paulina Yes
    Crawford, Nancy Yes
    Nevins-Selvadurai, Ronald Yes
    Nutter, Ryan Yes


  • Candidate Response
    Alvarez, Ace The culture has changed
    Corpuz, Paulina Finance changes have been made but it takes time to change the culture
    Crawford, Nancy The culture has changed
    Nevins-Selvadurai, Ronald Save unnecessary expenditure
    Nutter, Ryan Will lead by example in posting expenses online and disclosing to constituents


  • Candidate Response
    Alvarez, Ace Taking advice from experts and parents
    Corpuz, Paulina All stakeholders must play a role
    Crawford, Nancy More funding from the province
    Nevins-Selvadurai, Ronald Community participation
    Nutter, Ryan Has a concrete, three point plan


  • Candidate Response
    Alvarez, Ace Detailed examination of the expenditures
    Corpuz, Paulina Find efficiencies on budgetary line items
    Crawford, Nancy Administration has already been reduced
    Nevins-Selvadurai, Ronald Eliminate unnecessary expenses
    Nutter, Ryan Look into shared back-office space with the City of Toronto or to create a sharing partnership with other boards, and by conducting routine audits


  • Candidate Response
    Alvarez, Ace A diplomatic approach
    Corpuz, Paulina Collective bargaining is in place
    Crawford, Nancy A positive approach
    Nevins-Selvadurai, Ronald Involve parents and teachers
    Nutter, Ryan Emphasize to all sides that children are the most important part of the negotiations


  • Candidate Response
    Alvarez, Ace Yes
    Corpuz, Paulina Yes
    Crawford, Nancy Yes
    Nevins-Selvadurai, Ronald Yes
    Nutter, Ryan Yes

 

The full responses

  • 1. Recently the Canadian Football League and Nissan stepped in to help school boards with the costs of organized sports. Do you support seeking private investment at the TCDSB?

    With tight budgets these days, I support private investment with the cost of organized sports, subject of course to strict limitations, For example, private investment may invest in TCDSB organized sports programs, but limited only to “naming rights” and/or sponsorships, among others teams, events and/or facilities.

    2. What ideas do you have to address the budget challenges that the TCDSB faces?

    As already mentioned in my response to item #1, budget challenges in the TCDSB may be remedied, among others, by sponsorship programs and pro-rated austere measures on budgeted items. 

    3. How will you foster and engage school communities and ratepayers at large?

    In any organization, involvement by stakeholders needs serious campaign by the board. In the school environment, the TCDSB Board must effect ways and means within which to make the stakeholders understand the importance of their involvement and participation. For example, as a communicator, I can lead a communication campaign to instill in the hearts and minds of parents and students that whatever we, as a community, do at the moment will impact our future. It is a said that the youth is our future, I say this having observed from several of my participation in workshops of CSAC (Catholic School Advisory Council) that most parents leave the education and school activities of their children to teachers (the parents being, or prefer to engage more in making a living). Parents, as the first educators of every child, must therefore continue to be involved in their children’s education.

    4. There are candidates who have proposed advocating for a new tax dedicated specifically to education. Is this a proposal you support?

    No, I don’t support this proposal; and the reason is that, the current system of apportionment of the public’s tax dollars between the public and Catholic school systems in the province, is in itself a tax dedicated for education.  I am certain that the next four-year term of those who will be elected in the October 27, 2014 will reveal a lot more during deliberation on various matters. Depending on the exigencies of the times in the next term, if at all, I would support only an increase in the tax dollar rate going to Catholic education within city of my territorial jurisdiction.  

    5. TCDSB has debated and budgeted for an ombudsman. Do you – and will you support this important initiative?

    An independently-minded advocate is always necessary for a fair assessment and adjudication of any conflict affecting two, or three parties in a case, or situation. I would support such an initiative, subject to limitation to the stages of appeal that a losing party may have in a case, such as those affecting questions of fact and/or law.

    6. Do you believe the culture among TCDSB Trustees has changed after a spending scandal that saw Trustees expense gold jewelry, trips, university tuition, personalized licence plates and lingerie, among other things? If not how will you change this culture?

    People learn from their own mistakes, as well as those committed by others, serving them lessons to reckon with in the future. I believe that the culture has changed. While needless to cite here, the situation described in the question resulted from the wrong people having been elected to the TCDSB Board, hence, this early, Catholic education ratepayers must keep sharp eyes on who they elect to their TCDSB system. They must see to it t hat candidates who have good values must be elected. 

    7. Failures in special education are considered by some to be the greatest failure in the public system. What is your plan for correcting this?

    During the initial days after I filed my nomination as Trustee for the TCDSB, my attention was drawn into this matter by a parent who has dedicated her life, even resigning from work — and totally abdicated her banking career, her child needing attention, thus, requiring special education. To a certain degree, she has succeeded to include special education among the thrusts that the public school system must pay attention to. Meanwhile, on Friday, August 29, 2014, an advocate of special education phoned me to discuss, among other things, the need for closer attention on special education. At the same time, this advocate – who holds a Ph. D. and specializes in this specific field and diversity, offered his expertise to me on the subject by way of an Adviser. I will utilize his expertise, as well as the mother, whom I cited earlier on, as well interest groups on special education, in tackling this issue at hand.

    8. What are your ideas on how we can reduce the cost of administration and governance at TCDSB?

    Reduction in the cost of administration and governance in any organization needs detailed examination of the expenditures. The same is true when applied to the TCDSB. I am certain that as I look into figures after my hopeful and prayerful election to the office that I seek for, much will be revealed to me. I do not want to say anything here and pointing at specifics in the absence of date before me at the moment. However, this questionnaire – in number 6 on top, already mentioned the luxuries described by some Trustee; and such is one area where it will definitely reduce administrative and governance costs.

    9. What do you think is the best approach for the TCDSB to take in upcoming contract negotiations with teachers and staff?

    In any bargaining, a diplomatic approach is always the best course, explaining and communicating very well with the union the rationality of its demands as against budget vs. allocations, revenue vs. expense and everything. Hostility will not do any party any good for it will only result to disruptions in services – foremost the education of our young children.

    10. TCDSB is in the process of developing a parent/student bill of rights. What do you view as one of the most important rights in education for parents and students? Will you support this initiative?​

    I will support such initiative, why not? For me, there is no item in such bill of rights more important than the other, or others. We must take note, however, that the Bill of Rights for parents and students will only be an adjunct to those already enshrined in the Bill of Rights under the fundamental law of the land – the Constitution Act, 1982. The Bill of Rights, as outlined in the Constitution Act of 1982, encompasses all civil rights in quasi-judicial (administrative, such as those before the TCDSB) and judicial (civil and criminal courts) of Canada, thus, any bill of rights in other documents is already embraced in such. All that is necessary is the interpretation to the legal provision. For purposes, however, of specific application to the needs of parents and students, there is no harm in duplicating the same, subject to the exception that no provision of the bill of rights being developed by TCDSB runs counter to those provided in the fundamental law.   

  • 1. Recently the Canadian Football League and Nissan stepped in to help school boards with the costs of organized sports. Do you support seeking private investment at the TCDSB?

    My priority is to protect Catholic schools and Catholic education. I will work to ensure that Catholics schools provide an education that will nurture our Christian Catholic faith, reflect our Catholic teachings while supporting academic achievement of our children and youth. I have nothing against private investments at the TCDSB as long as these organizations’ intent is consistent with the vision, mission and objectives of TCDSB and does NOT compromise it.

    2. What ideas do you have to address the budget challenges that the TCDSB faces?

    Public education is a Right. It is the government’s responsibility to support public education. I will support cost efficiency measures that will not compromise the quality of education of children and youth. I will support asking additional support from all levels of government from more funding for special education, daycare services, enhancement programs to youth and family support services.

    3. How will you foster and engage school communities and ratepayers at large?

    Foster engagement through transparency, engagement, accessibility and visibility. As trustee, I will be more accessible and visible to my constituents; to be more open and accountable; to explore all possible and acceptable venues of communication (email, text, calls, and online social media) within the resources provided; and, to provide for more opportunities for parental engagement and maximizing funds offered by the Board and the all levels of government. Work with the Board of Trustees, the City and the Province to overhaul existing parent engagement programs to implement a better way to reach out parents and the community.

    4. There are candidates who have proposed advocating for a new tax dedicated specifically to education. Is this a proposal you support?

    Personally, I do not support creating new taxes or adding more taxes to the common citizens of Toronto. I believe that public education is a right and if education of our children is a priority of the government, the government will make it possible to allocate more resources for education. My priority is to ensure that Catholics schools provide an education that will nurture our Christian Catholic faith, reflect our Catholic teachings while supporting academic achievement
    of our children and youth. Good quality education for our children must be the top priority of the government and it should reflect this in the budget allocations.

    5. TCDSB has debated and budgeted for an ombudsman. Do you – and will you support this important initiative?

    I support having an independent and impartial body to help in conflict resolution. I have to be certain that this is for the maximum and optimal benefit of the children and youth; that no other more important priority is compromised; that this is not a Band-Aid solution to a multitude of primary issues; or a pretext to provide an image of accountability and responsiveness for the Board of Trustees. An ombudsman’s office requires resource. Is this resource more importantly spent on another priority like transportation, repair and maintenance or special education?

    6. Do you believe the culture among TCDSB Trustees has changed after a spending scandal that saw Trustees expense gold jewelry, trips, university tuition, personalized licence plates and lingerie, among other things? If not how will you change this culture?

    It seems that a change has happened in how finances were managed after a two year provincial supervision in 2008. I am not sure about the culture. It takes time to determine if the change happened within the organization. Also is the balancing of the budget serving the constituency better or was it balanced for the sake of a balanced budget?”

    The parents’ and the community’s strong involvement in the affairs of the TCDSB would be an effective monitoring mechanism – a check and balance. It will foster accountability and build trust. It is important to engage and empower parents through information, communication and consultation.

    Trustees are elected by the people. A trustee should be the role model of the community and act with the highest integrity and professionalism.

    7. Failures in special education are considered by some to be the greatest failure in the public system. What is your plan for correcting this?

    Bring all stakeholders to review the current special education program; understand what is working and what is not working; identify the problem(s); and, agree on how best it is will be implemented. I know we can never satisfy 100% all the stakeholders all the time. Special education and special needs are important issues that need attention. The measure of a good organization is reflected on how it takes care of their most vulnerable persons and groups in the
    organization. There is a saying from my culture, “We are in this together, and no one left behind”.

    8. What are your ideas on how we can reduce the cost of administration and governance at TCDSB?

    Find efficiency in the line items of the budget and on business processes and procedures. Budget variances should be properly explained and assessed based on actual results. Advocate for responsible spending and timely reporting of expenses. Engage the parents and community on how to best support TCDSB in these matters.

    9. What do you think is the best approach for the TCDSB to take in upcoming contract negotiations with teachers and staff?

    Collective bargaining is already in place. I value everyone’s contribution in our work to making Catholic education responsive to the needs of the children, youth and the community. I believe that most of the community stakeholders share in the value of Catholic education for our children and youth and I pray that we will come to a common agreement to make it happen.

    A comprehensive plan and program should be developed to achieve balance acceptable to all parties concerned. Keep the lines of communication open to pave way for a meaningful and positive negotiation results.

    10. TCDSB is in the process of developing a parent/student bill of rights. What do you view as one of the most important rights in education for parents and students? Will you support this initiative?​

    I support the initiative. In addition to the Bill of Rights in our constitution, I believe that parents must have access to information and access to principals, trustees and teachers, at all levels; that parents must be informed on matters relevant to their children’s education; that parents are the first educators of their children and a such must be consulted; and that parents are partners in growing and strengthening the Christian Catholic values of their children. Children have the right to a high quality of Catholic education; to have a safe, secure and healthy learning environment; to have adequate resources and tools to succeed; to have access to after-school services and programs that will complement the formation of their faith and learn about their Catholic teachings and other academic support.

  • 1. Recently the Canadian Football League and Nissan stepped in to help school boards with the costs of organized sports. Do you support seeking private investment at the TCDSB?

    I support partnerships with appropriate external organizations. The TCDSB partnership office is continually looking for suitable opportunities. I want our students to have the best possible educational experience for their own growth and the betterment of our communities. Budget dollars are always limited so partnering with external companies encourages these companies to support the development of their future employees and fortify the future society in Ontario.

    2. What ideas do you have to address the budget challenges that the TCDSB faces?

    Public funds always need to be carefully managed. The TCDSB CFO and the financial services staff along with the Board of Trustees continually look for opportunities to reduce expenses through partnering with other School Boards to make bulk purchases, through consolidating programs where possible and through active review of how we spend the money. I am Vice Chair this year of the Budget committee and we have worked diligently to do this review.

    3. How will you foster and engage school communities and ratepayers at large?

    Engaging our community members is an essential aspect of good governance. I worked initially with two other Trustees and then all Trustees and staff to develop a community engagement policy that respected every person’s contribution and the School Board’s need to hear from our ratepayers. In school communities, I am present as often as possible and work hard to ensure that they have the tools and resources that they need to succeed.

    4. There are candidates who have proposed advocating for a new tax dedicated specifically to education. Is this a proposal you support?

    Education and Health Care are Ontario’s two greatest budget allocations. I am open to consider alternatives.

    5. TCDSB has debated and budgeted for an ombudsman. Do you – and will you support this important initiative?

    I have supported this initiative in my recent voting. The Ontario government has expanded the scope of the Ontario ombudsman to include education. It may be prudent for the TCDSB to review the decision to budget for an ombudsman given this new development. What is of great importance is that all stakeholder concerns be heard and responded to and resolved as positively as possible in a fair and equitable manner.

    6. Do you believe the culture among TCDSB Trustees has changed after a spending scandal that saw Trustees expense gold jewelry, trips, university tuition, personalized licence plates and lingerie, among other things? If not how will you change this culture?

    Yes, the financial culture among TCDSB Trustees is now one of fiscal responsibility and accountability.

    7. Failures in special education are considered by some to be the greatest failure in the public system. What is your plan for correcting this?

    The TCDSB spends more than 19 million on our Special Needs budget than we are given by the Ministry of Education. We provide our special needs students with the best education and supports that we possibly can. We continue to advocate to the Ministry for a review of Special Needs allocations for all Boards.

    8. What are your ideas on how we can reduce the cost of administration and governance at TCDSB?

    The administration allocation has already been reduced by the Ministry. The Trustees reduced the Trustee expenses budget last June.

    9. What do you think is the best approach for the TCDSB to take in upcoming contract negotiations with teachers and staff?

    A positive one. The TCDSB will be working with the other Catholic Boards in Ontario through the Ontario Catholic School Trustees Association, our bargaining agent, to negotiate respectful and just agreements with our partner associations and unions.

    10. TCDSB is in the process of developing a parent/student bill of rights. What do you view as one of the most important rights in education for parents and students? Will you support this initiative?​

    Yes, I support this bill of rights. Parents are the first educators of their children, they have a right to be an equal partner with the school and the Parish Church in the education of their children. Children have a right to a safe and encouraging learning environment with leading edge educational practices and excellent teachers. Children are full participants in their own learning and development.

  • 1. Recently the Canadian Football League and Nissan stepped in to help school boards with the costs of organized sports. Do you support seeking private investment at the TCDSB?

    Yes but I need to have more discussion on the details on the type of investment.

    2. What ideas do you have to address the budget challenges that the TCDSB faces?

    I will fight for more grants from the government to the catholic school to the challenges that TCDSB faces

    3. How will you foster and engage school communities and ratepayers at large?

    I will have an open dialogue with the school communities and ratepayers.

    4. There are candidates who have proposed advocating for a new tax dedicated specifically to education. Is this a proposal you support?

    I will not support the bill if it will cause additional burden on the taxpayer.

    5. TCDSB has debated and budgeted for an ombudsman. Do you – and will you support this important initiative?

    Yes I will support the TCDSB for an ombudsman.

    6. Do you believe the culture among TCDSB Trustees has changed after a spending scandal that saw Trustees expense gold jewelry, trips, university tuition, personalized licence plates and lingerie, among other things? If not how will you change this culture?

    My vision is to save unnecessary expenditure by the TCDSB Trustees. I will initiate for a ceiling on the expenditure incurred by Trustees and bring about greater accountability to the school system.

    7. Failures in special education are considered by some to be the greatest failure in the public system. What is your plan for correcting this?

    I will bring about a community participation system through a Parent Teacher’s Association.

    8. What are your ideas on how we can reduce the cost of administration and governance at TCDSB?

    I will analyze all expenses made by the TCDSB administration and eliminate unnecessary expenses.

    9. What do you think is the best approach for the TCDSB to take in upcoming contract negotiations with teachers and staff?

    I will advocate the creation of Parent teachers Association to discuss the upcoming contract negotiations to arrive at a solution to settle their demands.

    10. TCDSB is in the process of developing a parent/student bill of rights. What do you view as one of the most important rights in education for parents and students? Will you support this initiative?​

    I will champion for the creation of parent/student bill of rights. I will also fight for the children with special needs by ensuring they receive the resources they need to succeed for their education

  • 1. Recently the Canadian Football League and Nissan stepped in to help school boards with the costs of organized sports. Do you support seeking private investment at the TCDSB?

    Co-curricular activities are an important element that adds to the richness of the school experience for all students. Any organization that is willing to provide fiduciary support to schools should be welcome as long as their motives do not clash with or compromise the values of the school.

    2. What ideas do you have to address the budget challenges that the TCDSB faces?

    There are two major steps I would take to address the budget challenges that the TCDSB faces. Firstly, I would look at the non-education revenue to determine where inefficiencies can be found and eliminated. Secondly, I would maximize external grant and partnership opportunities, while also ensuring that programs and department activities are evaluated not on philosophical lines or by repeating what we have always done, but instead by determining what drives value and ultimately has the most impact.

    3. How will you foster and engage school communities and ratepayers at large?

    It is 2014 and we now have technology that makes it easy for anyone in the public to engage in the important discourse of education. I plan to use social media as well as other traditional means of communication to keep all ratepayers involved. It is also important to communicate in the predominant languages of the schools and to list ways, small and large, that ratepayers can become actively involved in their school communities.

    4. There are candidates who have proposed advocating for a new tax dedicated specifically to education. Is this a proposal you support?

    In short, no, I don’t believe that we need a special tax for education because the current funding model that is in place is sufficient. Our main priority should be to ensure that we spend those dollars in a responsible manner. Being responsible with taxpayer’s money also means that we must explore every possible funding resource that is currently available to us. For example, since Toronto is a growing city, the TCDSB is entitled to Education Development Charges (EDCs). EDCs are a funding model that provide grants to eligible school boards to cover the costs of constructing and furnishing new schools but these are limited to land purchases only. Through a change in legislation, we could expand the current EDC guidelines to be used for capital projects as well, which would make a significant contribution to ensuring that we have adequate and up-to-date facilities, thus eliminating the need for a special tax

    5. TCDSB has debated and budgeted for an ombudsman. Do you – and will you support this important initiative?

    Yes! One of my campaign promises is to support this initiative. I believe that ratepayers deserve transparency and access to an impartial, objective and independent third party in the form of an ombudsman.

    6. Do you believe the culture among TCDSB Trustees has changed after a spending scandal that saw Trustees expense gold jewelry, trips, university tuition, personalized licence plates and lingerie, among other things? If not how will you change this culture?

    A lot has happened since the 2008 forensic audit that revealed trustee misspending at the TCDSB. Today however, I would argue that the TCDSB is now one of the most transparent boards in Ontario with respect to trustee expenses. I will continue the trend of posting all of my expenses online as well as regular disclosure to constituents. This shift in transparency and culture needs to be extended throughout the entire organization, especially with respect to tax dollars as a whole.

    7. Failures in special education are considered by some to be the greatest failure in the public system. What is your plan for correcting this?

    I have a three point plan to address the failures in special education. They include:

    1. Early identification and intervention for struggling students.
    2. Increased access to assistive technology.
    3. Centralise, better coordination and communication amongst support staff, as the current fragmented system is only exacerbating the problem.

    8. What are your ideas on how we can reduce the cost of administration and governance at TCDSB?

    When looking at the question of how to reduce the cost of administration and governance at the TCDSB, I would encourage the board to look into shared back-office space with the City of Toronto or to create a sharing partnership with other boards. I would also advocate for shared purchasing and projects as the boards are already doing – these shared projects can relate to anything from IT to payroll.

    Further to that point, I wholeheartedly believe that audits should periodically be used to ensure value for money and operational efficiency.

    9. What do you think is the best approach for the TCDSB to take in upcoming contract negotiations with teachers and staff?

    The government of Ontario has taken over much of the contract negotiations, however I believe that the TCDSB has a responsibility to emphasize in all of its negotiations with teachers, that children are the most important consideration when decisions need to be made.

    10. TCDSB is in the process of developing a parent/student bill of rights. What do you view as one of the most important rights in education for parents and students? Will you support this initiative?​

    Not only will I enthusiastically support such an important initiative, I would like to be directly involved in its creation. Such a bill of rights has the potential to provide a common framework and reference point that will clearly define school culture.

2014 TCDSB Election: Ward 11 – East York/Toronto

The Incumbent:

Angela Kennedy

The Race

Voters will have a choice to make in this ward with many great answers from a large field of candidates.

Candidates Who Did Not Participate: Christmas Sy

The Breakdown

  • Candidate Response
    Alvares, Desmond Yes
    Kennedy, Angela Yes
    Morrison, Kevin Will consider


  • Candidate Response
    Alvares, Desmond Make the best use of the facilities and locations that we have available to us
    Kennedy, Angela Reduce Senior Management and middle management positions. Reduce overtime. Don't allow retirees to supply in short term positions
    Morrison, Kevin Campaigning on a platform to increase revenue for school improvements and new buildings.


  • Candidate Response
    Alvares, Desmond Consultation meetings where parents provide feedback to the board should be expanded to all taxpayers
    Kennedy, Angela Attend school council meetings, arrange ward council meetings, hold meet and greet after mass
    Morrison, Kevin Building consensus is the most efficient way to get things done


  • Candidate Response
    Alvares, Desmond No
    Kennedy, Angela No
    Morrison, Kevin No


  • Candidate Response
    Alvares, Desmond Yes
    Kennedy, Angela Yes
    Morrison, Kevin No


  • Candidate Response
    Alvares, Desmond We need to have a fresh perspective on the board
    Kennedy, Angela Culture has changed
    Morrison, Kevin By electing an entirely new board


  • Candidate Response
    Alvares, Desmond Look at ways to address the funding formula
    Kennedy, Angela Special Education funding is not sufficient.
    Morrison, Kevin Increased funding


  • Candidate Response
    Alvares, Desmond Look at the cost involved in all aspects of administration and look to reduce redundancy and consolidate any overlapping functions.
    Kennedy, Angela Stop hiring retirees, do a better job of succession planning for all levels of staff, hire a non-teacher CEO.
    Morrison, Kevin Recent over spending on capital projects must be watched carefully to be kept on budget.


  • Candidate Response
    Alvares, Desmond Provide staff with proper remuneration
    Kennedy, Angela Has family employed by board, and thus refrains from answering
    Morrison, Kevin Trustees should have limited involvement in the negotiations.


  • Candidate Response
    Alvares, Desmond Yes
    Kennedy, Angela Yes
    Morrison, Kevin Yes

 

The full responses

  • 1. Recently the Canadian Football League and Nissan stepped in to help school boards with the costs of organized sports. Do you support seeking private investment at the TCDSB?

    Sports is an important aspect of student development and my eldest daughter was able to take part in the swim team in high school and my youngest took part in all sports in primary school as well as in a representative team for football (soccer).  I have seen the benefit of private investment in allowing kids that need a head start to get involved in sports.   My youngest daughter has worked with the kick start program and her representative football team were the girls in the Canadian Tyre advertisement to encourage donations to the program.

    By supporting kids to get involved in sports regardless of their circumstances it will help them academically as well as develop their self-esteem and motivation.   I would support the continued involvement and encouragement by private investment.

    2. What ideas do you have to address the budget challenges that the TCDSB faces?

    The Toronto catholic district school board offers students an opportunity to provide one of the best educations in the world.  I have had two kids complete their education through the last 16 years and they have both entered university.

    One of the key aspects in terms of meeting the challenge of the budget is ensuring that we make the best use of the facilities and locations that we have available to us. A key aspect to this is ensuring that we maximize enrolment in our school and then meet our funding maximum potential.

    We also need to see where we have differences between what we spend and how much we get in terms of funding to ensure that we align our resources to the funding.  Where we have major differences between our funding and costs we have two options one is to look as how we can reduce costs in terms of areas of challenges such as transportation.  We also need to look at ways to get the province and other funding partners to enhance their funding were we see the need to provide support for those in need to support, such as special education.

    We also need to look to get essential repairs completed and look to raise funds by using the space available for purposes that line up with our goals such as supporting organized sport.  We need to look at ways to use the space we have available, support the neighbourhood as well as get engagement of the local community. We need to consider opportunities for use of the green space throughout the year and encourage the development of multi-use structures on our properties.

    3. How will you foster and engage school communities and ratepayers at large?

    Community engagement both from a school community perspective as well as those around the schools is a key element to helping the school develop and reach their best potential.  It is important to provide an on-going dialog and communication to those that use the school facilities as well as rate payers as a whole.  We need to look at programs and value we can add to the community as a whole as the Toronto Catholic School Board is to provide value to all the catholic supporters in the area.

    I have had the opportunity over the last year to take part in the consultation where opportunities were made to allow parents to provide input to the strategic priorities for the board.  These meeting are key ways to get engagement of the whole community that supports catholic education and should be expanded to all ratepayers and supporters.

    A continued outreach both in person as well as electronically is required to reach out and get feedback from the maximum number of people.  We need to consider all people with an interest in the schools and area.

    We need to consider opportunities for the school to get support from local private partnerships as well as provide opportunities for the school to give back to the communities that they reside in.  The kids in our schools what to help their community and find opportunities to give back and get engaged.

    We should encourage our high school kids as well as our primary school reaching out to the community and finding opportunities to help locally.  We could run events at our school to promote engagement of the community and encourage the use of our facilities for outside events.

    I would provide a regular update on progress on key activities as well as ensure that they can be accessed electronically and in formats that would be relevant for all rate payers in Toronto. I would look to engage all the churches and schools in getting engagement from our community.

    4. There are candidates who have proposed advocating for a new tax dedicated specifically to education. Is this a proposal you support?

    I would not be supportive of an additional tax for education.  In some cases we have situation that parents are providing additional support for their kids to allow them to take part in more enriched activities.  I think it is important to allow access for all students to opportunities that are available regardless of their income and background. In our schools we had activities that were funded by parents, however we ensured that all students could take part in all the activities by providing some subsidies to those that could not afford it.

    5. TCDSB has debated and budgeted for an ombudsman. Do you – and will you support this important initiative?

    I have seen the importance of ombudsman in other areas and would support this.  It is in line with the need for transparency and openness in the

    6. Do you believe the culture among TCDSB Trustees has changed after a spending scandal that saw Trustees expense gold jewellry, trips, university tuition, personalized licence plates and lingerie, among other things? If not how will you change this culture?

    We need to have a fresh perspective on the board.  It is good to see that a number of new candidates have put themselves forward.  It is important to provide clear guidance and oversight of the trustees

    7. Failures in special education are considered by some to be the greatest failure in the public system. What is your plan for correcting this?

    Special education is an important aspect of the education framework and is one area where we have funding challenges.  We need advocates that support this area and look at ways to enhance the funding formula.

    8. What are your ideas on how we can reduce the cost of administration and governance at TCDSB?

    We need to look at the cost involved in all aspects of administration and look to reduce redundancy and consolidate any overlapping functions.  I have seen that budgets have been reduced in the last year and we need to tap into our team to see where there are opportunities to get additional saving.  We need to move to more electronic communication and reduce postal and printing costs. We need to increase the communication we have to our community, however we need to use electronic means that allow access for the whole community.

    9. What do you think is the best approach for the TCDSB to take in upcoming contract negotiations with teachers and staff?

    We need to ensure that we are fair to all teacher and staff in terms of providing them with a reasonable remuneration for the work that they do and ensure that the kids get the best education possible by supporting and encouraging the best people come into the profession.

    We need to be also mindful that the cost of the teachers and staff is currently underfunded by the current funding formulas based on our current enrolment.

    10. TCDSB is in the process of developing a parent/student bill of rights. What do you view as one of the most important rights in education for parents and students? Will you support this initiative?​

    Communication of key elements is one of the key rights that need to be considered. We need to ensure that parents and student keep the school advised on things that may be relevant and the school need to keep both parents and student advised on updates and information.

    I would be supportive of this initiative and feel that it will provide additional support for an inclusive and involved environment for parents, students and members of the school board.

  • 1. Recently the Canadian Football League and Nissan stepped in to help school boards with the costs of organized sports. Do you support seeking private investment at the TCDSB?

    Yes

    2. What ideas do you have to address the budget challenges that the TCDSB faces?

    Reduce Senior Management and middle management positions. Reduce overtime which occurs with permit supervision .No retirees to supply in any short term positions.

    3. How will you foster and engage school communities and ratepayers at large?

    Advertise my availability to attend School Council meetings and attend local school events whenever possible. Arrange ward council meetings. Negotiate with Pastors to use the Church Hall after masses for a meet and greet.

    4. There are candidates who have proposed advocating for a new tax dedicated specifically to education. Is this a proposal you support?

    No New taxes. Reduce tax burdens. Spend within allocated funds . Look for efficiencies in all departments. Balance the budget.

    5. TCDSB has debated and budgeted for an ombudsman. Do you – and will you support this important initiative?

    Yes I support an ombudsman. There are many system-wide issues that are never brought to the board table . Issues are solved on case by case basis.  The system wide issues that are identified by the ombudsman will be the basis for new policy or policy revisions.

    6. Do you believe the culture among TCDSB Trustees has changed after a spending scandal that saw Trustees expense gold jewellry, trips, university tuition, personalized licence plates and lingerie, among other things? If not how will you change this culture?

    Yes culture has changed . It seems that Trustees are exercising greater care with taxpayer dollars With greater transparency it seems sober second thought happens before spending or at least careful consideration so to be in line with policies.

    7. Failures in special education are considered by some to be the greatest failure in the public system. What is your plan for correcting this?

    Special Education funding is not sufficient. There are aspects of Special Education services that should be under a different Ministry –ie Ministry of Health or Minister in charge of Youth Services.

    8. What are your ideas on how we can reduce the cost of administration and governance at TCDSB?

    Decrease cost of administration . Stop hiring retirees. Do a better job of succession planning  for all levels of staff. Petition the government to allow TCDSB TO HIRE A NON-TEACHER  CEO .

    9. What do you think is the best approach for the TCDSB to take in upcoming contract negotiations with teachers and staff?

    Since I have family members employed by the board I will refrain from answering this question.

    10. TCDSB is in the process of developing a parent/student bill of rights. What do you view as one of the most important rights in education for parents and students? Will you support this initiative?​

    Parent/Student bill of rights . Parents are the first and primary educators. They simply choose a school and then ask that their child be educated at that school . Parents have the right to have all information pertaining to their child. No One should have any information unless the parents have it first .

  • 1. Recently the Canadian Football League and Nissan stepped in to help school boards with the costs of organized sports. Do you support seeking private investment at the TCDSB?

    In an ideal world school boards would be able to find the funds within their own budget to fund sports, but that’s just not realistic. Student academic achievement is currently the biggest priority. School boards have frequently accepted outside help and donations to fund a variety of programs. The CFL / Nissan program is a more structured and public arrangement.

    The idea of outside funding has some inherent problems. Notably the sponsorship and coaching duties performed by Mayor Rob Ford for the Don Bosco football team lead to pupils and staff getting caught up in a media circus. This is not fair to students or staff.

    Partnerships with outside agencies and businesses need to be carefully constructed and expectations managed. The policies in place are currently inadequate and changes need to me made.

    2. What ideas do you have to address the budget challenges that the TCDSB faces?

    I am campaigning on a platform to increase revenue for school improvements and new buildings. This includes directing the board to become serious about energy retrofits to save costs and partnering with a third party to form a not-for-profit cooperative to generate solar energy revenues from school facilities. The TDSB is working on a similar plan and money is expected to start flowing soon. Recent advances in solar panel technology make installations lighter, more efficient and more profitable.

    I also believe that members of the Catholic community should set up a private investment fund that would allow Catholic school supporters to donate money into an investment fund. This privately held fund would over time provide money for school repairs and development. Over its 180 year history Catholic education has always relied on contributions from the community to survive and prosper. An investment fund would continue that proud tradition.

    I oppose partnerships with developers to build new schools with an integrated condo development. Several boards have already entered into these arrangements and they haven’t been 100 per cent successful. Profit and education don’t mix and even the best intentioned partnerships with developers are too risky.

    3. How will you foster and engage school communities and ratepayers at large?

    I am a tireless advocate for Catholic education, student achievement and parental involvement. Before deciding to run for trustee I was an executive member of the Toronto Catholic Parent Involvement Committee – a statutory committee of the TCDSB that consults with the board on issues of parental involvement and student achievement. I am also the past chair for both CSAC (parent council) and the safe schools committee at my children’s school.

    As a candidate I bring many years of community involvement to the table and I have always fostered the belief that building consensus is the most efficient way to get things done.

    4. There are candidates who have proposed advocating for a new tax dedicated specifically to education. Is this a proposal you support?

    I am completely opposed to any new taxes being levied on individual taxpayers. Working families can’t afford it.

    5. TCDSB has debated and budgeted for an ombudsman. Do you – and will you support this important initiative?

    I have watched the debate about an ombudsperson unfold for several years. There are significant legal hurdles to creating the position within the TCDSB. I feel that a position created by the board of trustees to examine board activities will most likely be toothless and a waste of money. The money should be spent in education.

    A better solution would be to expand the purview of the Ontario Ombudsperson to cover school boards and education. Currently the Office of the Ontario Ombudsperson has limited jurisdiction over school boards. By broadening the purview of the Ontario Ombudsperson it would mean that all school boards in the province would be open to examination and investigation.

    This will in turn allow investigations to happen in a fair and unbiased manner. It will also allow the Ontario Ombudsperson to create broader context to identify cause in an investigation and also make school boards and the Ministry of Education more accountable.

    6. Do you believe the culture among TCDSB Trustees has changed after a spending scandal that saw Trustees expense gold jewellry, trips, university tuition, personalized licence plates and lingerie, among other things? If not how will you change this culture?

    The spending and expense issues are unforgivable. Many incumbent trustees have tried to justify expense claims that are quite simply unjustifiable. As someone that followed the 2008 TCDSB expense scandal closely I was appalled at the excuses for unethical behaviour. In many cases trustees argued that the guidelines were confusing and lax.

    In my opinion you can’t blame a lack of rules or lack of clarity to engage in behaviour that you know to be unethical. Trustees need only look at the spending policy of their employer or school board employees for common sense guidelines on what constitutes a legitimate expense.

    For example you generally wouldn’t expense your employer for a trip to the salon. Nor would you expense your employer to pay for a third party to read a book on your behalf and prepare a set of notes. Your employer expects you to read the book and pay for your own haircut.

    Unfortunately the current Ward 11 incumbent had no problem passing the cost of a trip to the salon and the cost of having a book read on her behalf onto taxpayers. Meanwhile, at the school level it is not unusual for students to share text books because the budget has been trimmed to a bare minimum.

    The current board of trustees has been extremely careful with expenses during the last term but that doesn’t mean that the fundamental lack of ethics has been fixed. Several of the trustees involved in the expense scandal remain, including the Ward 11 incumbent. It’s time for them to be shown the door.

    7. Failures in special education are considered by some to be the greatest failure in the public system. What is your plan for correcting this?

    Failures in special education are a province wide issue. Many parents and groups that represent special needs children have been campaigning for a broader conversation at the provincial level. School boards generally work hard but fail to provide for special needs children due to lack of funding.

    I don’t believe that any individual school board will come close to scoring 100 per cent on special needs issues under the current funding formula. I believe that the province needs to set up a special commission to examine the issue further. Individual school boards cannot solve the problem working alone.

    8. What are your ideas on how we can reduce the cost of administration and governance at TCDSB?

    I volunteered and served on the Toronto Catholic Parent Involvement Committee – a statutory committee of the board. During my time on this committee I became knowledgeable about the inner workings of the board.

    In general terms I am not in favour of cutting administrative or support staff to reduce costs. As a parent I feel that the TCDSB has endured enough cuts during two and half years of provincial supervision. Millions of dollars’ worth of cuts were made and the board emerged as a much leaner and efficient entity. Recent over spending on capital projects must be watched carefully to be kept on budget.

    9. What do you think is the best approach for the TCDSB to take in upcoming contract negotiations with teachers and staff?

    With the addition of full day JK/SK staffing budgets are stretched further than ever before and all parties need to keep this in mind during negotiations.

    Trustees should have limited involvement in the negotiations. It has been my experience that trustees don’t have the labour relations expertise to play a full and active role in negotiations. Trustees often have a biased political agenda and I believe that can stand in the way to fair and decent negotiations.

    Before the negotiations begin the board of trustees and board staff should develop a framework document that outlines what their expectations and hopes for the negotiation. Ultimately trustees can choose to reject the outcome of negotiations or build consensus on things that need to be changed.

    10. TCDSB is in the process of developing a parent/student bill of rights. What do you view as one of the most important rights in education for parents and students? Will you support this initiative?​

    I believe that a parent/student bill of rights is a step in the right direction but it must provide a tangible and actionable set of rights. It’s a waste of time to create a mission statement style bill that provides generic rights.

    I believe that a parent/student bill of rights should provide tangible learning objectives such as a right to:

    • An undisrupted classroom experience for students
    • Educational minimum standards such as level three across the board
    • Be educated without being subjected to fundraising
    • Be provided with the necessary learning tools without user fees
    • A minimum of five hours of curriculum based tuition each day

    These are just a few examples that I believe make sense.

2014 TCDSB Election: Ward 10 – Toronto

The Incumbent:

Barbara Poplawski

The Race

Incumbent Trustee Poplawski has had some ups and downs on the board. Sadly, she refused to participate in our survey, but here is what one of her challengers, Edith Pearsons, had to say.

Candidates Who Did Not Participate: Barbara Poplawski, Ralph Tassone

The Breakdown

 

The full responses

  • 1. Recently the Canadian Football League and Nissan stepped in to help school boards with the costs of organized sports. Do you support seeking private investment at the TCDSB?

    I support seeking canadian organizations only to support the school boards. I would accept a partnership with the Canadian Football league, but not with Nissan.

    2. What ideas do you have to address the budget challenges that the TCDSB faces?

    We need to be pragmatic.Leasing some of our surplus properties is one idea. Also, we spend 18 millions more than we should in special education programs and staff. We need to either look at the staffing ratio for some students, or to try to outsource special education and to provide vouchers to parents.

    3. How will you foster and engage school communities and ratepayers at large?

    I will go to CSAC meetings and send out surveys. I will also support CPIC which is an organization dedicated to involve parents.

    4. There are candidates who have proposed advocating for a new tax dedicated specifically to education. Is this a proposal you support?

    No, absolutely not. I would like to work with the ministry to change the rules regarding the fundraising initiatives for our schools.

    5. TCDSB has debated and budgeted for an ombudsman. Do you – and will you support this important initiative?

    I do not know enough about the role of an ombudsman. I is probably a good thing if he/she can save taxpayers money.

    6. Do you believe the culture among TCDSB Trustees has changed after a spending scandal that saw Trustees expense gold jewellry, trips, university tuition, personalized licence plates and lingerie, among other things? If not how will you change this culture?

    I believe that the trustees do not spend as much as they used to. I would have voted against a trip to Florida (to attend a catholic education conference.) I support the objection that the director of education made before the motion was carried last spring.

    7. Failures in special education are considered by some to be the greatest failure in the public system. What is your plan for correcting this?

    I wrote about it in question 2:
    We need to either look at the staffing ratio for some students, or to try to outsource special education and to provide vouchers to parents.

    8. What are your ideas on how we can reduce the cost of administration and governance at TCDSB?

    We need to look at the waste of paper. We also need to look at the RFP sent out for services provided to the board. We should look at the whole process of “Board approved suppliers.” I do not know what the discrepancy between the government funding and the real cost of administration is, but I am willing to look into it.

    9. What do you think is the best approach for the TCDSB to take in upcoming contract negotiations with teachers and staff?

    I believe that the goal of the unions is to hire more staff with pay increase higher than the inflation rate. This approach needs to change, the concept of permanent positions for teachers need to change as well.

    10. TCDSB is in the process of developing a parent/student bill of rights. What do you view as one of the most important rights in education for parents and students? Will you support this initiative?​

    I am a member of this ad hoc committee. Do I need to say more?

2014 TCDSB Election: Ward 9 – Toronto

The Incumbent:

Jo-Ann Davis

The Race

Trustee Davis was elected on the heels of a spending scandal at the board. Running for her second term, neither of her challengers participated in our survey.

Candidates Who Did Not Participate: Manuel Ching, David Shaw

The Breakdown

 

The full responses

  • 1. Recently the Canadian Football League and Nissan stepped in to help school boards with the costs of organized sports. Do you support seeking private investment at the TCDSB?

    Catholic education is built on partnerships. These include thosewith provincial and local levels of government, with the local community, religious orders, local agencies, NGOs, charities and private corporations. For an example of the latter, just this year, the TD bank donated 500 desktops for students and 100 laptops for teachers to the TCDSB. I support partnerships that promotes the vision and mission of the TCDSB and provides our students with the tools they need, and helps us to close the learning opportunity gaps in our schools.

    2. What ideas do you have to address the budget challenges that the TCDSB faces?

    It’s clear that partnerships are critical and partnership development must be a key priority for the Board – both at the local school level and system-wide. For areas such as special education and transportation where our budgets far exceed the funds we receive, solutions need to be found with our education partners. I also support the continued existence of a Budget sub-committee as it provides a means for ongoing detailed analysis and discussion – against our multi-year strategic plan – in preparation for our most important annual board meeting.

    3. How will you foster and engage school communities and ratepayers at large?

    As a trustee over the last four years I have been invited to, and have attended, ratepayer and residence association meeting in my ward, providing updates and answering questions related to the local school communities. I’ve organized community meetings with the city councillors and MPPs from across my ward to discuss ways in which to support local Catholic schools.I’ve organized an annual ‘leadership workshop’ inviting principals, CSAC Chairs and pastors from across my ward to discuss successes and challenges across our community of schools and ways in which we can support each school meet the needs of their students. I’ve attended regular ‘St Paul Summits’ with all the locally-elected representatives for the riding of St Paul’s. I’ve attended community group meetings which are looking at local initiatives which impact our students – most recently I attended a meeting in support of Eglinton Connects. I have provided a quarterly community newsletter since my election in 2010 which is published on my website (www.jo-anndavis.ca),and provided to schools and parishes. I will continue to do all these things, as well as seek further methods to provide accessible and responsive representation to my constituents.

    4. There are candidates who have proposed advocating for a new tax dedicated specifically to education. Is this a proposal you support?

    As I don’t know the details of the proposal sited, I’m not able to comment. Earmarking a percentage of existing taxes for education is something I could support – providing greater transparency regarding the programs and services our collective taxes are being directed towards in support of the common good.

    5. TCDSB has debated and budgeted for an ombudsman. Do you – and will you support this important initiative?

    As a champion of this initiative I am fully supportiveof the TCDSB becoming the first school board in Ontario with an independent Ombudsman role. It supports both the continuous improvement of the TCDSB, and our multi-year strategic plan goals of increased public confidence and transparency

    6. Do you believe the culture among TCDSB Trustees has changed after a spending scandal that saw Trustees expense gold jewellry, trips, university tuition, personalized licence plates and lingerie, among other things? If not how will you change this culture?

    The scandals and culture pre-date my first term as trustee with the TCDSB. The TCDSB has published all trustee expenses on-line since before my election in 2010, and just this year TCDSB trustees voted to reduce trustee expense budgets. Speaking personally, I have not submitted an expense claim for any out of-pocket expenses in my role as trustee.

    7. Failures in special education are considered by some to be the greatest failure in the public system. What is your plan for correcting this?

    At the TCDSB we seek to provide all of our students with the tools they need to reach their potential and live life fully. As a Catholic school board we have a special responsibility to those students who are most at risk, and this includes those who require additional support in the classroom. If you look at our budget you will see the value which we place on Special Education – it accounts for about 12% of our total budget ($147M) with an estimated $20M spent more annually than we receive in funding from the Ministry of Education. Our mission makes clear that we believe that teaching must be responsive to individual student needs. What does this mean in the classroom? As an example, in 1999 the TCDSB created a distinct service for students with Autism. The service was created to provide multi-disciplinary supports to meet the complex needs of students with Autism and this continues to be a focus of service provision. As part of the Board’s Learning Improvement Plan and as a major initiative within Special Services, accountability frameworks and an advisory committee have been developed to guide programs provided for students with Autism as well as other exceptionalities. We are always seeking ways to better support our students, and the need to find partnership solutions given the clear budgetary constraints, has been a focus of discussions with the Ministry over the last year.

    8. What are your ideas on how we can reduce the cost of administration and governance at TCDSB?

    Given funding reductions in this area – in particular for the TCDSB – our Director is, I believe, already doing what can and should be done to reduce the cost of administration at the TCDSB without impacting its effective leadership and thereby impacting the success of our students.

    9. What do you think is the best approach for the TCDSB to take in upcoming contract negotiations with teachers and staff?

    As this question relates to collective bargaining, any views regarding labour negotiations are confidential out of respect for all parties involved.

    10. TCDSB is in the process of developing a parent/student bill of rights. What do you view as one of the most important rights in education for parents and students? Will you support this initiative?​

    The broad motion reinforces policies in place at the TCDSB and certainly I am supportive of its objectives. In my opinion, accessibility and equality of opportunity are the most important right for students (in terms of reaching their full potential) and parents (in terms of providing the means to support their children’s education) for which we should always be striving. As the community advisory committee to look at this proposal has yet to be established I can’t comment on whether I will support its recommendation to the Board of Trustees.

2014 TCDSB Election: Ward 8 – Scarborough

The Incumbent:

Garry Tanuan

The Race

Trustee Tanuan is running for re-election and faces a pair of challengers, only one of whom participated in our survey. Voters have some stark differences to consider in this ward.

Candidates Who Did Not Participate: Jobin Jose

The Breakdown

 

The full responses

  • 1. Recently the Canadian Football League and Nissan stepped in to help school boards with the costs of organized sports. Do you support seeking private investment at the TCDSB?

    Private investment — no. Donations — yes.

    2. What ideas do you have to address the budget challenges that the TCDSB faces?

    Budgets are always complicated since everyone wants a bigger piece of the pie every year. There is a need to rationalize program needs by department and identity potential savings.

    3. How will you foster and engage school communities and ratepayers at large?

    Initiate more community/taxpayer programs through online, social media and in-person consultations and interaction that would encourage input of fresh ideas.

    4. There are candidates who have proposed advocating for a new tax dedicated specifically to education. Is this a proposal you support?

    Need to know and understand details of this proposed new tax to see how the taxpayers are going to benefit from it. Also need to know if property taxes will be decreased as a consequence of having this new tax.

    5. TCDSB has debated and budgeted for an ombudsman. Do you – and will you support this important initiative?

    Yes and yes.

    6. Do you believe the culture among TCDSB Trustees has changed after a spending scandal that saw Trustees expense gold jewellry, trips, university tuition, personalized licence plates and lingerie, among other things? If not how will you change this culture?

    Yes, I believe this has changed especially with the new policy of posting Trustee expenses on the school board’s website. In fact, I think it has swung to the other side of the pendulum since some trustees do not charge even eligible expenses. 

    7. Failures in special education are considered by some to be the greatest failure in the public system. What is your plan for correcting this?

    Special education is always a big challenge with respect to budget pressures in our attempt to address all the special needs of our students. We need to take a closer look at the various tiers of needs and required services/resources against each student’s needs and prioritize accordingly. Parents of special-need kids need to be made aware and be informed properly regarding policies and eligibility requirements.

    8. What are your ideas on how we can reduce the cost of administration and governance at TCDSB?

    The board is already addressing this but additional ideas from various stakeholders to reduce, reuse, and recycle resources are most welcome.

    9. What do you think is the best approach for the TCDSB to take in upcoming contract negotiations with teachers and staff?

    The best approach is to have TCDSB exercise autonomous contract negotiations with teachers and staff.

    10. TCDSB is in the process of developing a parent/student bill of rights. What do you view as one of the most important rights in education for parents and students? Will you support this initiative?​

    I think it is important that parents are the final authorities in all decisions regarding their children, so yes I will support a parents’ bill of rights, not just in education, but in health, well-being, and spiritual aspects as well.

  • 1. Recently the Canadian Football League and Nissan stepped in to help school boards with the costs of organized sports. Do you support seeking private investment at the TCDSB?

    I think that an investment in physical activity in our schools is an investment in the overall health and well-being of our future generations.  That being said, I am supportive of private investment being made at the TCDSB provided that appropriate policies are in place to ensure that the organizations are solely advertising or promoting their brand and/or products and are otherwise prohibited from influencing the Board, faculty, students or any other stakeholder of the TCDSB.

    2. What ideas do you have to address the budget challenges that the TCDSB faces?

    Just as with the private sector, operational reviews are the best way to determine current efficiencies and seek out opportunities to eliminate waste.  It is important to maintain the appropriate staffing levels amongst the schools and ensure that the enrollments at schools are close to capacity to make certain that they are operating cost-effectively.  Regardless of the size of an organization, there are always areas for improvement, being the largest (publicly funded) Catholic School Board in the world; the TCDSB would be no different.   Investments in both infrastructure and technology are however inevitable, so running a balanced budget and maintaining provisions for future projects are essential.

    3. How will you foster and engage school communities and ratepayers at large?

    My goal is to be a strong, proficient, and compassionate voice for my community and the city at large.  I believe in accessibility and I will make myself available to listen to and to understand the concerns of everyone that I am to represent.  I also believe in accountability and transparency, thus I will keep Catholic Ratepayers aware of all issues that may potentially affect the protection or preservation of the board.

    4. There are candidates who have proposed advocating for a new tax dedicated specifically to education. Is this a proposal you support?

    I am not supportive of a new dedicated tax for education.  I do not think that new taxes are well perceived, nor do I believe that they would be more effective in dealing with board expenditures.  I believe that efficiency, waste reduction and well planned and executed investments are instrumental to the boards’ financial viability.

    5. TCDSB has debated and budgeted for an ombudsman. Do you – and will you support this important initiative?

    Back in 2012 the motion to create an ombudsman did not pass, however I am optimistic that the creation of this role will be evaluated once again. If so, I will support this initiative.  It would make the TCDSB more accountable and be a leader in governance, transparency and fairness for the entire community for which it serves.

    6. Do you believe the culture among TCDSB Trustees has changed after a spending scandal that saw Trustees expense gold jewellry, trips, university tuition, personalized licence plates and lingerie, among other things? If not how will you change this culture?

    Once again making reference to the private sector, such activities would not and could not be tolerated.  Only business related expenditures can be claimed and deemed legitimate.  The legitimacy of these claims can only be validated with all the necessary supporting documentation.  There needs to be a zero tolerance policy in this regard.  For claims to be accepted, the original corresponding receipts that unequivocally denote the business need for the expense must be submitted.

    7. Failures in special education are considered by some to be the greatest failure in the public system. What is your plan for correcting this?

    The TCDSB has a Special Education Plan that is comprehensive, which provides a framework for identification and review, accountability and continuous improvement.  One of my primary concerns is the safety and inclusion of all students, regardless of their uniqueness. Although there is much exceptionality, I believe that the promotion of mental health awareness and tolerance is essential.  Stigma regarding mental health and addiction challenges is often a huge barrier for students and their families in reaching out for help, accessing services, and having accommodations and individual education plans implemented to support students in their studies and development in general.

    8. What are your ideas on how we can reduce the cost of administration and governance at TCDSB?

    As discussed earlier, operational efficiency needs to be monitored closely and all opportunities for the elimination of waste need to be investigated and actioned in a timely manner.  For the time being I will refrain from any personal perspectives or proposals, as I am not familiar enough with the budget and/or allocation of resources to form an opinion.

    9. What do you think is the best approach for the TCDSB to take in upcoming contract negotiations with teachers and staff?

    I am a firm believer of value for your dollar, affordability and living within your means.  That being said, in order to not only maintain, but improve the quality of our schools and our school system, we cannot expect our taxes to stay stagnant, nor should we expect that of our salaries.  I believe that any contract negotiations with respect to salary increases should not exceed the rate of inflation.

    10. TCDSB is in the process of developing a parent/student bill of rights. What do you view as one of the most important rights in education for parents and students? Will you support this initiative?​

    Safety, inclusion and fairness are of upmost importance.  A bill of rights will provide accessibility to parents and caregivers, ensuring transparency within the board.  As a result, public confidence in governance and the board as a whole will increase.  This is an initiative that I am supportive of.

2014 TCDSB Election: Ward 7 – Scarborough/North York

The Incumbent:

John Del Grande

The Race

John Del Grande is not running again, so former Trustee Del Grande’s father, Mike, is coming back after a term of excellent work delivering budgets to bring about a new era of fiscal accountability at City Hall. One other Challenger, Emmanuel Yanga, also participated in our survey.

Candidates Who Did Not Participate: Aldo Calla, Leo Ng

The Breakdown

 

The full responses

  • 1. Recently the Canadian Football League and Nissan stepped in to help school boards with the costs of organized sports. Do you support seeking private investment at the TCDSB?

    Yes I do provided that the support is philanthropic and not a commercialization of our schools.

    2. What ideas do you have to address the budget challenges that the TCDSB faces?

    The opportunities for synergy with the other boards and the City can provide an opportunity to improve and increase capital investment. One such opportunity is the section 37 funds that the city collects for high density which the Catholic board does not get a fair share

    3. How will you foster and engage school communities and ratepayers at large?

    I have always maintained that I should attend as many parent school meetings as possible. Secondly it’s important to have a clear concise newsletter for current issues as opposed to cheerleading for the school board. Thirdly I need to work with the other elected officials to participate in Townhall meetings so that it is a one stop shop for residents to have their questions answered by all their elected officials.

    4. There are candidates who have proposed advocating for a new tax dedicated specifically to education. Is this a proposal you support?

    I will never support extra or special or additional levies on taxpayers.

    5. TCDSB has debated and budgeted for an ombudsman. Do you – and will you support this important initiative?

    Yes I support a fixed term limit for a school ombudsman. I think it’s time that we have it as it works well at the city of Toronto and it is a unbiased position that will garner respect from  people that cannot get through the red tape of both bureaucrats and politicians.

    6. Do you believe the culture among TCDSB Trustees has changed after a spending scandal that saw Trustees expense gold jewellry, trips, university tuition, personalized licence plates and lingerie, among other things? If not how will you change this culture?

    A sense of entitlement remains with all elected officials. By posting all the expenses online will make it more accountable and visible to the public as to what school trustees are doing with their expense allotments.

    7. Failures in special education are considered by some to be the greatest failure in the public system. What is your plan for correcting this?

    For a start monies that are budgeted for special ed should be spent on special ed and not transferred to other programs. Secondly assessments are taking far too long to help identify programs and needs of special ed students. Thirdly the board should examine programs like Aerosmith which has in the past demonstrated a significant help to students. The problem is that educators are inclined to go with the status quo approach to special ed programs.

    8. What are your ideas on how we can reduce the cost of administration and governance at TCDSB?

    First we don’t need special assistance for trustees, and in my day the trustee had secretarial help but not someone that basically is doing the work of trustees. I also find that we tend to warehouse teachers that are taken out of the classroom because they can’t function as teachers and therefore we find other jobs for them in an administrative role. We cannot be a social agency we need to separate from those employees that can’t do the job.

    9. What do you think is the best approach for the TCDSB to take in upcoming contract negotiations with teachers and staff?

    This is not in our control as the public purse is controlled by the province. The teachers unions are too strong for individual boards and therefore it is up to the province to do the collective-bargaining. After all it is the province that pays the cost of education and it is up to them to determine what the value of a teaching position is.

    10. TCDSB is in the process of developing a parent/student bill of rights. What do you view as one of the most important rights in education for parents and students? Will you support this initiative?​

    The most important right is that parents are the first educators of their children. The school system should not usurp this role. The state is there to assist not to take over. I would support a bill of rights for parents and students

  • 1. Recently the Canadian Football League and Nissan stepped in to help school boards with the costs of organized sports. Do you support seeking private investment at the TCDSB?

    Yes, I will support good private investments at TCDSB to help achieve the visions that will benefit students and set conditions that will provide high quality achievements in education for every student and help meet high standards to help students succeed in school and in life in general. I will consider other worthy initiatives and pick the ones that produces best results for the good of the school Board and students.

    2. What ideas do you have to address the budget challenges that the TCDSB faces?

    I will conduct proper consultations with authorities and check effective implementation of every program possible. Allocate current resources based on the needs / priorities. Develop solid partnerships with investors and increase contributors vitality by having a responsible and effective vision / direction. Ensure continuous effective stewardship of resources at all times.

    3. How will you foster and engage school communities and ratepayers at large?

    Conduct continuous dialogues with constituents and community leaders. Develop strategic plans to ensure effectivity of programs. Dissiminate relevant information and decide which is best to adhere to. Constantly reach out to constituents and decide whic will be the most effective solution to benefit the good of parents and students.

    4. There are candidates who have proposed advocating for a new tax dedicated specifically to education. Is this a proposal you support?

    As much as possiblle I won’t vote for a new tax but if necessary but will make a careful scrutiny on it’s pro’s and con’s, do my due diligence to justify a new tax when presented and always put the best interest of my constituents and students in Catholic schools.

    5. TCDSB has debated and budgeted for an ombudsman. Do you – and will you support this important initiative?

    Yes, I will support for an Ombudsman. This is surely an important and worthy initiative that will help in the governance of the duties of a Catholic Trustee, This will further the call for the proper expected performance of a Trustee and ensure the well-being of the board and the performance of the title given and be ever mindful of the duties and responsibilities and to be always in a proper perspective.

    6. Do you believe the culture among TCDSB Trustees has changed after a spending scandal that saw Trustees expense gold jewellry, trips, university tuition, personalized licence plates and lingerie, among other things? If not how will you change this culture?

    I’m not familiar yet with the current culture of some of the school Board Trustees but will definitely check and see what needs to be considered and introduced necessary change in the current system. It’s so frustrating to know that this is even happening in our school Board. This is very disgusting to say the least. I will be all over if proven that wrong practices is happening in our school Board. They should be totally disbard from the Board for conduct unbecoming of a Catholic School Trustee.

    7. Failures in special education are considered by some to be the greatest failure in the public system. What is your plan for correcting this?

    I will help ensure proper and effective immediate solution to issues and help find better steps and make necessary changes and adoption of rules and regulations.

    8. What are your ideas on how we can reduce the cost of administration and governance at TCDSB?

    To reduce the cost of administration and governance at TCDSB, I will promote the strict observance of rules in the proper allocation of resources and accountiing by regular audits and review of disbursements and reporting system and procedures.

    9. What do you think is the best approach for the TCDSB to take in upcoming contract negotiations with teachers and staff?

    Promote the practice of due diligence in the scrutiny of applicants, their work reference, educational attainments and include strict adherance to Catholic teachings, culture and traditions of all applicants, staff and teachers and place in top priority faith background, practices, good manners, right conduct and group affiliations.

    10. TCDSB is in the process of developing a parent/student bill of rights. What do you view as one of the most important rights in education for parents and students? Will you support this initiative?​

    I will support wothry initiatives that will promote the good and welfare of parents and students and will help in the development of a parent / student bill of rights. I will take a firm stand on the practice of Catholic faith teachings, culture and tradtions and help support in the maintenance and practices of the same.

2014 TCDSB Election: Ward 6 – York

The Incumbent:

Frank D’Amico

The Race

Trustee D’Amico was first elected as TCDSB trustee in the last election. His sole opponent didn’t fill out our survey, so here’s what Mr. D’Amico had to say.

Candidates Who Did Not Participate: Kim Daniel

The Breakdown

 

The full responses

  • 1. Recently the Canadian Football League and Nissan stepped in to help school boards with the costs of organized sports. Do you support seeking private investment at the TCDSB?

    I’m an Argo’s season seat holder, I’m always networking looking for partners, sponsors, I’m presently looking into revitalizing the former Borough of York Stadium located next door to one of my high schools, The Loretto College field, the St. Nicholas of Bari yard, a new playground for St John the Evangelist… I can go on, St Mary of the Angels, and St Clare’s green spaces were revitalized with the help of partners and they turned out wonderful. We just have to make sure that the partners are in good standing with society, for an example I don’t think we would search out a partner that runs a sweatshop or exploits children etc.

    2. What ideas do you have to address the budget challenges that the TCDSB faces?

    We’ve balanced four consecutive Billion dollar budgets since I’ve been on the Board,”without any pink slips,” with a decent surplus. I think its important to keep our employees working, Wages make up a large part of the budget, in my first term I noticed we spend about 20 Million more that we’re allotted on Special Education which is very important, we need to somehow involve the Ministry of Health a little bit to see if there’s anything they can do to assist with some Education funding related to Health. Transportation is another area we’re overspending the allotment because we’re doing our best to accommodate.

    3. How will you foster and engage school communities and ratepayers at large?

    I will foster and engage school communities and ratepayers at large as I’ve been doing the last four years, I listen, listening is important, community partners want to be heard, they want to a part of the solution, I return all calls and emails within 48 hours, I attend as many community events as I can, I don’t need to be a guest of honour, I show up because I live here too, I enjoy interacting with community groups, I have at least two Ward meetings a year where the community is invited, if needed I’ve hosted several meetings to accommodate rate payers at their request.

    4. There are candidates who have proposed advocating for a new tax dedicated specifically to education. Is this a proposal you support?

    Education is already incorporated into our taxes, everyone pays into it and I’m okay with this system. We’ll have to see how the proposed system pans out, there are tax payers that don’t have children and don’t want to pay taxes for schools, I wouldn’t want to lose that, it will be difficult to make up, but if it works then its something that should be looked at.

    5. TCDSB has debated and budgeted for an ombudsman. Do you – and will you support this important initiative?

    I do support an ombudsman, I’m not sure if it should be a full time position, unless full time is necessary because eventually the money comes out of the classroom, I’ve been here four years and haven’t had any constituent complaints where the issues weren’t resolved either at the Principal or Superintendent level, or through mediation.

    6. Do you believe the culture among TCDSB Trustees has changed after a spending scandal that saw Trustees expense gold jewellry, trips, university tuition, personalized licence plates and lingerie, among other things? If not how will you change this culture?

    Six new Trustees were Elected in 2010 including myself, Individual Trustee expenses are posted on the TCDSB website, Trustees are more careful with what they expense, I find it too time consuming counting Kms everywhere I go, to discern whether its board business or personal when I visit my schools, or go watch my school teams play sports so I pay for my own gas and have been doing so for my entire term, I can’t spend an hour figuring out if I should expense 59 cents, I’d rather be networking, trying to get something good for my students. How will I change the culture? lead by example, set a good example, treat everyone with respect, be a good listener, try to work well as a team, try to bring out their good qualities, everyone can contribute somehow, and in some way, I may not always get my way, but I need to find a positive approach and gain support to make constituents in my Ward happy and give the students the best possible classroom experience.

    7. Failures in special education are considered by some to be the greatest failure in the public system. What is your plan for correcting this?

    Special Education is a sensitive issue, one dear to my heart as my brother has Downsyndrome and went through the TCDSB system, I’ve partially answered this in my no 2. Answer. To continue, on top of funding, I visit all my Special Ed classrooms, I speak with the Teachers, Principals, and Parents, I don’t just visit once, I’ve made several visits to each classroom over the last four years, and I was impressed with what I saw, I saw elementary special ed students building websites, (I can’t do this) I’ve seen high school special ed students using smart boards, I find that impressive because I don’t know how to use it. I attend the mini olympics when I can, its a wonderful feeling when these special students see me, remember me, and even say hello. Its important to visit classrooms in person, to know what is going on, to see how things work, and not only visit when there’s an issue because all the positive interactions won’t have any weight in making informed decisions.

    8. What are your ideas on how we can reduce the cost of administration and governance at TCDSB?

    2% of the budget is allocated towards administration and Governance, most of that is salary for central support services for schools (accounting, purchasing, planning etc). There’s been significant reductions in both funding and expenditures over the years, and the Board is always looking for ways to be more efficient when it comes to saving money. TCDSB is a member of the Catholic School Board Services Association (CSBSA) and have initiated “cooperative services arrangements” and “joint purchasing arrangements” with the 6 member Catholic School Boards. Initiatives include joint purchasing of natural gas, paper products and technology. These initiatives not only saved administrative costs but the Board was able to take advantage of price reductions because of bulk purchasing discounts, these are an example of some of the effective ways to reduce administrative and Governance costs.

    9. What do you think is the best approach for the TCDSB to take in upcoming contract negotiations with teachers and staff?

    The Provincial Government has initiated Provincial Bargaining, and has taken over the responsibility to negotiate a provincial contract with all unions including teachers, for monetary issues. In the past, school Board negotiated non-monetary local issues with the local union organizations. As a result, the TCDSB (and any other Board in the Province) has minimal impact on the central negotiations. I personally feel teachers have suffered enough, and they deserve an adjustment in pay, although I’d like to see more free training available to all staff in area’s of Special Education, Conflict resolution, and First Aid, this will benefit the school community as a whole.

    10. TCDSB is in the process of developing a parent/student bill of rights. What do you view as one of the most important rights in education for parents and students? Will you support this initiative?​

    Yes I will definitely support the parent/student bill of rights, and will advocate for the right of students to have equitable access to educational opportunities that best meet the needs of the student/parent. I would support any motion that benefits the welbeing of our students and makes their classroom experience that much better.

2014 TCDSB Election: Ward 5 – North York

The Incumbent:

Maria Rizzo

The Race

All but one candidate in Ward 5 offered up their views for our Voting Guide. There is support across all candidates that participated for a Parents and Students Bill of Rights.

Candidates Who Did Not Participate: Larry Colle

The Breakdown

  • Candidate Response
    Abrenilla, Joey Will consider
    Da Re, Louise Yes
    Macdonald, Jody No
    Rizzo, Maria Will consider


  • Candidate Response
    Abrenilla, Joey Examining past budgets to determine results of spending
    Da Re, Louise We need to eliminate wasteful spending and find efficiencies.
    Macdonald, Jody Identify principles to guide decision making
    Rizzo, Maria Cut administration


  • Candidate Response
    Abrenilla, Joey Transparency
    Da Re, Louise E-newsletter, community events, and school visitations
    Macdonald, Jody Attend parent council members, liturgy celebrations, community events
    Rizzo, Maria Always has


  • Candidate Response
    Abrenilla, Joey Will consider
    Da Re, Louise No
    Macdonald, Jody Will consider
    Rizzo, Maria Yes


  • Candidate Response
    Abrenilla, Joey Non-committal
    Da Re, Louise Yes
    Macdonald, Jody Yes
    Rizzo, Maria Yes


  • Candidate Response
    Abrenilla, Joey Adherence to guidelines, publishing expenses
    Da Re, Louise Culture has changed
    Macdonald, Jody Culture has changed
    Rizzo, Maria Culture has changed


  • Candidate Response
    Abrenilla, Joey More resources and more qualified people
    Da Re, Louise Learn from our failures
    Macdonald, Jody Increased funding from province
    Rizzo, Maria Allocate resources


  • Candidate Response
    Abrenilla, Joey More teachers and less bureaucracy.
    Da Re, Louise Look for further efficiencies, streamlining and automation.
    Macdonald, Jody Set an ideal cost for administration
    Rizzo, Maria Too many to list


  • Candidate Response
    Abrenilla, Joey Take a realistic and common sense, non adversarial approach
    Da Re, Louise The best approach is a fair and co-operative approach.
    Macdonald, Jody Collaboration, respect, find common ground
    Rizzo, Maria No advice given


  • Candidate Response
    Abrenilla, Joey Yes
    Da Re, Louise Yes
    Macdonald, Jody Yes
    Rizzo, Maria Yes

 

The full responses

  • 1. Recently the Canadian Football League and Nissan stepped in to help school boards with the costs of organized sports. Do you support seeking private investment at the TCDSB?

    I am open to unsolicited support from private agencies to help TCDSB.  However, their offer of support needs to be examined and assessed very carefully and thoroughly, making sure there are no riders or conditions that will compromise the integrity of TCDSB and the Catholic values that we need to uphold.

    2. What ideas do you have to address the budget challenges that the TCDSB faces?

    We can start with the examination of the historical budget and expenses of the TCDSB, focusing on how TCDSB spent its budget – were the money spent necessary and considered to be wise investment for the TCDSB, were the things the money spent on the best choices (were there any other better options), were there surpluses and how were these surpluses spent, were they spent wisely?

    3. How will you foster and engage school communities and ratepayers at large?

    Transparency in what we do at the TCDSB.  Involving the parents and students alike in the debates and discussions on crucial decisions that affect TCDSB, Schools and students.

    4. There are candidates who have proposed advocating for a new tax dedicated specifically to education. Is this a proposal you support?

    I cannot comment on the proposals that I don’t know anything about.  I need to know their rationale and basis for advocating new tax for education.  The proposals need to answer the questions: Is there a need for new tax for education and why? Are the present resources for our education not sufficient and why?  We need to engage everyone in answering these questions.  This is not something that we in the School Board can arbitrarily decide on.  After all the burden of additional taxes will be shouldered by the parents.

    5. TCDSB has debated and budgeted for an ombudsman. Do you – and will you support this important initiative?

    It has some advantages and benefits.  I am just wondering whether if this will create more bureaucracy and duplication of mandates that already exist – accounting and auditing departments and guidelines by the goverment.

    6. Do you believe the culture among TCDSB Trustees has changed after a spending scandal that saw Trustees expense gold jewellry, trips, university tuition, personalized licence plates and lingerie, among other things? If not how will you change this culture?

    I don’t think it has.  By strict adherence to the guidelines prescribed for Trustee expenditures and a quarterly publication of their expenditures for public scrutiny, similar to the web-available expenses of the members of the Parliament of Canada.

    7. Failures in special education are considered by some to be the greatest failure in the public system. What is your plan for correcting this?

    As an Occupational Therapist who deals children with special needs, this is very sad and frustrating. We need more resources and qualified persons in the Special Education system and a more viable processes that had been fashioned by the Professionals in the field, the Special Education Teachersand input from the parents of Special Education students.  This will be one of my advocacies.

    8. What are your ideas on how we can reduce the cost of administration and governance at TCDSB?

    More teachers and less bureaucracy.

    9. What do you think is the best approach for the TCDSB to take in upcoming contract negotiations with teachers and staff?

    Realistic and common sense approach to bargaining with the teachers, the staff, and the Union, as opposed to the adversarial “We must win in this bargaining process” approach.  The bargaining process must be an open, receptive and honest consideration of the concerns and issues from both sides of the table.  The goal is not to win, but to achieve a realistic and productive strategy and mechanism for the School Board, Schools, and the students.

    10. TCDSB is in the process of developing a parent/student bill of rights. What do you view as one of the most important rights in education for parents and students? Will you support this initiative?​

    I will support this initiative.  The essence of this Bill of Rights must be that the parents and the students are major and equal partners in the present and the future not only of the TCDSB but also of the schools and the students.

  • 1. Recently the Canadian Football League and Nissan stepped in to help school boards with the costs of organized sports. Do you support seeking private investment at the TCDSB?

    Yes I support seeking private investment. However any proposed investment must first pass a careful review, the primary concern being how it will affect students.

    2. What ideas do you have to address the budget challenges that the TCDSB faces?

    We need to eliminate wasteful spending and find efficiencies. This must be a goal of every individual within the organization, and ideas should be solicited from all levels. Capital and maintenance projects must be carefully planned, with prudent oversight and consequences for overruns.

    Making a case to the province for additional funding and seeking private investment are ways to increase the monies available.

    3. How will you foster and engage school communities and ratepayers at large?

    I intend to regularly send out an e-newsletter, so constituents can read about education issues, community events, and any other relevant news (i.e. from schools,  the school board, the province).  I will hold regular ward meetings where we can discuss the latest issues and hear from speakers on topics of interest. I intend to visit schools as often as possible and look for opportunities to bring people together.

    4. There are candidates who have proposed advocating for a new tax dedicated specifically to education. Is this a proposal you support?

    No. I do not support a new tax.

    5. TCDSB has debated and budgeted for an ombudsman. Do you – and will you support this important initiative?

    Yes. I think an ombudsman plays an important role. I would support this initiative.

    6. Do you believe the culture among TCDSB Trustees has changed after a spending scandal that saw Trustees expense gold jewellry, trips, university tuition, personalized licence plates and lingerie, among other things? If not how will you change this culture?

    I believe it has. Expenses are posted, making the process transparent. However, we must remain diligent.  After every election, trustees should be educated about expense guidelines and consequences if they are not followed. If they have questions about allowable expenses, they should know where they can be answered. Trustee expenses should also continue to be audited regularly.

    7. Failures in special education are considered by some to be the greatest failure in the public system. What is your plan for correcting this?

    Special Education is important. These children are the most vulnerable in the school system. We must learn from any failures and see that special education has the resources it needs by training teachers with the most innovative and current strategies. We must foster understanding, acceptance and where possible, integration.

    8. What are your ideas on how we can reduce the cost of administration and governance at TCDSB?

    Look for further efficiencies, streamlining and automation. This must be a goal of each individual within the organization, and ideas should be solicited from all levels.

    9. What do you think is the best approach for the TCDSB to take in upcoming contract negotiations with teachers and staff?

    The best approach is a fair and co-operative approach. We recognize that teachers and staff are critical to maintaining a superior education system, while they need to recognize our budget constraints. Together we can look for efficiencies and consider non-financial incentives as well as financial.

    10. TCDSB is in the process of developing a parent/student bill of rights. What do you view as one of the most important rights in education for parents and students? Will you support this initiative?​

    One of the most important rights is a safe and caring environment that promotes responsibility, mutual respect, and academic success. I support the development initiative.

  • 1. Recently the Canadian Football League and Nissan stepped in to help school boards with the costs of organized sports. Do you support seeking private investment at the TCDSB?

    If by seeking ‘private investment’ you mean engaging in private corporate fund raising, this would not fit with my vision for the TCDSB.  I would focus on minimizing waste, identifying  priorities to guide budget decisions, and ensuring a balanced budget.

    2. What ideas do you have to address the budget challenges that the TCDSB faces?

    As well as board priorities, I would encourage the board to identify principles to guide decision making when the budget is being prepared.

    3. How will you foster and engage school communities and ratepayers at large?

    Great question!  My first step would be to attend parent council members, liturgy celebrations, sporting and arts events, and get to know the Ward 5 community members.  Working collaboratively, we might be able to identify some areas of common concern and an action plan to respond to the concern.

    4. There are candidates who have proposed advocating for a new tax dedicated specifically to education. Is this a proposal you support?

    The future depends on our children, and our children depend on their education to prepare for their future. I believe each citizen has a responsibility to contribute to the education of future generations.  Paying taxes is a way for citizens to fulfill this social commitment.  Not sure about a specific tax for education. It might be better to suggest a tax to support the future of society.

    5. TCDSB has debated and budgeted for an ombudsman. Do you – and will you support this important initiative?

    Yes, I would an ombudsperson, but the board would need to think about how this fits with our priorities. And how to fund the position.

    6. Do you believe the culture among TCDSB Trustees has changed after a spending scandal that saw Trustees expense gold jewellry, trips, university tuition, personalized licence plates and lingerie, among other things? If not how will you change this culture?

    I think the board members have responded to concerns raised by the media, the education ministry, and the voters.  My suggestion to continue to improve accountability is simple.  Announce the total expenses submitted by trustees at the beginning of each meeting, thus creating a little peer pressure to ensure that expenses remain reasonable.

    7. Failures in special education are considered by some to be the greatest failure in the public system. What is your plan for correcting this?

    I would advocate for the Ministry of Education to increase its funding for special education programs. TCDSB has made special education a priority…

    8. What are your ideas on how we can reduce the cost of administration and governance at TCDSB?

    I would ensure that the board carefully reviews and then sets an ideal percentage of the budget for administrators.

    9. What do you think is the best approach for the TCDSB to take in upcoming contract negotiations with teachers and staff?

    Prepare to listen to each side carefully, be respectful of each other and find the common ground and collaborate.

    10. TCDSB is in the process of developing a parent/student bill of rights. What do you view as one of the most important rights in education for parents and students? Will you support this initiative?​

    Yes I will support it, but would encourage including responsibilities as well.

    Parent rights – freedom of religion .. being about to educate our children holistically, so they are supported to grow spiritually, physically, cognitively, and emotionally.

  • 1. Recently the Canadian Football League and Nissan stepped in to help school boards with the costs of organized sports. Do you support seeking private investment at the TCDSB?

    Where appropriate. 

    2. What ideas do you have to address the budget challenges that the TCDSB faces?

    Cur administration (conferences, new furniture for offices, etc.  Not programs for kids.

    3. How will you foster and engage school communities and ratepayers at large?

    I always have.

    4. There are candidates who have proposed advocating for a new tax dedicated specifically to education. Is this a proposal you support?

    Anything that would help the funding issues faced today.  We did fund off the property tax base in the past. 

    5. TCDSB has debated and budgeted for an ombudsman. Do you – and will you support this important initiative?

    Absolutely

    6. Do you believe the culture among TCDSB Trustees has changed after a spending scandal that saw Trustees expense gold jewellry, trips, university tuition, personalized licence plates and lingerie, among other things? If not how will you change this culture?

    Much has changed since the scandal/

    7. Failures in special education are considered by some to be the greatest failure in the public system. What is your plan for correcting this?

    Allocate resources to assist this vulnerable group of students and perhaps reorganize the department.  

    8. What are your ideas on how we can reduce the cost of administration and governance at TCDSB?

    Where doo I start?  Too many to list

    9. What do you think is the best approach for the TCDSB to take in upcoming contract negotiations with teachers and staff?

    Unfortunately that has been taken over by the provinial government.

    10. TCDSB is in the process of developing a parent/student bill of rights. What do you view as one of the most important rights in education for parents and students? Will you support this initiative?​

    Of course. 

2014 TCDSB Election: Ward 4 – North York

The Incumbent:

Patrizia Bottoni

The Race

First term Trustee Patrizia Bottoni declined to participate in our project but a pair of her opponents did participate. Both candidates below present differing ideas on how to reduce the burden on taxpayers, so be sure to consider your options and weigh all the ideas before you enter the ballot box!

Candidates Who Did Not Participate: Marina Laccona, Patrizia Bottoni

The Breakdown

 

The full responses

  • 1. Recently the Canadian Football League and Nissan stepped in to help school boards with the costs of organized sports. Do you support seeking private investment at the TCDSB?

    I am not opposed to private investments or partnerships.  Like it or not, this is the way of the future.  Big companies have funds that the TCDSB require and can utilize and that we cannot access in any other way. While open to partnerships, I am cautious about how much we allow into the school.  It is a fine balance. I would ask, how are the students benefitting from this? Materials? Equipment? Resources? How will their education benefit from this?  I would be mindful of the messages, subliminal and overt, the sponsors are portraying.  Having a reputable company sponsor a gym and equipment or sponsoring a playground has benefits as it is an extra tool that is not taking funds away from the school.  In this day and age, sponsors are everywhere.  Having a limited amount in the schools would not be negative, if properly controlled.

    2. What ideas do you have to address the budget challenges that the TCDSB faces?

    We need to evaluate all the budget shortfalls and look for savings.  The provincial government has cut  program funding such as the Junior Literacy Intervention. The funding was removed a few years ago but it is a useful tool that the TCDSB continued by taking on the cost itself.  Provincial funding for computers has also been reduced.  We need the provincial government to step up and help and realize that these kids are our future and they need access to proper tools and resources.   We also cannot overspend at the TCDSB, as it puts the school board in debt and forces them to crawl back out of the hole, which is never easy.  We need to budget properly so that future leaders are not left to solve the problem.  We need to examine and re-evaluate ways to create new formulas and ways to generate revenue.   These issues need to be responsibly taken care of now.

    3. How will you foster and engage school communities and ratepayers at large?

    The way I would foster and engage school communities and rate payers is by communicating in many ways so that people can access the information.  We need to use as many mediums as we have available to us, to accomplish this.  For example, I wouldn’t just put information in the newspaper as that would limit my target audience.  I need to get my message across different types of media; bulletins at libraries, schools and community centres; social media; related websites and local or community newspapers.  We need to make sure we hit the ratepayers association on the municipal level more than the provincial level, as this hits closer to home.  We must also be mindful that some of these taxpayers may be new to the country and with this comes a new culture of education and a population who may not be used to this culture.  Information should be made available and clear for all, not just those that are educated.  Daycare should be provided at meetings so that all can attend.

    4. There are candidates who have proposed advocating for a new tax dedicated specifically to education. Is this a proposal you support?

    No, I would not advocate for a new tax.  Toronto residents are already taxed enough.  Education is important and we need to gain more access to funds through other means.  We need to ask the provincial government to provide more funding.  We need to find more savings in the TCDSB and our schools.

    5. TCDSB has debated and budgeted for an ombudsman. Do you – and will you support this important initiative?

    No, I do not support this initiative. TCDSB is too top heavy right now as it is. Money could be better spent to benefit students directly.  There is already a system in place that deals with issues that arise. I am, by no means against anything that would endorse and encourage equality and accountability, I just question whether that budgeted money could be better utilized elsewhere.

    6. Do you believe the culture among TCDSB Trustees has changed after a spending scandal that saw Trustees expense gold jewellry, trips, university tuition, personalized licence plates and lingerie, among other things? If not how will you change this culture?

    Safety nets have been put into place to change this culture.  First and foremost there needs to be clear communication from the start and very clear parameters put in place on what is clearly acceptable and what is not. You get into trouble when you have shades of grey. There has to be accountability on the trustees. Receipts need to be shown. More than one signature should be required on bigger purchases, etc.  The TCDSB has taken very good steps in posting all expenses by Trustees. This shows transparency and is the right direction to cut out frivolous expenditures. The question should always be, “How does this expenditure benefit the students?”  There are some things that are necessary, such as workshops and out of town trips, but we need to make sure they are always within reason.

    7. Failures in special education are considered by some to be the greatest failure in the public system. What is your plan for correcting this?

    Special Education is a learning curve and a work in progress. There are more children involved with special education every year. The idea that God created everyone equally permeates my beliefs especially with this topic. All students have the right to learn. All special education students need to always have the right to work with trained, specialized individuals and access to all programs and resources that enhance, support, and enrich their learning.  Assistance must be given to all students that require it.

    8. What are your ideas on how we can reduce the cost of administration and governance at TCDSB?

    All of us, as citizens of this planet, should be making an effort to reduce our use of consumables (ie. paper, electricity, office supplies, etc.). If administration and governance would take stock of what is really essential in their daily operations versus what is wasteful, excessive or just plain unnecessary, then very easily we could start to make inroads to reducing expenditures. This same philosophy could be applied to other areas within administration.

    9. What do you think is the best approach for the TCDSB to take in upcoming contract negotiations with teachers and staff?

    The best approach for the TCDSB to take in upcoming contract negotiations is to use fairness, transparency and good faith bargaining.  All teachers and administration want safe and good working conditions and these always need to be provided as they also enhance student life at the school. What the TCDSB needs to have is more rigorous standards for hiring practices in future negotiations.

    10. TCDSB is in the process of developing a parent/student bill of rights. What do you view as one of the most important rights in education for parents and students? Will you support this initiative?​

    As clearly outlined in the Education Act of Ontario, every child is owed the right to an education.  Clearly, what that education looks like will be different.  This is, by far, the most important right owed to a parent and their child.  Ensuring that no matter what a child’s needs may be, or how different the programming and delivery must be, all efforts must be made to accommodate.  Every child has the right to learn in the TCDSB. We cannot leave any child behind. We need to foster student achievement and well-being while adhering to our Catholic values.

  • 1. Recently the Canadian Football League and Nissan stepped in to help school boards with the costs of organized sports. Do you support seeking private investment at the TCDSB?

    Partnerships – yes but only after careful scrutiny. It must pass the smell test, so ethical considerations and avoidance of conflicts of interest must take precedence over the financial advantages

    2. What ideas do you have to address the budget challenges that the TCDSB faces?

    TCDSB can do the usual but necessary review of all spending practices to avoid duplication of programmes and expenses. Trustee expenses can still be reduced as can some of the staff PD programmes, some of which can be delivered in house by the board’s own qualified staff.

    3. How will you foster and engage school communities and ratepayers at large?

    The existing mechanisms need to be better utilized. Do not re-invent the wheel, improve the web site’s interactive qualities and promote school (parents and stakeholders) councils. Send info home with students. Re-jig mechanisms to get feedback via e mail, phone and notes from parents, students and other parties.

    4. There are candidates who have proposed advocating for a new tax dedicated specifically to education. Is this a proposal you support?

    It is not simple to go back to self-taxing abilities that school boards used to have. With current income based solely on min of ed grants, boards have to claim more but are hampered by the funding formulas. This is something to investigate but there is no simple solution to the never ending need for more in an environment where (extra) taxes are unpopular and have to be justified.

    5. TCDSB has debated and budgeted for an ombudsman. Do you – and will you support this important initiative?

    Yes. This discussion has already taken place.

    6. Do you believe the culture among TCDSB Trustees has changed after a spending scandal that saw Trustees expense gold jewellry, trips, university tuition, personalized licence plates and lingerie, among other things? If not how will you change this culture?

    There has been a great improvement in the culture since the appointment of the supervisors and the egregious acts of several never applied to all trustees. The whole issue of trustees’ roles and duties need re-evaluating. Attending trustee meetings reveals that a great deal of PD, education and training is needed for several of them to see the difference between governance (them) and management (senior staff), the corporate memory and history of the board, Robert’s rules and parliamentary procedure.

    7. Failures in special education are considered by some to be the greatest failure in the public system. What is your plan for correcting this?

    I have worked with special needs students for over 40 years. I have a son who is developmentally delayed and a grandson who is autistic. I know the value of special education and  continue to be committed to its implementation. But there cannot ever be unlimited funds so the task is in the fair allocation of resources. Quite frankly, some programmes are better than others. Some programmes need expanding, some need closing.

    8. What are your ideas on how we can reduce the cost of administration and governance at TCDSB?

    I support constant and regular review of costs and their effectiveness. I support more PD for governors (trustees) and managers but at less cost by using the in house expertise that we have. I also would review allowable expenses and set firm guidelines. An examination of the regional structure of management (4 regions) is overdue to continue to avoid duplication of services

    9. What do you think is the best approach for the TCDSB to take in upcoming contract negotiations with teachers and staff?

    There is limited room for upcoming collective agreement contract negotiations since major table issues like remuneration and other big cost items are negotiated at the provincial tables with the mini of ed and provincial trustee associations. It leaves only relatively minor local items. In negotiations, I hope both sides show respect, reality and exercise restraint. It is possible to negotiate in a less adversarial manner through mutual interest bargaining. I have had much experience as a union president in these negotiations

    10. TCDSB is in the process of developing a parent/student bill of rights. What do you view as one of the most important rights in education for parents and students? Will you support this initiative?​

    Yes. There should be nothing to fear over any human rights legislation as long as the process is well discussed, lots of consultation with all stake holders and not be hi-jacked by any the the ombudsman is a question that needs consideration. Confessional systems (including Catholic) have a task reconciling some of general “rights” with some of the church’s view and traditions. That is not a reason, not to try.

2014 TCDSB Election: Ward 3 – North York

The Incumbent:

Sal Piccininni

The Race

Unfortunately incumbent Trustee Piccininni declined to participate in the survey, giving the floor completely to his sole opponent in the race. Here’s what Mr. Capisciolto had to say.

Candidates Who Did Not Participate: Sal Piccininni

The Breakdown

 

The full responses

  • 1. Recently the Canadian Football League and Nissan stepped in to help school boards with the costs of organized sports. Do you support seeking private investment at the TCDSB?

    I believe in private investment in reference to sports and the performing arts.  I do feel a need to ensure that funds given are equally spread out through all the schools in the TCDSB to avoid too great of a divide between different social classes.

    2. What ideas do you have to address the budget challenges that the TCDSB faces?

    I am open to suggestions, but, even more so, I am willing to analyze and compare our Catholic School to other boards of various Canadian and American cities.

    3. How will you foster and engage school communities and ratepayers at large?

    I am firm believer of developing strong local connections in my ward.  Attending Parent council meetings, visiting the different Catholic Churches in my area, and basically making myself as visible as possible. I hope that the more I am seen, the more I will be perceived as approachable.  The most important role of trustee is to be an advocate for the parents; therefore, people need to feel that a trustee is there to listen.

    4. There are candidates who have proposed advocating for a new tax dedicated specifically to education. Is this a proposal you support?

    The increasing of taxes, regardless of how they are implemented, need to be a last resort.  There are justifiable reasons to raise taxes but it is too often, in my opinion, a sign of laziness and a lack of understanding of what the real issues are.

    5. TCDSB has debated and budgeted for an ombudsman. Do you – and will you support this important initiative?

    I would be cautious in creating new positions that would logically increase the TCDSB budget.  I question the purpose of an ombudsman?  I understand the fear of corruption, however my response is to have faith in the civil authorities.  A greater worry than corruption is the public apathy toward the trustees.  When the Catholic Trustee spending scandal erupted in 2008, the voters across Toronto returned almost all of the trustees in the 2010 election.  As opposed to an Ombudsman we the public need to lose the apathetic attitude and strike fear of accountability through the use of our votes.

    6. Do you believe the culture among TCDSB Trustees has changed after a spending scandal that saw Trustees expense gold jewellry, trips, university tuition, personalized licence plates and lingerie, among other things? If not how will you change this culture?

    I would hope that all trustees would take their role as a public servant seriously and operate in a transparent matter in regards to all their duties.  If ever in the future there is another spending scandal, then again I believe the public needs to exercise their vote in good conscious and demand the change that question 6 alludes to.

    7. Failures in special education are considered by some to be the greatest failure in the public system. What is your plan for correcting this?

    I will acknowledge that special education is one of the board’s most noticeable failures, but also represents one of its greatest opportunities for growth and improvement.  I feel through careful examination of other boards we should be able to develop a plan for special education.

    8. What are your ideas on how we can reduce the cost of administration and governance at TCDSB?

    I cannot say that I am in favor reducing cost, I am in favor of using our funds more efficiently and therefore strengthening departments that have been the victims of past budget cuts.

    9. What do you think is the best approach for the TCDSB to take in upcoming contract negotiations with teachers and staff?

    In regards to the teachers and staff contract negotiations I believe salaries should be competitive with other comparable cities.  The reality is that Toronto is the fourth largest North American city and the largest Canadian city.  Therefore I think a competitive salary would rank TCDSB employees among the top 10 North American cities and within the top 3 Canadian Cities.  Cost of living is a consideration, but I believe a comparative salary within these limitations would account for the living expenses normally associated with a city the size of Toronto and the reality of living within a Canadian environment.

    10. TCDSB is in the process of developing a parent/student bill of rights. What do you view as one of the most important rights in education for parents and students? Will you support this initiative?​

    I would completely support a bill that would encourage parents to be more involved in their children’s education.  Parent involvement will result in an increased accountability from all involved, teachers, school administration, as well as the trustees.