2014 TCDSB Election: Ward 2 – Etobicoke

The Incumbent:

Ann Andrachuk

The Race

Trustee Andrachuk has only one opponent who participated in our survey. There seems to be large agreement on the direction the board should take, so be sure to read the full survey responses to help make up your mind when picking a candidate to support.

Candidates Who Did Not Participate: Andriy Botyuk

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.

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

    Assess Board structure, human resources, review to improve efficiencies and appropriate allocation of GSN funding.

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

    I will continue to meet with school communities on issues of mutual interest and concern. Will maintain Ward meetings to allow information dissemination, networking opportunities and free dialogue. School communities and ratepayers will be encouraged to participate in Board meetings, in person or live streaming, request email notification of Board communications and meeting agendas and minutes.

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

    To add an additional tax to ratepayers is unthinkable. I would not support adding any additional burden on the public. This is not the purview or responsibility of this office.

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

    I do not and did not support this initiative. Now that the Government has proposed additional responsibilities for the Provincial Ombudsman I will wait for a final decision on their amendment. The Bill has passed first reading.

    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.

    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 a member of SEAC, I work with association representatives to review our Special Education Plan and Budget and provide advice on integration of services for students with special needs. Committee recommendations are dealt with by the Trustees who in turn will solicit additional support from the government, when and where required.

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

    It will be necessary to do a comprehensive review of the administrative structure and determine efficiencies and reductions if and where required.

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

    There is a central negotiation table attended by the various provincial stakeholders with private discussions at this time. Catholic Boards across the province have representation at that table and will be updated on the state of 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?​

    Students have the right to access a good education with learning opportunities to expand knowledge and their ability to continue learning beyond the classroom. Parents have the right to expect the school system to be responsive to their children’s needs and to communicate student progress in a clear and concise manner. I always support students and parents and will review the details of the initiative prior to making any final decision.

  • 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, with the sole caveat that the choice of investment partners do not create a risk of “scandal” to the faith of Catholic students, teachers or parents. I would seriously consider private investment/sponsorship from organizations that do not present any moral or ethical controversies to the Catholic community (e.g. some organization or individual who is a big supporter of abortion).

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

    I would push to conduct a line-by-line budget review to ensure there is no waste or redundancy in the board’s operating costs.  If there is insufficient information in certain line items, I would go the extra step of asking administration to provide more details on that line item, so that I and my colleagues are in a better position to assess whether the expenditure is reasonable.  I would support looking at ways to redirect administrative costs so they directly benefit students in the classrooms. I would investigate modern technology that could possibly help reduce overall costs, or increase efficiencies so that more could be achieved by the same teacher/staff levels without having to hire more staff and thus increase the labour and benefits costs. I will push for a review of all programs, in order to identifying expenditures that could be classified as “non-essential” to academic or religious knowledge, and which would make sense to suspend until such time as the board can afford to restart it.

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

    I will start with the principle of local representation.  Too often, trustees focus only on the broad decisions that affect the whole board, and ignore the concerns and suggestions of their local constituents. It is too tempting for some trustees to only be concerned about the ratepayers in the ward at election time.  I will make it a principle I live by to carefully listen to the concerns and suggestions of the people who elected me.  Sometimes, the best ideas come not from bureacrats, government officials, or even school trustees. Sometimes, the best ideas come from the people who are most affected by the decisions.  I will endeavour to promptly return every call and email from constituents.

    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 support such an idea. In fact, I would fight against it. Working families are already over-taxed and many have serious struggles because of the over-taxation problem. We already pay an “education tax” on our property taxes.  I believe that trustees have a fiduciary obligation to “practice belt-tightening” when necessary.  After all, the average family has to tighten their belt and reduce their spending when times are tough. Why should the school board be an exception?

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

    I must admit I need to do more research on this subject as I am not familiar with this debate.  At first blush however, I think I would oppose the idea as an unnecessary growth in costly bureaucracy. After all, aren’t trustees supposed to do what an ombudsman would supposedly do? If the thinking behind this idea is that we do not have confidence in trustees to do their jobs therefore we need to hire an ombudsman, what happens when we lose confidence in the ombudsman? Will we then be entertaining ideas to hire an advisory panel who oversees the ombudsman and the trustees?  Again, without having familiarity of this subject, I would think that the true solution (and one which respects taxpayers) is to elect trustees who will do their job properly.

    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?

    As a regular mom who’s just trying to serve the Catholic Church and students like my own two school-age children, I am not privy to know whether the culture has changed or not.  I am not yet familiar with all of the TCDSB policies, however, I would suspect that a simple solution to curb abuse might be to institute a policy of posting expenses online so that watchdog organizations like yours can help keep folks in line.

    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?

    Sorry but I’m not sure if by “special education” this question refers to “special needs education”. Can you please clarify?

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

    We could look at the possibility of cost reduction through attrition where, upon retirement, admin staff and senior managers would not be replaced and their responsibilities could be assumed by other staff/managers, etc. Of course, this should not be done carelessly or in a way that would impact quality of service to the students.

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

    The first step should be to restore some of the contract negotiation power that has been taken away from school boards by the Ministry of Education.

    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?​

    For parents, the right to know in advance what their children are being taught, and especially with respect to sensitive or controversial topics, to be given advance warning so the parent can discern whether there is any potential conflict with their Catholic values.  For students, the right to have one-to-one access to math teachers after class, to get help with math questions they did not understand during class, or which the teacher ran out of time to address to the student’s satisfaction.

2014 TCDSB Election: Ward 1 – Etobicoke

The Incumbent:

Peter Jakovcic

The Race

This race is wide open with incumbent Peter Jakovcic not running for re-election. Only two out of four candidates for election completed the survey for this ward. There is largely agreement among the two who participated, though details were short in the survey responses.

Candidates Who Did Not Participate: Robert Pella, Wasyl Luczkiw

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 support private investment

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

    ideas will come when I know the factd

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

    invite parents to board meetings,news letters,visit school communites

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

    do not support new education tax

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

    yes to ombudsman

    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?

    culture has changed

    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?

    need to find out missing at tcdsb at this point and look at changes that can be made with proper funding

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

    needs to be looked at

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

    give up as little as possible

    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?​

    support bill of rights

  • 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?

    Absolutely Yes !

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

    Tons; I’m a CPA, CMA and CEO; way too many to list

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

    Thru Rate Payer Associations and voice broadcasting and automated polling

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

    Any new Taxes is “Stupid”

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

    Undecided

    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?

    No I don’t believe it’s changed; as a CPA, CMA and ex-auditor; I have the back ground in experience and education to push hard for change and hold them accountable

    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?

    Too complex of a question for this type of survey ! I have experience with special needs; and would have a number of proactive recommendations

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

    Again too complex; changes are definitely required; we needed better management and less bureaucrats!

    9. What do you think is the best approach for the TCDSB to take in upcoming 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?​

    Have to see the Bill of Rights first and ideas from stake-holders; but frankly we have far more pressing issues !!!

2014 TDSB Election: Ward 11 – St. Paul’s

The Incumbent:

Shelley Laskin

The Race

Incumbent Trustee Shelley Laskin is up for re-election this year. Her responses to our survey were thoughtful and showed willingness to explore and commit to responsible private partnerships and fiscal responsibility at the TDSB. It must be noted that one candidate, Kristian Chartier, quite correctly identified savings that could be found by reducing the premium paid to the Skilled Trades Council. Overall, the ballot choices in this ward are of a good quality.

The Breakdown

  • Candidate Response
    Chartier, Kristian Establish up-front quality standards and pricing benchmarks. Demand TDSB not include 0.5% premium in Skilled Trades Council contract. Limit sole-source supplies to one or two years.
    Henick, Mark Push for comprehensive and independent governance review.
    Laskin, Shelley Board has balanced budget and achieved this through significant spending reductions. Hard decisions I supported. Advocate for TDSB to receive fair share of funding.


  • Candidate Response
    Chartier, Kristian Transition from paper to digital textbooks. Bring TDSB salaries in line with provincial average. Pursue Public-Private partnerships. Remove premium paid to Skilled Trades Council. Close under-performing cafeterias.
    Henick, Mark Ensure products and services are acquired below market rate. Explore technological solutions for savings. Existing contracts, materials, and staff should be used more efficiently.
    Laskin, Shelley Shared services with other school boards, the city, municipalities. Focus on core business. Continue to provide service in a more cost effective way. Look at what other Boards are doing to control costs. Assess the education funding available.


  • Candidate Response
    Chartier, Kristian No
    Henick, Mark No
    Laskin, Shelley No


  • Candidate Response
    Chartier, Kristian Fight for the right of students with exceptionalities to participate in fully integrated classrooms.
    Henick, Mark Give students ownership of their community to provide opportunities to help and be helped.
    Laskin, Shelley Efforts need to be shared and coordinated between the TDSB, youth ministries, and health care.


  • Candidate Response
    Chartier, Kristian Take a more rigorous approach to capital management through strategic development plans. Use project managers for major capital projects to avoid cost over-runs.
    Henick, Mark Explore innovative partnerships and revenue sources. Evaluate salaries and smarter deployment of personnel. Address occupational and psychological health of staff.
    Laskin, Shelley It's a hard decision to finally make permanent reductions in spending but it should be done to bring the board closer to operating sustainability.


  • Candidate Response
    Chartier, Kristian Move to a more centralized purchasing approach. Hire independent experts who can better evaluate proposals.
    Henick, Mark Triaging work in a more intentional way. Contracts, services, and supplies must be priced and purchased competitively.
    Laskin, Shelley Responsible ways of raising capital dollars whether through solar panels, redevelopment projects, or partnerships.


  • Candidate Response
    Chartier, Kristian Will consider
    Henick, Mark Yes
    Laskin, Shelley Yes


  • Candidate Response
    Chartier, Kristian Leverage the value of technological learning tools. Reduce overall staffing costs.
    Henick, Mark The Board should be transparent up front for negotiations to happen in good faith.
    Laskin, Shelley Stay within the framework the Ministry is prepared to fund.


  • Candidate Response
    Chartier, Kristian The 0.5% premium must not be renewed. End rent-free office space to trade union.
    Henick, Mark Smarter deployment of staff across the board and a culture of fiscal responsibility.
    Laskin, Shelley Need the flexibility to use dollars in the most efficient way whileproviding a fair and equitable workplace and work environment for our employees.


  • Candidate Response
    Chartier, Kristian Trustees must post itemized expense reports. Establishing transparency for spending will set the tone for change. Must use measurement and control systems.
    Henick, Mark Strengthened reporting and monitoring of costs. A more nimble auditing process.
    Laskin, Shelley Continue to assess whether we are using dollars effectively.

 

The full responses

  • 1. Evidence suggests the TDSB was warned in 2006 about spending problems. Previous Chair Chris Bolton chose to ignore these warnings until his resignation. Going forward, how would you address the issue of over-spending at the school board?

    The spending problems recently reported at the TDSB are the product of a culture of entitlement and negligence. The board repeatedly ignored warnings and chose to perpetuate the status quo, rather than acting with purpose and decisiveness. As a trustee, I would immediately implement the following measures in order to reign in spending:
    • Establish up-front quality standards and pricing benchmarks for all purchases — Quite simply, if an organization does not know what it should be paying for a service, then it is most likely overpaying.
    • Demand that the TDSB not include the 0.5% premium in its upcoming contract with the Maintenance and Construction Skilled Trades Council
    • Limit sole-source for supplies and services to one or two years. At the end of the period, the contract will need to be re-tendered- It’s important to maintain strong vendor relationships, but an over-reliance on sole-source contracts invariably leads to overspending.

    2. The TDSB has been faced with a difficult decision about potentially selling school properties. To avoid this, where would you find savings in future budgets? List your top five specific priorities for savings.

    • Champion the transition from paper to digital textbooks — Digital textbooks cost 66% less than paper  textbooks and have been consistently shown to produce better learning outcomes. Rather than purchasing entirely new books, schools can simply update their subscriptions to ensure that students always have access to the most current edition of their texts. Even after factoring in one-time startup costs, such as the purchase of tablets and e-readers are factored in, numerous school districts in the US  have demonstrated significant cost savings by adopting digital textbooks.
    • Bring TDSB teacher salaries in line with the provincial average — Teacher salaries account for 83% of the entire TDSB budget. While I believe that attracting talented teachers requires a competitive compensation package, it seems only logical that they should be paid as close to the provincial average as possible, while taking Toronto’s cost of living into account.
    • Reduce capital costs by pursuing Public-Private Partnerships — North Toronto Collegiate is an excellent example of how the TDSB can pursue PPPs that benefit both developers and the community.
    • Remove the 0.5% premium paid to Maintenance and Construction Skilled Trades Council when the current contract expires—it needlessly inflates the cost of work and limits vendor competition.
    • Close under-performing cafeterias — Some TDSB cafeterias sell as little as $35 worth of food each day. Clearly, these cafeterias are failing in their mandate to provide healthy food to students and should be closed.

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

    No. Dedicated taxes make for great politics, but poor policy. The government currently devotes close to 9% of its budget to interest payments. Rather than considering additional taxes, the government needs to focus its energies on eliminating the deficit and then reallocating funds to education.

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

    One in every 66 children is born with autism. Working closely with IMTI therapists and other specialists, they can thrive in fully integrated classrooms. However, this is not easy and frequently requires aids to join autistic children in the classroom. Unfortunately, the TDSB forces special needs children into remedial classes where they receive instruction from ECEs (early childhood educators) who lack adequate training and experience dealing with learning exceptionalities. If elected, I promise to be a strong advocate for children with learning exceptionalities and to fight for their right to participate in fully integrated classrooms with IMTI therapists.

    5. The current board saw the TDSB deficit balloon to $109-million – it’s biggest ever. What is your plan to address this going forward?

    Hard decisions need to be taken in this regard. Clearly our biggest cost is teacher salaries. These need to get in line with salaries of teachers across the province–while at the same time recognizing Toronto’s cost of living. Additionally the board needs to implement an attendance support system that will reduce the number of sick days staff take each year. Currently the average staffer takes over 15 days off per year.
    Lastly and perhaps most importantly, there needs to be a tidal shift in the way capital projects are managed. The $7 million cost over-run on the Nelson Mandela school this year highlighted just how badly planning and oversight has gotten. We need to move away from our legacy laissez faire practices and implement a far more rigorous approach to capital management that includes preparing a detailed strategic development plan and using professional project managers to help ensure major capital projects come in on time and on budget.

    6. The TDSB recently estimated the cost of roof repairs to more than $2.5-million dollars. How would you ensure that necessary capital refurbishments are met within budget?

    The TDSB needs transformational change in the way it contracts out its work. It needs to move to a much more centralized purchasing approach. The need to repair roofs affects many of its buildings. A contract for the entire $2.5 million instead of multiple smaller contracts would result in a lower negotiated price without having to sacrifice quality. Additionally the board needs to hire independent experts with the expertise to define requirements and appropriate standards and who have a good grasp of costs and are

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

    I support targeted private investment to help boards meet the cost of organized sports. Targeted means that sponsors can only be organizations whose marketing is primarily targeted at adults and whose products and services are not greatly sought after by impressionable kids. Both Nissan and the CFL meet those criteria. I also differentiate between advertising and branding. There could be brand names on supplied products, e.g., if a company provided shirts, the company’s name could be on the shirt as long as the company’s name was small and inconspicuous.

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

    The TDSB needs to do two things in its negotiations with teachers. First it needs to leverage the value—to both students and teachers—of using more technology based learning tools can improve learning outcomes and reduce costs. Second with falling enrollment and now potentially chronic deficits unless staffing costs are reduced, the board has no alternative but to reduce overall staffing costs. Negotiation need to focus on how—not if—the reductions will be achieved.

    9. In short time, the agreement between the TDSB and Maintenance and Construction Skilled Trades Council is up for re-negotiation. Do you feel there are changes needed in the current agreement?

    Absolutely. Without question, the 0.5% premium must not be renewed. Additionally, I will push to ensure that the board ends the practice of providing rent-free office space to the trade union.

    10. TDSB has come under fire for ridiculous expenses – $150 to cut a key, $140 for a pencil sharpener, and a $200 toilet seat are just scratching the surface. How will you bring about a new culture that respects the budget and sees money spent wisely?​

    An organization’s culture is defined by its leadership. Trustees who blur the line between their salaries and their expense accounts, send a message to the rest of the board that rules can be broken with impunity. This is why I believe that the first step to solving the board’s systemic spending problems start with trustee expenses. I pledge to post itemized expense reports on a monthly basis clearly outlining my expenses and providing explanations for each.
    Establishing transparency around spending will set the tone for change, but implementing it will require effective management tools. I will advocate for effective measurement and control systems. I will push for a comprehensive review of staff roles and enforce a clearly defined hierarchy, with rules governing deliverables, communications and spending approvals. I will request that each department develop comprehensive five-year spending plans that are aligned to the board’s key objectives.


    • 1. Evidence suggests the TDSB was warned in 2006 about spending problems. Previous Chair Chris Bolton chose to ignore these warnings until his resignation. Going forward, how would you address the issue of over-spending at the school board?

      As TDSB Trustee for Ward 11, I would move quickly to push for a comprehensive and independent governance review. Among the highest responsibilities of any board is its fiduciary duty to its shareholders, who are in this case students, staff, and taxpayers. When board and management fail to understand or wilfully ignore this fact, stakeholders lose. Lack of effective budgetary oversight is unacceptable. Blatant, or even perceived conflicts of interest are unacceptable. Poor mechanisms for transparency is unacceptable. I am calling for a more accountable, effective, and transparent TDSB.

      2. The TDSB has been faced with a difficult decision about potentially selling school properties. To avoid this, where would you find savings in future budgets? List your top five specific priorities for savings.

      Significant savings can be found by tightening existing financial policies and controls for everyday expenses. (1) My first priority would be to call for the development of a more effective system for ensuring that the products and services necessary to operations are acquired at or below market value. This will impact virtually all budget categories. (2) This can be accomplished through broader consultation of both suppliers and best practices, as well as exploring innovative technological solutions for savings. Developing a consortium of interested parties could held to increase collective buying power and drive down prices. (3) Existing contracts should be reviewed for efficiency, and new or potential ones more carefully scrutinized. (4) The RFP process should also be reviewed and optimized as necessary to be more competitive without sacrificing the quality that our staff and students need. (5) Existing material and staff resources can be more intelligently managed and deployed, in order to avoid redundancy, excess, and waste.

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

      It would be an unsustainable strategy to ask for new taxes every time the tank runs dry. It could also backfire, in the sense that there will always be competing interests, differing priorities, and shifting politics. Given the finite resources available, the largest portion of TDSB funding ultimately depends on how the provincial government chooses to divvy up the budget. By increasing transparency, the public will be able to see if these priorities include supporting education. Ontarians support education, so their government should too. The most compelling case that can be made for additional resources comes when the public can plainly see that the TDSB is managed well, and that the solution is in the hands of their elected MPPs. We are not there yet, but we can be.

      4. 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 am personally deeply passionate about the obligation that our public system has to the children and adults who need us the most. By ensuring meaningful inclusion and adequate supports, we can and must do right by those who are already vulnerable. Among the greatest untapped resources available to our schools are the students who fill the classrooms. By giving them ownership over their community, and providing opportunities to help and be helped, we can build a more compassionate and caring school culture – one that  welcomes and better meets the needs of everyone as they are.

      5. The current board saw the TDSB deficit balloon to $109-million – it’s biggest ever. What is your plan to address this going forward?

      Stricter financial controls must be among the top priorities for TDSB. However, innovative partnerships and revenue sources must also be explored – with a careful consideration for maintaining the quality of education and experience in our schools. Given that salaries comprise the largest expenditure, it will be necessary to continue to search for efficiencies within the parameters of existing contracts and collective agreements. Smarter deployment of personnel, and a more intentional process of matching task to skill level required can help to do this. Addressing the occupational and psychological health and safety of all staff can also help to make the TDSB workforce more productive while helping to reduce the economic impacts of not supporting staff in this way.

      6. The TDSB recently estimated the cost of roof repairs to more than $2.5-million dollars. How would you ensure that necessary capital refurbishments are met within budget?

      Smarter management of TDSB resources and services will be an important part of ensuring our facilities are to a standard we expect. That will sometimes mean triaging work in a more intentional way. It will also mean that contracts, services, and supplies must be priced and purchased competitively.

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

      There are many opportunities for the private sector to support our schools, while deriving the expected mutual benefit. However, this must occur within carefully considered parameters that ultimately benefit students, staff, and communities. It must also not replace existing government funding – and legislative protections should be sought accordingly.

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

      Among the people most passionate about the success of our schools are the teachers and staff who support them. Negotiations do not have to follow the traditional adversarial model, and the TDSB should approach negotiations collaboratively and in absolute good faith. There will be differences, but differences are necessary for consensus to be built. If the board is more transparent, and includes teachers and staff (along with students and their parents) more meaningfully in the entire budget process, the realities will be known up front. We can then work together toward our shared ends.

      9. In short time, the agreement between the TDSB and Maintenance and Construction Skilled Trades Council is up for re-negotiation. Do you feel there are changes needed in the current agreement?

      Smarter deployment of staff across the board with regard to needs and skills can be a source of major efficiency. With this being the case, and the badly needed development of a culture of fiscal responsibility, all parties will need to work collaboratively in the best interest of students, staff, and taxpayers.

      10. TDSB has come under fire for ridiculous expenses – $150 to cut a key, $140 for a pencil sharpener, and a $200 toilet seat are just scratching the surface. How will you bring about a new culture that respects the budget and sees money spent wisely?​

      Strengthened reporting and monitoring, along with a more nimble auditing process, will be a key part of developing and ensuring a culture of fiscal responsibility. We need to be shaken from the old ways of doing things, and invite innovative emerging, promising, and best practices. When there is an expectation of excellence, when the board walks the talk, and when we reward favourable results – we all win.


      • 1. Evidence suggests the TDSB was warned in 2006 about spending problems. Previous Chair Chris Bolton chose to ignore these warnings until his resignation. Going forward, how would you address the issue of over-spending at the school board?

        The Board has a balanced budget and achieved this balanced budget through some significant spending reductions. Those were hard decisions which I supported. Fiscal responsibility has to be balanced against student achievement and well-being. We continue to advocate for funding improvements to reflect the needs of a very diverse large urban school board. I believe, like all organizations, we have to continue to assess whether we are spending our funds appropriately and in ways that benefits our students. I also believe that we need to advocate for the TDSB to receive an appropriate share of the education funding available. For example, we have many students with special needs who reside in an urban centre because of the supports an urban centre provides. Many of these students may not be formally identified but continue to require additional supports.

        2. The TDSB has been faced with a difficult decision about potentially selling school properties. To avoid this, where would you find savings in future budgets? List your top five specific priorities for savings.

        1. Shared services – where can we leverage relationships to reduce duplication – other school boards, the city, other municipalities?
        2. Focusing on our core business – the education of students first and foremost. What are some of the things that we are doing as a Board that other levels of government or other organizations should be providing instead?
        3. How can we continue to provide services to our students/stakeholders but in a more cost effective way? For example, how can we provide healthy meals for our students in settings where operating a cafeteria is no longer viable?
        4. What are other Boards doing to reduce their costs that we can adopt?
        5. Assessing the education dollars available, is the TDSB getting the dollars they should? Should we be receiving more in special education or transportation because we are a large urban board?
        However, in some instances it may make sense to sell if it is the only way to redevelop facilities.

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

        There is already a component in the property tax for education. The provincial pooling of the education dollars means that not even education dollars collected in Toronto are spent in Toronto. I am not sure more or new taxes are the answer without first determining whether the TDSB is getting its fair share of the dollars currently available provincially. For example in the Backgrounder to a Motion I moved, supported by the TDSB at the June Board, I noted that if the Ministry of Finance and/or the City of Toronto were to introduce an infrastructure levy, increasing the education tax component available to TDSB, this would provide the Board with a substantial revenue source to finance the renewal backlog on existing infrastructure and the TDSB wouldn’t be forced to sever and sell school sites. With the support of the provincial government, the TDSB needs to negotiate a formal agreement with the City of Toronto  in which each partner shares equally in both the costs and benefits associated with the entirely of TDSB’s capital property. That said, the Motion I moved asks the Director to begin discussions with the City of Toronto staff and appropriate provincial government representatives to:
        a. develop options for generating sustainable school infrastructure funding while preserving school sites as important educational assets for future generations;
        b. ensure that playing fields and green space are preserved; and
        c. generate funding to support infrastructure investment needed in our schools to support the City’s Official Plan and significant growth population.
        The benefits of a new arrangement include:
        1. providing stable, sustainable revenue for TDSB infrastructure renewal and growth needs;
        2. ensuring that TDSB will be able to maintain a strong network of neighbourhood schools within walking and cycling distance of students’ homes;
        3. reducing TDSB’s costs for maintaining school fields;
        4. preserving precious neighbourhood green space used by Toronto residents of all ages; and supporting community planning and cooperation between levels of government

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

        Supporting students with special needs spans more than the education sector as many of these students also require professional supports. Additionally, as new research and information comes to light, whether it’s about Autism or mental health and wellness, it is not just the education sector that needs to respond. Youth ministries and health care, for example, also need to respond and the responsibility needs to be shared and efforts need to be co-ordinated.

        5. The current board saw the TDSB deficit balloon to $109-million – it’s biggest ever. What is your plan to address this going forward?

        The deficit ballooned to $109 million because each year the deficit doubles. If I am short a dollar this year, next year I still short the dollar and owe you a dollar from the previous year. This compounding effect and the difficulty in making permanent reductions saw the deficit grow. It was a hard decision to finally make the necessary permanent reductions, but as a Board this term, we have voted to make those hard budget cuts to bring us closer to sustainability on the operating side. We continue to examine where else we can make permanent sustainable reductions without severely impacting student achievement and well-being, while at the same time, continue to advocate for Toronto students’ fair share of provincial funding to support their needs.

        6. The TDSB recently estimated the cost of roof repairs to more than $2.5-million dollars. How would you ensure that necessary capital refurbishments are met within budget?

        We continue to look at responsible ways of raising capital dollars, whether through solar panels, redevelopment projects or partnerships.

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

        Partnerships are a good thing, in my opinion. The Board already has some partnerships which help provide programming and helps reduce costs that can be redirected elsewhere, for example to support financial literacy and student nutrition programs. However, private investments in our schools has to be evaluated responsibly.

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

        I think we need to stay within the framework the Ministry if prepared to fund.

        9. In short time, the agreement between the TDSB and Maintenance and Construction Skilled Trades Council is up for re-negotiation. Do you feel there are changes needed in the current agreement?

        Every collective agreement and all contracts should be reviewed to ensure that it is fair to both our employees and the TDSB. We need to continue to assess how we do business with all our stakeholders. As a Board, we also need the flexibility to use dollars in the most efficient way while providing a fair and equitable workplace and work environment for our employees.

        10. TDSB has come under fire for ridiculous expenses – $150 to cut a key, $140 for a pencil sharpener, and a $200 toilet seat are just scratching the surface. How will you bring about a new culture that respects the budget and sees money spent wisely?​

        We have taken steps already to begin addressing overspending and to improve financial accountability. We will continue to assess whether we are using our dollars in the most effective way possible.

      2014 TDSB Election: Ward 1 – Etobicoke North

      The Incumbent:

      John Hastings

      The Race

      Of the two candidates who responded, Dahir Dalbete seems more inclined towards private investment, while Ricardo Harvey favours a dedicated tax for education. Dalbete has a general respect for taxpayers theme, while Harvey is more inclined towards consultation and community meetings.  The incumbent did not respond to the survey.

      Candidates Who Did Not Participate: Tahir Ahmad, Michael Ford, John Hastings, Kim King, Eli Sivalingam, Sandy Zajac

      The Breakdown

      • Candidate Response
        Dalbete, Dahir Tender all maintenance and repair
        Harvey, Richardo Educate staff and trustees on expenses


      • Candidate Response
        Dalbete, Dahir Increase permit fees, reducing maintenance and utility cost, exploring additional funding to generate additional revenue, reducing administration costs and improving efficiency in the system by using new technologies
        Harvey, Richardo Increase partnership with community service associations.


      • Candidate Response
        Dalbete, Dahir No
        Harvey, Richardo  Yes


      • Candidate Response
        Dalbete, Dahir All new teachers must be prepared to teach, set meaningful objectives, establish required accommodations and ensure regular curriculum is appropriately modified.
        Harvey, Richardo Partnership, strong and adequate support for early learning


      • Candidate Response
        Dalbete, Dahir Eliminate wasteful spending, improve transparency for Trustee expenses, increase community consultation.
        Harvey, Richardo Work with Ministry of Education, meet with community, look at fee for service and space usage


      • Candidate Response
        Dalbete, Dahir Tender all maintenance and repair
        Harvey, Richardo Solar panels on roofs, green energy grants


      • Candidate Response
        Dalbete, Dahir Yes
        Harvey, Richardo No


      • Candidate Response
        Dalbete, Dahir Negotiations based on mutual respect-improve student learning, reduce teacher workloads, focus on student achievement
        Harvey, Richardo Keep children and youth in mind


      • Candidate Response
        Dalbete, Dahir Yes
        Harvey, Richardo Will consider


      • Candidate Response
        Dalbete, Dahir TDSB Board must  eliminate all wasteful spending, MCSTC must respect taxpayers money
        Harvey, Richardo Transparency of finances, educate ourselves about process

       

      The full responses

      • 1. Evidence suggests the TDSB was warned in 2006 about spending problems. Previous Chair Chris Bolton chose to ignore these warnings until his resignation. Going forward, how would you address the issue of over-spending at the school board?

        The board has shown a lack of “leadership and accountability” over its building and maintenance issues and the Maintenance and Skilled Trades Council has taken advantage to charge unbelievable cost to repair most of the work they do in schools. This has to stop and the only way to solve this mess is to tender all maintenance repair to maintain transparency and accountability.

        2. The TDSB has been faced with a difficult decision about potentially selling school properties. To avoid this, where would you find savings in future budgets? List your top five specific priorities for savings.

        I will suggest the following:
        1. Increase permit fees
        2. Reducing maintenance and utility cost
        3. Exploring additional funding to generate additional revenue
        4. Reducing administration costs
        5. Improving efficiency in the system by using new technologies

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

        I do not support any tax on education.

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

        Children from working class and minority community groups continue to negatively labelled with exceptionalities and special needs in elementary schools, streamed to dead-ends programs that encourage many of them to drop out of secondary schools; and excluded from post-secondary schools.
        All Teachers: all new teachers must be prepared to teach students of all abilities who will be members of their regular classrooms in the future.
        Building for Inclusion: to set meaningful objectives with the highest possible standards, establish the required accommodations and ensure that the regular curriculum is appropriately modified, so it can accommodate all students.

        5. The current board saw the TDSB deficit balloon to $109-million – it’s biggest ever. What is your plan to address this going forward?

        The board’s 2013-2014 school-based staff allocation recommended cutting nearly 250 secondary school teachers positions, along with cuts to guidance teachers, clerical staff, even school-based safety monitors. The recommended cuts to teachers and staff would not eliminate the deficit, only half of it. We need to eliminate wasteful spending, improve transparency for Trustee expenses and increase community consultation to move forward.

        6. The TDSB recently estimated the cost of roof repairs to more than $2.5-million dollars. How would you ensure that necessary capital refurbishments are met within budget?

        The Maintenance and Skilled Trades Council has taken advantage to charge unbelievable cost to repair most of the work they do in schools. This has to stop and the only way to solve this mess is to tender all maintenance repair to maintain transparency and accountability.

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

        Yes, I do support and this is the way to build collaboration with private and community stakeholders to seek more private investment.

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

        Well, negations should be based on mutual respect and including salary, benefits, working conditions, sick leave, vacation, protection from arbitrary discipline, and much, much more. Also the negations should include improve student learning, reducing teacher workloads and issues related to educational initiatives that focus on student achievement

        9. In short time, the agreement between the TDSB and Maintenance and Construction Skilled Trades Council is up for re-negotiation. Do you feel there are changes needed in the current agreement?

        a)TDSB must be able to contract out some jobs
        b) Remove the controversial payment (0.5 per cent of the job value) that had to be given by outside firms to the union every time a job (typically something too big for the council workers) was performed.
        c)Accountability and transparency has to be enforced

        10. TDSB has come under fire for ridiculous expenses – $150 to cut a key, $140 for a pencil sharpener, and a $200 toilet seat are just scratching the surface. How will you bring about a new culture that respects the budget and sees money spent wisely?​

        The TDSB Board has to take responsibility by analysing contracts and expenses and must  eliminate all wasting spending.
        Also, The 900 workers belonging to the Maintenance and Skilled Trades Council who carry out the work have to be honest and work in a professional manner that respect taxpayers money.


        • 1. Evidence suggests the TDSB was warned in 2006 about spending problems. Previous Chair Chris Bolton chose to ignore these warnings until his resignation. Going forward, how would you address the issue of over-spending at the school board?

          WE NEED CHANGE AND DEVELOPMENT. I WILL BRING THAT CHANGE AND DEVELOPMENT TO THE BOARD. EDUCATING TRUSTEES AND STAFF ON ALLOWABLE EXPENSES AND QUESTIONABLE ONES – ALLOW TRUSTEE AND STAFF TO FOLLOW THE POLICY AND PROCEDURE AROUND SPENDING

          2. The TDSB has been faced with a difficult decision about potentially selling school properties. To avoid this, where would you find savings in future budgets? List your top five specific priorities for savings.

          INCREASE PARTNERSHIP IN OUR SCHOOLS WITH COMMUNITY SERVICE ORGANIZATION. THIS IS ONE OF MY PRIORITIES. BRINGING THE SUPPORT AND SERVICES TO THE CHILDREN AND YOUTH AND PARENTS

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

          THROUGH DEVELOPMENT AND RELATIONSHIP, I WILL WORK FERVENTLY WITH THE MINISTRY OF EDUCATION AND “EDUCATION PREMIER” IN ACHIEVING THIS.

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

          PARTNERSHIP, STRONG, ADEQUATE SUPPORT, AND SERVICES IN ALL OUR EARLY LEARNING PROGRAMS. THIS IS ONE OF MY PRIORITIES ATTACHED

          5. The current board saw the TDSB deficit balloon to $109-million – it’s biggest ever. What is your plan to address this going forward?

          WORK WITH THE MINISTRY, BUILD ON KNOWLEDGE THROUGH EDUCATING SELF, MEET  WITH COMMUNITY, PARENTS AND STUDENTS, GRASSROOTS GROUPS, ORGANIZATIONS, LOOK AT FEE FOR SERVICE, AND SPACE USAGE IN OUR SCHOOLS AMONGST OTHERS THROUGH – I WILL DO WHAT’S BEST BASE ON CONSULTATION AND INCLUSIVITY OF CHILDREN, YOUTH, PARENTS, FAMILIES, COMMUNITY AND GRASSROOTS ORGANIZATION, WHO ARE ALL LEADERS IN EDUCATION TO ADDRESS THIS PROBLEM.

          6. The TDSB recently estimated the cost of roof repairs to more than $2.5-million dollars. How would you ensure that necessary capital refurbishments are met within budget?

          FOCUS ON THE NEEDS FIRST. REGULAR REPORTING TO THE COMMITTEE, CHILDREN, YOUTH AND PARENTS TO ENSURE IT WITHIN BUDGET. SOLAR PANELS, GREEN ENERGY GRANTS, ETC

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

          NOT PRIVATE INVESTMENT YET PARTNERSHIP FOR EDUCATION. SERVERAL OF OUR SCHOOLS ALREADY HAVE PARTNERSHIPS WITH DIFFERENT ORGANIZATIONS IN THEIR COMMUNITY – INSPIRING OUR CHILDREN AND YOUTH THROUGH EXPERIENCIAL LEARNING ETC

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

          FOLLOW A MEANINGFUL PROCESS, WITH OUR CHILDREN AND YOUTH IN MIND. THEY ARE OUR STAKE HOLDERS. I BELIEVE THAT THROUGH WORKING WITH EACH OTHER WE CAN KEEP MOVING FORWARD TOGETHER

          9. In short time, the agreement between the TDSB and Maintenance and Construction Skilled Trades Council is up for re-negotiation. Do you feel there are changes needed in the current agreement?

          CHANGES REALLY? I WOULD SAY WE MUST MOVE FORWARD TOGETHER INTO A NEW ERA WITH OUR TRADES COUNCIL. LOOK AT GIVING BACK DIRECTLY TO OUR CHILDREN AND YOUTH WE SERVE. WE HAVE A LOT OF PEOPLE IN THE MAINTENANCE AND CONSTRUCTION SKILL TRADES THAT WE NEED TO START WORKING WITH.

          10. TDSB has come under fire for ridiculous expenses – $150 to cut a key, $140 for a pencil sharpener, and a $200 toilet seat are just scratching the surface. How will you bring about a new culture that respects the budget and sees money spent wisely?

          TRANSPARENCY OF OUR FINANCES – EDUCATE EACH OTHER ABOUT THE PROCESS AROUND THESE TYPES OF TIMES. Working Towards Good Governance ​