2014 TDSB Election: Ward 18 – Scarborough Southwest

The Incumbent:

Elizabeth Moyer

The Race

The incumbent, Elizabeth Moyer has received a fair amount of media attention during this term due to spending indiscretions and alleged questionable behaviour. There is a large roster of candidates looking to take over in Ward 18 with some who have shared their ideas below.

Candidates Who Did Not Participate:  Abida Abida, Azim Dewan, Naser Kaid, Parthi Kandavel, Michael Opoku, Don Stuart

The Breakdown

  • Candidate Response
    Dale, Gaye I know that staff can assist in determining where cuts can be made without drastically affecting the quality of education and the safety of students. I would work to improve communication and trust between elected trustees and staff to enable this exchange. Further, I will work with my colleagues on the TDSB to gain consensus so that the board's decisions are truly a reflection of all its representatives. Cuts at the school board should never be at the cost of the student.
    Heffernan, Tim The issue is not overspending but underfunding.  Why is it that our board is in a deficit, yet it never seems to get the grant money for the needy students that require it?
    Moyer, Elizabeth As the former Audit Chair I can assure you that there is still much work to be done. I was the only Audit Committee Trustee who was willing to go to the Minister of Education with my concerns with the external members (non-Trustees). The Board currently has a balanced budget achieved through some significant spending reductions.  There are still ways to achieve more savings by putting better controls in place, better management, stopping bad practice and assessing contributions to organizations that are outside the TDSB mandate.
    Stergianis, John Spending against budgets should always be tracked and explained, and variances need to be highlighted and investigated. Also, we cannot allow instances where budgets are passed, knowing that they can never be met.

  • Candidate Response
    Dale, Gaye Lease rather than purchase any additional required capital assets, Further reduce administrative Costs: for example – reduce photocopying/paper cost – investigate outsourcing of reprographic services, Reduce administrative costs associated with provincial compliance (paperwork), Increase revenue from rental of school properties during off-hours (permitting), Increase foreign-student program revenue
    Heffernan, Tim 1. Cut back on Trustee retreats, junkets and individual expense accounts, 2. Invest more in retrofitting properties to make them energy efficient (initial investment expense that will provide long term savings) 3. Expand the programme of installing solar panels on school roofs so that TDSB can get more revenue from feed-in tariffs, 4. Cut back on the number of Superintendents and other senior staff. 5. The big one – get the whole Board of Trustees onside to press the province to move to one secular, publicly funded education system (i.e. ending the funding to the separate R.C. system)
    Moyer, Elizabeth 1. Using technology better – assess what can be done cheaper or more efficiently using the best resources 2. Shared services – who could we be working with to save costs?  3. Focusing on our mandate – educating our students.  4. Having departments do ‘zero base budgeting’ rather than getting the budgets they’ve always had – make sure that every line item is necessary and has a mandate to our core mandate. 5. What are other Boards doing to reduce their costs that we can adopt?
    Stergianis, John I cannot give an informed answer without reviewing and analysing the budgets.

  • Candidate Response
    Dale, Gaye No
    Heffernan, Tim No
    Moyer, Elizabeth No
    Stergianis, John No

  • Candidate Response
    Dale, Gaye The paperwork necessary to complete Individual Education Plans and Identification,Placement and Review Committee along with school placement committees needs to be reassessed by the government. In the past 15 years, an IEP has grown to become, in some cases, a ten page document. We need to work closer with the government so that the online process of reporting is used by all schools and the amount of time necessary for this process is reduced. This will allow teachers and administrators to work with the students rather than filling out paperwork. This is just one way I think we could improve Special Education.
    Heffernan, Tim The Ministry of Education has mandated its plan for inclusion for special needs students but school boards are backtracking. Guaranteeing that there is sufficient staffing and resources to meet the needs of all special needs students and their families is essential. In general, I favour the integrated model over the congregated one for Special  Education.
    Moyer, Elizabeth Recently the TDSB did a Special Education Audit, although I can’t comment on it publically as it’s a private document it did highlight that there is a lot the board could be doing better. If re-elected I will be advocating to do things in the best interest of students.
    Stergianis, John I agree that special education is vital. I won’t offer a plan on such a complex issue without in depth research and interviews.

  • Candidate Response
    Dale, Gaye I would like to see the board do 'bottom up' budgeting: looking at what the needs are in each area and eliminate things that have become unnecessary.
    Heffernan, Tim That was not the fault of the TDSB but of the government funding model and how it expects Boards to foot the bill for its own initiatives.
    Moyer, Elizabeth The deficit ballooned to $109 million because the last board did not address the issues and left it as a problem for this current board – that should not be allowed to happen again. 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.
    Stergianis, John The deficit can’t be addressed properly until it is analysed. For example, I would look into where the spending was higher than expected. Are these expenses new or recurring? Are the budgets unrealistic and unlikely to be met?

  • Candidate Response
    Dale, Gaye Strict adherence to a legitimate tendering process so that the most cost effective solutions are identified is a way to keep costs under control. This should then be followed by the oversight of the contracts and work done.
    Heffernan, Tim Deferred maintenance is a product of under funding and dubious maintenance contracts. If capital refurbishments are required, money has to be found for them but not through robbing the operating budget.
    Moyer, Elizabeth We need to look at new sources of capital dollars, whether through solar panels, redevelopment projects or partnerships.
    Stergianis, John Expenses of this nature can usually be predicted and estimated. The buildings need to be maintained properly, not only for the safety and comfort of the students and staff, but also to maintain values and avoid costlier repairs in the future.

  • Candidate Response
    Dale, Gaye Yes
    Heffernan, Tim No
    Moyer, Elizabeth Yes
    Stergianis, John Yes

  • Candidate Response
    Dale, Gaye The best approach for the TDSB during contract negotiations is to work with employees in a fair and  honest way. If teachers and staff are at odds with the board they can’t possibly do their jobs properly.
    Heffernan, Tim Fair and open negotiations should be the rule. Respect free collective bargaining and ensure the government doesn't trample over the rights of teachers/education workers as they did before.
    Moyer, Elizabeth Most of the bargaining will now take place at a provincial level. We need to stay within the framework the Ministry is prepared to fund.
    Stergianis, John I’m not sure what is meant by “approach”. Ultimately everyone wants to reach a deal where all sides are satisfied.

  • Candidate Response
    Dale, Gaye Yes
    Heffernan, Tim Yes
    Moyer, Elizabeth Will consider
    Stergianis, John Will consider

  • Candidate Response
    Heffernan, Tim I am not well disposed to a culture that “respects a budget” and “spends money wisely” when buildings are falling apart and students don’t get the resources they need.
    Moyer, Elizabeth What the media has reported is an incomplete story. There are 2 issues with the above statements. First of all there is an issue that perhaps the wrong person was sent to do a job and so that is a management decision that needs to be fixed. Secondly, some of the information was charged/billed incorrectly and was later fixed. Both of these issues suggest that there are systemic issues that must be addressed and fixed.
    Stergianis, John Expenditures should always be reviewed to ensure the best value for each tax dollar.

 

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?

    I know that this has been a problem since the amalgamation of the board. Over-spending can lead to the province wresting control from the elected board of trustees therefore it is of crucial importance to work within budget limitations. Based upon my past experience, I know that staff can assist in determining where cuts can be made without drastically affecting the quality of education and the safety of students. I would work to improve communication and trust between elected trustees and staff to enable this exchange. Further, I will work with my colleagues on the TDSB to gain consensus so that the board’s decisions are truly a reflection of all its representatives. Cuts at the school board should never be at the cost of the student.

    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.

    Lease rather than purchase any additional required capital assets
     Further reduce administrative Costs: for example – reduce photocopying/paper cost – investigate
    outsourcing of reprographic services
     Reduce administrative costs associated with provincial compliance (paperwork)
     Increase revenue from rental of school properties during off-hours (permitting)
     Increase foreign-student program revenue

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

    We need to look at where we can find the savings without putting the burden on the taxpayers.

    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 think we need to reconsider what has been done in the past successfully to make special education work. For instance, the paperwork necessary to complete Individual Education Plans and Identification,Placement and Review Committee along with school placement committees needs to be reassessed by the government. In the past 15 years, an IEP has grown to become, in some cases, a ten page document. We need to work closer with the government so that the online process of reporting is used by all schools and the amount of time necessary for this process is reduced. This will allow teachers and administrators to work with the students rather than filling out paperwork. This is just one way I think we could improve Special Education.

    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?

    I would like to see the board do ‘bottom up’ budgeting: looking at what the needs are in each area and eliminate things that have become unnecessary. This should be done as part of the normal budget process so that money is directed towards students in the classroom rather than spending on programs and materials that happens year after year just because it’s always been done that 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?

    Strict adherence to a legitimate tendering process so that the most cost effective solutions are identified is a way to keep costs under control. This should then be followed by the oversight of the contracts and work done. I think it is a dangerous thing to not repair the roofs in the system. When the roof leaks the loss of equipment and the possibility of mould growing within our schools is a danger to both students and staff. Unfortunately, some schools have been left too long and extensive repairs may be necessary. If they had been handled in a quick manner the costs might not have gotten out of control.

    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 fortunately have witnessed the support of the CFL in Borden B.T.I. Exceptional young athletes were not only mentored but financially assisted to become an award winning football team. I am totally in favour of seeking private investment provided the quality of education offered to TDSB students is not jeopardized.

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

    The best approach for the TDSB during contract negotiations is to work with employees in a fair and  honest way. If teachers and staff are at odds with the board they can’t possibly do their jobs properly.

    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?

    I feel that when you employ a person you can ask them to assist you with what needs to be done. If a job is outsourced you will not be able to control the costs that may be incurred to complete required work. When you outsource, you have no ownership over what happens. That being said, it is critical that future contracts provide increased flexibility to the board to identify and exercise options to control maintenance costs.

    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?​

    I think a review of the process for maintenance and facility work orders and associated costs is appropriate. Staff reporting back to the board about costs should be a frequent part of our monthly package.

  • 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 issue is not overspending but underfunding. Yes there are lines in the budget that are over spent e.g. retreats for Trustees in luxury hotels; irrelvant professional development programmes for teachers; raises that for upper management in times when teachers and support staff have had to accept the austerity demands of the government.

    This year, the Board was in debt by $50 million. Over the past three years, the Board has cut almost 1,500 staff positions. Less than one half of these cuts came from declining enrolment. The rest were due to additional funding cuts by the provincial government. The province recommended that, to balance the budget, trustees needed to cut music instructors, librarians and school budgets. On the capital side –
    used for major repairs, additions and new schools – funding is now so tight that the board is considering selling off playgrounds where children play every day.

    Why is it that our board is in a deficit, yet it never seems to get the grant money for the needy students that require it?

    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’m against the idea of selling school buildings/properties that are vacant or underutilized. Shortfalls in operating expenses (the fault of the provincial government – see above) should not be met by selling off the Board’s fixed assets, even if there is a temporary under utilization of some of them.
    Five areas of savings:
    1. Cut back on Trustee retreats, junkets and individual expense accounts, e.g use of Board money to produce expensive brochures that get distributed to all voters in a ward and serve mainly as fluff pieces to promote the profile of the incumbent trustee.
    2. Invest more in retrofitting properties to make them energy efficient (initial investment expense that will provide long term savings)
    3. Expand the programme of installing solar panels on school roofs so that TDSB can get more revenue from feed-in tariffs (again, initial investment expense that will provide long term savings)
    4. Cut back on the number of Superintendents and other senior staff.
    5. The big one – get the whole Board of Trustees onside to press the province to move to one secular, publicly funded education system (i.e. ending the funding to the separate R.C. system) – savings of approx $1.5bn. a year

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

    I am not in favour of general tax increases on ordinary working people. However, unless we are aiming for a selfish and unequal system where everyone pays for the education they can afford, taxation is necessary. In the TDSB it is common knowledge that schools in more affluent areas fundraise hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. This is money that should be going to the common good, not directly back into those already affluent families’ services. This is just one of the many issues which create great inequality in TDSB schools. It is only through appropriate taxation that inequalities such as this can be addressed. By approriate taxation, I mean increasing taxes on corporations and wealthy individuals. I am ashamed of politicians and business leaders who boast of Canada being one of the tax havens of the world. If Burger King can take over Tim Horton’s and relocate to Oakville, let’s welcome them with a hefty tax on their profits that will go directly to the funding of education – but not just in Oakville.

    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?

    We have a legal and moral responsibility to provide students identified as Special  Education with all that they require to succeed.

    The Ministry of Education has mandated its plan for inclusion for special needs students but school boards are backtracking. For example, in the TDSB, by June 2017, the proportion of students placed in congregated Special Education classes will be reduced by 50%. Guaranteeing that there is sufficient staffing and resources to meet the needs of all special needs students and their families is essential. In general, I favour the integrated model over the congregated one for Special  Education.

    The government’s Declining Enrolment Working Group in 2009, reported that special education grants should be revised to better reflect the needs of special education students. Teachers need additional professional support to successfully integrate students with identified special needs students into regular classrooms. Teachers are reporting an increase in incidents of violence on the part of students with psychological and behavioural issues. To address these issues, classrooms require more access to educational assistants, behavioural counsellors, child and youth workers, psychologists, and speech and language pathologists. I would argue for basing special education grants on the educational needs of students -increase the funding allocation for staff in the aforementioned areas.

    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?

    That was not the fault of the TDSB but of the government funding model and how it expects Boards to foot the bill for its own initiatives.

    The provincial government today argues that, at the TDSB, funding is up by 33 per cent over the past eight years, and enrolment is down by 12.5 per cent. So how is it that funding is up and enrolment is down, but the board is facing shortfalls each year? The answer is in the difference between gross and net funding.

    If the province gives a school board an additional $100, but tells it to spend $120 on full-day kindergarten, then gross funding may be up, but the net funding is down and the board is facing shortfalls.

    The economist Hugh Mackenzie calculates that between 1998 and 2009, when you tally the additional costs to schools of inflation and provincial actions such as the class cap, provincially negotiated pay increases, and literacy and numeracy initiatives, net funding is down across the province by $450 per student per year.

    The introduction of full-day kindergarten has added to the net funding shortfalls at the TDSB.

    To address the deficit going forward? See my suggestions above.

    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?

    Deferred maintenance is a product of under funding and dubious maintenance contracts. If capital refurbishments are required, money has to be found for them but not through robbing the operating budget.

    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?

    Public education must be publicly funded through normal revenues. I am against private investment or corporate sponsorhips for any school based activity, curricular or extra-curricular.

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

    Fair and open negotiations should be the rule. Respect free collective bargaining and ensure the government doesn’t trample over the rights of teachers/education workers as they did before. If we are concerned about student success, the morale of front line workers is important. Employees who feel that they have been shafted or are generally unappreciated are less likely to perform well or be motivated to go the extra model. The Finnish model, where teachers are highly valued and well paid, is often touted as the education success story of the modern era

    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?

    No doubt, there should be and there will be changes to the agreement but I prefer to leave contractual negotiations to the parties concerned rather than lay down strict paramters beforehand.

    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?​

    See points above. I am not well disposed to a culture that “respects a budget” and “spends money wisely” when buildings are falling apart and students don’t get the resources they need.

  • 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 the former Audit Chair I can assure you that there is still much work to be done. I was the only Audit Committee Trustee who was willing to go to the Minister of Education with my concerns with the external members (non-Trustees). The Ernst and Young Report that was issued in December 2013 noted every point we had raised. The Board has yet to deal with the E&Y report.

    The Board currently has a balanced budget achieved through some significant spending reductions. Those were hard decisions that I supported. Fiscal responsibility is challenging when faced with student achievement and well-being. We need to continue to advocate for funding improvements to reflect the needs of a very diverse large urban school board. We need to ensure that we advocate for funding in categories that may be outside of the standard funding formula from the province.

    There are still ways to achieve more savings by putting better controls in place, better management, stopping bad practice and assessing contributions to organizations that are outside the TDSB mandate.

    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. Using technology better – assess what can be done cheaper or more efficiently using the best resources e.g. our spending with IT providers should be more scrutinized to ensure we are getting the best for the best price. We now have lots of data on all sorts of things – we need to use this data.
    2. Shared services – who could we be working with to save costs? E.g. sharing large enterprise software systems with other public sector entities such as school boards, the city, hospitals, universities, colleges, other municipalities?
    3. Focusing on our mandate – educating our students. 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?
    4. Having departments do ‘zero base budgeting’ rather than getting the budgets they’ve always had – make sure that every line item is necessary and has a mandate to our core mandate.
    5. What are other Boards doing to reduce their costs that we can adopt? Many other boards have made changes that TDSB should be adopting as well.

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

    There is no appetite for new taxes from anyone – times are tough and we must learn to do things better. The property tax has the education component, the challenge is that monies raised in Toronto are going elsewhere in the province.

    There are ways to leverage new funds by having the province change their stance on a few items
    a. When TDSB properties are sold or redistributed, the TDSB would receive a value at a Fair Market Price
    b. allowing the TDSB to receive the same funds as the Catholic board on new builds which is known as EDC – Educational Development Charges

    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?

    Recently the TDSB did a Special Education Audit, although I can’t comment on it publically as it’s a private document it did highlight that there is a lot the board could be doing better. If re-elected I will be advocating to do things in the best interest of 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 deficit ballooned to $109 million because the last board did not address the issues and left it as a problem for this current board – that should not be allowed to happen again. 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. There are many changes that could still be made without severely impacting student achievement and well-being and I will be looking to make those changes in my next term. It is also important to continue to advocate for Toronto students’ fair share of provincial funding to support their needs and that any uniqueness of the TDSB is funded.

    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 need to look at new sources of 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 can be a good thing and the TDSB has demonstrated that they can benefit students; including partnerships or investments by our unions. Some examples that are currently in place are financial literacy, Argos support of local schools’ football teams (in this case it’s been more than financial – they have run workshops etc which have benefitted students) and student nutrition programs. However, private investments in our schools has to be evaluated responsibly and there needs to be some parameters and consultation with our stakeholders.

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

    Most of the bargaining will now take place at a provincial level. We need to stay within the framework the Ministry is 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. We need to work together on how to best proceed. 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?​

    What the media has reported is an incomplete story. There are 2 issues with the above statements. First of all there is an issue that perhaps the wrong person was sent to do a job and so that is a management decision that needs to be fixed. Secondly, some of the information was charged/billed incorrectly and was later fixed. Both of these issues suggest that there are systemic issues that must be addressed and fixed.

    Finally it should be noted that senior staff gave the media information that put our schools and students at risk and the costs to fix this error was hundreds of thousands of dollars which was higher than the original problems reported.

  • 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?

    Spending against budgets should always be tracked and explained, and variances need to be highlighted and investigated. Also, we cannot allow instances where budgets are passed, knowing that they can never be met.

    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 cannot give an informed answer without reviewing and analysing the budgets.

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

    I don’t support a dedicated education tax. A dedicated tax makes it easier to increase spending with small marginal rate increases that may seem inconsequential, but that increase the over-all tax burden.

    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 agree that special education is vital. I won’t offer a plan on such a complex issue without in depth research and interviews.

    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 can’t be addressed properly until it is analysed. For example, I would look into where the spending was higher than expected. Are these expenses new or recurring? Are the budgets unrealistic and unlikely to be met?

    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?

    Expenses of this nature can usually be predicted and estimated. The buildings need to be maintained properly, not only for the safety and
    comfort of the students and staff, but also to maintain values and avoid costlier repairs in the future.

    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?

    It’s wonderful to have businesses contribute funds or resources to the educational system, but only if offered as gifts and not as promotional tools.

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

    I’m not sure what is meant by “approach”. Ultimately everyone wants to reach a deal where all sides are satisfied.

    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?

    All agreements should be assessed and reviewed before renewing.

    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?​

    Expenditures should always be reviewed to ensure the best value for each tax dollar.

2014 TDSB Election: Ward 19 – Scarborough Centre

The Incumbent:

David Smith

The Race

Two TDSB candidates in Ward 19 chose to use our Voting Guide as a platform for presenting their ideas. Unfortunately, the incumbent in this Ward, David Smith did not share his ideas with us. Both candidates below recognize that an attitude adjustment is required at the Board to get spending in line.

Candidates Who Did Not Participate:  Christopher Copeman, Scott Harrison, Sameer Rabbani, Muhammed Saeed, David Smith

The Breakdown

  • Candidate Response
    Flesias, Paul My entire campaign is focused on cost efficiency at the TDSB. As soon as elected I will insist upon all finances being made public for full accountability of spending.
    Kerr, Marg It is critical that the TDSB spend within its mean. Funding for education is a Provincial responsibility and if there are truly insufficient funds, the Ministry has to be held accountable to rectify this situation. Balancing the budget based upon the resources needs to be one the priorities of the new Board of Trustees. The budget needs to be developed with the knowledge that there is a set amount that cannot be exceeded!

  • Candidate Response
    Flesias, Paul Cutting in a way of not affecting the quality of education but in stopping the waste of spending for example luxury items, guest speakers, over seas conferences, expensive pencil sharpeners etc.
    Kerr, Marg Rental of spaces instead of selling school properties with the understanding that when the demographics shift, the schools could be used as originally intended. Operational costs such as heating and electricity could be decreased through more stringent use of environmentally sound technology such as motion sensors for lights or shading systems for the windows. Better planning is required to prevent the massive costs that occur when regular maintenance, or minor repairs does not occur.

  • Candidate Response
    Flesias, Paul I will advocate 1 percent of the HST be set aside specifically for school boards.
    Kerr, Marg No

  • Candidate Response
    Flesias, Paul We need to completely overhaul the special education programs with better training for all involved in the special education program.
    Kerr, Marg Special Education is an area in which technological support and integration needs to be the common standard.

  • Candidate Response
    Flesias, Paul Provincial Government must lobby the Federal Government for a share of the surplus thus putting us on a clear path to a deficit reduction.
    Kerr, Marg A deficit of $109 million cries out mismanagement! If the money from the Ministry is not provided for a specific program or there is not an external source of revenue to support an initiative, the Board needs to consider whether it is in their mandate to operate the program.

  • Candidate Response
    Flesias, Paul I will overhaul the bidding process for all budgets to be met. Lowering costs will always be the main priority.
    Kerr, Marg The previous Boards have been “stealing” the monies that should have gone to pay for maintenance and using it for other initiatives. Money needs to be set aside for and used to maintain the buildings.

  • Candidate Response
    Flesias, Paul Yes
    Kerr, Marg Yes

  • Candidate Response
    Flesias, Paul Make sure that both sides are made aware of the current economic climate. Both sides should negotiate with reality in mind.
    Kerr, Marg Local issues that can be addressed should be done in a much less confrontational manner. Given what the Ministry has allocated for staff the agreement needs to be worked out within that budget line.

  • Candidate Response
    Flesias, Paul Yes
    Kerr, Marg Yes

  • Candidate Response
    Flesias, Paul Budget friendly policies are what I am for. I will encourage and insist upon greater transparency. I will want a system of approval of expenses prior to spending.
    Kerr, Marg Financial accountability should be the number one priority of Trustees.  Holding all managers accountable for staying within budget, maintaining accurate financial records and by not rescuing managers who go over budget by giving them more money, would help change the culture.

 

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?

    My entire campaign is focused on cost efficiency at the TDSB. As soon as elected I will insist upon all finances being made public for full accountability of 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.

    My top priorities on saving put me in my business background experience in cutting in a way of not affecting the quality of education but in stopping the waste of spending for example luxury items, guest speakers, over seas conferences, expensive pencil sharpeners etc.

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

    I will advocate 1 percent of the HST be set aside specifically for school boards. Should be noted that the federal government has substantial surplus. Although education is a provincial responsibility the Ontario government it should lobby the federal government for the increased funds for 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?

    We need to completely overhaul the special education programs with better training for all involved in the special education program.

    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?

    As I stated before the Provincial Government must lobby the Federal Government for a share of the surplus thus putting us on a clear path to a deficit reduction.

    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?

    I will overhaul the bidding process for all budgets to be met. Lowering costs will always be the main priority.

    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 seeking further private investment at the TDSB. It will also help reduce costs as this is my objective.

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

    The best approach to negotiate with Staff and Teachers is to make sure that both sides are made aware of the current economic climate. Both sides should negotiate with reality in mind.

    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?

    Yes, I do feel that changes are needed as we must be cost effective and keep in mind the current fiscal imbalance.

    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?​

    Budget friendly policies are what I am for. I will encourage and insist upon greater transparency. I will want a system of approval of expenses prior to spending. The past examples used in the question must never happen again

  • 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?

    It is critical that the TDSB spend within its mean. Funding for education is a Provincial responsibility and if there are truly insufficient funds, the Ministry has to be held accountable to rectify this situation. Balancing the budget based upon the resources needs to be one the priorities of the new Board of Trustees. The budget needs to be developed with the knowledge that there is a set amount that cannot be exceeded!

    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.

    Savings can be achieved through the rental of spaces instead of selling school properties with the understanding that when the demographics shift, the schools could be used as originally intended. Operational costs such as heating and electricity could be decreased through more stringent use of environmentally sound technology such as motion sensors for lights or shading systems for the windows.

    Better planning is required to prevent the massive costs that occur when regular maintenance, or minor repairs does not occur. When general and specific housekeeping issues are not dealt with or are put off, the cost to finally deal with the situation, because of the increased number of issues that follow, become exorbitant.

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

    The people of Toronto are taxed enough! A review of the manner in which the money that is currently being allocated to the TDSB is being spent needs to happen. Increasing the allotment through a dedicated tax would not necessarily allow a better accountability for the actual spending of the monies.

    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?

    Special Education is an area in which technological support and integration needs to be the common standard.

    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?

    A deficit of $109 million cries out mismanagement! If the money from the Ministry is not provided for a specific program or there is not an external source of revenue to support an initiative, the Board needs to consider whether it is in their mandate to operate the program. Going forward the Ministry of Education needs to be more transparent with what they are providing to the Boards and what components the Boards have no control over. Staffing, which is the biggest major cost associated with running the Board, is totally in the hands of the Ministry.

    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?

    One of the reasons that the roof repairs were so costly is because the maintenance required over the last 15 years has not been happening in the way that it should. The previous Boards have been “stealing” the monies that should have gone to pay for maintenance and using it for other initiatives. Money needs to be set aside for and used to maintain the buildings.

    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 would support and welcome any private investment that would meet the values of the TDSB.

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

    In the upcoming contract negotiations the financial (salary) component is controlled directly by the Ministry of Education. As such, there is very little room for negotiations at the local level. Local issues that can be addressed should be done in a much less confrontational manner. Given what the Ministry has allocated for staff the agreement needs to be worked out within that budget line.

    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?

    There are some significant changes that need to come into place for this particular group. While the members are very skilled and definitely valuable the charging back to schools for labour costs needs to evaluated. Some changes have occurred since the public shaming of the TDSB for the cost of a pencil sharpener being installed however more is needed.

    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?​

    Financial accountability should be the number one priority of Trustees. Bringing about a new culture that does not just through money at a situation so that falls below the radar must be seen as one of the main concerns of all departments! Creating opportunities for staff members to come up with ways to safe money or reduce costs and publicly recognizing these savings and the originator of the savings would create a different culture. Holding all managers accountable for staying within budget, maintaining accurate financial records and by not rescuing managers who go over budget by giving them more money, would help change the culture.

2014 TDSB Election: Ward 20 – Scarborough-Agincourt

The Incumbent:

Sam Sotiropoulos

The Race

TDSB Trustee Sam Sotiropoulos has appeared in the headlines a few times over the course of this term. He has the floor in our Voting Guide as well since we did not hear from his opponents on the issues that matter to taxpayers.

Candidates Who Did Not Participate:  Matthew Gregor, Shopana Pannerselvan, Manna Wong

The Breakdown

  • Candidate Response
    Sotiropoulos, Sam We can start by pulling funding from pet project" programs for which we do not receive any funding from the provincial government (courtesy of the taxpayers of Ontario)."


  • Candidate Response
    Sotiropoulos, Sam Not in any specific order: Competitive and transparent procurement practices for 1) supplies and 2) services. 3) Cease providing subsidies/monies to partners" except where monies have been expressly earmarked for such purpose(s) by the provincial government. 4) Inactivating and consolidating inefficient sections. 5) Partnering with private sector agencies that will defray actual costs of school material."


  • Candidate Response
    Sotiropoulos, Sam No


  • Candidate Response
    Sotiropoulos, Sam Expand upon inclusive practices where practicable and consolidate services where necessary.


  • Candidate Response
    Sotiropoulos, Sam As a member of the Budget Committee, I worked to reduce that $109M by 88% to balance the budget in the 2011-12 school year. I continue to serve on the Budget Committee and I will work to ensure that our finances are managed responsibly, until such time as we are in a surplus position and deliberating where to spend monies, as opposed to where we need to make cuts.


  • Candidate Response
    Sotiropoulos, Sam I am open to exploring everything from property severances to public-private partnerships which could help mitigate costs for much-needed capital refurbishments.


  • Candidate Response
    Sotiropoulos, Sam Yes


  • Candidate Response
    Sotiropoulos, Sam One that puts the interests of our students before all other considerations.


  • Candidate Response
    Sotiropoulos, Sam Like many things at the TDSB, there is likely room for improvement when it comes to ensuring that the interests of our students are our first consideration, while maintaining fiscal responsibility.


  • Candidate Response
    Sotiropoulos, Sam This change has already started, especially when it comes to facilities repairs. From GPS tracked vehicles to bundled jobs on single school sites, we have already made significant changes to how the TDSB deals with such expenses. One additional proposal I would like to make is an earlier start time (6:00am) for repair crews which would allow for them to avoid the traffic prevalent during the current start time (7:00am), thereby increasing actual wrench time" onsite and overall productivity during the course of a repair shift."

 

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?

    We can start by pulling funding from “pet project” programs for which we do not receive any funding from the provincial government (courtesy of the taxpayers of Ontario).

    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.

    Not in any specific order:
    Competitive and transparent procurement practices for 1) supplies and 2) services.
    3) Cease providing subsidies/monies to “partners” except where monies have been expressly earmarked for such purpose(s) by the provincial government.
    4) Inactivating and consolidating inefficient sections.
    5) Partnering with private sector agencies that will defray actual costs of school matériel.

    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 this proposal.

    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?

    Expand upon inclusive practices where practicable and consolidate services where necessary.

    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?

    As a member of the Budget Committee, I worked to reduce that $109M by 88% to balance the budget in the 2011-12 school year. I continue to serve on the Budget Committee and I will work to ensure that our finances are managed responsibly, until such time as we are in a surplus position and deliberating where to spend monies, as opposed to where we need to make cuts.

    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?

    Your figure is inaccurate. In any case, I am open to exploring everything from property severances to public-private partnerships which could help mitigate costs for much-needed capital refurbishments.

    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.

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

    One that puts the interests of our students before all other considerations.

    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?

    Truthfully, I have only a passing familiarity with the terms of said agreement and would need time to study it in order to offer an informed opinion on the matter. However, like many things at the TDSB, there is likely room for improvement when it comes to ensuring that the interests of our students are our first consideration, while maintaining fiscal responsibility.

    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?​

    This change has already started, especially when it comes to facilities repairs. From GPS tracked vehicles to bundled jobs on single school sites, we have already made significant changes to how the TDSB deals with such expenses. One additional proposal I would like to make is an earlier start time (6:00am) for repair crews which would allow for them to avoid the traffic prevalent during the current start time (7:00am), thereby increasing actual “wrench time” onsite and overall productivity during the course of a repair shift.

2014 TDSB Election: Ward 21 – Scarborough-Rouge River

The Incumbent:

Shaun Chen

The Race

The incumbent in this race did not provide his views on the TDSB issues discussed in our Voting Guide. Interesting, considering he is running for re-election as Trustee and for a political nomination at the federal level of government.  The candidate that did respond provides ideas on how to scale back on spending and move forward with responsible spending measures at TDSB.

Candidates Who Did Not Participate:  Shaun Chen, Aasia Khatoon, Krishanthy Sarojkumaran, Piravena Sathiyanantham, Phoenix Yuan

The Breakdown

  • Candidate Response
    Lieberman, Jeevitha Deborah Overspending at the school board is due to a lack of accountability and mismanagement of funds. It is also due to having maintenance contracts and procurement contracts that are outrageously high and above average from the current market. We need to end contracts that are not affordable.


  • Candidate Response
    Lieberman, Jeevitha Deborah 1) Accountability for use of taxpayer dollars.2) Rent out current school space.3) Fundraising efforts.4) External Audits every two years.5) Analyzing Staffing Cost


  • Candidate Response
    Lieberman, Jeevitha Deborah No


  • Candidate Response
    Lieberman, Jeevitha Deborah  "Certain areas of special educational needs (such as slow and challenged learners) are often isolated from the mainstream student body. Buddy programs and mentorship programs within schools would go a long way to help special education needs students integrate into society."


  • Candidate Response
    Lieberman, Jeevitha Deborah See number 2


  • Candidate Response
    Lieberman, Jeevitha Deborah There must be competitive bidding on any contracts, including roofing contracts. Trustees have to ensure that they are informed about each project on an ongoing basis to prevent over expenditures.


  • Candidate Response
    Lieberman, Jeevitha Deborah Will consider


  • Candidate Response
    Lieberman, Jeevitha Deborah TDSB can negotiate staffing contracts with incentives that does not have monetary values. We also have to monitor the percentage of salary increases so that it remains within an affordable budget.


  • Candidate Response
    Lieberman, Jeevitha Deborah The MCSTC is under the guidance of the TDSB and they do not go ahead on work that is not approved by staff members of the TDSB. In looking at renegotiations, work completed in schools should be open for competition.


  • Candidate Response
    Lieberman, Jeevitha Deborah Staff and trustees need to be educated on frugal practices. They should also be consequences for misspending funds. Trustees should be leaders in how to spend money wisely.

 

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?

    Overspending at the school board is due to a lack of accountability and mismanagement of funds. It is also due to having maintenance contracts and procurement contracts that are outrageously high and above average from the current market. We need to end contracts that are not affordable. I would also look at the current use of funds, and the places in which we are unnecessarily overspending. Another issue – that we need to look at is the School Trustee expenditures. We need to have tighter guidelines/policies and consequences on how the trustees spend TDSB funds. One of the consequences should be that trustees pay back the funds that they spend for personal use. There needs to be firm accountability and transparency towards the taxpayers about every dollar that is spent. This information must be available for the public.

    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.

    The top five specific priorities for savings are:
    1) Accountability for use of taxpayer dollars. The mismanagement of the TDSB funds has caused a ridiculous amount of spending on items. It is imperative that this be stopped.
    2) Rent out current school space. Currently, many school spaces are unused when they could be occupied by Canadian businesses and the community, especially during the summer. I would look at the process through which communities/ businesses can access these space and provide rental income to the TDSB.
    3) Fundraising efforts. Schools should not be left alone to fundraise for themselves. There are many agencies that are happy to work with youth and provide funding for necessary programs. I would look at connecting major businesses with schools to create partnerships. Many major businesses (such as RBC feeding our future) would be happy to connect with schools and the community to raise awareness of their businesses (that do not affect children’s health or values) in exchange for donating money for additional school programs.
    4) External Audits every two years. There is a lack of accountability for how money is being spent by the TDSB. This will aid TDSB to monitor expenses and their budget. The recommendations of the audits must be implemented.
    5) Analyzing Staffing Cost – It is important that trustees adhere to a provincial freeze on staff salaries (Example: Senior staff were given raises amounting to $1.2million dollars when there was a provincial freeze on salaries)

    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 this proposal, as there is money within the budget, but it is being mismanaged. We must first look at how the money is being used and they ways in which we can bring in more funds.

    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?

    The current design for special educational needs, and specifically challenged learners, fails to incorporate these students as members of the school. We must look at the beginning to the end of the journey, how students transition into the school system in junior kindergarten to how they leave the school system. Certain areas of special educational needs (such as slow and challenged learners) are often isolated from the mainstream student body. While special education needs students do need extra attention, there must also be a culture of acceptance, that is taught from an early age. Buddy programs and mentorship programs within schools would go a long way to help special education needs students integrate into society. As for gifted students, schools must focus on specific programs that these students can be a part of, so that each school has a specific skill set it can offer to exceptional 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?

    See number 2

    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?

    There must be competitive bidding on any contracts, including roofing contracts. Trustees have to ensure that they are informed about each project on an ongoing basis to prevent over expenditures.

    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?

    It seems like a slippery slope when introducing major businesses into the school arena, but if this is done carefully and with consideration for both parties, it can be a major benefit to schools as well as to businesses. Allowing for external Canadian funding will help reduce the budget as well as help students achieve. As long as contracts are put in place and private investments don’t become direct advertising within schools, it can be a mutually beneficial relationship.

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

    TDSB can negotiate staffing contracts with incentives that does not have monetary values. We also have to monitor the percentage of salary increases so that it remains within an affordable budget.

    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?

    The MCSTC is under the guidance of the TDSB and they do not go ahead on work that is not approved by staff members of the TDSB. In looking at renegotiations, work completed in schools should be open for competition.

    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?​

    Staff and trustees need to be educated on frugal practices. They should also be consequences for misspending funds. Trustees should be leaders in how to spend money wisely.

2014 TDSB Election: Ward 2 – Etobicoke Centre

The Incumbent:

Chris Glover

The Race

While incumbent Chris Glover mostly defended the work of the TDSB, his insight into why the Board is running deficits (i.e. the province is forcing trustees to pay for wage increases and for full day kindergarten) was very valuable. The other three candidates expressed many fiscally conservative sentiments, with Abdullahi being the most succinct and McKinley being the most detailed. Thiele’s idea to have communities participate in projects to renovate and fix schools is a good one.

The Breakdown

  • Candidate Response
    Abdullahi, Suban Public website for all expenses, questionable expenses to be flagged, and clearer rules about spending.
    Glover, Chris New manager of facilities is putting GPS in trucks, providing toolboxes to school custodians can make minor repairs, and investigating work orders over budget
    McKinley, Elizabeth Bullet point budgeting instructions and key definitions, top 3 budget items for protection from cost cutting initiatives and all other line items to be cut by 10% in the first year including expense accounts
    Thiele, Stephen Ensure all of the policies are being properly followed and fill gaps in the policies, and elect new trustees across the city.


  • Candidate Response
    Abdullahi, Suban Lease the school property after hours, sponsorship of gym, computer lab, playgrounds.
    Glover, Chris Board has reduced central administration by 20%, brought in a new manager to make the facilities department more efficient and cut $200 million in staff, programs and services (6% of staff from existing services)
    McKinley, Elizabeth use outside consultants sparingly, don't cancel contracts already awarded, economize costs and services, low cost sustainability initiatives, preventive maintenance programs
    Thiele, Stephen No selling school property, end partnership with the Confucius Institute and specialized school programs where there is little demand.


  • Candidate Response
    Abdullahi, Suban No
    Glover, Chris No
    McKinley, Elizabeth Will Consider
    Thiele, Stephen No


  • Candidate Response
    Abdullahi, Suban Need clearer definition of special education first
    Glover, Chris Special Education Forum improve special needs services in the TDSB- accessible buses for field trips, new Education Plan form to help high school teachers  accommodate students with special needs, social program at Central Etobicoke High School.
    McKinley, Elizabeth Get parents and teachers on the same page, then make sure money is being spent appropriately
    Thiele, Stephen Better understand needs of special needs students.


  • Candidate Response
    Abdullahi, Suban Look at other school systems, e-learning is a possibility, charge more for field trips
    Glover, Chris Shortfalls have been generated because the province was cutting funding to pay for Full-Day Kindergarten- the board has cut 200 secondary teachers while hiring 200 Full-Day Kindergarten teachers
    McKinley, Elizabeth In addition to answers to question #1 and #2: leasing space after hours for classrooms, auditoriums and grounds
    Thiele, Stephen Better fiscal management, new revenue streams, review streams of provincial funding, decisive decisions by trustees.


  • Candidate Response
    Abdullahi, Suban Update our supplier list and look at private partnerships.
    Glover, Chris Solar panel project will pay for budget
    McKinley, Elizabeth Comprehensive preventive maintenance plans, annual roof inspections and R&M contingencies, 10 year capital plans with standardized school board roof replacement specifications and regional capital tenders.
    Thiele, Stephen Capital improvements prioritized, communities will actively participate in the maintenance and repair of our schools


  • Candidate Response
    Abdullahi, Suban Yes
    Glover, Chris Will Consider
    McKinley, Elizabeth Will Consider
    Thiele, Stephen Yes


  • Candidate Response
    Abdullahi, Suban Current approach is fine
    Glover, Chris TDSB should insist that the province pay fully for any increased costs they negotiate as finding the money has been the board's responsibility in the past
    McKinley, Elizabeth  Choose fiscally responsible negotiators and set firm standards and penalties
    Thiele, Stephen Proceed with respect for all involved


  • Candidate Response
    Abdullahi, Suban Yes
    Glover, Chris Yes
    McKinley, Elizabeth Will Consider
    Thiele, Stephen Yes


  • Candidate Response
    Abdullahi, Suban Pubic Accountability on Public Website
    Glover, Chris Rely on new manager of facilities
    McKinley, Elizabeth Electing fiscally responsible board, regular inspection sweeps, share resources with another school and cross-training of staff, after hours services-severe reprimands, termination and cost recovery for repeat offenders.
    Thiele, Stephen Agenda of fiscal management, implement appropriate technology which will track all work orders and prevent inflated charges.

 

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?

    I believe all expenses incurred by trustees and other senior administrators should be posted on a public website. Also, the rules and regulations about spending should be clearer: how much do we spend on meals, when can we take taxis etc…If a receipt is handed in for an expense not to do with schooling (for example, a day at the spa), this should be flagged, and posted on the website. Shame goes a long way.

    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 believe we can lease the school property after hours, weekends and in the summer. I also believe we can have “sponsorship” of our schools. For instance, put a donor’s name on the gym, on the computer lab, and on the playgrounds. Private Public Partnerships do work.

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

    Before we even start thinking about more taxes we should look at the books and see how wisely we are spending our education dollars. Lets look to our business community before we hit taxpayers in the pocket.

    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?

    Well, first we have to define special education. What is its intent? Who says it’s not working? What are the benchmarks we are using to measure success? Is it student disinterest, untrained teachers? What happens to the special education student when he/she leaves the protected school system? Who will advocate for him/her then? Continuity is important.

    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?

    We should look at school systems around the world that are making schooling work with less dollars. More money doesn’t produce better grades. Where is Board money being spent? E-learning will go a long way in reducing purchase costs. It saddens me to say, but perhaps there will be a time when we will have to start charging students to take extra curricular activities. As it is, they pay to go to the theatre and school trips.

    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?

    Again, lets update our supplier list, and let’s look at private 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?

    Absolutely.

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

    The current approach is fine: respect one another.

    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?

    I haven’t seen it, but I’m sure the ball is in our court, so let’s negotiate in our favour.

    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?​

    Public accountability on a public website. Who approved these expenses? Who is asleep at the switch. If we’re looking to save money, we could have saved $145 on the key, $139 on the pencil, and we could have FIXED the toilet seat. Common sense folks. Those savings could have sent a few more students to Stratford or Shaw


    • 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’s spending problems were largely in the facilities department. Early in my term as Trustee we brought in a new manager of facilities, Angelos Bacapoulos. He has spent the past three years making the department function more efficiently by putting GPS in trucks to monitor where workers are, providing toolboxes so school custodians can make minor repairs, and tracking and investigating work orders that come in over budget. There is still work to be done, but Angelos is moving the department in the right direction to make sure that we as taxpayers get good value for our money.

      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.

      Over the past 16 years the board has sold 59 properties. The TDSB cannot sell more properties without sacrificing the ability to accommodate future growth, as the next wave of enrolment growth is now entering our schools. We also cannot continue to sell more properties without sacrificing green space where children play. In the summer of 2013, the Ministry refused to accept the TDSB’s capital plan unless it included revenue from the severance and sale of portions of schoolyards. I voted against this plan. I do not believe we should be sacrificing green space where children play in order to have a one time cash infusion.

      As for other cuts, over the past four years, the board has reduced central administration by 20%, brought in a new manager to make the facilities department more efficient and cut $200 million in staff, programs and services (6% of staff from existing services). There will undoubtedly be further shortfalls from the provincial funding formula, but further savings are getting harder to find.

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

      Toronto is already paying more than its share of education taxes. When I was teaching high  school in the 1990s, Toronto schools were well funded. At that time the education portion of our property taxes went directly to the school boards. Today the education portion of our property taxes goes to the provincial government, and they give some of it back to the TDSB. Since the province took control of education taxes, the provincial funding formula has generated an annual funding shortfall of between $25 and $110 million. These shortfalls have to be made up through cuts to staff programs and services. We don’t need a new tax, we need to get the taxes we are still paying back to our local school board.

      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?

      In contrast to your question, the TDSB provides the most diverse and well recognized special education services in the province, and probably in the country. If you visit a school like Seneca (on Rathburn at Renforth in Etobicoke) you will see an incredibly dedicated staff supporting the learning of students with multiple special needs.

      That being said, there is always a need to improve what we are doing. So for the past four years, I have held monthly meetings of a Special Education Forum, a place for parents, students, and staff to look for ways to improve special needs services in the TDSB. The Forum has made accessible buses available for field trips so students who use wheelchairs can ride with their classmates, introduced a new Education Plan form to more quickly let high school teachers know how to accommodate students with special needs in their classes, and led to a social program being introduced at Central Etobicoke High School.

      There is still more to be done, so I look forward to continuing to work with the Forum in the coming years.

      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?

      As you say, the funding shortfall of $109 million in 2011 was the biggest ever. The other shortfalls over the past four years were $50 million, $55 million and $25 million. The TDSB is not introducing new programs that are generating the shortfalls, the TDSB is just trying to provide the same services it did in previous years – the shortfalls are generated by the provincial funding formula, which each year demands cuts to existing services. Recently, for example, these shortfalls have been generated because the province was cutting funding from secondary schools in order to generate revenue to pay for Full-Day Kindergarten. This has meant that for the past two years, the board has cut 200 secondary teachers while hiring 200 Full-Day Kindergarten teachers. Balancing the budget over the past couple of years has come down to a matter of robbing Peter to pay Paul.

      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 solar panel project will cover the cost of most roof repairs that are needed.

      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?

      We have many private organizations that support our students, particularly with our nutrition programs. These programs provide benefit to our students and are a real example of selfless philanthropy.

      In some cases, however, marketers want to use our schools as a place to provide advertising to a captive audience of children. I do not support this use of our schools.

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

      Contract negotiations have been frustrating for school boards because, for the past 10 years, the province has negotiated pay increases for staff, then not provided the money to pay for the increases, instead they have told boards to pay for the increases by cutting existing services. This has been one of the sources of the continuous shortfalls described in #5. In the upcoming negotiations, the TDSB should insist that the province pay fully for any increased costs they negotiate.

      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?

      Yes. We need greater flexibility particularly with regard to the 3% surcharge that was negotiated in 1998 on any work not done by the Council.

      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?​

      See answer to #1. The new facilities manager has been working on bringing about a new culture since he was hired in the summer of 2011. I will support any initiative that provides greater value for our tax dollars.


      • 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?

        Overspending is directly tied to duplication, waste and personal causes. Clear and concise operating procedures are key. As is, accountability. First step, prepare bullet point budgeting instructions and key definitions. Next step, identify top 3 budget items for protection from cost cutting initiatives. All other line items to be cut by 10% in the first year including expense accounts. We then monitor operation and track any variances for action. We can spend our budget monies more wisely and efficiently than we are.

        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 – use outside consultants sparingly (consultant fees are high and their opinions aren’t warranted when decisions can be made in house).

        #2 – avoid penalty fees by not cancelling project contracts that have already been awarded (how many times have we seen politicians stop work just because it was started by another politician? – this is gross misconduct).

        #3 – when awarding new service contracts, economize costs and services.

        #4 – employ low cost sustainability initiatives (adjust lighting schedules, rain sensors for irrigation systems, photo cells for exterior lighting, seasonal temperature set backs, drought resistant planting, etc).

        #5 – implement preventive maintenance programs in order to meet the estimated useful life of all systems (then don’t replace the system until it needs to be replaced).

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

        I’d need to see more details before I can give you a useful answer. That said, I support ONE public school system.

        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?

        This is a tough one. Teachers will tell you that they make every effort to identify and help special needs children but parents often feel differently and emotions are understandably running high. The first step is to try and get parents and teachers on the same page. This means better communication between all parties in order to bring a clear understanding of each situation on a case by case basis. The next peice is to ensure that the budgeted funds are being used properly.

        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?

        See my comments to questions 1 & 2 for cost cutting initiatives. I’d also like to see alternative revenue streams identified for co-op programs, donations and for the properties themselves (ie: leasing space after hours for classrooms, auditoriums and grounds for socially accepted events and classes)

        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?

        I’m still on the outside so I don’t have access to all documentation but it all starts with comprehensive preventive maintenance plans. Annual roof inspections and R&M contingencies in the regular operating budget will ensure we reach the full life expectency of the roof systems. Followed by 10 year capital plans identifying and planning for upcoming roof replacements based on the estimated life of a roof system with standardized school board roof replacement specifications for the various roof types (EPDM, BUR, etc.) to lessen consultant costs on the front end. Lastly we economize costs with regional capital tenders.

        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?

        For organized sports, yes. Help from outside entities in this regard can benefit everyone providing TDSB ethical and operating standards are upheld.

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

        Coolers heads will prevail. The reality is, we all share common goals and we all want the best for our children. Let’s start with choosing fiscally responsible representatives capable of working together and setting firm standards and penalties for adults who fail to respect their peers.

        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?

        I’d like to reserve the right for further comment on this because I haven’t read the full agreement. That said, renegotiation is the time to tighten operating efficiencies and cut costs ideally through consolidation of work and services.

        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 need a culture of accountability. A culture that is proactive not reactive. It starts with electing a fiscally responsible board that will work together and keep it simple. Too often we makes things more complicated than they are. Nearly every problem the TDSB faces can be solved with logic and a spirit of cooperation. By way of example, planning and common sense can easily take care of the items you noted in your question.

        Regular inspection sweeps, as part of a greater preventive maintenance program including the toilet seats and pencil sharpeners, can be done with replacement planned in bulk followed by keeping parts in stock for those one-off failures. Should your school run out of stock, share resources with another school. To save outside labour costs, on site staff can be trained and compensated accordingly to complete household type maintenance work in keeping with their contracts. With respect to cutting a key if this item is for emergency after hours lock smith services it should be labelled as such, if it really is as bad as it sounds, severe reprimands are warranted for all involved. Clear language should be built into all contracts to levy penalties for the blatant misuse of public funds, including termination and potentially cost recovery for repeat offenders.


        • 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?

          Toronto school board trustee have mismanaged the Board. As evidence by  the Ernst & Young audit and the internal TDSB audit conducted this year, numerous policies have been breached which has resulted in the diversion of funds away from school programs and unnecessary over-spending. The first step is to ensure that all of the policies currently in place are being properly followed and where there are gaps in the policies which permit inappropriate spending, to fill them. Every dime possible must be put into the schools. The Board must be held accountable. However, the only way to achieve greater accountability is to elect new trustees across the city.

          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.

          Schools or school property do not have to be sold. Nevertheless, the Board must critically assess the state of its schools and make decisive decisions regarding their future use. There are options which should be explored.

          In addition, it is not necessarily wise to cut items from the budget without having an opportunity to fully assess it on a line-by-line item basis and without having an opportunity to consider where additional revenues can be obtained.

          In the past, the Board has made a number of decision which have deprived it of revenue. However in direct response to your question, the Board should immediately end its partnership with the Confucius Institute and prioritize strengthening its basic education program rather than establishing specialized school programs where there is little demand.
          The Board should also immediately review decisions which were made in contravention of either Board or provincial policies to determine if funds improperly diverted from our school programs can be recovered.

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

          A special “education tax” is unnecessary.

          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?

          It is my understanding that special education needs are not being met. The only way to resolve the problem is to understand, from a professional basis and from those parents directly impacted, the needs of special education students. The Board must better deliver services to special education students and meet their needs promptly.

          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?

          Better fiscal management, examine potential new revenue streams, and review all streams of provincial funding so as to ensure future access to as much available funding as possible. In addition, years of inaction by our trustees must be replaced with decisive decisions.

          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?

          Capital improvements must be prioritized. This can be achieved through a better understanding that schools represent social meeting places in our community and that there is a great willingness in many communities to actively participate in the maintenance and repair of our schools. If we truly want to ensure that our schools are not crumbling or in a state of disrepair, then we must accept assistance wherever available.

          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.

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

          Contract negotiations must proceed with honesty and in good faith. They must start and end from the fundamental premise that we are all in the same boat.

          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?

          Please see 8 above. Any changes to the contract must be acceptable to both sides.

          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 Board needs someone to champion an agenda of fiscal management and to ensure that appropriate policies and procedures are being followed. I will champion these causes and work with staff to develop appropriate policies, and where necessary, implement appropriate technology which will track all work orders and prevent inflated charges for all expenditures, minor or major.

        2014 TDSB Election: Ward 3 – Etobicoke-Lakeshore

        The Incumbent:

        Pamela Gough

        The Race

        Incumbent Pamela Gough was the only person in Ward 3 to participate in the survey and like most of her colleagues she defended the work of the TDSB, gave us a sense of the difficulty in finding savings in the budget, and was more inclined to consider new ways to find revenues than ways to reduce spending. Policy wonks and evidence-minded people will appreciate the facts and figures she has presented, but her assertion that the overspending that was uncovered has been decisively dealt with is unlikely to restore trust among voters.

        Candidates Who Did Not Participate: Shane Bennett, Tony Del Grande

        The Breakdown

         

        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 question above is framed with the rather unfair assumption that Trustee Bolton resigned due to budget issues after years of misspending. This is certainly not the case. The TDSB has passed balanced budgets throughout the current board’s term of leadership from 2010-2014. Chair Bolton resigned for entirely personal reasons. The board has pursued vigorous measures to bring costs under control and in fact reduced costs by more than $100 M in 2011-2012. It passed a balanced budget again the following year and also this year, as well as a three-year balanced budget strategy to guide responsible management of tax dollars going forward.

          I stand for fiscal responsibility with a focus on efficient and effective operations. Taxpayer dollars are hard-earned and the board has a duty to ensure that they are used efficiently and are focused on the classroom.

          Context: most of the TDSB’s operating budget (83%) is spent on salaries and benefits which are largely laid out in collective agreements negotiated by the province at a central bargaining table. Although the TDSB and other Ontario public boards of education are not at the central bargaining table, they have to live with the results of the provincial collective bargaining process and manage accordingly.

          Through the contentious Bill 115 period two years ago, the province set out terms for provincial agreements, then stepped in and also set the local parameters for collective agreements,renewing the local collective agreement and leaving no room for the TDSB to bargain, even with its own local trades. This lack of local autonomy was a frustrating situation.

          The TDSB has shown responsibility in getting its house in order. It recognized it needed to increase vigilance in its facilities maintenance department and took steps four years ago to rectify the problem. A new executive officer of facility services was hired in 2010 to address inefficiencies in building maintenance. Since then a number of changes have been made, including streamlining work orders and putting GPS systems on board vehicles to track their movements. TDSB’s increased management controls have been recognized favorably by the Toronto Star in the June 2014 editorial article here:

          http://www.thestar.com/opinion/editorials/2014/06/18/good_work_on_curbing_waste_at_toronto_school_board_editorial.html

          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.

          This is a capital budget question. Savings from the operating budget cannot be spent on the capital budget so we need to look at revenue generation rather than savings. The TDSB has over 550 schools, most of which were built more than 60 years ago and need renewal. There is a backlog of $3B in capital repairs due to provincial underfunding. The provincial government allocates funding for capital repairs to school boards across the province. In the past it has chosen to give the TDSB far less than its provincial share based on enrollment.

          The provincial expectation is that TDSB should largely cover its own capital funding needs by selling its landholdings- i.e. selling low-enrollment operating schools and long term core holdings that are kept for future enrollment growth.  In keeping with this expectation, the TDSB has consolidated several low enrollment schools and sold numerous properties over the last six years, returning funds to the system for capital projects.

          TDSB must act as a responsible steward of its capital assets and must plan for future enrollment growth in a city that is rapidly intensifying. I do not agree with selling school properties in areas where enrollment is growing or may be growing in the future. This is shortsighted. I also do not agree with severing schoolyards of operating schools and selling partial schoolyards to developers. Once this green space is gone, it is gone forever from our communities.

          Revenues for the capital budget should come from:

          1) The provincial government. Toronto sends billions of tax dollars to the province and receives far less back than it gives. The TDSB’s main source of capital funding is the province. In my area, the local youth correctional centre is in far better shape than the local public schools. The province apparently thinks that the accommodation needs of public school students matter less than those of youth in criminal court. Public schools should be sufficiently funded for their capital needs. Kids are worth it.

          2)  Fees paid by developers. The TDSB is the only board in the GTA that is not allowed by provincial law to charge development fees when new housing infrastructure is built. The province should change the regulations so that when new housing is built that will increase enrollment in nearby schools, development charges should go to the public board, not just the Catholic board. Those fees should be available for extensions to existing schools in areas that have chronically overflowing schools, as well as for new school builds where circumstances warrant.

          3) Partnerships with the City of Toronto to jointly provide stewardship and maintenance of schoolyards that also act as green space and recreational parkland for the community in general.

          4) Sales of TDSB properties- BUT ONLY in areas where there are sufficient long term core holdings to handle enrollment increases over the next 30 years.

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

          No.

          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 place high value on the delivery of quality special education programs. Overall the TDSB’s record shows it is capably handling the special education needs of its learners. What is the evidence? TDSB learners as a whole, including special education learners, achieve at or above the provincial average in test scores. The TDSB has made steady and significant gains in increasing the achievement levels for students with Special Education needs, according to results released by the provincial Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO).  Last September, the EQAO results for TDSB Grade 3 students with Special Education needs (excluding gifted) increased 6% in reading, 1% in writing, and 1% in math. The results for Grade 6 showed similar increases. Goals for this year are to improve on these figures.

          Challenges exist. The province cut $7.3 M of special education funding for the TDSB this April. This is a significant reduction and will make it increasingly hard for the TDSB to provide special education learners with the supports they need to do well.  I am deeply concerned about this.

          I advocate for sufficient funding to provide special education learners with the supports they need for success, which may include smaller class sizes, educational assistants, and adaptive technology. The needs of special education learners must be met and met well as the TDSB grapples with provincial funding challenges over the next four years.

          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?

          School boards must deliver balanced budgets. By law, the TDSB is not allowed to carry an operational deficit from one year to another. The TDSB did face an operating deficit of $108.8M in early 2013 but vigorously reduced spending to eliminate this deficit. By June 2013 the board brought forward a final budget in which funding equaled spending.

          The vast majority (95%) of TDSB revenue comes from the Ministry of Education, and a structural deficit developed in 2012-2013 because of a gap between funding provisions and the amount the board spent on principals and vice-principals, libraries, guidance, educational assistants etc. The deficit was eliminated by putting in place operational efficiencies that did not affect the classroom. In 2013-2014, the board produced not only a balanced operating budget but also a plan to balance the long-standing capital deficit.  Going forward, the goal is continued long-term sustainability in fiscal management.

          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 has entered into a public-private-partnership with a contractor, School Top Solar Ltd, under the Feed-in-Tariff program. Over 4.3 M square feet of school roofs are undergoing repair or replacement at no cost to the taxpayer. Solar panels installed on school roofs will generate power that will be used to fund these roof repairs. Work has already begun. Not only does this save taxpayers millions of dollars, it also reinforces the TDSB’s Go Green environmental action policy.

          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 seeking carefully developed situations in which public or private organizations partner with the TDSB to support the TDSB’s mission and objectives within a framework that supplements normal funding streams so as to enrich programs, provide additional learning opportunities, or enhance the physical infrastructure of schools and school grounds.  These partnerships must fit with the TDSB’s policies and be free of overt commercialism such as marketing objectives.

          Examples: there are a number of private-public partnerships at present within the TDSB. The artificial turf field and dome at Lakeshore Collegiate is one, operated by a private partner under an agreement which gives Lakeshore CI students free access for school and extra-curricular sports. It also gives free access to local residents.  The field is rented when not needed by the school. Lakeshore CI has benefitted by the provision of a tournament sports field and an all-weather domed playing field throughout the winter months at no cost to taxpayers. The solar panel agreement mentioned in question 6 is another example of a private public partnership that that is a win-win for both partners as well as taxpayers.

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

          The major part of the collective agreement negotiations will take place at the provincial table so the TDSB will be bargaining directly only with local groups.  I support fair and open bargaining with all employee groups

          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?

          Yes, the current agreement is dated and I expect that both partners will approach negotiations with a fresh set of parameters to discuss.

          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 costs you describe were generally incurred in situations where complications happened to make apparently simple jobs more expensive to fix than they normally would be. However, there is no doubt that problems existed in TDSB facilities maintenance several years ago. Under new Director Donna Quan, a culture of fiscal discipline has been building momentum as described in the answer to question one. The TDSB has shown resolve in bringing its fiscal house in order over the 2010-2014 term of office.

          Going forward, the board has a strategic plan called the Years of Action to further increase educational effectiveness while maintaining cost controls. I support fiscal responsibility within a framework of delivering high quality education programs.

           

        2014 TDSB Election: Ward 4 – York West

        The Incumbent:

        Stephanie Payne

        The Race

        All three candidates who responded mentioned the importance of fiscal responsibility and transparency and all three favoured more private investment in schools. However, there were some clear differences- Tiffany Ford was the only candidate to consider a dedicated tax for education, while Mirtha Coronel placed more of a focus on open tendering of contracts. We appreciated hearing about Michelle Minnott’s experience forming community working groups on educational issues. Incumbent Stephanie Payne did not reply to this survey.

        Candidates Who Did Not Participate: Kasim Dogan, Sabrina Gopaul, Giancarlo Mosca, Spiros Papathanasakis, Matias de Dovitiis

        The Breakdown

        • Candidate Response
          Coronel, Mirtha Culture of respect, transparency
          Ford, Tiffany Assess budget and decide where to cut back
          Minott, Michelle Promote financial transparency and accountability

        • Candidate Response
          Coronel, Mirtha Competitive bid process for all transactions, parental and community volunteers for after school and extra curricular activities, EcoFriendly procedures and policies, regularly scheduled mini-audits
          Ford, Tiffany No cuts, no selling schools
          Minott, Michelle Streamline budgets, closely monitor work orders and travel expenses , crack down on excessive absenteeism, eliminate inefficiencies and duplication, cut from discretionary budgets

        • Candidate Response
          Coronel, Mirtha No
          Ford, Tiffany Will Consider
          Minott, Michelle  No

        • Candidate Response
          Coronel, Mirtha Better understand the needs of special education students
          Ford, Tiffany Consult with parents more, focus on IPRC hearings
          Minott, Michelle Need clearer definition what is covered under special education- equality with French immersion schools, case by case review of individualized education plans

        • Candidate Response
          Coronel, Mirtha Hard decisions, look at rankings of schools
          Ford, Tiffany Board members must have financial backgrounds
          Minott, Michelle Look for inefficiencies and wasteful spending in budget

        • Candidate Response
          Coronel, Mirtha Competitive bid process
          Ford, Tiffany Promote accountability and focus on reviewing process as it goes
          Minott, Michelle Partnership with the Toronto Parks Forestry and Recreation to create plans for utilizing green space and improved after school programming, and lobby Ministry for Education Development Charges for the TDSB

        • Candidate Response
          Coronel, Mirtha Yes
          Ford, Tiffany Yes
          Minott, Michelle Yes

        • Candidate Response
          Coronel, Mirtha Heavy handed union approach is not acceptable
          Ford, Tiffany Caring approach is best
          Minott, Michelle Negotiate in good faith but respect budgetary process

        • Candidate Response
          Coronel, Mirtha Yes
          Ford, Tiffany Will Consider
          Minott, Michelle Yes

        • Candidate Response
          Coronel, Mirtha Public expense reporting
          Ford, Tiffany Unique experience making do with a lot less will translate well on board
          Minott, Michelle limiting overtime hours of skilled labourers, giving on-site caretakers the ability to do minor installations without having to create a work order, streamlining the work order process, better monitoring of travel time and expenses of contractors/ skilled workers and increase competition with regards to TDSB partnerships

         

        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?

          Going forward, I would address the issue of over-spending at the school board by promoting a culture of respect for rules and procedures related to the spending of our tax payers dollars. Transparency on budget allocation and spending is essential as it holds us the decision makers accountable.

          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.

          (a)  Advocate for a culture that will respect tax payers dollars through adhering to a COMPETITIVE BID process for all TDSB transactions and ensure that public tendering is made available and enforced

          (b)  Use parental and community volunteers to assist with extra-curricular activities that may extend passed the regular work day and responsibilities of teachers – Cost reduction through reduced staff salary which extends beyond regular work day.

          (c)  Request parental support to assist with funding of extra-curricular activities, i.e. Parent volunteer drivers vs. hiring school buses or cabs to transfer students.

          (d)  Further reduce print costs at school level through strict enforcement of established EcoFriendly procedures and policies i.e. through on-line news letters or 1 newsletter per family disciplines or limit printed communication consolidated bi-weekly or monthly communication notice

          (e)  Develop a policy that requires regularly scheduled “mini-audits” to ensure fiscal responsibility and to identify opportunities for cost reductions

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

          This is not a proposal I support, as the tax dollars already being deducted from our net earnings is burdened enough.  We need to “right spend” not “spend more.”

          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?

          This is an area that requires a deeper understanding of the root cause of the failures, there is no question that Special Education is a necessity; however, we need to better understand those needs and work with those experienced in this area along with families that face this challenge daily, to identify how best to address the needs of our precious children, while ensuring our approach is balanced.

          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?

          Back to basics –There is no doubt that areas within the TDSB are falling apart while other are flourishing as illustrated through the school rankings by region, none the less we need to stop the deficit bleeding, re-asses our priorities which is offering our students the best education possible responsibly using the resources available.  Overspending does not set a good example for our students, further leaving them a financial mess to clean up is irresponsible.  We need to make some hard decisions that will have the least detrimental impact on the quality of education our students receive, while aggressively addressing the deficit.  Overall we need to be visionaries with the budget allocation sober with the reality that living within our means is critical to our long-term success.

          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?

          Competive Bid Process for products and services purchased should be mandatory for a budget this size.  We need to use best buying practices to ensure we get the most value for every tax dollar spent on roof repairs.  The work should go to tender and be awarded to the vendor(s) that offer the best value, we cannot allocated business tenders based on allegiances but rather based on the facts.  We need to be as prudent with purchasing roof repair services as we would be to purchase our own car or home.

          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 do support local business supporting each other and that includes local business’ helping out with costs associated with the development of our students including but not limited to organized sports.

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

          For too long, the negotiations have bogged down the learning experience of our students, this needs to stop.  The union’s heavy handed approach to these negotiations is unacceptable and the TDSB should not back down from the needs of the board to get back to the business of teaching  and administrating the office on budget.

          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?

          Yes, I believe salaries need to be realigned with fair market value of service offered.

          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?​

          Require that all members make public their expense reporting.  Trustees need to understand that the money has been entrusted to us by the tax payers to spend and use carefully.  TDSB members need to understand the need to set a good example to our students and to be good stewards of that which we have today in order to secure a better future for our City.

        • 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?

          Firstly by assessing what is being spent and what areas we can either cut back or decrease spending on. The board must be fiscally responsible and fiscally honest with tax payers and it’s our duty to ensure that we stick with the allocated budget. Providing transparency to public and getting feedback on the board’s spending would hold the board accountable moving forward.

          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.

          We should attempt to avoid selling school properties at all costs, because it affects the community, but I also understand that our deficit is enormous. I cannot state what my five priorities are because I need to assess on a board level all the options. I have experienced the  “MIKE HARRIS YEARS” in high school, and let me state it was a horrible experience that I will not allow any other student to go through via major programming cuts. I also know that I will keep all cuts out of the classrooms, and I will not want anything cut from Special Education.

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

          It’s a controversial proposal but if the public is willing it would be a great one to help with the cost of schools, but with that being said it is important to resolve the current budgetary issues now before asking to public to pay more.

          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?

          It is a very big failure by our school system. The best way to correct it is to consult with parents and educators within the special needs education arena, and find out where we are failing the most and work towards resolving those issues. If elected, I intend to focus a lot on the IPRC meetings because many parents, especially newcomers to Canada feel “bullied” and intimated by those on the panel. Parents should have a choice, and a say to what is best suited for their children. Not failing to mention, the process needs to be effectively communicated to parents so they understand all of their rights.

          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 has done a poor job over the years, we need to address the deficit immediately and find a way to decrease it without paying more of taxpayer’s dollars on “searching for solutions” with spending money on consultants. This is why we need more board members with financial and management backgrounds.

          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 board and the TDSB must hold themselves and contractors accountable. Going over budget doesn’t just happen, people allow it to happen, therefore assessing the progress of refurbishments and reviewing anything that may cause the project to go over budget is key. All budgets are manageable with the right people.

          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?

          Absolutely, we need more support from private sector.

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

          A caring approach is first. Yes, teachers and staff work for the TDSB and as a board member we are require to ensure that we can have the best education system within a budget that tax payers can afford. Yet ultimately, we know that teachers and staff want and deserve more, and we should be able to come to the table willing to work together so that students are not affected by any disruptions.

          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?

          I’m sure there is always room for improvement.

          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?​

          I come from a very poor and marginalized area, which I would like to represent at the board level. I know how to do a lot with less, and clearly many people at TDSB do not share my experience because those are absolutely ridiculous expenses. A new culture for respecting tax payers money can only come with new trustees that respect the tax payer, students and quality of education.

        • 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?

          I am aware there that there have been a number of recent allagations within the Board of Trustees and the TDSB structure of financial mismanagement. The TDSB is given a budget of approximately 3 billion dollars and there is vital need to maintain transparency with regard to spending. In April 2014 Province of Ontario announced it’s funding for the 2014-15 school year and that the TDSB will experience significant cuts to Special Education and School Operations funding. Special Education funding was cut by $7.3 million and funding for school facility operations was cut by $10 million.
          As a result, there is definitely a need to streamline spending within the TDSB in a manner that does not affect the classrooms. My intent as Trustee of Ward 4 is to promote Financial Transparency, and Accountability. We have a duty to our constituents and to taxpayers as a whole to ensure we as elected officials stand for and promote Fiscal responsibility.

          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.

          Let me be clear here. I am opposed to selling off school buildings and lands. As Trustee I will do my utmost to ensure this does not take place. But let’s look at the problem carefully…

          The TDSB approved a plan to sell off closed school sites after the province imposed a funding freeze on the school board in 2012. Now schools across Toronto are aging, and as a result require a great deal of maintenance and upkeep. However, the province’s Funding formula does not take into account the many TDSB’s aging schools. School properties are being sold to offset the growing cost of this maintenance. The Ontario government’s own audit has shown that there are 202 TDSB schools in critical condition— this is almost half of the TDSB’s 588 operating schools. 41 of these schools are said to need extensive renovations at a total cost of $3.2 billion.

          Our schools have gone through a great deal of cuts over the past couple of years with the TDSB’s efforts to balance the budget in light of the Ministry’s funding freeze. These cuts have directly affected the classroom. There are areas that I believe can still be streamlined, but I believe the true answer to this question will come from TDSB creating sustainable corporate partnerships and opening potentially large revenue streams.
          Here are 5 ways that I believe we could find additional savings within the budget:
          1. Again, streamline budgets within the TDSB to address areas of overspending especially with regards to maintenance and repair costs and service contracts
          2. Closely monitor work orders and travel expenses to ensure there is no misuse of funds
          3. Tightening up areas that may reflect wasteful speeding, such as excessive absenteeism which can be costly for any organization.
          4. Eliminae inefficiencies and duplication of service
          5. Finding additional savings from cuts to discretionary budgets

          My priority in this matter, is NOT selling schools but making better use of these schools and green spaces. The needs of our families and communities deserve to be the focal point . For example, our young people need afterschool outlets. Schools can become community hubs servicing the needs of their neighbourhoods.
          As Trustee for ward 4, I will advocate for the following:
          1. Improved partnership with the Toronto Parks Forestry and Recreation to create plans for utilizing green space and schools for improved after school programming for our young people and sports teams. I have formed a group of concerned parents in Summer 2014 who met with members of Parks and Recreation along with other community organizations to discuss such partnerships.

          2. The lack of Education Development Charges the TDSB is qualified for puts TDSB at a disadvantage. As a result, The school board has had to resort to selling school land and property to offset growth and capital infrastructural issues in other areas of the city. If the Ministry allowed TDSB to apply the EDC similar to the rates permitted by the Catholic School Board, based on new growth just in the past few years the TDSB would have millions of dollars in additional revenue. New development is having a great deal of impact on our school system. It is only reasonable that land developers contribute to the cost associated with this tremendous growth.

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

          No, I do not support an increase in taxes. I am a strong promoter of fiscal responsibility and there are  ways to look internally within the TDSB system to reduce overspending.

          I would also support looking to the Ministry to loosen up the current restrictions placed on TDSB in qualifying for Education Development Charges. This would allow TDSB to access additional funds from developers. It is my opinion that the EDC Regulation is outdated and needs to be amended. This would free millions of dollars in much needed resources that can be applied to capital infrastructure in Toronto schools. (also see answer above)

          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?

          The name “Special education” within the TDSB covers a broad spectrum and encompasses many different issues. For instance, “the gifted program” is also a program categorized under “Special Education”. The program as a whole has its advantages and disadvantages.

          First of all, Special Education screening for the gifted program may take place more in English only schools while there are many parents who are concerned that there is little gifted program screening taking place within the French Immersion schools.

          Secondly, the issues that arise around IEP’s (Individualized Educational Plans) can be many, and it may be necessary to examine on a case by case basis. An IEP is considered necessary when the work the student is doing is modified and may not always reflect the work for that grade.

          The bottom line here is that parents are the greatest advocates for their children and it is important for parents to get engaged and involved in their child’s education. Overall there is a great deal of misinformation and lack of information around the Special Education program and IEP’s. Parents often feel overwhelmed within this. Recognizing this problem, I spearheaded a 2014 Parent Conference where “Understanding Special Education” was a key component of the conference. However, more needs to be done, in terms of education and support for families within the Special Education system.

          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?

          It is important to produce a balanced budget. We have a duty to be fiscally responsible to the taxpayers and our constituents. Over the next 4 years as Trustee I will reviewing the current state of the budget, assist in highlighting and identifying inefficiencies and overspending and work constructively on eliminating those to produce a balanced 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?

          Also see my answer to question #2
          Aging schools and deteriorating capital infrastructures within the TDSB is and has been a prevailing problem for many years now. There are many schools waiting for much needed roof repairs, and other repairs affecting the health and safety of our children. As discussed previously, in question #2 it is vital that outdated Education Development Charge regulations are amended by the Ministry in order to potentially open up millions of dollars in revenue for the board. This revenue stream can be utilized to deal with our aging schools and much needed roof repairs.

          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 feel it’s important for any organization, the TDSB included, to source out additional sources of funding and income streams. In addition, enhanced corporate partnerships are one way to meet the growing needs of our school communities without excessively taxing our students and constituents. As long as these partnerships align and reflect the overall mission of the TDSB. Our goal here is to enable “all students to reach high levels of achievement and to acquire the knowledge, skills, and values they need to become responsible members of a democratic society”.

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

          Union negotiations can be a very delicate process. It is important to balance the requests of the union with the needs of the school board, its students and families. Teacher strikes can be very disruptive to the education of our young people and often carries with it a great deal of frustration and on either side.

          As a member of the board of Trustees I would examine the collective agreement and review the request of the Union. It is important that negotiations take place in good faith and that agreements are made that is fair to both parties but most importantly stays within the budget outlined.

          The end result of the negotiation process if for the parties to come to a collaborative agreement.

          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?

          I do believe there should be provisions within this agreement that ensure competitive rates for the TDSB trade workers. I also believe that the TDSB should have the ability utilize the on-site caretaker to do simple, quick installations. This will save cost and ensure work orders are not created for small jobs.

          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?​

          There has been a great deal of discussion with regards to the issue of overspending. It is important that a new culture of transparency and fiscal responsibility be injected into the TDSB. This will take place with a number of measures implemented to ensure the appropriate checks and balances are in  place within the system and strongly enforced.

          For instance:
          - limiting overtime hours of skilled labourers
          - the ability for on-site caretakers to do minor installations such as installing a pencil sharpener
          without having to create a work order
          - Streamlining the work order process for maintenance and repair; confirm work orders are completed according to specification

          - better monitoring of travel time and expenses of contractors/ skilled workers
          - increase competition with regards to TDSB partnerships to ensure service fees reflect the fair market value
          As Ward 4 Trustee, I believe it is important to be accountable to the taxpayers and families. We need to utilize savings to balance the budget and reinvest back into our classrooms.

        2014 TDSB Election: Ward 5 – York Centre

        The Incumbent:

        Howard Kaplan

        The Race

        Of the two candidates who did respond (incumbent Howard Kaplan did not), Jordan Glass emphasized reallocation of funds to special education and more open tenders, and also promised to donate an unspecified portion of his salary back to the school board, while Tibor Martinek offered a more traditional focus on reallocating funds within the existing budget. Both candidates made consistent references to respecting taxpayers, eliminating waste and finding efficiencies.

        Candidates Who Did Not Participate:  Jerako Biaje, Alexander Glauberzon, Howard Kaplan, Stephen Kazman, Stephen Shereck

        The Breakdown

         

        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?

          Spending must be finite. There is already a funding structure set forth by the province. Any candidate who promises to change this is simply being misleading. It will not happen. As such, the Board must operate within budgetary perametres. It cannot continue trying to spend money it does not have. Period. More than that, however, trustees must be willing to ask the hard questions. Ultimately this means examining secondary services, as well as maintaining effective capital cost management. Problems surrounding mismanagement of the TDSB budget that have led to the sale of our schools’ playground land should never have happened in the first place. The TDSB needs someone willing to make the tough decisions required to make sure our children are never exposed to such a situation again.

          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.

          The fact is, we never should have found ourselves in a situation where we are desperately selling property; specifically playground land, in an attempt to close the expanding gaps in a growing budget. Specifically this will mean looking at these five areas as potential areas to cut costs: (1) maintenance, (2) infrastructural ancillaries, (3) bloated bureaucratic salaries, (4) Trustee entitlements, and (5) of course, Trustee salaries. These are all areas the new Board must be willing to examine, at the very least. However, given the utter disfunction of the previous Board, Trustee entitlements and salaries should be a ‘no brainer’.

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

          Absolutely not. Candidates who advocate for new taxes are simply seeking to pass the proverbial buck on to our community. TDSB Trustees have a job to do. Part of that is getting their financial house in order. Trustees must not continuously return to our community and other orders of government with their pockets turned inside out.

          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?

          As the parent of a child with special needs I have a unique perspective on thr matter. Special education is chronically underfunded. Cuts to special needs programing and spacing have only made the problem worse. Funding has to be allocated to special education in the form
          of capital costs, technology, and staffing. This can be done without expanding an already bloated budget by simply reallocating already available funds. I will also advocate to have the provincial government return to previous levels of funding (adjusted for inflation), but we cannot expect Premier Wynne to be there ready to write a cheque.

          Additionally, my plan outtlines the creation of a special education parent liaison. The Board is currently not even remotely parent friendly. Parents entering the world of special education for the first time are faced with bureaucratic jargon and red tape. It will be this indivdual’s job to provided need assistance and leadership to parents to help then navigate this special education system

          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 fact is the TDSB desperately has to cut costs. The only way to achieve this is by electing trustees willing to ask the hard questions regarding where to find savings. I won’t ask our children to pay for their own education through future tax increases any more.

          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?

          All governments are guilty of falling victim to cost over runs. Sometimes there will be unforeseen obstacles that will raise costs in areas such as repairs. However, the TDSB can ensure this is a minimal occurance by seeking out better community partners with which to do business. This means ending the closed shop atmosphere of the current TDSB and embracing competitive bidding. Public money is simply too valuable to not seek out the best deal for our children.

          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?

          Absolutely. Both the CFL and Nissan have proven themselves true community partners. However, they are not unique. Toronto is a city full of charitable corporate citizens. They are partners in our community. They are waiting to be engaged. It is time the TDSB engaged them.

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

          As unions go into negotiations they must understand the simple fact that school boards and the province are looking at an empty till. This means we will have to ask staff to wait on their expected raises. The only way to finance such luxuries would be to fund them our of the classroom. I refuse to do this. Children must come first. That is why I would donate a portion of my trustee salary back to the school board. Leadership must begin at the top.

          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?

          It is time to end the agreement between the two governing bodies. The TDSB must learn to stop taking risks with taxpayer money. This is an example of one risk. The CSTC brought us the now infamous $143 pencil sharpener. Have they learned their lesson? I’m not willing to wait to see. End the agreement.

          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?​

          I know what it is like to live from pay cheque to pay cheque. I have been doing it for most of my adult life. I understand the value of a dollar. Saving money at thr Board should be a matter of common sense. End the closed shop. Seek competitive bidding. Redirect money saved into the class room.

        • 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?

          It is my platform that I will give priority to address and to improve the fiscal manegement of the TDSB. I would indentify the waste within system, cut any spending that it is not justified from top to the bottom.

          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.

          At this point it is hard from the outsider to list top five priorities for saving, beside the obvious ones, the maintanance costs are outrageus, small maintannance must be a domain of the schools caretakers, I would look into the possibel savings at the Boards head office, staffing, overtimes, generous payouts beyond contractual payouts, I would look into contracts with the energy providers (gas, elctricity) and would look into possible savings by negotiating better contracts in future, I would look into more efficiency of using supply teachers

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

          The taxpayers in Toronto are experiencing tax fatigue and I would oppose any new education taxes whatsoever.

          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?

          Again as an outsider I would have to better aquanted with this very important issue within the TDSB. It is my platform that any improvements would have to delivered in partnership with the schools, students, families and professional support services. I would possibly divide Toronto into special districts and establish centers for special education, where students who cannot be integrated to regular schools, would attend.

          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?

          There is no question that issue of deficit would have to answered by newly elected board as soon as possbible. Strict cost cutting measures would have to instituting once the waste is indentified and measures in efficinecy are implementing.

          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?

          Since, I am not familiar yet with the Board’s policies regarding reserve funds for this type of repairs and failing that those funds exist, it will be necessary to allocate toward the roof repair some of the funds from the reduction of waste and inefficiencies across the board.

          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 think it is a great idea that major organizations like the Canadian Football League and Nissan stepped in to provide sponsorship. However, I would support creating a clear policiy that there shall be no conflict of interest in such sponsorships from the private industry. I see more large organizations, for example like some of the banks, technology giants, who could step in future.

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

          It is always a very difficult thing to negotiate a contract with teachers and staff. I would recommend to follow the provincial guidelines with repect to the umpcoming negotiation, in order to get some breathing room with respect to the budget.

          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?

          As I understand the issue, the changes are necessary. The Board would have to requst the governement to relinquish their policy with repsect to maintanance and cosntruction within the Board, specially in the view of abuses documented by the press with respect to the maintance costs.

          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?​

          I would institute a system, that requistions would have to be approved and within the system that the lowest costs is indentified fom the approved source and there must an accountability with consequences for failure

        2014 TDSB Election: Ward 6 – York South-Weston

        The Incumbent:

        Chris Tonks

        The Race

        Only one candidate, Naime Mire, responded to this survey. Mire seems appropriately concerned with respect for taxpayers, private investment and less waste, but a bit more detail in survey responses would have been appreciated.

        Candidates Who Did Not Participate:  Kevin Milburn, Randa Omran, Ken Robertson, Chris Tonks

        The Breakdown

         

        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?

          You can’t ignore the the warnings, you have to react to the evidence. Also you have to be active and also be proactive and finally you can’t over spend.

          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. You only need to spend it on important programs.
          2. We shouldn’t spend it on unnecessary programs.
          3. Your saving for money for unnecessary school facilities.
          4. We have to do a lot of cutbacks.
          5.We shouldn’t make people spend money ridiculously.

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

          No I don’t support this proposal because based on low income families.

          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?

          We need a lot of resources/ funding and academical support

          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 province has to step in with federal government/ provincial government and also TDSB has to cut back on unnecessary programs.

          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?

          Look for contracts who will exactly do the job efficiently and timely.

          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 because we need financial resources to support other organized sports, because we are bringing sports entertainment to the youth so that they can enjoy the sports.

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

          Because of economical crisis the deficit with in the federal government/ provincial government, because it is a very difficult time to raise salaries and wage for the TDSB staff.

          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?

          Yes because I am going to negotiate with maintenance and construction skilled, but I am going to remind them because we are in a very difficult time.

          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?​

          That is not acceptable because when people pay taxes that money goes to the government, for example that money that people are paying for the government shouldn’t go towards school sharpeners and pencils.

        2014 TDSB Election: Ward 7 – Parkdale-High Park

        The Incumbent:

        Irene Atkinson

        The Race

        Both candidates who responded bring a great deal of real life experience to the race. Gordon Foster has managed to make do with little spending at a personal level, while Noel Kent has a bit more large-scale experience dealing with contractors. However, Foster’s idea of an earlier retirement age for teachers is worth studying further. Between the two, Kent’s responses were a bit more detailed although both candidates were interested in being as fiscally conservative as possible.

        Candidates Who Did Not Participate:  Jeffrey Freeman, Jim Henderson, Robin Pilkey, Marcela Saitua, Linda Torry

        The Breakdown

        • Candidate Response
          Foster, Gordon Personal experience with household finances has been successful- translate it into public sphere
          Kent, Noel  Engage public for plan and then stick to it

        • Candidate Response
          Foster, Gordon Eliminate the duplication of services, redraw boundaries to make sure equal amounts of students are going to appropriate schools, tough negotiations with MCSTC, earlier retirement age for teachers, and general efficiency focus
          Kent, Noel Better contracts, process efficiency and review, capital investments prioritization, public awareness, and full budgetary review

        • Candidate Response
          Foster, Gordon  No
          Kent, Noel  No

        • Candidate Response
          Foster, Gordon Needs more time to study issue
          Kent, Noel Leveraging volunteers, teaching students and part time resource allocation need to be looked at more closely

        • Candidate Response
          Foster, Gordon Strict spending rules, but province must retire debt
          Kent, Noel Same answer as for question 2, but if possible try to lobby provincial government for funding

        • Candidate Response
          Foster, Gordon Specific fundraising campaigns at a local level, with board working with local businesses to raise money
          Kent, Noel Personal experience- detailed contracts with vendors, proper bid process

        • Candidate Response
          Foster, Gordon Yes
          Kent, Noel Will Consider

        • Candidate Response
          Foster, Gordon Push for an earlier retirement age for teachers and have retired teachers act as volunteers
          Kent, Noel Balanced approach, consider needs of teachers and current fiscal climate

        • Candidate Response
          Foster, Gordon Yes
          Kent, Noel  Yes

        • Candidate Response
          Foster, Gordon Lead by example- honorarium should be enough money for all his expenses
          Kent, Noel Minimalist contract in place, three bid system and transparency for expenses

         

        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?

          As an individual I am very careful about my expenditures. I possess no credit card, hold no mortgage and the only debt I have, for my daughter’s orthodontic work, will be fully paid off by November 1st. I chose to pay a thousand dollars down and the rest in monthly payments in order to keep myself aware of the cost and the time frame of her treatment, as I could have paid a lump sum at the outset. My income is quite limited and the savings I do have are designated for my daughter’s future use: her university education, a wedding if she so chooses, and the down payment on a home for her family. I would take this same approach to current and future expenditures to my position as a trustee: do not spend what is not there, and be sure to plan for future costs.

          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.

          Savings can always be found if one is willing to do without. At my daughter’s elementary school three new classrooms were built to accommodate the local demand for full day kindergarten. Just outside my ward, an entire high school building has been taken over by the Toronto Public and Catholic French Boards. Yet the TDSB still offers French immersion at the elementary school in my catchment, to which perhaps the majority of parents commute with their children as it is too far to walk. Daycare spaces are at a premium in my neighbourhood and expectant parents need to get their child onto a waiting list almost before it is born. So where can savings be found? First I would seek to eliminate the duplication of services by the four separate publicly-funded Toronto school boards. Then perhaps a re-drawing of catchments could help direct students from overcrowded schools to schools which are perhaps overstaffed yet underused in an effort to pre-empt unnecessary closures and needless expansions. Third, the TDSB must be extremely firm in the stance it takes in its negotiations with the Maintenance and Construction Skilled Trades Council. Toronto’s public schools are not profit generators, nor are they a market, a commodity, or a job creation scheme. They are an investment in the future of our society. Fourth, perhaps there are savings to be found in an earlier retirement age for teachers who have certainly earned their pensions well before they retire. This would also allow newly trained teachers the opportunities which they so desperately seek and deserve. Five, which could perhaps be placed at the top of my list, would  be an increased overall focus on efficiency.

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

          A new tax, no. But when I was a student in the Borough then City of Etobicoke, schools were funded by a property tax levy. A new funding scheme may be needed if Toronto’s schools are to thrive as they did in the past. Property tax is now calculated based on market value, and houses in my ward often sell for more than a million dollars. A small portion of existing property taxes being designated for school board use would go a long way towards easing the crisis in funding. Existing per-student funding is obviously insufficient when the school boards are able to ask and receive more than ten thousand dollars a year in tuition for a single foreign high school student.

          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 fortunately not personally familiar as yet with this issue but I will do my utmost to appraise myself of the situation and seek appropriate remedies.

          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?

          An operating budget is just that. It is not meant to be used for the retirement of debt. Strict rules must be put in place that prohibit any and all expenditures beyond what the school board is allotted to spend. Once this is done and budget deficits are no longer incurred it should be the province’s responsibility to retire any outstanding debt.

          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?

          All Toronto public school buildings belong to the residents of Toronto. Some buildings are even eligible to be designated as historic if they have not been already. Other sources of funding for such repairs must be found when they are available in order to reduce the burden on the school board’s budget. Additionally, as publicly-owned landmark buildings the board should be allowed to conduct fundraising campaigns for specific refurbishment and renewal projects. Local businesses and residents have a very special interest in their local schools and are generally willing to contribute what they can when asked, but they must be asked.

          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?

          As I responded to the previous question I am all for private donations to assist with the upkeep and renovation of school buildings. It makes sense that the CFL is interested and allowed to contribute to organized sports in schools. Nissan, however, is a corporation in competition with other car manufacturers. Organizations like the CFL, a Canadian institution, should be free to publicize and benefit from their contributions. Corporations like Nissan, who are eligible for corporate tax reductions based on charitable contributions, should have very clear restrictions placed upon them regarding branding and marketing through the public schools.

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

          As I mentioned in my response to the second question the TDSB needs to make it clear that in a labour market that is saturated with trained and certified teachers seeking work, so much so that the provincial government is seeking to halve the number of teaching college graduates by requiring two years of training instead of one, it makes no sense to have teachers working up to and past the age of sixty-five – especially when teachers who are approaching that age have already earned a very sufficient pension. Yes, retired teachers should be allowed to continue contributing their skills and experience but as volunteers. Many already do in other areas of society such as community food programs and arts festivals. Such esoteric salary-based enticements as bankable sick days are obviously no longer necessary to draw young people to the profession.

          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?

          Most definitely, and I will work to enact them. Repair and maintenance staff need to be compensated by a set hourly rate hour for work performed in order to avoid the tacking-on of extraneous expenditures to necessary repairs to pay employees who are, at best, merely on stand-by.

          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?​

          As a TDSB trustee I will be receiving an honorarium for work that may keep me busy for weeks on end or may leave me with a lot of free time during the course of the year. It is not a lot of money but it will be more than enough for me to live on and support my daughter. I will lead by example and expect every public servant I converse with to have the same respect for the public purse that I have.

        • 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?

          I have also been monitoring this trend of overspending and have grown more and more worried about the unwillingness to take a look, internally, at what the money is being spent on and holding trustees accountable for their spending decisions. I would engage the public in a greater capacity to determine exactly where the main priorities lay, stick with a budget and a plan and execute.

          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. Contracts, I’ve dealt with private sector contractors and bad contracts at that and getting bad contracts out and holding contractors accountable and responsible for the work they’ve done is integral to ensuring best value for dollar
          2. Process efficiency, looking internally at improving processes saves staff time allowing them to dedicate more effort on achieving results versus dealing with administrative burden
          3. Capital investments prioritization, having certain wards with excess budgets spending money on non-urgent fixes while other wards watch as their 100 year old schools continue to deteriorate further does not make sense. Decisions need to be made at the executive level and there needs to be public awareness.
          4. Public awareness, following on my last point the public has the right and the desire to know what’s going on with their schools, I would look at bringing in the public to have more engagement alleviating some misconceptions on both sides.
          5. Experienced budgetary review, are we (as the TDSB) spending resources in the correct areas? A full assessment of previous budgets needs to be undertaken and an analysis done to determine where specifically savings can be found, often times, and from my experience budgets of these types get repeated and repeated in some instances allocation to specific projects or costs is being spent without taking into account the requirements in other areas.

          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 a tax increase, savings need to be found internally.

          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?

          Having seen support staff cut first hand I understand how integral they are as part of the education system. Leveraging volunteers, teaching students and part time resource allocation may be able to help in some capacity. Unfortunately most of the special needs students require full time help which means determining where other efficienceies can be realized to allocate more resources to fund more help.

          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?

          I believe I’ve outlined some potential remedies in my response to question two however with the city and province also running deficits asking for net new money will not necessarily be an option unless public opinion can be swayed to divert provincial funding. Efficiences will most likely have to be found within.

          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?

          Through my experience in holding contractors accountable, I’ve managed multiple capital investment projects and ensured best dollar for value by going through a proper bid process and writing detailed contracts with vendors.

          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?

          This is a partnership that has to be approached extremely cautiously but I am definitely for exploring more options similar to the CFL and Nissan partnerships. Ultimately the children and their well being come first, further analysis has to be done on this before any  commitments can be made.

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

          It has to be a balanced approach that reflects both the importance of the job that teachers and staff do, we are entrusting them with raising the future leaders of our country. At the same time the approach has to reflect the current fiscal climate, the size of both the TDSB deficit and the provincial deficit are definitely factors to take into consideration. We do not however want to be in a position similar to that of B.C. where children are missing class.

          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?

          This is one of the main reasons I’m running, the information I’ve read about the costs which you’ve identified below being paid when our children’s schools are falling apart is shocking and angering. I believe there should be a minimalist contract in place, for large capital projects a three bid system should be in place that is open and transparent ensuring the public is well aware of any expenses incurred

          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?​

          Further to my response to question 9. and as I’ve mentioned briefly in other responses I’ve dealt with and seen this culture of entitlement before. Holding contractors accountable for the work they perform and paying them accordingly is a key first step, once again public awareness helps drive issues to the forefront as well.