2014 TCDSB Election: Ward 11 – East York/Toronto

The Incumbent:

Angela Kennedy

The Race

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

Candidates Who Did Not Participate: Christmas Sy

The Breakdown

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

 

The full responses

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Yes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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