2014 TCDSB Election: Ward 2 – Etobicoke

The Incumbent:

Ann Andrachuk

The Race

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

Candidates Who Did Not Participate: Andriy Botyuk

The Breakdown

 

The full responses

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

    Yes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Yes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    No, I would not support such an idea. In fact, I would fight against it. Working families are already over-taxed and many have serious struggles because of the over-taxation problem. We already pay an “education tax” on our property taxes.  I believe that trustees have a fiduciary obligation to “practice belt-tightening” when necessary.  After all, the average family has to tighten their belt and reduce their spending when times are tough. Why should the school board be an exception?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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