Unfortunately incumbent Trustee Piccininni declined to participate in the survey, giving the floor completely to his sole opponent in the race. Here’s what Mr. Capisciolto had to say.
Candidates Who Did Not Participate: Sal Piccininni
Candidate Response Capisciolto, Frank Yes Candidate Response Capisciolto, Frank Open to suggestions and emulating ideas from other boards Candidate Response Capisciolto, Frank Will create strong local connections & make myself available Candidate Response Capisciolto, Frank No. Taxes are a last resort Candidate Response Capisciolto, Frank Will consider Candidate Response Capisciolto, Frank I hope it already has Candidate Response Capisciolto, Frank Determine a plan by emulating best practices from other boards Candidate Response Capisciolto, Frank Using funds more efficiently Candidate Response Capisciolto, Frank Salaries must be competitive with comparably sized cities. Candidate Response Capisciolto, Frank Yes
The full responses
1. Recently the Canadian Football League and Nissan stepped in to help school boards with the costs of organized sports. Do you support seeking private investment at the TCDSB?
I believe in private investment in reference to sports and the performing arts. I do feel a need to ensure that funds given are equally spread out through all the schools in the TCDSB to avoid too great of a divide between different social classes.
2. What ideas do you have to address the budget challenges that the TCDSB faces?
I am open to suggestions, but, even more so, I am willing to analyze and compare our Catholic School to other boards of various Canadian and American cities.
3. How will you foster and engage school communities and ratepayers at large?
I am firm believer of developing strong local connections in my ward. Attending Parent council meetings, visiting the different Catholic Churches in my area, and basically making myself as visible as possible. I hope that the more I am seen, the more I will be perceived as approachable. The most important role of trustee is to be an advocate for the parents; therefore, people need to feel that a trustee is there to listen.
4. There are candidates who have proposed advocating for a new tax dedicated specifically to education. Is this a proposal you support?
The increasing of taxes, regardless of how they are implemented, need to be a last resort. There are justifiable reasons to raise taxes but it is too often, in my opinion, a sign of laziness and a lack of understanding of what the real issues are.
5. TCDSB has debated and budgeted for an ombudsman. Do you – and will you support this important initiative?
I would be cautious in creating new positions that would logically increase the TCDSB budget. I question the purpose of an ombudsman? I understand the fear of corruption, however my response is to have faith in the civil authorities. A greater worry than corruption is the public apathy toward the trustees. When the Catholic Trustee spending scandal erupted in 2008, the voters across Toronto returned almost all of the trustees in the 2010 election. As opposed to an Ombudsman we the public need to lose the apathetic attitude and strike fear of accountability through the use of our votes.
6. Do you believe the culture among TCDSB Trustees has changed after a spending scandal that saw Trustees expense gold jewellry, trips, university tuition, personalized licence plates and lingerie, among other things? If not how will you change this culture?
I would hope that all trustees would take their role as a public servant seriously and operate in a transparent matter in regards to all their duties. If ever in the future there is another spending scandal, then again I believe the public needs to exercise their vote in good conscious and demand the change that question 6 alludes to.
7. Failures in special education are considered by some to be the greatest failure in the public system. What is your plan for correcting this?
I will acknowledge that special education is one of the board’s most noticeable failures, but also represents one of its greatest opportunities for growth and improvement. I feel through careful examination of other boards we should be able to develop a plan for special education.
8. What are your ideas on how we can reduce the cost of administration and governance at TCDSB?
I cannot say that I am in favor reducing cost, I am in favor of using our funds more efficiently and therefore strengthening departments that have been the victims of past budget cuts.
9. What do you think is the best approach for the TCDSB to take in upcoming contract negotiations with teachers and staff?
In regards to the teachers and staff contract negotiations I believe salaries should be competitive with other comparable cities. The reality is that Toronto is the fourth largest North American city and the largest Canadian city. Therefore I think a competitive salary would rank TCDSB employees among the top 10 North American cities and within the top 3 Canadian Cities. Cost of living is a consideration, but I believe a comparative salary within these limitations would account for the living expenses normally associated with a city the size of Toronto and the reality of living within a Canadian environment.
10. TCDSB is in the process of developing a parent/student bill of rights. What do you view as one of the most important rights in education for parents and students? Will you support this initiative?
I would completely support a bill that would encourage parents to be more involved in their children’s education. Parent involvement will result in an increased accountability from all involved, teachers, school administration, as well as the trustees.