2014 TCDSB Election: Ward 8 – Scarborough

The Incumbent:

Garry Tanuan

The Race

Trustee Tanuan is running for re-election and faces a pair of challengers, only one of whom participated in our survey. Voters have some stark differences to consider in this ward.

Candidates Who Did Not Participate: Jobin Jose

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?

    Private investment — no. Donations — yes.

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

    Budgets are always complicated since everyone wants a bigger piece of the pie every year. There is a need to rationalize program needs by department and identity potential savings.

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

    Initiate more community/taxpayer programs through online, social media and in-person consultations and interaction that would encourage input of fresh ideas.

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

    Need to know and understand details of this proposed new tax to see how the taxpayers are going to benefit from it. Also need to know if property taxes will be decreased as a consequence of having this new tax.

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

    Yes and yes.

    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, I believe this has changed especially with the new policy of posting Trustee expenses on the school board’s website. In fact, I think it has swung to the other side of the pendulum since some trustees do not charge even eligible expenses. 

    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 always a big challenge with respect to budget pressures in our attempt to address all the special needs of our students. We need to take a closer look at the various tiers of needs and required services/resources against each student’s needs and prioritize accordingly. Parents of special-need kids need to be made aware and be informed properly regarding policies and eligibility requirements.

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

    The board is already addressing this but additional ideas from various stakeholders to reduce, reuse, and recycle resources are most welcome.

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

    The best approach is to have TCDSB exercise autonomous contract negotiations with teachers and staff.

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

    I think it is important that parents are the final authorities in all decisions regarding their children, so yes I will support a parents’ bill of rights, not just in education, but in health, well-being, and spiritual aspects as well.

  • 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 think that an investment in physical activity in our schools is an investment in the overall health and well-being of our future generations.  That being said, I am supportive of private investment being made at the TCDSB provided that appropriate policies are in place to ensure that the organizations are solely advertising or promoting their brand and/or products and are otherwise prohibited from influencing the Board, faculty, students or any other stakeholder of the TCDSB.

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

    Just as with the private sector, operational reviews are the best way to determine current efficiencies and seek out opportunities to eliminate waste.  It is important to maintain the appropriate staffing levels amongst the schools and ensure that the enrollments at schools are close to capacity to make certain that they are operating cost-effectively.  Regardless of the size of an organization, there are always areas for improvement, being the largest (publicly funded) Catholic School Board in the world; the TCDSB would be no different.   Investments in both infrastructure and technology are however inevitable, so running a balanced budget and maintaining provisions for future projects are essential.

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

    My goal is to be a strong, proficient, and compassionate voice for my community and the city at large.  I believe in accessibility and I will make myself available to listen to and to understand the concerns of everyone that I am to represent.  I also believe in accountability and transparency, thus I will keep Catholic Ratepayers aware of all issues that may potentially affect the protection or preservation of the board.

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

    I am not supportive of a new dedicated tax for education.  I do not think that new taxes are well perceived, nor do I believe that they would be more effective in dealing with board expenditures.  I believe that efficiency, waste reduction and well planned and executed investments are instrumental to the boards’ financial viability.

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

    Back in 2012 the motion to create an ombudsman did not pass, however I am optimistic that the creation of this role will be evaluated once again. If so, I will support this initiative.  It would make the TCDSB more accountable and be a leader in governance, transparency and fairness for the entire community for which it serves.

    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?

    Once again making reference to the private sector, such activities would not and could not be tolerated.  Only business related expenditures can be claimed and deemed legitimate.  The legitimacy of these claims can only be validated with all the necessary supporting documentation.  There needs to be a zero tolerance policy in this regard.  For claims to be accepted, the original corresponding receipts that unequivocally denote the business need for the expense must be submitted.

    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?

    The TCDSB has a Special Education Plan that is comprehensive, which provides a framework for identification and review, accountability and continuous improvement.  One of my primary concerns is the safety and inclusion of all students, regardless of their uniqueness. Although there is much exceptionality, I believe that the promotion of mental health awareness and tolerance is essential.  Stigma regarding mental health and addiction challenges is often a huge barrier for students and their families in reaching out for help, accessing services, and having accommodations and individual education plans implemented to support students in their studies and development in general.

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

    As discussed earlier, operational efficiency needs to be monitored closely and all opportunities for the elimination of waste need to be investigated and actioned in a timely manner.  For the time being I will refrain from any personal perspectives or proposals, as I am not familiar enough with the budget and/or allocation of resources to form an opinion.

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

    I am a firm believer of value for your dollar, affordability and living within your means.  That being said, in order to not only maintain, but improve the quality of our schools and our school system, we cannot expect our taxes to stay stagnant, nor should we expect that of our salaries.  I believe that any contract negotiations with respect to salary increases should not exceed the rate of inflation.

    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?​

    Safety, inclusion and fairness are of upmost importance.  A bill of rights will provide accessibility to parents and caregivers, ensuring transparency within the board.  As a result, public confidence in governance and the board as a whole will increase.  This is an initiative that I am supportive of.