2014 TCDSB Election: Ward 9 – Toronto

The Incumbent:

Jo-Ann Davis

The Race

Trustee Davis was elected on the heels of a spending scandal at the board. Running for her second term, neither of her challengers participated in our survey.

Candidates Who Did Not Participate: Manuel Ching, David Shaw

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?

    Catholic education is built on partnerships. These include thosewith provincial and local levels of government, with the local community, religious orders, local agencies, NGOs, charities and private corporations. For an example of the latter, just this year, the TD bank donated 500 desktops for students and 100 laptops for teachers to the TCDSB. I support partnerships that promotes the vision and mission of the TCDSB and provides our students with the tools they need, and helps us to close the learning opportunity gaps in our schools.

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

    It’s clear that partnerships are critical and partnership development must be a key priority for the Board – both at the local school level and system-wide. For areas such as special education and transportation where our budgets far exceed the funds we receive, solutions need to be found with our education partners. I also support the continued existence of a Budget sub-committee as it provides a means for ongoing detailed analysis and discussion – against our multi-year strategic plan – in preparation for our most important annual board meeting.

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

    As a trustee over the last four years I have been invited to, and have attended, ratepayer and residence association meeting in my ward, providing updates and answering questions related to the local school communities. I’ve organized community meetings with the city councillors and MPPs from across my ward to discuss ways in which to support local Catholic schools.I’ve organized an annual ‘leadership workshop’ inviting principals, CSAC Chairs and pastors from across my ward to discuss successes and challenges across our community of schools and ways in which we can support each school meet the needs of their students. I’ve attended regular ‘St Paul Summits’ with all the locally-elected representatives for the riding of St Paul’s. I’ve attended community group meetings which are looking at local initiatives which impact our students – most recently I attended a meeting in support of Eglinton Connects. I have provided a quarterly community newsletter since my election in 2010 which is published on my website (www.jo-anndavis.ca),and provided to schools and parishes. I will continue to do all these things, as well as seek further methods to provide accessible and responsive representation to my constituents.

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

    As I don’t know the details of the proposal sited, I’m not able to comment. Earmarking a percentage of existing taxes for education is something I could support – providing greater transparency regarding the programs and services our collective taxes are being directed towards in support of the common good.

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

    As a champion of this initiative I am fully supportiveof the TCDSB becoming the first school board in Ontario with an independent Ombudsman role. It supports both the continuous improvement of the TCDSB, and our multi-year strategic plan goals of increased public confidence and transparency

    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 scandals and culture pre-date my first term as trustee with the TCDSB. The TCDSB has published all trustee expenses on-line since before my election in 2010, and just this year TCDSB trustees voted to reduce trustee expense budgets. Speaking personally, I have not submitted an expense claim for any out of-pocket expenses in my role as trustee.

    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?

    At the TCDSB we seek to provide all of our students with the tools they need to reach their potential and live life fully. As a Catholic school board we have a special responsibility to those students who are most at risk, and this includes those who require additional support in the classroom. If you look at our budget you will see the value which we place on Special Education – it accounts for about 12% of our total budget ($147M) with an estimated $20M spent more annually than we receive in funding from the Ministry of Education. Our mission makes clear that we believe that teaching must be responsive to individual student needs. What does this mean in the classroom? As an example, in 1999 the TCDSB created a distinct service for students with Autism. The service was created to provide multi-disciplinary supports to meet the complex needs of students with Autism and this continues to be a focus of service provision. As part of the Board’s Learning Improvement Plan and as a major initiative within Special Services, accountability frameworks and an advisory committee have been developed to guide programs provided for students with Autism as well as other exceptionalities. We are always seeking ways to better support our students, and the need to find partnership solutions given the clear budgetary constraints, has been a focus of discussions with the Ministry over the last year.

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

    Given funding reductions in this area – in particular for the TCDSB – our Director is, I believe, already doing what can and should be done to reduce the cost of administration at the TCDSB without impacting its effective leadership and thereby impacting the success of our students.

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

    As this question relates to collective bargaining, any views regarding labour negotiations are confidential out of respect for all parties involved.

    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?​

    The broad motion reinforces policies in place at the TCDSB and certainly I am supportive of its objectives. In my opinion, accessibility and equality of opportunity are the most important right for students (in terms of reaching their full potential) and parents (in terms of providing the means to support their children’s education) for which we should always be striving. As the community advisory committee to look at this proposal has yet to be established I can’t comment on whether I will support its recommendation to the Board of Trustees.