2014 TDSB Election: Ward 16 – Beaches-East York

The Incumbent:

Sheila Cary-Meagher

The Race

Sheila Cary-Meagher faces new opponents in the 2014 Ward 16 race. She was the only candidate to provide a response to our TDSB candidate survey. In her response, she insists that the TDSB “does not have a spending problem, it has an income problem”. What do you think?

Candidates Who Did Not Participate:  Marietta Fox, Navarius Mombo, Jen Sagar

The Breakdown

  • Candidate Response
    Cary-Meagher, Sheila The TDSB does not have a spending problem, it has an income problem. The capricious fluctuations of provincial funding does not allow for long term planning but rather causes hurried cuts to meet unexpected funding changes by the Ministry of Education.


  • Candidate Response
    Cary-Meagher, Sheila No specifics provided.


  • Candidate Response
    Cary-Meagher, Sheila If the Ministry of Education would find a funding formula that was functional and responsive to local needs, a dedicated educational tax should not be necessary.


  • Candidate Response
    Cary-Meagher, Sheila I believe that we need to simplify our identification and delivery processes for children with special needs. It should not take so long for children to get the services that they need.


  • Candidate Response
    Cary-Meagher, Sheila I will continue to support the prudent use of financial resources and transparency in spending decisions at every level of the TDSB.


  • Candidate Response
    Cary-Meagher, Sheila I support the continued expansion of TDSB’s solar roof programme – that is working toward replacing those roofs that need attention.


  • Candidate Response
    Cary-Meagher, Sheila My experience has been that third party projects usually fail, becoming an unworkable mess – the costs of which get transferred to the taxpayer.


  • Candidate Response
    Cary-Meagher, Sheila I cannot comment on teacher negotiations as my daughter is a TDSB high school teacher.


  • Candidate Response
    Cary-Meagher, Sheila One always expects to see changes in contracts as a result of negotiations.


  • Candidate Response
    Cary-Meagher, Sheila It has been my observation that a great deal at the TDSB has changed in the last year but there is still much more to be done. As employers, Board Members need to nurture a sense of ownership on the part of employees and encourage them to assist us in finding savings and efficiencies.

 

The full responses

  • 1. Evidence suggests the TDSB was warned in 2006 about spending problems. Previous Chair Chris Bolton chose to ignore these warnings until his resignation. Going forward, how would you address the issue of over-spending at the school board?

    The TDSB does not have a spending problem, it has an income problem. The capricious fluctuations of provincial funding does not allow for long term planning but rather causes hurried cuts to meet unexpected funding changes by the Ministry of Education.

    2. The TDSB has been faced with a difficult decision about potentially selling school properties. To avoid this, where would you find savings in future budgets? List your top five specific priorities for savings.

    We have reached the limit of the sensible sale of schools. To continue down that road will cause serious problems as enrolment rises and demographics shift. Development in the “brown fields” is going to provide larger needs in areas that seem under populated now.

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

    If the Ministry of Education would find a funding formula that was functional and responsive to local needs, a dedicated educational tax should not be necessary. Furthermore, the TDSBis the only urban school board not allowed access to Section 23 funds from developers of
    new construction, which could help with responses to our sudden space needs. It would cost the nothing for the taxpayer and would charge the developers for the creation of public school education in the TDSB, which at present they do not.

    4. 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 believe that we need to simplify our identification and delivery processes for children with special needs. It should not take so long for children to get the services that they need. Again, the provincial underfunding of special education creates huge problems in service delivery.

    5. The current board saw the TDSB deficit balloon to $109-million – it’s biggest ever. What is your plan to address this going forward?

    I will continue to support the prudent use of financial resources and transparency in spending decisions at every level of the TDSB. This question suggests some confusion of  proposed and approved operating and capital budgets. The 2014-15 Budget included a projected deficit of $12.4 million, less than a quarter of of the 2013-2014 of $55 million deficit.

    6. The TDSB recently estimated the cost of roof repairs to more than $2.5-million dollars. How would you ensure that necessary capital refurbishments are met within budget?

    I support the continued expansion of TDSB’s solar roof programme – that is working toward replacing those roofs that need attention. It should be pointed out that in addition to just replacing the roof itself, we are insulating them to R22. In this way, the roofing project is not
    only reducing heat loss, it is also reducing fuel consumption. Those additional savings are then being applied to the roofing budget.

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

    I don’t know anything about this project in particular, aside from the participation of two Toronto schools. My experience has been that third party projects usually fail, becoming an unworkable mess – the costs of which get transferred to the taxpayer. I will continue to advocate for donations throughout the school board that will help us to provide quality experiences for students.

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

    I cannot comment on teacher negotiations as my daughter is a TDSB high school teacher.

    9. In short time, the agreement between the TDSB and Maintenance and Construction Skilled Trades Council is up for re-negotiation. Do you feel there are changes needed in the current agreement?

    One always expects to see changes in contracts as a result of negotiations.

    10. TDSB has come under fire for ridiculous expenses – $150 to cut a key, $140 for a pencil sharpener, and a $200 toilet seat are just scratching the surface. How will you bring about a new culture that respects the budget and sees money spent wisely?​

    It has been my observation that a great deal at the TDSB has changed in the last year but there is still much more to be done. As employers, Board Members need to nurture a sense of ownership on the part of employees and encourage them to assist us in finding savings and efficiencies.