2014 TDSB Election: Ward 17 – Don Valley East

The Incumbent:

Harout Manougian

The Race

Trustee Harout Manougian serves as Chair of the TDSB Operations and Facilities Management Committee, a forum ripe for efficiencies in the scandal-plagued TDSB. Unfortunately, the Trustee did not provide a response to our survey but we are happy to hear from 5 of his opponents. There are a couple of candidates with sound financial experience who would be a welcome addition to the Board. Good suggestions on how to address capital costs and maintenance costs.

Candidates Who Did Not Participate:  Sean-Michael Harrison, Tracey Lamourie, Harout Manougian

The Breakdown

  • Candidate Response
    Buty, Suwarnamala There should be transparency and openness on how funds are spent and work is assigned. Expenditures and work status should be posted online for taxpayers to review.
    Cerjanec, Robert TDSB Trustees must be made aware of any report regarding the financial performance of the board. It must not just be kept with the Chair. Gather all the facts, and affected groups and decision-makers to come to a reasonable solution.
    Lister, Ken Maintenance costs paid to trade unions contains many examples of overspending. The TDSB needs experienced financial analysts to implement a new system. Must have set rates for repairs and also labour times billable for each type of common repair.
    Sajnovic, Anna Hold a committee accountable for reviewing expenses. Need to review costs and expenses and adjust spending accordingly.
    Yeung, Sonny Is a fiscally responsible candidate with a Bachelor's Degree in Commerce and a Minor in Finance.

  • Candidate Response
    Buty, Suwarnamala Instead of savings and cutting service the TDSB should be generating revenue. Possibly, by enrolling foreign students.
    Cerjanec, Robert School properties should not be sold to private developers or corporations. Review policies and procedures to put stronger controls on spending decisions. Exercise restraint with office budgets. Consider energy conservation and EcoSchools programs.
    Lister, Ken Repairs and maintenance costs
    Sajnovic, Anna Review expenses, re-negotiate contracts, tender new contracts when old contracts are up, reduce waste, decrease spending.
    Yeung, Sonny Replace retiring teachers with new teachers at the entry level. Perform a Core Service Review to see what is duplicated. Reduce the number of managers. Give more hiring points to teachers who reside in Toronto.


  • Candidate Response
    Buty, Suwarnamala No
    Cerjanec, Robert Will consider, but also must advocate for amending the education funding formula.
    Lister, Ken No
    Sajnovic, Anna No
    Yeung, Sonny No

  • Candidate Response
    Buty, Suwarnamala More investments for children with special needs for qualified teachers and other services.
    Cerjanec, Robert Supports the recommendation for a special education ombudsman's office in Ontario and a full review to make sure special education funding meets the needs of students.
    Lister, Ken Need to improve training for teachers on how to accommodate special needs and have experts within the board who can help find resources for teachers.
    Sajnovic, Anna Must address these concerns earlier in a student's education. Invest in technology that can help students with special needs.
    Yeung, Sonny Push province for more funding or grants. Class size and composition matter.

  • Candidate Response
    Buty, Suwarnamala Deficit is there because of waste. Balanced budget is good but the emphasis should be on generating more revenues.
    Cerjanec, Robert Can not support any more cuts to education after years of cuts. The provincial education funding formula must be re-evaluated.
    Lister, Ken Lobby and work with the province to change the funding formula for the Education Development Charge. The TDSB is missing out on tens of millions of dollars each year on this, and is being treated unfairly compared to other boards.
    Sajnovic, Anna Did not answer specifically but provided information on deficits. See Full Response.
    Yeung, Sonny The TDSB by law has to deliver balanced budgets every year.

  • Candidate Response
    Buty, Suwarnamala Prioritize work needed for repair. Group repairs in one school together instead of separating it out by specific tasks.
    Cerjanec, Robert Restore the ability to collect Education Development Charges for the TDSB. Let energy and roof repair experts determine where power lines should be located to maximize savings.
    Lister, Ken Fixed the flawed funding formula for the Education Development Charge.
    Sajnovic, Anna Review and re-negotiate contracts but also push provincial government for increased funding.
    Yeung, Sonny Replace the incumbent who is Chair of the Operations Facilities Management Committee.

  • Candidate Response
    Buty, Suwarnamala Will consider
    Cerjanec, Robert Will consider
    Lister, Ken Will consider on a case by case basis.
    Sajnovic, Anna Yes
    Yeung, Sonny Yes

  • Candidate Response
    Buty, Suwarnamala Teachers are the building blocks of society. Teachers keep upgrading skills skills and should be fairly compensated.
    Cerjanec, Robert Negotiate in good faith
    Lister, Ken It is up to the province to negotiate a deal with teacher's unions for students best interests.
    Sajnovic, Anna Constant review of spending is a way to keep costs down so we can best serve students. Teachers and staff should be supported as long as students are getting the best education.
    Yeung, Sonny Instruct the province to negotiate a fair and balanced deal.

  • Candidate Response
    Buty, Suwarnamala Yes. Sometimes contractors inflate prices. Contractor expenses should be transparent. Fraudulent contractors should be blacklisted and published on TDSB website.
    Cerjanec, Robert Proposes worker shifts start and end at the same time instead of overlapping in order to provide cost savings.
    Lister, Ken Yes, changes are needed.
    Sajnovic, Anna Yes. It is also our responsibility to look out for overpaying, as well as overcharging.
    Yeung, Sonny Yes

  • Candidate Response
    Buty, Suwarnamala Transparency in expenses and work assigned to contractors. Frequent checks and internal audits of work.
    Cerjanec, Robert Post trustee expenses online with receipts. Support the creation of a TDSB Ombudsman. Open more TDSB meetings to the public.
    Sajnovic, Anna An internal audit should address these important issues that were not taken into account or scrutinized.
    Yeung, Sonny Let The Star reporters know about mis-spending.

 

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?

    TDSB operates with an enormous $3-billion budget. This money is supposed to be devoted to educating  232,000 students across the city. Chris Bolton directed tens of thousands of dollars intended for Toronto elementary school to his own charity. Over spending has always been a problem with TDSB .

    There were always whistle blower but they choose to ignore them. TDSB provides rent-free office space to the skilled trades union , accused of overbilling the board for maintenance and repairs. I believe, There should be transparency and openness in how funds and spent and the work is assigned to the external contractors . More people from the board should be made responsible for utilizing the budget funds to maximize the returns.
    Spending expenditure, completion of work status should be available online so that tax payers can see how there tax money is being utilized. Internal work review of all the assigned work including expenses and quality must be performed at regular intervals. These reviews should be made available to public.

    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.

    I believe, there should be no further cuts in TDSB services than are already made. Instead of saving and cutting services TDSB should be more concerned about generating revenues.

    TDSB has always been over spending .The board should prioritize where the funds are most needed. TDSB facilities be should available to community (for various events) without hassle and quickly.

    Revenue can also be generated by enrolling foreign students. Ensuring that every decision we make and every dollar we spend is seen in the class room.

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

    I do not support a new education tax. Toronto tax payers are already burdened with hefty taxes. I would like to ask my fellow candidates who are in favor of supporting this new education tax : How is this new tax going to-be utilized? Who will provide accountability and transparency to the taxpayers?

    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?

    Special education for students is one of the very important TDSB services. In 2014 – 2015 TDSB budget cuts of $7.3M were made from special education funding. TDSB spends $15.4M more on special education services than we are funded by the province. The number of special needs students are growing year by year and the funds are cut to balance the budget.

    I strongly support, more investments for children with special needs. These students need more qualified teachers and other services.

    Specialized qualified teachers should be hired as well as existing teaches should be trained for special education skills.

    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?

    Everyone talks about balancing the budget., but there’s less emphasis on how the budget is balanced. I see a constant reduction of budget since 2009. The deficit has always been there because of the unnecessary spending/waste by TDSB . In 2013-2014 the deficit was $108.8M and in 2014-2015 the deficit was $109M. At the same time number of students and special education students enrollment has increased . The much needed maintenance and repairs of TDSB facilities costs also keep on increasing.

    Having a balanced budget is good but more emphasis should be put on generating more revenues . I believe, TDSB should find other venues to generate revenue.

    I support enrolling more foreign students, after public consultation get support from the larger/private corporations, maximize the resource utilization.

    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?

    Repairs and maintenance of TDSB facilities is a major issue. In 2014-2015, repair and maintenance cost was $2.5M .

    All schools are important but work order prioritization is needed for repair tasks. Proper allocation and  utilization of the repair crew will also get TDSB good savings. Example – Currently school ‘A” requires roof repair, and 4 windows repair. School ‘B’ requires only 6 windows repairs. The repair task for windows repair (school ‘A’ and school ‘B’) can be grouped together to maximize the resource allocation,
    than handling each work task for each school (Finish school ‘A’ then work on school ‘B’ etc.).

    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?

    Currently, TDSB has deficit of $109 M (2014-2015 budget), Special education cuts of $7.3 M , school roof and maintenance $2.5 M. The list keeps on going.

    Yes, provided this is openly discussed with the community members first and have their approval. A careful decision must be made so the community and our kids get the best. If TDSB partners with the big corporate companies the students will be benefited , school maintenance and roof repairs which has a short fall of $2.5 M can be achieved .

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

    I respect teachers, they are the building blocks of the society. The last negotiation gave public elementary teachers a 2 % raise to bring their pay in line with Catholic and French teachers . Why should Catholic teachers and French teachers be paid more than the public teachers ? The governmentsays it has saved $1.8 billion in total with the contracts it imposed on most Ontario teacher unions, mainly through eliminating their ability to bank unused sick days. Teachers always keep on upgrading themselves and reaching for new and better goals for the betterment of the school environment . Teachers potentials should be used to the fullest by utilizing their time and expertise in their field of their education.

    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?

    Yes. After all the fiasco that happened with TDSB and trades council I believe people want change. A cut of contractors wages has to be paid to TDSB trade council. Those contractors have paid a total of $2 million over the past 10 years to the Maintenance and Construction Skilled Trades Council . 5 % of every outside contractor fee — are deducted by the TDSB , money owing to the contractor and transferred directly to Maintenance and Construction Skilled Trades Council, even though the contractor did not perform the work.

    Several contractors sometimes inflate their price for school board work to pay trade council group. In the most recent one-year period, the TDSB contracted out $42 million of work which under the contract provided about $210,000 in additional funds to trade council .

    I believe, TDSB work assignments, contractor selections, contractor expenses should be transparent. Fraudulent contractors should be black listed and should not be able to work for any future TDSB contracts.

    Names of these black listed contractors should be published on the TDSB web site. TDSB should have frequent checks and internal audit about the contracted work including quality of the work and expenses. These findings should be made available to the public.

    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?​

    TDSB has always been spending tax payers money ridiculously and when the time come to balance the budget they start cutting the much needed services from the students and the community . This  ridiculous spending should stop.

    I believe, There should be transparency in the expenses and the work assigned to outside contractors.

    Contracts should also be given to contractors who are not the member of the maintenance council.

    TDSB should disclose all their expenses online and more discussions with the community shouldbe done.

    TDSB should have frequent checks and internal audit about the contracted work including quality of the work and expenses. These findings should be made available to the public.

  • 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 Board of Trustees has a fiduciary duty to review and respond in a timely manner as it pertains to any reports regarding the financial performance of the TDSB. The Blackstone Report, which was presented in January 2007 was not dealt with in a timely and prudent manner, further exacerbating the problems that the TDSB is currently facing.

    It is important that TDSB Trustees are immediately made aware of any reports regarding the financial performance of the TDSB. Unfortunately in the past, many Trustees were kept in the dark by the previous Chair of the Board about spending problems and  contracts with outside groups.

    In order to address issues of over-spending it is important to be able to gather all of the facts and then work with the Board of Trustees, stakeholders, experts, consultants, parents, community members and TDSB staff in order to come to a reasonable solution to solve some of the spending issues the TDSB is facing.

    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.

    The TDSB should not be selling any school properties to private developers or  corporations. School properties are assets owned by the general public and should be passed down to future generations. Enrollment trends at the TDSB are moving upwards again and we will need those school properties in order to accommodate for the future needs of the TDSB. Purchasing new properties and building schools in the future will cost more than actually utilizing the current school and properties that the TDSB owns.

    The only time I believe it is okay for the TDSB to sell a school property is that if it is sold to the City of Toronto, Toronto Catholic District School Board, Conseil scolaire Viamonde (French Public), or the Conseil scolaire de district catholique Centre-Sud (French Catholic) and only if the same amount of green space remains available for community use.

    There have been issues with overspending at the TDSB. It is important to review and improve TDSB policies and procedures in order to set stronger controls on spending decisions. In areas of Trustee’s personal responsibility, Trustees should exercise restraint when deciding to spend their office budgets. Energy conservation and the EcoSchools program within TDSB properties can also help reduce energy and waste costs.

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

    In our current context, I believe it is necessary for the education funding formula to be updated to reflect the current needs of the TDSB. While there is an education tax that comes off the property tax bill, the funding does not go directly to the TDSB. Instead that money goes to the Province of Ontario and funding to the TDSB is allocated on a per pupil basis. This funding formula does not adequately take into account many issues facing the TDSB such as old/crumbling TDSB facilities and special education requirements.

    Therefore, the education tax that comes off the property tax bill should either be removed from the property tax bill and the Province should be responsible for the collection of it or Trustees should be given back the power they had pre-1997 to levy education taxes to meet the needs of the kids, parents and community members.

    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?

    Special education is an important aspect of our public school system. Parents need to be able to know how to access special education services in an easy to navigate format. I have been hearing directly from parents that many have received the runaround when it comes to trying to access special education services for their children.

    I support People for Education’s recommendation for a special education ombudsman office in Ontario in order to help parents get the resources they need for their children to achieve their full potential. Also outlined by People for Education, there should also be a full review to make sure that special education funding meets the needs of students in an accountable and responsive manner.

    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?

    The $109 million deficit was for the 2012/2013 year and it was eliminated during the budget process by cutting many items that our children rely upon. The deficit before cuts in 2013/2014 was $55 million. The budget for 2014/2015 finally did not have any program cuts. It remains to be seen if this will be the same case for the 2015/2016 TDSB budget.

    After speaking with many parents and community members I can’t support any more cuts to our children’s education. The education funding formula devised by the Province needs to be reevaluated and updated in order to provide school boards with the resources they need in order to educate our children.

    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?

    One way to assist with necessary capital refurbishments would be the restoration of Educational Development Charges (EDCs) that are charged to new condo and home developers in order to help fund new schools and repair existing schools. The TDSB does not receive EDCs while the Toronto Catholic District School Board does receive EDCs to the tune of $841 per unit. The refurbishment needs of the TDSB are severe with a deferred maintenance backlog of over $3 billion.

    With regards to the cost of roof repairs and the $2.5 million figure, it is important to let the energy and roof repair experts determine where the power lines should be located, not school Principals in order to provide the maximum cost savings so that the roof repair project is completed through the use of installing solar panels to help generate green energy.

    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 think it is important for the TDSB to entertain different offers to partner with companies but the final decision must always put the needs and welfare of our children first.

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

    I think it is important for the TDSB to negotiate in good faith in the upcoming contract negotiations with teachers and staff.

    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?

    I believe that the agreement between the TDSB and the Maintenance and Construction Skilled Trades Council must be evaluated very carefully in order to ensure the Maintenance and Construction Skilled Trades Council is providing the best service possible to the TDSB. I think that it is worth exploring having worker shifts start and end at the same time as opposed to overlapping in order to provide cost savings to the TDSB in the areas of vehicle purchases and insurance costs.

    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?​

    As the TDSB is funded through taxpayer dollars, it is very important to provide value for money and to eliminate the unnecessary and wasteful spending that has been going on at the TDSB. We need to work to improve TDSB policies and procedures in order to ensure accountability and transparency in policies and procedures that relate to the expenditure of money.

    If elected, I will act with the highest level of integrity, honesty and professionalism. I will post my Trustee expenses online with receipts. I will support the creation of an Ombudsman for the TDSB to enhance accountability and transparency. I will work to open up more TDSB meetings to the public and the scrutiny that comes along with open meetings. I will build bridges with other Trustees and staff in order to foster a sense of collaboration. I will ensure that every dollar is spent wisely and responsibly.

  • 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?

    Overspending at the TDSB has been revealed through extensive investigative reporting by the Toronto Star. The maintenance costs paid to the Trades Union contained hundreds of examples of this. I believe the TDSB needs a new system to improve this, and needs experienced financial analysts to implement a new system. I have worked the past five years for the Government of Ontario, mainly in financial analysis roles where I reviewed and analyzed budgets, contracts, and quarterly reports on a daily basis. We need a similar system in place at the TDSB, with not only set rates for repairs, but also set labour times billable for each type of common repair. We should have a list of the labour hours billable for painting a room, based on the square footage. The costs to install a pencil sharpener, or hang a picture, or patch a wall should be standardized to avoid overbilling and overspending. My experience is a perfect fit to implement such a system.

    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.

    My five priorities to reduce spending are the repairs and maintenance costs, repairs and maintenance costs, repairs and maintenance costs, repairs and maintenance costs, and repairs and maintenance costs. With a good system in place, we can significantly reduce costs.

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

    I have doorknocked thousands of homes in my riding, and have not heard any support for a new tax. There are other ways to find funding without increasing taxes for families.

    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?

    We need to improve training for teachers on how to accomodate special needs, and have a few designated experts within the board who can help find resourses for teachers. As a former elementary school teacher, I understand the challenges involved for teachers to become experts on so many special needs in order to help their students who have such special needs. I also believe we should not lose focus of helping gifted students achieve their best.

    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?

    In order to prevent such huge deficits, the first step is to lobby and work with the province to change the funding formula for the Education Development Charge. Currently, the province has not been sharing this with the TDSB but it has shared it with other boards. The reason the province doesn’t share these funds from developers with the TDSB is because the flawed funding formula means that any board with existing space anywhere in the board is ineligible to receive funds to build new schools. So if your family lives in Don Valley East, and the school in your area is overflowing, the TDSB won’t receive funds to build a new school because there are some schools downtown with room for 50 or 100 more students. Therefore, when the TDSB does build a new school to accomodate population growth, it has to find the funds from elsewhere. The TDSB is missing out on tens of millions of dollars each year due to this flawed funding forumla. If elected Trustee, I will work with our MPPs to fix this formula.

    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?

    Again, with a new funding formula for the Education Development Charge, the TDSB will be able to complete these roofing repairs. If elected Trustee, I will work with our MPPs to fix this flawed formula.

    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?

    Private investment can have a role in some areas of the TDSB. I believe this partnership with Nissan will be beneficial to both the TDSB and Nissan. Private partnerships can be reviewed on a case by case basis.

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

    The TDSB needs to ensure students and their best interests are considered. It is up to the province to negotiate a deal with the teacher’s unions that will ensure Ontario students can succeed in an excellent learning environment.

    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?

    Yes, changes are needed when negotiating a new maintenance deal. The TDSB and Trustees always have a duty to find the best deal for taxpayers

    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?​

    Overspending at the TDSB has been revealed through extensive investigative reporting by the Toronto Star. The maintenance costs paid to the Trades Union contained hundreds of examples of this.

    In my riding of Don Valley East, one of the worst examples of overspending occurred! At one school during a 3 month period, seven classroom walls were identified as needing ‘patching’. To patch the seven walls took an astonishing 624 hours of labour!!! About 89
    hours per wall. Taxpayers were hosed and paid more than $22,000 in labour just to patch those walls at one school.

    I believe the TDSB needs a new system to improve this, and needs experienced financial analysts to implement a new system. I have worked the past five years for the Government of Ontario, mainly in financial analysis roles where I reviewed and analyzed budgets, contracts, and quarterly reports on a daily basis. We need a similar system in place at the TDSB, with not only set rates for repairs, but also set labour times billable for each type of common repair. We should have a list of the labour hours billable for painting a room, based on the square footage. The costs to install a pencil sharpener, or hang a picture, or patch a wall should be standardized to avoid overbilling and overspending. My experience doing financial analysis is a perfect fit to implement such a system.

  • 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?

    Holding a committee accountable for reviewing expenses would address the issue of spending/ over spending. Unless someone is held accountable in the board, these issues will always arise. We need to be reviewing costs and expenses; and adjust our spending accordingly. Any business knows if your spending more than your making, you will be out of business fast.

    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.

    1. Review expenses
    2. Renegotiate contracts
    3. Tender new contracts when old ones are up
    4. Reduce waste
    5. Decrease spending where possible

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

    This one is easy, no.

    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?

    Equality is fundamentally important in a public education system. Our main focus should be on students and always providing to them the highest quality education to meet their individual needs and goals, whatever they may be. The earlier in a student’s education that we can address these concerns, the better we can correct and support them. Early prevention would be my first plan. Technology has been proven to be beneficial in assisting students with learning disabilities. I would support investing in this.

    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?

    This question seems to be based on old information. I have included a Quick Fact statement taken from the TDSB website stating that the 2014 deficit is estimated at $12.4 million. Please see attachment and link.

    Quick Facts
    ▪ The TDSB’s total budget is approximately $3 billion and staff salaries and benefits represent approximately 83% of total expenses.
    ▪ As a result of recent decisions and changes to address the Board’s structural deficit, this year’s deficit is$12.4 million, less than a quarter of last year’s $55 million deficit.
    ▪ Trustees approved the addition of 201 elementary teaching positions, 374 lunchroom supervisors and 348 Early Childhood Educators (ECE). Reductions of 165 secondary teaching positions due to declining enrolment and 36.5 Education Assistants (replaced by ECE positions) were also approved.

    http://www.tdsb.on.ca/News/ArticleDetails/TabId/116/ArtMID/474/ArticleID/518/Early-Approval-of-Balanced-Budget.aspx

    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?

    Having a safe environment for students to learn in is a necessity. Refurbishments, repairs and investing in the school are an important cost that we have to allow. Reviewing and negotiating contracts are a way to reduce costs but with a budget short fall and basic repairs needed, the provincial government would need to step up. I would love to advocate for increase funding.

    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?

    Private investment can definitely have a positive effect in the school system as it can alleviate costs to the taxpayers while supporting and enriching a student’s experience at school. It would be great with more support from a technology standpoint as to assist teachers and offer more opportunity to students. The only problem I could see would be having support from companies that do not have a reputation that we would want associated with the school.

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

    The best approach to any contract negotiation involves taking into account both sides and coming to an agreement that makes everyone happy, getting there is always the hard part. Teachers and staff of TDSB are an integral part to the system and should be supported as long as the students are getting the best education. This needs to be accomplished without having a negative effect on the basic needs or resources provided by the budget. Constant review of spending is important to keep costs down (overpaying maintenance issues for example), so we can put the dollars where they are best served in the interest of students.

    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?

    Yes, they should definitely have a review of costs, sourcing, proper procedures, and outside contractor responsibilities. It’s always easy to blame the little guy for overcharging, but it’s our responsibility to ensure that we are not overpaying.

    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?​

    Let’s not forget the $2500 installation charge for a $125 whiteboard. Yes, this was definitely a waste of taxpayer’s money and really should have been questioned by the trustees. I’m sure when the budget was created, they must’ve have taken into account the cost of maintenance
    and approved a certain dollar amount to cover those costs for the year. This would have easily been done by reviewing past year’s expenses and assuming a small increase to cover inflation. Either we, the taxpayers, have been paying those ridiculous costs for many, many years and somehow the approved budget was just passed on without much inspection or there was a jump one year in expenses, which should have signaled a problem. Either way, an internal audit would have addressed those issues; someone had to sign off on those invoices for them to be paid

  • 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?

    Bolton who was a Trustee from January 2004 to June 2014 has resigned under controversy. I am a fiscally responsible candidate with a Bachelor’s Degree in Commerce and a Minor in Finance. 16 or possibly 17 incumbents are up for reelection! I would like to defeat Manougian in Ward 17; Don Valley East. As trustee, I would be 1 of 22 votes on the Board making decisions.

    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.

    1. As Baby Boomers retire replace them with NEW teachers at the entry level.
    2. Stop the use of Consultants and perform a core service review to see what is duplicated given over 93% of the services we provide are necessary.
    3. Reduce the number of Managers because there is bloat and waste at this level.
    4. Give more hiring points to new Teachers who reside in Toronto and will teach in Toronto.
    5. Replace current aging vehicles with energy efficient vehicles therefore saving on fuel costs which are variable

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

    There is a fiscal imbalance: Ontario puts $11 billion more into CANADA than we get back in services from the federal government.

    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 would encourage staff to identify students with special needs and push the Province for more funding or grants. There are higher incidences of autism and ADHD. The Class Size and Composition will matter for students with learning challenges.

    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?

    The TDSB by law has to deliver balanced budgets year over year!
    The Federal Conservative majority ran a $16.5 Billion Deficit in 2013/14.
    The Province Liberal minority ran a $11.3 Billion Deficit in 2013/14.
    The City of Toronto ran a $168 Million Surplus because the Ford administration failed to eliminate the MLTT which brings in over $340 Million.

    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 would like to replace incumbent Harout Manougian; who is Chair of the Operations and Facilities Management Committee.

    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?

    Yes, I would wait and see how these investments in Football(Sports) go at Birchmount Collegiate CI, Downsview Secondary School and Newtonbrook Secondary School; where Ford was asked to leave for some reason…

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

    Now that the recent deal expired August 31, I would encourage the Province to negotiate a fair and balanced deal. In 11 years under the Liberals there were no strikes unlike the Harris years.

    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?

    YES!

    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?

    The STAR has investigative journalism that exposed the misspending by the Construction and Maintenance union that spent $147.88 to cut a key at the Board’s East Education office, $143 to replace a pencil sharpener or $190 to replace a broken toilet seat in a staff washroom. I would let their reporters know about wrongdoing by staff. The Toronto Tax Payers Coalition and Canadian Taxpayers Federation usually get their articles publish in the SUN; a newspaper with a grade three reading level.​