2014 TDSB Election: Ward 20 – Scarborough-Agincourt

The Incumbent:

Sam Sotiropoulos

The Race

TDSB Trustee Sam Sotiropoulos has appeared in the headlines a few times over the course of this term. He has the floor in our Voting Guide as well since we did not hear from his opponents on the issues that matter to taxpayers.

Candidates Who Did Not Participate:  Matthew Gregor, Shopana Pannerselvan, Manna Wong

The Breakdown

  • Candidate Response
    Sotiropoulos, Sam We can start by pulling funding from pet project" programs for which we do not receive any funding from the provincial government (courtesy of the taxpayers of Ontario)."


  • Candidate Response
    Sotiropoulos, Sam Not in any specific order: Competitive and transparent procurement practices for 1) supplies and 2) services. 3) Cease providing subsidies/monies to partners" except where monies have been expressly earmarked for such purpose(s) by the provincial government. 4) Inactivating and consolidating inefficient sections. 5) Partnering with private sector agencies that will defray actual costs of school material."


  • Candidate Response
    Sotiropoulos, Sam No


  • Candidate Response
    Sotiropoulos, Sam Expand upon inclusive practices where practicable and consolidate services where necessary.


  • Candidate Response
    Sotiropoulos, Sam As a member of the Budget Committee, I worked to reduce that $109M by 88% to balance the budget in the 2011-12 school year. I continue to serve on the Budget Committee and I will work to ensure that our finances are managed responsibly, until such time as we are in a surplus position and deliberating where to spend monies, as opposed to where we need to make cuts.


  • Candidate Response
    Sotiropoulos, Sam I am open to exploring everything from property severances to public-private partnerships which could help mitigate costs for much-needed capital refurbishments.


  • Candidate Response
    Sotiropoulos, Sam Yes


  • Candidate Response
    Sotiropoulos, Sam One that puts the interests of our students before all other considerations.


  • Candidate Response
    Sotiropoulos, Sam Like many things at the TDSB, there is likely room for improvement when it comes to ensuring that the interests of our students are our first consideration, while maintaining fiscal responsibility.


  • Candidate Response
    Sotiropoulos, Sam This change has already started, especially when it comes to facilities repairs. From GPS tracked vehicles to bundled jobs on single school sites, we have already made significant changes to how the TDSB deals with such expenses. One additional proposal I would like to make is an earlier start time (6:00am) for repair crews which would allow for them to avoid the traffic prevalent during the current start time (7:00am), thereby increasing actual wrench time" onsite and overall productivity during the course of a repair shift."

 

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?

    We can start by pulling funding from “pet project” programs for which we do not receive any funding from the provincial government (courtesy of the taxpayers of Ontario).

    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.

    Not in any specific order:
    Competitive and transparent procurement practices for 1) supplies and 2) services.
    3) Cease providing subsidies/monies to “partners” except where monies have been expressly earmarked for such purpose(s) by the provincial government.
    4) Inactivating and consolidating inefficient sections.
    5) Partnering with private sector agencies that will defray actual costs of school matériel.

    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 this proposal.

    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?

    Expand upon inclusive practices where practicable and consolidate services where necessary.

    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?

    As a member of the Budget Committee, I worked to reduce that $109M by 88% to balance the budget in the 2011-12 school year. I continue to serve on the Budget Committee and I will work to ensure that our finances are managed responsibly, until such time as we are in a surplus position and deliberating where to spend monies, as opposed to where we need to make cuts.

    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?

    Your figure is inaccurate. In any case, I am open to exploring everything from property severances to public-private partnerships which could help mitigate costs for much-needed capital refurbishments.

    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.

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

    One that puts the interests of our students before all other considerations.

    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?

    Truthfully, I have only a passing familiarity with the terms of said agreement and would need time to study it in order to offer an informed opinion on the matter. However, like many things at the TDSB, there is likely room for improvement when it comes to ensuring that the interests of our students are our first consideration, while maintaining fiscal responsibility.

    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?​

    This change has already started, especially when it comes to facilities repairs. From GPS tracked vehicles to bundled jobs on single school sites, we have already made significant changes to how the TDSB deals with such expenses. One additional proposal I would like to make is an earlier start time (6:00am) for repair crews which would allow for them to avoid the traffic prevalent during the current start time (7:00am), thereby increasing actual “wrench time” onsite and overall productivity during the course of a repair shift.