2014 TDSB Election: Ward 22 – Scarborough East

The Incumbent:

Jerry Chadwick

The Race

All 5 candidates running for trustee in TDSB Ward 22 responded to our survey with their ideas on how to deal with the issues currently ailing the TDSB. Some candidates, more than others believe that changes are necessary to the culture of board over spending and the misspending of Trustees.

The Breakdown

  • Candidate Response
    Chadwick, Jerry As Chair of the Budget Committee for the past 3 years, I have guided Trustees to make difficult decisions with student success and wellness always being the primary considerations. As part of the Years of Action plan, we are obligated to ensure that all funds go to support our students. We will continue that action plan and make sure that as we go forward we are not continually dealing with a deficit and making cuts.
    Khargie, Joseph While I have no desire to tear down those who have gone before me, all I can tell you is that I've spent almost a decade working in our community touching tens of thousands of lives through our charitable initiatives and I've done so on a shoe-string budget. We would run programs for an entire year at a time that would positively impact thousands of kids over an entire year on $10,000. I know how to stretch a dollar and respect the budget that is there in order to produce the needed results.
    Kitchen, Glenn The TDSB needs to centralize their bureaucratic positions and remove  redundancy, allowing funding to remain within schools.
    Marshall, Robert Actively push to change the culture of the school board when it comes to misspending and overspending. This needs to be done by getting school board trustees to show leadership on the spending front. We can do this through simply things such as changing how trustees report their expenses.
    Wright, Roxanne The 2006 consultants reports that you refer to relates primarily to spending problems related to the maintenance and construction division. The report made more than forty recommendations, however many have not been implemented and the problem of high costs still remains.


  • Candidate Response
    Chadwick, Jerry We must continue to lobby the provincial government for funding and get them off of their concept that we must get rid of surplus properties and student spaces. We must look at processes such as purchasing, procurement, and many others to see if further efficiencies can be found. We must make sure we are compliant with Broader Public Spending regulations.
    Khargie, Joseph My top 5 priorities to find savings would be: Better accountability in maintenance departments, A full review of social programming in our schools, Collaborating with TCDSB in joint transportation cost, A full review of supplies & services, Utility costs and how we can have a greener approach.
    Kitchen, Glenn 1. If a school is up for sale, due to low enrolment, then the school should be sold  and the funds used to sustain nearby schools.2. Allow the custodial staff to perform general maintenance duties, which they are capable of doing. Rather than contracting it out, which is more costly.3. Cut down on bureaucratic redundancy at the board level.4. Explore innovative options for generating revenue which is not being generated currently. For instance, renting auditoriums to community groups, renting parking spots (nightly) to area residents, school permits during weekends, etc.5. Explore corporate sponsorship programs for school libraries, music and art programs and science departments, including corporate tax incentives for these sponsorships.
    Marshall, Robert I want to first make it clear that I’m not opposed to selling school properties under any circumstances. An area I would look for savings in would be in the type of teachers working for the TDSB. The next area I would look into would be our transportation area of the board as I want to make sure it is being utilized in an efficient and responsible manner and that the students that are using this service are good candidates for it and that other alternative forms of transportation aren’t realistic. Another area I would look into would be the administrative side of the board making sure that in fact that area of the board is being run responsibly and efficiently.The last area I would look for savings in would probably be in school supplies in that as a board we spent about $169 million on school supplies in 2013 so I would want to make sure we are getting the best deal possible with the numerous companies that provide supplies.
    Wright, Roxanne Schools not needed today can be leased out to others and become a source of revenue. Regarding finding savings, the largest component of the budget is wages and benefits. Over the years we have seen a transfer of the power to make these decisions go to other levels of government. Local boards best know their community and should have more power in these budget matters to best meet those needs and find potential savings.


  • Candidate Response
    Chadwick, Jerry No
    Khargie, Joseph No
    Kitchen, Glenn Yes
    Marshall, Robert Will consider as a last resort.
    Wright, Roxanne The real issue isn't whether education is funded by the municipal tax base, provincial tax, a new dedicated education tax, or some combination of various sources, however ensuring that the tax burden is shared fairly and that our tax dollars are spent wisely.


  • Candidate Response
    Chadwick, Jerry Due to recent changes in government funding direction for Special Ed, the Board has to reassess program delivery in special education. Other ministries within the province must step up and help fund these special needs students.
    Khargie, Joseph Addressing this issue is a full-time job and requires an established committee (not a sub committee) on the board. I will establish a committee in Ward 22 and have  a thorough review of how we can do better.
    Kitchen, Glenn I am not an expert in the area of Special Education, however, I do believe that all children have the right to an education and also have the ability to learn. I believe Special Education should be supported through the experts, who have a strong understanding of what is needed to allow each child to flourish.
    Marshall, Robert In short to be honest I’m not 100% sure how to address this. The special education area of the board is something that I can easily relate to as I did spend a great deal of my educational years at the TDSB as a special education student (learning disability hopefully I caught all of my spelling errors). To try and improve things I believe we need to first encourage and reward innovation especially for those students with significant challenges to try and help those students achieve a greater degree of independence whenever possible.
    Wright, Roxanne An equitable educational system doesn't mean that money is spent equally in each area but that resources are directed by need to create equal opportunities and outcomes.Policies and expenditures must be in place to meet the needs of all students to avoid any child being left behind or falling through the cracks"."


  • Candidate Response
    Chadwick, Jerry We have continually reduced the deficit each year by making some tough decisions which have made permanent savings in our budget. Unfortunately, the province changed the funding regulations in May and our deficit grew. We have begun to work on a 3 year budget plan rather than just single year crisis management and will continue to do so.
    Khargie, Joseph My opponent was budget chair during this. Communication and Involvement is a priority of mine once elected. Most board meetings have been happening without any sort of communication between trustees taking place prior or community input.
    Kitchen, Glenn There is an over abundance of duplicate bureaucratic positions. The system needs to be stream lined at the board level, rather than the school level.
    Marshall, Robert So my idea is simple, allocate at least an additional $30 million to $40 million towards paying down our debt and building up our reserves each year and at the same time have a balanced budget.
    Wright, Roxanne Budget planning must not only take into account current day to day needs but should include long term planning to ensure that funds are in place for predictable future needs.


  • Candidate Response
    Chadwick, Jerry We have entered a partnership that will put solar panels on our roofs and we are being paid in roof repairs. We must continually put business plans for capital projects in front of the Ministry that are practical and will be approved.
    Khargie, Joseph The contracts for these jobs must be competitive just as the City of  Toronto contracts are. I will do what I've always done when running programs in East Toronto. I will hold every contractor accountable to the price that was quoted. I will be personally involved in all capital improvements and their oversight. Refurbishments must happen on time and not during school hours as was addressed late towards the end of the 2013/14 school year.
    Kitchen, Glenn It is cost effective for more than one project to be tendered as a group, however, companies bidding on projects must have a proven and demonstrated track record in the project being tendered. They must also have the manpower and funds to complete projects on time, at budget.
    Marshall, Robert Making sure that as a board you aren’t tied down to one option, one contractor to get the job done. So if something happens and a roof repair goes over budget you do have the option to pick someone else for other similar jobs if you feel that in fact it wasn’t reasonable for the budget to have gone over.
    Wright, Roxanne It is not unusual for the cost to maintain a school over it's lifespan to exceed the initial cost of building that school in the first place. It should not come as a surprise to trustees that at some point parking lots have to be repaved, heating systems, roofed etc. need to be replaced and so on. Boards on condominium housing corporations know this and plan accordingly and school boards must provide that same long term planning to provide these services at the best possible price as required.


  • Candidate Response
    Chadwick, Jerry Will consider
    Khargie, Joseph Yes
    Kitchen, Glenn Yes
    Marshall, Robert Yes
    Wright, Roxanne Yes


  • Candidate Response
    Chadwick, Jerry My goal is to ensure that our students are not impacted by the negotiations as they have been on the past. That means that our employee groups must all be treated with respect and consideration. The provincial government is also a key participant in the negotiations.
    Khargie, Joseph I have interacted with hundreds of Principles, Teachers and Administrative staff from the TDSB over the past decade. They trust me to be fair, honest and respectful. No doubt tough decisions need to be made, but I look forward to being a contributive voice at the table.
    Kitchen, Glenn Collective bargaining should be respected, while keeping the deficit in mind. An option would be to explore a longer contract period, which would give the TDSB a longer period to plan and budget for.
    Marshall, Robert I think that the best approach is to try and be proactive with contract negotiations by trying to get a better deal done for the board because although it will probably mean that we run the risk of having labour disruptions (which will have a dramatic impact on students and parents) I don’t think kicking the can down the road is something we can or should continue doing.
    Wright, Roxanne Regardless of the direction that negotiations go I would always be respectful to others and I would not want to see a situation as is currently the case in British Columbia where students have not returned to school this year due to unresolved contract negotiations.


  • Candidate Response
    Chadwick, Jerry Changes will be subject to the negotiations process that involves 3 parties and also subject to funding from the province.
    Khargie, Joseph Yes
    Kitchen, Glenn Yes
    Marshall, Robert Yes
    Wright, Roxanne Will consider


  • Candidate Response
    Chadwick, Jerry With the number of work orders that go through our system, some mistakes will happen. However, we will continue to limit the mistakes and ensure that they are not repeated.
    Khargie, Joseph Accountability is key. I will push for this across the board and do frequent visits to ensure our money is being spent properly. I am elected to represent the taxpayers in my community and I will work hard to see every dollar is stretched spent wisely and efficiently.
    Kitchen, Glenn The custodians are capable of basic maintenance within a school and should be given the freedom to perform these tasks. This would lower cost and create a more efficient work place environment.
    Marshall, Robert You have to not only be aggressive in identifying waste and ridiculous expenses from upper management downwards but you have to also make sure that everyone who either works for the TDSB and or relies on the TDSB is encouraged and is able to whistle blow to the TDSB’s board without having to worry about the possibility of some type of backlash.
    Wright, Roxanne People are concerned over the findings of the recent internal audit report regarding Trustees discretionary spending. I hope that others see the importance of money spent on education as an investment where we all benefit. I'd like for thenew culture to view and see things for the long term and plan for the a better future.

 

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?

    I am unable to respond to what former Chair Bolton knew or didn’t know. Since I have been  in office, I have seen very careful deliberations about Board spending. Although some  Trustees have advocated for not submitting a balanced budget as required. I could not  support that plan of action. As Chair of the Budget Committee for the past 3 years, I have guided Trustees to make difficult decisions with student success and wellness always being the primary considerations. As part of the Years of Action plan, we are obligated to ensure that all funds go to support our students. We will continue that action plan and make sure that as we go forward we are not continually dealing with a deficit and making cuts. The transparency of Trustee expenses is imperative. We must be prepared to be accountable for every dollar of public funds spent. I fully support posting of all receipts that are claimed rather than just the general categories that was recently approved by Board.

    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 must continue to lobby the provincial government for funding and get them off of their concept that we must get rid of “surplus” properties and student spaces. That strategy is short sighted. Enrolment will go back up in the next 10 years. We need access to Educational Development charges and be allowed to use them for maintenance of our schools. Partnering with other public partners on issues like student nutrition, after schools programs, etc and share costs. We must look at processes such as purchasing, procurement, and many others to see if further efficiencies can be found. We must make sure we are compliant with Broader Public Spending regulations.

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

    No, the taxpayers of Toronto are taxed heavily enough and then some. We must continue to work with the province to have them recognize the unique needs of our urban setting, including the impacts of poverty on our students. They must also look at our aging facilities and fund rebuilds and capital projects appropriately. Educational Development charges are integral to the success of the TDSB.

    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?

    Due to recent changes in government funding direction for Special Ed, the Board has to reassess program delivery in special education. We need to protect our most vulnerable students and make sure they are set up for success.Other ministries within the province must step up and help fund these special needs students.

    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?

    We have continually reduced the deficit each year by making some tough decisions which have made permanent savings in our budget. We had passed a balanced budget in March 2014 with a $12M deficit and all savings found in year without directly impacting our students. Unfortunately, the province changed the funding regulations in May and our deficit grew. We have begun to work on a 3 year budget plan rather than just single year crisis management and will continue to do so.

    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?

    We have entered a partnership that will put solar panels on our roofs and we are being paid in roof repairs. We must continually put business plans for capital projects in front of the Ministry that are practical and will be approved. We must also look at options to the way our schools are built (e.g. can prefab schools or additions provided the required, safe learning environment for our students) and work with developers and community to think outside the box.

    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?

    Partnerships are a potential source of income for our schools that we cannot ignore. However,we must closely examine the expectations of the partners. We do not want investments that require product or service endorsements or commercials to our students.

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

    The TDSB will only be negotiating local items with its employee groups. Under the School Boards Collective Bargaining Act, the Ontario Public School Boards Association (OPSBA) was designated the bargaining agent for the boards. My goal is to ensure that our students are not impacted by the negotiations as they have been on the past. That means that our employee groups must all be treated with respect and consideration. The provincial government is also a key participant in the negotiations.

    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?

    The current agreement will be the starting point for negotiations with all employee groups. Changes will be subject to the negotiations process that involves 3 parties and also subject to funding from the province.

    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?

    Much has already been done to make sure that these types of expenses are no longer an issue. Facilities services has revised the process of work orders, they are putting gps systems into our vehicles so that efficiencies are found. Caretakers have been reminded of the types of jobs they are expected to do without issuing a work order to trades staff (e.g. installing a pencil sharpener) and have provided with tools to do the jobs. Management supervision of workers has been increased so that more efficiencies can be found. Our workers are skilled, capable people. They have indicated a willingness to work with the Board to increase productivity and efficiency. They are also eager to support student success through apprenticeship, job shadowing, etc. With the number of work orders that go through our system, some mistakes will happen. However, we will continue to limit the mistakes and ensure that they are not repeated.

  • 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 simply cannot afford to be stagnant and only complain about our money woes in a board with a $3B budget. There has been a tremendous amount of turnover in the TDSB in the past five years. While I have no desire to tear down those who have gone before me, all I can tell you is that I’ve spent almost a decade working in our community touching tens of thousands of lives through our charitable initiatives and I’ve done so on a shoe-string budget. We would run programs for an entire year at a time that would positively impact thousands of kids over an entire year on $10,000. I know how to stretch a dollar and respect the budget that is there in order to produce the needed results.
    There is money to be found and with my colleagues, we will find it. With ever growing needs that all submit to the Provincial funding formula. We must stop counting on a bailout and start counting on our expertise. We are the largest school board in Canada and we must continue to capitalize on this in order to address our needs. Numbers show that we are decreasing in enrolment, but no one is being innovative enough to address this key issue. Customer Service and Marketing 101 is needed at the board from the top down. Get kids back in public education! We need to show parents that your local public school has what you desire in education and is here to get your child ready for life. Like any business, marketing draws the attention and customer service keeps the relationship going. I’ll bring this fresh perspective to the TDSB board of trustees.

    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 number one issue that people seem to be concerned about is how their money is being spent. The people have paid for our schools and must remain in their hands for the community’s best interest. I do not support the selling of the family jewels.

    I also do not support cutting staff to save money as I have seen first hand the damage it causes in our school classrooms. My opponent was chair of the budget committee in 2013 when 430 EAs were cut, resulting in a heavy hit to our kids.

    There is no doubt that every government in the world faces tough economic decisions everyday. Do we sell a sixty year old building in order to have a state-of-the-art facility for our kids to attend and learn and grow in? There are no easy solutions and any politician who gives a one sentence answer to closing a school is only trying to score cheap political points. Short-term solutions have begun to impact the School Board’s reputation amongst Torontonians. The TDSB has billions of dollars in assets across Toronto. The question is “what is the overall plan over the next decade to ensure that our children have a world-class education that can compete in a global economy?”

    My top 5 priorities to find savings would be;

    -Better accountability in maintenance departments.
    -A full review of social programming in our schools.
    -Collaborating with TCDSB in joint transportation cost.
    -A full review of supplies & services.
    -Utility costs and how we can have a greener approach.

    I also support the leasing of school buildings as senior homes and child care centers. This benefits our community and assists our school board with funding. Again, when you’ve worked for a decade in the community, producing a track record of stretching and respecting every tax dollar spent, your reputation speaks for itself.

     

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

    My ideas for public school education do not include raising taxes. The easiest solution in the world is to invent a new tax for something. I see
    education as an investment. The current proposal of a new “education tax” has not been thoroughly gamed out yet. What exactly does it mean? For who? When? etc. When I become Trustee in Scarborough East, I will be exposed to the inner workings of the board and what is actually happening. I will engage my community with these matters and communicate their feelings on the matters.

    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 personally believe that how a society treats those with special needs demonstrates how compassionate and just a nation truly is. Our system has failed in this area. Addressing this issue is a full-time job and requires an established committee (not a sub committee) on the board. Each Trustee must be responsible to their constituents regarding this and make their schedule the most flexible for parents. Everyday, as School Board Trustee, I will put my mind and efforts towards those with special needs. I will establish a committee in Ward 22 and have  a thorough review of how we can do better. Also, with the establishment of this committee, we will create avenues for post-secondary opportunities for employment, learning and the wellbeing of these youth.

    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?

    My opponent was budget chair during this. We have yet to see a balanced budget under the current term of Trustees. Communication and Involvement is a priority of mine once elected. Most board meetings have been happening without any sort of communication between trustees taking place prior or community input. Moving forward, I will be looking at my savings solutions, communicating with Trustees, listening to my community and pushing to implement my solution to the funding formula (Marketing/Customer Service 101).

    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?

    The contracts for these jobs must be competitive just as the City of  Toronto contracts are. We do not simply just hire anyone, there must be a
    process, which has the boards best interests in keeping costs low. I will do what I’ve always done when running programs in East Toronto. I will hold every contractor accountable to the price that was quoted. I will be personally involved in all capital improvements and their oversight. Refurbishments must happen on time and not during school hours as was addressed late towards the end of the 2013/14 school year.In ten years of doing charitable work, I have never one time gone over budget and we’ve been able to impact and help tens of thousands in our area. I’ll carry this work ethic and integrity into office as School Board Trustee.

    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 a great idea for private investors to partner with schools as this brings the reality of real life circumstances into effect. As long as there is no interference by the private investor in the daily operations of our schools. I hope to create more opportunities like this as Trustee for our schools in Ward 22, especially on my quest to have Sir Robert L. Borden BTI changed to the Centre of Business & Technical Institute. In doing this, I hope to attract various trade partners who wish to assist in building state of the art work stations in classrooms that will contribute to a boost of the trades. Borden is the last of the BTI’s and I am the only Trustee candidate who has a plan and is paying attention to the dire needs of the labour force.

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

    This is about the children. If our children are our most precious asset as a nation, then teachers and staff need to be treated and respected as such. They are the guardians of our future and what is produced in the classroom today directly affects all of us in the years to come. Teachers understand budget constraints but they also never want to be a “political football” tossed about to score cheap political points. I have interacted with hundreds of Principles, Teachers and Administrative staff from the TDSB over the past decade. They trust me to be fair, honest and respectful. No doubt tough decisions need to be made, but I look forward to being a contributive voice at the table.

    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?

    - Absolutely. We cannot afford to continue down the path of overpriced services. Accountability is priority when renewing these contracts.

    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?

    Accountability is key. I will push for this across the board and do frequent visits to ensure our money is being spent properly. I am elected to represent the taxpayers in my community and I will work hard to see every dollar is stretched spent wisely and efficiently.

  • 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?

    Schools are in need to more funding, however, the money seems to be spent at board level. Where are the promised efficiencies from Amalgamation of Greater Toronto Area school boards? The TDSB needs to centralize their bureaucratic positions and remove  redundancy, allowing funding to remain within schools.

    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. If a school is up for sale, due to low enrolment, then the school should be sold  and the funds used to sustain nearby schools.
    2. Allow the custodial staff to perform general maintenance duties, which they are capable of doing. Rather than contracting it out, which is more costly.
    3. Cut down on bureaucratic redundancy at the board level.
    4. Explore innovative options for generating revenue which is not being generated currently. For instance, renting auditoriums to community groups, renting parking spots (nightly) to area residents, school permits during weekends, etc.
    5. Explore corporate sponsorship programs for school libraries, music and art programs and science departments, including corporate tax incentives for these sponsorships.

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

    Education is an extremely important aspect to our society and our future generations. More funding is needed to ensure our students are getting an education that will allow them to serve our society in a positive and production manner. Alternative funding options need to be explored, researched and considered, including the option of a tax dedicated to education.

    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 am not an expert in the area of Special Education, however, I do believe that all children have the right to an education and also have the ability to learn. I believe Special Education should be supported through the experts, who have a strong understanding of what is needed to allow each child to flourish.

    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?

    There is an over abundance of duplicate bureaucratic positions. The system needs to be stream lined at the board level, rather than the school level.

    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?

    It is cost effective for more than one project to be tendered as a group, however, companies bidding on projects must have a proven and demonstrated track record in the project being tendered. They must also have the manpower and funds to complete projects on time, at budget. Furthermore, there was an article in a newspaper regarding a roofing company doing a school roof that had to delay the project. It was reported that the wind was carrying the smell into a neighborhood and they had to stop until the wind subsided because the residents were upset. This cost the board additional funds, unnecessarily. If the public wants the school board to save money, they also have to be understanding.

    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, if it is not a conflict of interests and values. In the case of the CFL, it is a positive collaboration because it gives students role models to look up to.

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

    Collective bargaining should be respected, while keeping the deficit in mind. An option would be to explore a longer contract period, which would give the TDSB a longer period to plan and budget for.

    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 need to be made.

    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 custodians are capable of basic maintenance within a school and should be given the freedom to perform these tasks. This would lower cost and create a more efficient work place environment.

  • 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?

    I think that to address spending problems at the TDSB the first thing you need to do is actively push to change the culture of the school board when it comes to misspending and overspending. This needs to be done by getting school board trustees to show leadership on the spending front. We can do this through simply things such as changing how trustees report their expenses. I believe that at a minimal all school trustees should be reporting their expenses every 3 months and that they should also show their work or in other words provide supporting documentation for their expenses that the public can easily access. I think the TDSB can do this in a similar manner to how the city current does it (you see an expense for a trustee on their website, you click on it and it show when it was incurred and provides the member of the public with supporting documentation for that expense). I don’t think such a system would cost a great deal of money (or it shouldn’t) but it would change the culture of the board starting at the very top.
    Once you have established greater transparency on the trustee spending front I think you then need to establish some type of punishment for those trustees that are not spending taxpayer’s money responsibly. This can be done through the use of a minimal fine / interest approach where trustee that are expensing inappropriate items are fined at a minimal a certain amount and then fined per week until they repaid the full amount (my idea is to have minimal starting fines and per week fines at 1% and 1% a week with both going up 1% every time a trustee expenses another inappropriate item)

    Once trustees are held to a higher stander for their own expenses I think the next step for the school board has to start with taking a long hard look at the school boards policies as well as how it operates when it comes to whistle blowers. Although the Toronto Star did an excellent job at exposing just how bad things were in the maintenance department of the TDSB clearly things should have been discovered much sooner and my concern is that we will continue to see more and more of those type of scandals happen (where things are hidden and eventually discovered long after the damage is done) because individual board employees do not feel safe about speaking out and trustees are more interested in settling other things then taking a deeper look at areas of the school boards operations that are showing problem signs (which should be a priority).
    Once trustees are holding themselves to a higher standard in terms of their own expenses and conduct then the board should start to push for greater accountability and transparency progressively down the pyramid of command so to speak. We should take a hard look at ourselves to see if in fact as a board we are providing sufficient information to the public so they are appropriately informed as to what is happening. We also need to look at if how we are providing that information to the public and whether or not we can do that in a more effective and or efficient manner. Right now for example the TDSB’s own website can be a confusing place to navigate.
    As a board however we should also be pushing for innovation in how we operate as part of a continuous improvement type of operating culture. Therefore finding better ways to achieve our top priorities (and that save money while not having a major negative impact on how effectively we deliver services to students and others) should be openly encouraged and rewarded whenever possible.

    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 want to first make it clear that I’m not opposed to selling school properties under any circumstances. If you know that the school properties isn’t being efficiently or effectively used, demand over the long term for students in the area will in all likelihood never hit the point where you would need the school in question, you have other nearby schools that can be utilized to handle the student bodies and community needs and you either plan on using the proceeds to build newer schools in higher demand areas of the city or pay down long term debt incurred for building previous new schools then I think that selling school properties is something I would accept as something that needs to be done so that you are responsibly utilizing taxpayers assets.
    I would say the first area that I would look for savings in would be in the type of teachers working for the TDSB. Right now there are literally thousands of newly graduated teachers coming out of teachers college in Ontario that can’t find jobs in the teaching field in this province. I’d want to make sure that we are taking full advantage of these new teachers being available by making sure that we are utilizing this new generation of teachers to the fullest extent possible.
    The next area that I think we could look at would be in the school operations and maintenance area of the board. I think that given the events of the past in this area I’m still not 100% convinced that the school board has tapped out the savings that could be found in this area and I am very much open to allowing for schools to find ways to save money on maintenance where it comes through contract renegotiation or via
    encouraging less complicated repairs to be done by local staff.

    The next area I would look into would be our transportation area of the board as I want to make sure it is being utilized in an efficient and responsible manner and that the students that are using this service are good candidates for it and that other alternative forms of transportation aren’t realistic.
    The next area I would look into would be the administrative side of the board making sure that in fact that area of the board is being run responsibly and efficiently.
    Finally the last area I would look for savings in would probably be in school supplies in that as a board we spent about $169 million on school supplies in 2013 so I would want to make sure we are getting the best deal possible with the numerous companies that provide supplies.

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

    I think as a school board we should be looking for new revenue sources. However I am an even bigger believer that before one tries to ask for more money from society and from taxpayers that you can prove that you put in a great deal of effort to be efficient and effective with the money they already send to the board every year and that you are open and transparent as to how you spent their money on a regular basis. So I would only support such a proposal as a last resort because I believe you have to justify such a proposal and show to society and taxpayers that you have in fact made a significant effort to be responsible with the money that they already gave the board.

    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?

    In short to be honest I’m not 100% sure how to address this. The special education area of the board is something that I can easily relate to as I did spend a great deal of my educational years at the TDSB as a special education student (learning disability hopefully I caught all of my spelling errors). The first part of the problem is essentially a funding one. With so many students in the special education area of the TDSB with significant challenges to overcome to be successful some of those students do require a great deal of support and resources which our board isn’t always able to provide because we are dealing with limited resources. To try and improve things I believe we need to first encourage and reward innovation especially for those students with significant challenges to try and help those students achieve a greater degree of independence whenever possible. The second things we can do as a board is also be innovative and proactive in achieving and identifying other areas within the board where we can become more efficient (without having a major impact on those we serve) so we are able to allocate more funding to areas of importance like special education.

    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 short deficits are a function of spending and revenues and I plan on looking to improve both areas. Given that we get a large amount of our funding directly from the province and the province is already setting on a great deal of debt (it will hit $282 billion under their latest spending plan) and on a rather large deficit amount ($12.5 billion for their latest budget) I think our board has to start budgeting in a proactive manner and that will mean that we will have to find ways to reduce our spending and improve our revenues in a manner that would take us beyond just hitting a balanced budget each year but will also allow us to prepare ourselves for when the province has to start
    making significant cuts.
    So my idea is simple, allocate at least an additional $30 million to $40 million towards paying down our debt and building up our reserves each year and at the same time have a balanced budget. To afford this we will in all likelihood have to find a way to reduce our spending and improve our revenues to fill in the now approximately $85 to 95 million financial hole (the latest figures from the TDSB from what I’ve heard shows that it’s now a $55 million deficit / financial hole figure for 2014). This will have to be done by doing uncomfortable things like not hiring as many teachers / encouraging early retirement and allowing young teacher to take on those roles, reducing spending for some programs, and so on as well as finding other areas of revenue for the school board which will be an even greater challenge. Will it be comfortable … no.
    However I believe that over the long term the provinces financial situation is a significant issue that we can’t ignore nor do I think that inaction is an acceptable approach. I realize that many parents and relatives of children want to provide them with the very best educational experience and I don’t blame them for wanting that. But I look at one of the most important roles of being a trustee as being willing to take a long term view of things, at thinking about what the long term risks / problems that the board could face and having the courage to be willing to make relatively small (in relation to our budget size) sacrifices to put the board in the best position possible to weather the storm and prepare ourselves for the long term.
    I also would like to quickly add that on the revenue front I am very open to trying to improve the boards other areas of revenue especially when it comes to fundraising and other revenue sources however revenue alone is only part of the problem and realistically I think the TDSB will have to find a way to narrow the funding gap by negotiating a better deal with teachers and other unionized staff that are directly funded in part by the province.

    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 think the first approach to making sure that things stay within budget is by making sure that as a board you aren’t tied down to one option, one contractor to get the job done. So if something happens and a roof repair goes over budget you do have the option to pick someone else for other similar jobs if you feel that in fact it wasn’t reasonable for the budget to have gone over. The other way to help reduce the risk of repair costs being over budget is to make sure that as a school board we have effective oversight of those projects. This means that people are being appropriate supervised (they are showing up randomly to check up on things), that the supervisor has a reasonable idea of what job they are doing and can easily identify when a contractor is in fact not doing the job properly and is willing to take action to address it.

    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 am absolutely in favour of more private investment at the TDSB as long as the terms of that private investment are reasonable and our prospective investing partner is someone we are happy to do business with.

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

    Because of the long term problems down the road in regards to the provinces financial situation I think that the best approach is to try and be proactive with contract negotiations by trying to get a better deal done for the board because although it will probably mean that we run the risk of having labour disruptions (which will have a dramatic impact on students and parents) I don’t think kicking the can down the road is something we can or should continue doing. So I would be looking for a deal where at the very least any wage or benefit increase would be at or below inflation (my preference would be trying to negotiate a deal where we can over the long term reduce the funding gap to below .5%) because over the long term I think that is all we would be able to afford and we can’t keep given in to demands every time a contract comes due. I know that many people will not like me for this but sometimes you have to say to the teacher’s union enough is enough make due with a little less for the children’s sake.

    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 think given what happened in the TDSB’s maintenance department under the pre 2013 contract I think that the TDSB could definitely improve the type of deal it could make with this particular trades council. However I have not been able to get my hands on the current or previous agreement so I can’t provide any specifics however given the prices that the TDSB was at one point paying for simple jobs I have no doubt the TDSB can do better when it comes to negotiating for a new deal.

    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?

    First trustees have to show strong leadership first and foremost on the expense front as I mention and discussed in your first question so to save space I will avoid coping and pasting.
    After doing that then you have to not only be aggressive in identifying waste and ridiculous expenses from upper management downwards but you have to also make sure that everyone who either works for the TDSB and or relies on the TDSB is encouraged and is able to whistle blow to the TDSB’s board without having to worry about the possibility of some type of backlash. You have to reward staff that identifies waste or more efficient ways to achieve things (without sacrificing quality in a significant manner) in a way that provides a high level of encouragement for staff to want to look for more ways to save money for the board. One of the biggest challenges especially when it comes to departmental budgeting is that it can encourage managers to not want to find legitimate ways to save money because of fears of having their budget for future periods being cut. This is something I think we do have to keep in mind. Another important part in making sure that we spend within our budget, within our means is making sure you communicate clearly and consistently to all stakeholders (parents, students, staff, taxpayers, members of the public, etc.) as to what is going on at the board level on a regular basis so that they understand things such as: what our goals are now and for the future, what our limitations are and finally why we need to stick with the plan that the board has decided on. If people know what is going on, if they understand what the long term goal of these sacrifices is then getting them to utilize their energy in a positive manner for the board is potentially easier and potentially we can use their energy to achieve more positive goals such as improving our fundraising efforts and finding better ways to operate our schools at a local and board wide level.

  • 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 2006 consultants reports that you refer to relates primarily to spending problems related to the maintenance and construction division. The report made more than forty recommendations, however many have not been implemented and the problem of high costs still remains. Principals know the needs of their schools and should have the power and the funds to implement improvements in their schools. Examples of “overspending” revealed in the press such as $143.00 to install a pencil sharpener would not occur if real changes were introduced and recommendations acted upon.

    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 need for classrooms and location of schools change over time as neighbourhoods and demographic patterns evolve. To sell a school to raise money is a short term solution. Schools not needed today can be leased out to others and become a source of revenue. Regarding finding savings, the largest component of the budget is wages and benefits. Over the years we have seen a transfer of the power to make these decisions go to other levels of government. Local boards best know their community and should have more power in these budget matters to best meet those needs and find potential savings.

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

    Although it sounds like a cliché, the fact is there is only one taxpayer for each level of government or tax source. The real issue isn’t whether education is funded by the municipal tax base, provincial tax, a new dedicated education tax, or some combination of various sources, however ensuring that the tax burden is shared fairly and that our tax dollars are spent wisely. Funding public education is a shared responsibility because the result of a highly educated country benefits the entire society.

    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?

    An equitable educational system doesn’t mean that money is spent equally in each area but that resources are directed by need to create equal opportunities and outcomes. As the largest school board in Canada the TDSB serves a diverse student population of various backgrounds, circumstances, needs and abilities. Policies and expenditures must be in place to meet the needs of all students to avoid any child being left behind or “falling through the cracks”.

    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?

    Budget planning must not only take into account current day to day needs but should include long term planning to ensure that funds are in place for predictable future needs. Greater stability and knowledge of the provincial governments portion would help in this process. Proper planning now will prevent situations that you reference such as the large deficit of a few years ago to avoid drastic cuts occurring in the future.

    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?

    It is not unusual for the cost to maintain a school over it’s lifespan to exceed the initial cost of building that school in the first place. It should not come as a surprise to trustees that at some point parking lots have to be repaved, heating systems, roofed etc. need to be replaced and so on. Boards on condominium housing corporations know this and plan accordingly and school boards must provide that same long term planning to provide these services at the best possible price as required.

    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 believe in the African proverb “that it takes an entire village to raise a child”. Partnership arrangements of various types can always be explored and implemented if it is found that they benefit our students and the community at large.

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

    I hope my style and approach will be positive. Regardless of the direction that negotiations go I would always be respectful to others and I would not want to see a situation as is currently the case in British Columbia where students have not returned to school this year due to unresolved contract negotiations.

    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?

    It would not be responsible to comment on changes to an agreement that I have not had the opportunity to study in detail. Since the current contract is already in place the question you ask is academic, for you cannot make changes to a current agreement, you can only change the next one . If I am honoured to be the next trustee, I will examine the current agreement carefully, do my homework, and make positive recommendations for the next contract that will be fair to all parties.

    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?

    I do not come from a position of power or privilege. I do not have an entitlement attitude and everything I have achieved in life has been obtained though my own efforts, hard work, attitude and tenacity. I know how hard people work to make a living, and I will be responsible with the taxpayers money just as I am with my own. I too am a taxpayer. People are concerned over the findings of the recent internal audit report regarding Trustees discretionary spending. I hope that others see the importance of money spent on education as an investment where we all benefit. I’d like for thenew culture to view and see things for the long term and plan for the a better future.