2014 TDSB Election: Ward 5 – York Centre

The Incumbent:

Howard Kaplan

The Race

Of the two candidates who did respond (incumbent Howard Kaplan did not), Jordan Glass emphasized reallocation of funds to special education and more open tenders, and also promised to donate an unspecified portion of his salary back to the school board, while Tibor Martinek offered a more traditional focus on reallocating funds within the existing budget. Both candidates made consistent references to respecting taxpayers, eliminating waste and finding efficiencies.

Candidates Who Did Not Participate:  Jerako Biaje, Alexander Glauberzon, Howard Kaplan, Stephen Kazman, Stephen Shereck

The Breakdown

 

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?

    Spending must be finite. There is already a funding structure set forth by the province. Any candidate who promises to change this is simply being misleading. It will not happen. As such, the Board must operate within budgetary perametres. It cannot continue trying to spend money it does not have. Period. More than that, however, trustees must be willing to ask the hard questions. Ultimately this means examining secondary services, as well as maintaining effective capital cost management. Problems surrounding mismanagement of the TDSB budget that have led to the sale of our schools’ playground land should never have happened in the first place. The TDSB needs someone willing to make the tough decisions required to make sure our children are never exposed to such a situation again.

    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 fact is, we never should have found ourselves in a situation where we are desperately selling property; specifically playground land, in an attempt to close the expanding gaps in a growing budget. Specifically this will mean looking at these five areas as potential areas to cut costs: (1) maintenance, (2) infrastructural ancillaries, (3) bloated bureaucratic salaries, (4) Trustee entitlements, and (5) of course, Trustee salaries. These are all areas the new Board must be willing to examine, at the very least. However, given the utter disfunction of the previous Board, Trustee entitlements and salaries should be a ‘no brainer’.

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

    Absolutely not. Candidates who advocate for new taxes are simply seeking to pass the proverbial buck on to our community. TDSB Trustees have a job to do. Part of that is getting their financial house in order. Trustees must not continuously return to our community and other orders of government with their pockets turned inside out.

    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?

    As the parent of a child with special needs I have a unique perspective on thr matter. Special education is chronically underfunded. Cuts to special needs programing and spacing have only made the problem worse. Funding has to be allocated to special education in the form
    of capital costs, technology, and staffing. This can be done without expanding an already bloated budget by simply reallocating already available funds. I will also advocate to have the provincial government return to previous levels of funding (adjusted for inflation), but we cannot expect Premier Wynne to be there ready to write a cheque.

    Additionally, my plan outtlines the creation of a special education parent liaison. The Board is currently not even remotely parent friendly. Parents entering the world of special education for the first time are faced with bureaucratic jargon and red tape. It will be this indivdual’s job to provided need assistance and leadership to parents to help then navigate this special education system

    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 fact is the TDSB desperately has to cut costs. The only way to achieve this is by electing trustees willing to ask the hard questions regarding where to find savings. I won’t ask our children to pay for their own education through future tax increases any more.

    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?

    All governments are guilty of falling victim to cost over runs. Sometimes there will be unforeseen obstacles that will raise costs in areas such as repairs. However, the TDSB can ensure this is a minimal occurance by seeking out better community partners with which to do business. This means ending the closed shop atmosphere of the current TDSB and embracing competitive bidding. Public money is simply too valuable to not seek out the best deal for our children.

    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?

    Absolutely. Both the CFL and Nissan have proven themselves true community partners. However, they are not unique. Toronto is a city full of charitable corporate citizens. They are partners in our community. They are waiting to be engaged. It is time the TDSB engaged them.

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

    As unions go into negotiations they must understand the simple fact that school boards and the province are looking at an empty till. This means we will have to ask staff to wait on their expected raises. The only way to finance such luxuries would be to fund them our of the classroom. I refuse to do this. Children must come first. That is why I would donate a portion of my trustee salary back to the school board. Leadership must begin at the top.

    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 is time to end the agreement between the two governing bodies. The TDSB must learn to stop taking risks with taxpayer money. This is an example of one risk. The CSTC brought us the now infamous $143 pencil sharpener. Have they learned their lesson? I’m not willing to wait to see. End the agreement.

    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 know what it is like to live from pay cheque to pay cheque. I have been doing it for most of my adult life. I understand the value of a dollar. Saving money at thr Board should be a matter of common sense. End the closed shop. Seek competitive bidding. Redirect money saved into the class room.

  • 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?

    It is my platform that I will give priority to address and to improve the fiscal manegement of the TDSB. I would indentify the waste within system, cut any spending that it is not justified from top to the bottom.

    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.

    At this point it is hard from the outsider to list top five priorities for saving, beside the obvious ones, the maintanance costs are outrageus, small maintannance must be a domain of the schools caretakers, I would look into the possibel savings at the Boards head office, staffing, overtimes, generous payouts beyond contractual payouts, I would look into contracts with the energy providers (gas, elctricity) and would look into possible savings by negotiating better contracts in future, I would look into more efficiency of using supply teachers

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

    The taxpayers in Toronto are experiencing tax fatigue and I would oppose any new education taxes whatsoever.

    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?

    Again as an outsider I would have to better aquanted with this very important issue within the TDSB. It is my platform that any improvements would have to delivered in partnership with the schools, students, families and professional support services. I would possibly divide Toronto into special districts and establish centers for special education, where students who cannot be integrated to regular schools, would attend.

    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 no question that issue of deficit would have to answered by newly elected board as soon as possbible. Strict cost cutting measures would have to instituting once the waste is indentified and measures in efficinecy are implementing.

    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?

    Since, I am not familiar yet with the Board’s policies regarding reserve funds for this type of repairs and failing that those funds exist, it will be necessary to allocate toward the roof repair some of the funds from the reduction of waste and inefficiencies across the board.

    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 that major organizations like the Canadian Football League and Nissan stepped in to provide sponsorship. However, I would support creating a clear policiy that there shall be no conflict of interest in such sponsorships from the private industry. I see more large organizations, for example like some of the banks, technology giants, who could step in future.

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

    It is always a very difficult thing to negotiate a contract with teachers and staff. I would recommend to follow the provincial guidelines with repect to the umpcoming negotiation, in order to get some breathing room with respect to the budget.

    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?

    As I understand the issue, the changes are necessary. The Board would have to requst the governement to relinquish their policy with repsect to maintanance and cosntruction within the Board, specially in the view of abuses documented by the press with respect to the maintance 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?​

    I would institute a system, that requistions would have to be approved and within the system that the lowest costs is indentified fom the approved source and there must an accountability with consequences for failure