2014 TDSB Election: Ward 9 – Davenport

The Incumbent:

Maria Rodrigues

The Race

Respondents in Ward 9 paid lip service to staying within the budget, but few ideas were offered that did not involve asking the province for more money or favouring teachers’ unions in negotiations. Kowser Omer Hashi and Liz Jackson’s suggestions to partner with the private sector in a limited fashion were the only concrete fiscally sound policy suggestions from this group.

Candidates Who Did Not Participate:  Mary MacNeill, Sandra Martins, Jennifer McKenzie, Marit Stiles, Marjolein Winterink

The Breakdown

  • Candidate Response
    Eyford, Dean  Fiscal stability and ongoing financial planning
    Jackson, Liz Did not answer this specific question, see Full Response
    Omer Hashi, Kowser  Create environment of accountability

  • Candidate Response
    Eyford, Dean Look at processes and labour force satisfaction
    Jackson, Liz Did not answer this specific question, see Full Response
    Omer Hashi, Kowser Consult with community for suggestions, lease schools to private interests

  • Candidate Response
    Eyford, Dean Will consider
    Jackson, Liz Did not answer this specific question, see Full Response
    Omer Hashi, Kowser No

  • Candidate Response
    Eyford, Dean Need to clearly define special education, and make decisions that are positive for entire board
    Jackson, Liz Did not answer this specific question, see Full Response
    Omer Hashi, Kowser Additional services necessary for students and parents, will fight cuts in this area

  • Candidate Response
    Eyford, Dean Finance subcomittee must develop a plan
    Jackson, Liz Did not answer this specific question, see Full Response
    Omer Hashi, Kowser Need more funding from province

  • Candidate Response
    Eyford, Dean Permanent accounting for roof and building expenses
    Jackson, Liz Did not answer this specific question, see Full Response
    Omer Hashi, Kowser Infrastructure repairs are the highest priority

  • Candidate Response
    Eyford, Dean Will Consider
    Jackson, Liz Did not answer this specific question, see Full Response
    Omer Hashi, Kowser Will Consider

  • Candidate Response
    Eyford, Dean Avoid labour dispute, compensate teachers fairly
    Jackson, Liz Did not answer this specific question, see Full Response
    Omer Hashi, Kowser Work closely with provincial minister of education

  • Candidate Response
    Eyford, Dean Will consider
    Jackson, Liz Did not answer this specific question, see Full Response
    Omer Hashi, Kowser Did not answer this specific question, see Full Response

  • Candidate Response
    Eyford, Dean Expenses like this are common in construction industry, but contractors should tighten their belts
    Jackson, Liz Did not answer this specific question, see Full Response
    Omer Hashi, Kowser Did not answer this specific question, see Full Response

 

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?

    Fiscal stability and ongoing financial planning are the hallmark of good leadership. In my opinion all TDSB board members should never loose sight of this.

    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 business management experience has taught me to first look at process efficiencies and labour force satisfaction as areas to improve financial returns. Divesting of key assets is not a long term solution to budget enhancement and should only be considered with absolute due diligence.

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

    Raising taxes should be the last tool out of the bag after all cost savings measures have been explored.

    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?

    Failures are just that unless a lesson is learned from them. “Special Ed” can mean very different things to various parents and children. Decisions by the board must maintain a focus on the overall health for the entire school board.

    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 precarious financial situation is portentous indeed, and is mortgaging the future of the system as a whole. A plan should be developed by the Finance Sub Committee to reduce it.

    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?

    Can you imagine a school system without buildings? Some of our buildings were built by volunteers, all we have to do is maintain them. Some of the land was donated to the school board, all we need to do is take care of it. Anyone that owns a house understands that any roof will need to be replaced eventually, many homeowners save every year for this. The expenses for ongoing maintenance of the buildings, systems and grounds should be permanently accounted and planned for.

    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?

    This would assume that all levels of government at the current tax base can’t support the current number of students. If this is the case and any third party help is at “arms reach” and anonymous then it probably merits examination. However this should not be a temporary “top up” of funds but part of a long term financial plan and commitment.

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

    Avoiding a labour dispute or disruption. Probably everyone reading this has had a boss or job they did not like. Happy, safe employees are always more productive. Having two kids age 4 & 6 I’m well aware that teaching must be a difficult job, lets compensate them fairly.

    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 do not have access to that agreement, no comment directly on it. However it should be negotiated in a timely and fiscally reasonable manner with a qualified team to avoid any disruption to the schools.

    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?​

    Without experience in the construction industry, an outsider might think these expense items seem “ridiculous”, on a balance sheet and out of context. That being said there is no reason why the maintenance and cleaning staff should not be accountable and tighten their belts too.

  • 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 have always stated that I do not support any educational development charges and the TDSB got itself in its current financial mismanagement and needs to get itself out it. I do not agree to the TDSB should be bailed out and I believe the TCDSB has a better arrangement for their maintenance and construction process. I do agree private companies can participates within our school as long as safety concerns are met. I believe the TDSB trustee should not automatically take one side or the other during contract negotiations and we have to decide on having a great working environment over teachers salaries. Lastly, spending concerns at the TDSB is a top down approach; if a current Trustee has a $200 a month cell phone bill and unlimited plans are $70 dollars we need to have real discussion on the person seeking elections this year.

  • 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 will aim to create an environment of accountability among all stakeholders within the TDSB. Education is not a field that can withstand unsustainable policy decisions. I will help build a stronger TDSB for our city’s future.

    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.

    Losing a school is detrimental to forming a cohesive community. I will aim to foster a more financially efficient school system leading to savings across the TDSB. I will actively seek find new savings within future budgets because needs and priorities change constantly within our large school board. Involve taxpayers throughout the process using community consultation. Leasing property to private interest is a viable alternative.

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

    No, I don’t support forcing taxpayers to fund education directly through a new tax stream.

    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 have a long history of social justice advocacy and this skill set will allow me to be the driving force behind the implementation of policies to further support an environment where special needs students can get what they need to succeed. Provide additional training for staff interacting with special needs students, and fighting against cuts. I have done master level courses in disability related issues.

    All Our kids deserve compassionate support. I’ll advocate for the Students with special needs and support programs they need to prepare to lead a meaningful life after high school. Parents should not have to fight for the basic right to 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?

    The TDSB is the largest school board in the nation and 4th overall in North America, so naturally this large organization requires substantial funds from the province of Ontario. We must do our part, but the province must give us the tools to equip our dedicated teaching staff with the tools to do their job effectively.

    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?

    Infrastructural repairs deserve the highest priority because students must be within structurally sound facilities to perform in a safe environment. This issue will only deteriorate leading to higher costs in the future. Which is I believe it should happen sooner rather than later.

    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 be acceptable as long as the board retains control and oversight over the funds within our public schools. Private funds within a public institution can be potentially harmful and will be looked at 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?

    As a very involved parent with TDSB schools over 20 years I strongly believe in our children’s right to good education. I will contact the education minister to make funding available for our dedicated teachers and supporting staff to reach a fair collective bargaining agreement.

    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?

     

    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?​