This is the 5 Point Plan I will work to implement as your TDSB Trustee for Ward 5 - York Centre.
1. Fiscal responsibility
It is time for someone at the TDSB to take a hard look at its budget. Tough decisions need to be made. I want to ensure that the TDSB maintains a balanced budget and that they are responsible with their allocated funding from the provincial government. This means budget cuts must be kept out of the classroom. 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. Re-evaluating high school pathways and catchments
In my discussions with parents I have often heard of the problems they have in getting their children placed in the educational institution of their choice. In fact, parents at one school have gone so far as to submit a petition to request an altering of the current high school pathway.
To put this in perspective, according to the most recent edition of the Fraser Institute’s School Rankings, not a single elementary school in Ward 5 received a ranking lower than a 6.1/10, whereas only one secondary school received a ranking higher than this (congratulations to the staff at William Lyon Mackenzie Secondary School for receiving a 9.0/10). This is clearly a serious problem.
Parents have a responsibility to ensure their children have the best education available to them. The TDSB has a responsibility to let them. It is time to re-examine the current high school catchments and pathways. Our children cannot wait any longer.
Further, we have to ask how these problems came to be. How did these schools fall so far? What can we do to fix to them? No longer can the TDSB continue to fail our children.
3. Consolidate operations for TDSB-owned fields
The loss of this green space will dramatically and negatively change the shape of our neighbourhoods. There is absolutely no reason why the TDSB, with support from the City and the Province, cannot utilize our fields to give our community greater access to this space while still addressing the financial hole that the current trustees have dug our children into.
To do this we can begin to build partnerships with businesses and local charities to improve the quality of fields for our children. In bringing these partners to the table, we can finally recognize that playing fields are a crucial place for children to develop and flourish
4. Educational excellence for every child
For every story about a child with special needs there is a story about the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) failing a child with special needs. For my family, that person is my daughter. She is the reason I am on the ballot. The TDSB has a responsibility to all our children. I have witnessed front line educators try to the best of their abilities to meet my daughter’s needs. Truly, our teachers, especially those in the field of special education, should be commended. However, their attempts are very often in vain. The TDSB does not equip them with the knowledge or the tools to teach our children in a method that truly meets their needs.
Two years ago I suggested that the TDSB hire a parent facilitator to provide information and support parents of both gifted students and students with special needs and learning disabilities. I continue to advocate for the creation of such a position at the TDSB. This leader in special education would be tasked with providing support to parents through newsletters, networking, regular conferences and workshops; all of which can be held onsite in our local schools. This individual will assist all by empowering families to speak for the needs of their children, especially those with special needs. Workshops – all of which I will be present at – will provide a forum for parents and front-line staff to interact and find solutions to meet the unique needs of each student.
Our schools should also be seeking out state-of-the art technologies to assist in students’ learning. These technologies will enable front-line educators to provide opportunities to all types of learners to develop knowledge and skills that will enhance their ability to achieve success in public school and every day in life.
The Board must also address the weight of the provincial government's decision to cut intensive behavioral intervention (IBI) services for all children over five years of age. The Government of Ontario dropped this ball on school boards and special needs parents. Now it is time for us to pick up that ball and run with it.
You elect trustees to work for you. You pay them nearly $25,000 each year to do so. Ask yourself which candidate for trustee is capable of giving $25,000 per year of his time.
Who will return your calls?
Who will respond to your emails?
Who will you hear from him outside of an election period?
If elected trustee, you will never have to struggle to get a hold of me. You will always have an advocate at the Board.
My only special interest will be our children.
My expenses will be posted on-line for all my constituents to see every month.
Most importantly, I will spearhead the creation of a school audit process. Evolving on the impact of allowing the provincial ombudsperson to examine school boards, this process could be used in the event of any concern occurring at a particular school or with an individual trustee. I have heard from constituents that principals have too much power. This added level of ground floor scrutiny will curb that power, allowing the school board to better serve parents and children.