Election 2014: Candidates for TDSB trustee

Welcome to the first of three issues of Toronto municipal election coverage in Beach Metro Community News.

In this issue, we are featuring local school trustee candidates for the public and Catholic school boards.

Ward 16, the local ward of the Toronto District School Board, includes 23 elementary and three secondary schools in two City of Toronto wards, Ward 31 and 32. That area roughly extends from Coxwell Avenue east to Victoria Park Avenue, and from Sunrise Avenue south to the lake. Navarius Mombo, a candidate for Ward 16, did not respond to our questions by press time.

Elsewhere in this issue we feature local candidates for the Catholic school board, as well as city councillor candidates for Ward 31.

Our Oct. 7 issue will cover the 12 council candidates running in Ward 32, our main coverage area. Council candidates for Ward 36, which includes Cliffside and Birch Cliff, will be covered in the Oct. 21 issue, ahead of the general election on Oct. 27.

 

Sheila Cary-Meagher  416-694-7354

I am devoted to public education.

Sheila Cary-Meagher
Sheila Cary-Meagher

I have worked hard to ensure children and parents are heard in the classroom, the school, and the Boardroom. I developed the Model Schools Program and created the Inner City Advisory Committee. I attend all standing committee meetings, as I believe this is the most effective way to understand all issues and develop new ideas. I have served as a TDSB Trustee for 14 years. I have been a resident of Ward 16 for 48 years. I have five children and three step-children (all of whom attended Ward 16 schools), eight grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.  I taught elementary school and I have a BFA.

1. What is the reason you decided to run for Ward 16 trustee?

There is work to be done!  There is the need to create an integrity commissioner for the board. As well we need to face the changing demographic of the city.  In less than five years more than 50 per cent of our students will be coming from poverty. It must be turned into an opportunity and not an obstacle.

2. How would you deal with declining enrolment in some schools and overcrowding in others?

Since the Second World War we have had an enrolment cycle that repeats about every 25 years. In addition, there is immigration and the movement of factories out of the city. Primary enrolment is increasing and secondary is decreasing. In 10 years the shift will be reversed. The key to holding enrolment is to create the best programming and have the best staff. Parents have become “school shoppers” – they buy homes where the good stuff is.

3. What is the solution to the leadership and spending issues that have plagued the board in recent years?

Openness! Everything that politicians do should be above board and accessible. We need an integrity commissioner.  It is shocking to me that some of my colleagues voted to conceal their expenses. I have made mine public since I was first elected.

4. What do you view as the main issue for Ward 16?

Recreating the sense of ownership, a sense of community, that we all had for our schools and the system. Getting children out of nearly 60 20-year-old portables and into proper classrooms.  We need the Ministry to acknowledge that Ward 16 is 1,000 pupil places short.

 

Marietta Fox  www.mariettafox.ca

tdsb-Marietta Fox
Marietta Fox

As a long-term resident of Beaches- East York, a career French teacher in the Montessori method of education, and a mother of three boys who entered Toronto schools with very different gifts and challenges, I’ve seen how hope, happiness, and achievement can flourish when we consider the overall well-being of our children a priority of education. As a community and school activist in our neighbourhoods I have a vested interest in raising the bar on revitalization and engagement. All my sons have benefited from excellent public schools (Norway, Bowmore, Duke of Connaught, Danforth Collegiate, Birchmount and Rosedale).

1. What is the reason you decided to run for Ward 16 trustee?

After close to three decades of teaching, parenting, household management, community involvement and activism, I feel I have something valuable to bring to help improve the lives of children, families and citizens. I want to use my skills to deliver a much-needed, fresh perspective – one of optimism, respect and accountability.

2. How would you deal with declining enrolment in some schools and overcrowding in others?

I would advocate for an exhaustive audit of all schools based on the principles of practicality and usefulness. Those schools that have an increasing number of children should be allocated funding to allow for improvements. It is unconscionable that any young person in Toronto should have to spend most of their waking hours either in portables or in decaying buildings.

3. What is the solution to the leadership and spending issues that have plagued the board in recent years?

I would manage TDSB funding in the exact way I have managed those of both my classrooms and household for the past three decades, using the principles of resourcefulness, accountability, and specifically by balancing the books.

4. What do you view as the main issue for Ward 16?

I have talked with and worked alongside children and parents and feel that what they want most of all is to have a ‘seat at the table.’ This is what I promise first and foremost, specifically through dedicated ‘Trustee Days’ in which I will be in the ward to meet with every community member who has a question or concern.

 

Jen Sagar www.jensagar.ca

My family and I have lived in Beaches-East York for many years. My three children have all attended local schools, and I am currently the school council chair at Glen Ames, where my youngest child is in Grade 8.

Jen Sagar
Jen Sagar

A real estate salesperson by profession, my family and I have strong ties to the community and are very proud to call Toronto’s East End our home.

1. What is the reason you decided to run for Ward 16 trustee?

There’s work to be done, and I’m ready, willing and able to commit to the time and energy that is required to be a productive and effective trustee for Ward 16. My experiences as a parent, community member, and business professional will serve me well as I work towards renewing public confidence and getting our board back on track. I believe in our public school system and wholeheartedly support quality education for all.

2. How would you deal with declining enrolment in some schools and overcrowding in others?

When looking at issues of declining enrolment and overcrowding we need to closely examine the root of the issue. Are these short term shifts in neighbourhood demographics, or long term and ongoing trends? Primary consideration would be given to solutions that don’t require capital expenditures, however if after reviewing these options no viable solutions can be found, a case must be assembled and presented to the Ministry of Education for funds that allow for renovations or new buildings where that need has been determined.

3. What is the solution to the leadership and spending issues that have plagued the board in recent years?

To elect candidates who work well with others and behave in a respectful and professional manner. We need trustees who are honest, responsible, accountable and who work hard to ensure that communication, consultation and collaboration are present not only within our ward, but across the board.

4. What do you view as the main issue for Ward 16?

Issues and priorities may vary but at the end of the day, we all want what’s best for our kids. You can count on my commitment to the important issues facing our students, our schools and our communities.


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2 comments

Dear Candidates

We are writing to you regarding concerns that stem from overcrowded classrooms at Norway Public School. There are over 30 children in each of the JK/SK classrooms. This is an unacceptably large amount of young students. With only one teacher and one ECE the children’s needs are not being met. My son has come home multiple times without having touched his snack or his lunch and I have spoken with other parents who have shared the same concerns.

The JK/SK outdoor area is unsafe (inadequate playground supervision and lack of proper and enclosed fencing). The jungle gym has been deemed unsafe for Jk/Sk students so the children are expected to play underneath and around this structure. Safety concerns are exacerbated by the number of children playing in a very small playground.

To provide you with a specific example of the issues stemming from overcrowding, the kindergarten classes had their Terry Fox Run indoors in the gym instead of outside as planned. One of the JK teachers advised that this was due to the fact that there were too many children for an outside activity. It was a beautiful day.

With small class sizes and a large volume of children learning opportunities will be extremely difficult.

I have spoken with the principle at Norway PS who reported that any classroom realignment decisions were beyond her jurisdiction.

Thank you in advance for addressing these concerns. We look forward to hearing from you.

Sent from my iPhone

To the candidates
I share the concerns expressed by my daughter in law in the letter regarding the overcrowded conditions at Norway Public School’s kindergarten program. I pick up my grandson at lunch time now and listen to, and talk to the parents and caregivers waiting there. There are many frustrated, stressed families. If you are elected, what will you do to immediately improve this situation? Three overcrowded kindergarten classes, small classrooms, limited outside time, unsafe playground, one teacher and one ECE to supervise over 30 children per classroom.
This is not the excellent learning environment promised for our young children. It is shameful for this to be their introduction to their school career.

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