2014 Trustee Survey – Wellington Catholic District School Board

Sebastian Dal Bo

1) Qualifications: What makes you right for the job of school board trustee?

I have lived in Guelph for 57 years. I have had the privilege of experiencing our system first hand as a student, a parent of two students, and as a teacher and principal. This has helped me to better understand the needs of students, the perspective of parents, and the concerns of teachers. As well I feel that my Masters in Education from Niagara University has helped to keep me abreast of trends, issues and research in education. As a trustee for Wellington Catholic during the last four years I better understand the financial constraints that the Board is under as it faces declining enrollment and rising costs. This experience has prepared me well for the upcoming term if I am re-elected.

2) What’s the most pressing issue for Guelph/Wellington schools?

Declining enrollment while costs continue to rise is a pressing issue facing our Wellington Catholic Board. Through the funding formula the government has started to financially penalize boards that have underutilized pupil space in their schools. Guelph’s population continues to grow but the enrollment in schools has been declining for several years. The Board is looking at reviewing school boundaries to make better use of our facilities. If re-elected I am fully prepared to tackle this issue.

3) How will you balance the demands of students and schools with the parameters set forth by the Government of Ontario?

As a trustee we have input into policies, program, and resource allocation. This must be done within the government guidelines. Hard decisions have to be made when allocating the resources that we are provided with. We managed to achieve a balanced budget this year and still offer quality programs for our students. I would continue this process if re-elected.

4) The ongoing relationship between teachers and the province is a concern, how will you help insure the smooth operation of schools in our area in this regard?

The relationship between our Board and our local Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association is one that we are very proud of. Both sides are open to discussion on key issues. I plan to keep this line of communication open and to keep student welfare at the forefront of any discussion and decision making process.

5) I don’t have kids in school, why should I care about who runs (and wins) for trustee?

Our Students…..Our Future is my campaign motto. I truly believe that our educational system must provide our students with the knowledge, skills, and resources to help them to achieve their full potential. This will lead to fully engaged citizens ready and able to contribute to our community. If re-elected I will continue to promote student welfare and engagement thus ensuring a prosperous and caring future for our community.

6) What’s an example of something Guelph schools are doing well, and how can we capitalize on that?

Our students in Wellington Catholic have consistently scored above the provincial average in EQAO testing in most categories. Our Board Improvement Plan and the individual School Improvement Plans are constantly being monitored and analyzed to focus on our strengths and weaknesses thus ensuring continued growth in student engagement and achievement.

7) Where can voters get more information about you and your campaign?

Voters can e-mail me (cdds2000@rogers.com) with any questions or concerns. As well our two local newspapers will be featuring all trustee profiles this coming week. This is a great way to get to know all candidates.

Victoria Dupuis

1) Qualifications: What makes you right for the job of school board trustee?

I have a passion for helping children to thrive and I believe that education is critical if a child is to succeed in pursuit of their own dreams. As a trustee I am in a position to help create opportunities for all children to prosper. I bring a strong commitment to our kids and to Catholic education and my strengths are in problem solving, a strong personal integrity and work ethic. I have a long history with Wellington Catholic, first as a student, then as a parent and school council volunteer (my four children all graduated from the system) and as a trustee. I get the difference Wellington Catholic makes in education.

2) What’s the most pressing issue for Guelph/Wellington schools?

There are so many issues in education it’s difficult to select just one but the mental health of children is a major concern as statistics tell us one in five children face mental health issues, including anxiety and depression. How can we help a child learn in the midst of an anxiety attack or behavioural incident? What resources, training, information and support do our staffs need? We need strong community partnerships and strategies to ensure all children reach their full potential.

3) How will you balance the demands of students and schools with the parameters set forth by the Government of Ontario?

Education is a provincial mandate, but how it is managed for our children is a municipal responsibility. School boards are accountable for the governance of their systems: budgets, policies, facilities, special education and transportation and more. It’s the school board who works to ensure that there are fair and equitable opportunities, resources and that staffing is balanced for learning. Trustees live in their communities, they understand the challenges and the uniqueness of their students, and they can “adapt” what it takes to have them succeed.

4) The ongoing relationship between teachers and the province is a concern, how will you help insure the smooth operation of schools in our area in this regard?

The issue is one of respect. I believe that teachers have a vocation and they want to be respected in that and be supported as they meet the daily challenges of educating. Students do not all learn the same way and teachers are major players in a child’s growth and development. We need to understand this and always advocate for our system to the province.

5) I don’t have kids in school, why should I care about who runs (and wins) for trustee?

Education is not just about whether or not you have children currently in school. Do you have grandchildren attending school? Are you operating a business that relies on part time staffing? Are you looking for full time staff who understands work ethic, who have the ability to problem solve creatively and who come with employability skills? Do you rely heavily on volunteers to assist your organization?

Education touches virtually all aspects of society and school boards have the accountability of overseeing those systems they are elected to serve. Every choice we make or in some cases, don’t make, ripples out to our communities.

6) What’s an example of something Guelph schools are doing well, and how can we capitalize on that?

Wellington Catholic schools excel in community building. We have a unique partnership between home, school and church and we educate all aspects of our students, recognizing as Father Pierre Teilhard de Chardin is quoted as saying “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.” I believe that Catholic education recognizes this truth and allows us to educate our students with the “rules of engagement” as spiritual beings facing the challenges of this world. Developing graduates with this strong sense of community is vital for the future as these students take their place in the world.

7) Where can voters get more information about you and your campaign?

Voters are encouraged to email jdupuis@golden.net or call 519-822-9489 to discuss concerns or ask questions.

Michelle Fach

1) Qualifications: What makes you right for the job of school board trustee?

I will bring the appropriate skills and experience to the role of trustee. I have an extensive experience in education. As Director, Open Learning and Educational Support, University of Guelph, I provide administrative and academic leadership for 6 main areas of the University: Distance Education, Continuing Education, Open Learning, International Education, Educational and Faculty Development and Teaching and Learning Technologies. In this role, I have proven experience in working collaboratively with diverse groups in order to achieve shared goals. I have a strong work ethic, experience in policymaking, strategic planning and implementation, goal setting, and financial accountability.

I understand the importance of Catholic Education. I am a former student of the Catholic System. I attended Catholic Schools in the City of Guelph including St. Bernadette’s, Our Lady of Lourdes and Bishop MacDonnell. I believe education is a privilege and have continued my education as an adult, having completed a MBA and M.Ed. Catholic Education had a significant impact on the lives of my children. My daughters attended Catholic Schools in the community including St. Joseph’s, St. Peter’s and Our Lady of Lourdes. This experience enriched their lives, strengthened their faith and encouraged them to serve others.

I have demonstrated my commitment in serving others. I am the Past President of the St. Joseph’s Health Centre Foundation Board and have served on this board for the past eight years. I serve my Parish as an Executive Member of the Church of Our Lady Catholic Women’s League and serve as the President of the Zonta Club of Guelph.

2) What’s the most pressing issue for Guelph/Wellington schools?

My priority for the next year will be to work collaboratively in planning for the changing needs of students. The complexities inherent in teaching and supporting students continue to evolve. There is increased pressure from parents to meet their expectations for their children and also from the government to demonstrate academic and financial performance. It will not be enough to have additional programs and new teaching methods. We will need a strategic response that supports a culture of shared values, responsibilities and expectations throughout the entire school community including parents.

3) How will you balance the demands of students and schools with the parameters set forth by the Government of Ontario?

I have extensive experience in balancing the needs of students and faculty with the complexities of finite (or declining) resources and government accountability. In my role, I am required to balance these competing demands, prioritize and, at times, make decisions that are not necessarily supported by all. However, I believe in consultation and ensuring that individuals are aware of the reasons for my decisions. I will bring my experience in balancing the demands and the need for accountability to the position of Trustee.

4) The ongoing relationship between teachers and the province is a concern, how will you help insure the smooth operation of schools in our area in this regard?

I will listen intently to the teachers to better understand the challenges that they face and what changes they suggest to improve student learning. I will advocate on behalf of students, teachers, parents and the community to ensure that decisions made by the government support academic excellence, quality and student engagement. Dialogue is important and I will foster effective working relationships at all levels of the system.

5) I don’t have kids in school, why should I care about who runs (and wins) for trustee?

Education is an investment in the future of our community and therefore, as citizens, we have an obligation to ensure that our school board leadership reflects and respects the traditions and values of the system and is comprised of the skills, experience, and knowledge to fulfill the responsibilities.

6) What’s an example of something Guelph schools are doing well, and how can we capitalize on that?

I believe that our schools are excelling at encouraging students to be engaged in the community and being aware of local, national and global issues that affect our community. Our students really see themselves as global citizens and firmly believe that they have something to contribute to make this a better world. I am confident that the students of today will make great leaders of tomorrow.

7) Where can voters get more information about you and your campaign?

Voters can email me directly at mfach@uoguelph.ca for more information about my background, experience and why they should elect me for Wellington County School Board Trustee.

Marino L. Gazzola

1) Qualifications: What makes you right for the job of school board trustee?

I was educated in the Catholic system, as were my children. Catholic education is a passion for me. I have been a trustee for almost 25 years because I believe in Catholic education. I have also become involved on a provincial level, as a member of The Board of Directors of The Ontario Catholic School Trustee’s Association, including two years as Vice-President, two years as President, and currently as Past President. I have now taken a further step, and after having served for two years as one on Ontario’s representatives on The Board of Directors of The Canadian Catholic Schools Trustee’s Association, I am now serving as the Association’s National Vice-President. I have developed a vast network locally, provincially and nationally. I have strong decision making skills, and I work very hard at being the best trustee that I can be. I do my homework and stay current on the issues. I stay in touch with the stakeholders, and answer every query that comes my way, even if it means steering someone in the proper direction to get their question answered or their concern addressed. I believe that our students are entitled to the best possible Catholic education available, and I want to continue to be a part of a team that protects and promotes Catholic education in Ontario. Our system is constantly under attack from those that would have a single education system in our province. I will fight that with everything I have. Ontario’s education system is considered one of the best in the world, and a large part of that is because of the fact that there are 4 distinct education systems in Ontario, English and French public, and English and French Catholic. It has been an honour to serve as trustee for almost 25 years and I very prepared to continue serving the Catholic stakeholders of our county.

Furthermore, my 38 years as a police officer for The City of Guelph Police Service, and currently holding the rank of Staff Sergeant has provided me with numerous opportunities to be involved with and to get to know our community.

2) What’s the most pressing issue for Guelph/Wellington schools?

As with most school boards in the province, funding and maintaining a balanced budget is a major concern. We have learned to do more with as much as in previous years, and more recently even with less. That has become a fact of life. We have a tremendous administration at our board, which do incredible work, but as the policy makers ultimately the trustees pass the budget. As well, this year is a very unique year, with negotiations taking place with all the unions. For the first time ever, the provincial trustee’s associations are the bargaining agents for the boards, and all financial matters will be bargained at a central provincial table. The local trustees will then decide on local matters. As this is a new process for everyone, past experience on the board will be vital. I have that experience. Maintaining labour peace will be a priority, and to do this it will take fair and frank discussions at the negotiation table.

3) How will you balance the demands of students and schools with the parameters set forth by the Government of Ontario?

This can be done by prioritizing issues and demands. It is a give and take process and the give and take must come from all sides. The province has made it very clear that there will be “No new money” in the budget, for school boards. To survive it will require innovative ideas and possibly new ways of doing things. The needs of students must always come first, and decisions must always be made with the impact that decision will have on programming and on student needs in mind.
Local needs are important to remember, as what might work in one district may not necessarily work in another.

4) The ongoing relationship between teachers and the province is a concern, how will you help insure the smooth operation of schools in our area in this regard?

By maintaining a strong and honest relationship with our local teachers, staff, support workers and their respective unions. We have always had a good working relationship locally with the unions. We have disagreed in the past, no doubt, but have always been able to work things out in a manner that is fair and respectful to all. With the new bargaining model in legislation, most of the major decisions will be made at the provincial level, by the provincial representatives, including the provincial government, after which any outstanding local matters will be at the table. As the local Chair of the Board I have many times spoken publicly about the dedication, the commitment and the quality of the people that work in our system. I will continue to do that because I believe it.

5) I don’t have kids in school, why should I care about who runs (and wins) for trustee?

Not having children in school, should not be the deciding factor in taking an interest in school board elections. Trustees are the grass roots of municipal government, and are the policy makers for school board decisions. Even without children in schools, a portion of the taxpayer’s taxes is still going towards education.

Education funding is the second largest expense of the provincial government’s budget, second only to Health care spending. Education is a major priority in Ontario. Today’s students are tomorrow’s leaders, tomorrow’s citizens, tomorrow’s employees and employers.

6) What’s an example of something Guelph schools are doing well, and how can we capitalize on that?

I will talk about our Catholic schools, since I am running for Catholic School Board Trustee. Our Catholic schools are heavily involved in social justice initiatives. The students care about the people in our community who are in need.

They also care globally as shown by the many missions to countries who are less fortunate than us. The students raise money to help, and raise awareness to ensure others help. They travel to these other countries and build schools, and shelters.

Locally they assist the drop in center, the food bank and the homeless. Our students care about the world, and as a community we need to continue to provide the students with the tools and the means for them to carry out their initiatives.

7) Where can voters get more information about you and your campaign?

They can contact me directly by email at marino.gazzola@sympatico.ca or call me on my cell phone 226-979-2008. I would be happy to answer any questions about myself or my experience of beliefs.

Joe Tersigni

1) Qualifications: What makes you right for the job of school board trustee?

As a loyal, passionate defender of our publicly funded Catholic Education System in Ontario and after much encouragement from many friends in education and parents in the community, I decided to run for a Trustee seat on the Wellington Catholic District School Board.

After a 34 year teaching career with Wellington Catholic, I feel that serving as a Catholic School Board Trustee would be an exciting and unique opportunity to help maintain the distinctive character of our Catholic schools from the other side of the Board table. Born and raised in this community, I offer Christian stewardship, commitment to a quality education for our students, to publicly promote and defend the mission of our Catholic schools, and to represent and voice the concerns of parents. My experience in education makes me a good fit.

2) What is the most pressing issues for Guelph/Wellington schools?

In my case, Catholic schools. We are recognized as schools with a difference and that God and a place for God are central to that difference. If elected Catholic trustee, I will hold myself accountable to parents by working to preserve the distinctiveness of our faith, maintaining a focus on student achievement, helping to establish policy direction, and making decisions that place all students first. The vision of Catholic schools must figure prominently in the Board’s annual budget through strong faith formation opportunities and religious education development for all staff. I offer hard work and effort in representing the voice of parents and students by being open and respectful of all concerns.

Participating in board committees will help me to understand and add input to board policy. Continued curriculum review, sustained opportunity for teacher professional development, and strong support for special needs students are all important to success in student achievement. We must seek out and inspire leadership potential in educators who have a passion for teaching and Catholic Education.

3) How do you balance the demands of students and schools within the parameters set forth by the government of Ontario?

We must be firm on our goals and what we want to achieve in our schools, but fair on how we go about reaching these goals. There will always be some conflict, but I think as long as we work towards fairness and equity, we are all on the same path…successful student achievement at all levels.

4) The ongoing relationship between teachers and the province is a concern how will you help to ensure the smooth operation of schools in our area in this regard?

We are so fortunate here in Guelph to have the Minister of Education, Liz Sandals, as our MPP, right in our own backyard. She always been forthright and fair and her relationship with teachers in our board, for example, have been excellent. Having a cabinet minister, especially in our own riding, is a tremendous asset for our working relationship with the government of Ontario. I am confident that Liz will carry on the smooth operation of schools with all school boards in the province. My philosophy when dealing with the government will always work towards building bridges, not walls.

5) I don’t have kids in school, why should I care about who runs (and wins) for Trustee?

There is no democracy like hometown democracy. Every citizen should care about school board elections because education is the lifeblood of society. Egerton Ryerson, the 19th century Ontario educator, wrote that “…education is as necessary as the light – it should be as common as water, and as free as air.”

Trustees set policies, approve huge budgets, and oversee many other duties identified under the Education Act. It is a very important role and if we really care about Catholic education, we need to care about who is at the table in our school boards. We also need to recognize that school board trustees hold the only publicly elected office that is soley responsible for education.

6) What’s an example of something Guelph schools are doing well and how can we capitalize on that?

With respect to our board, the latest scores for provincial testing in Math at the Grade 9 level and in the OSSLT (Ontario Secondary Literacy Test) at the Grade 10 level show our board has consistently improved over the years. A lot of credit for this success goes to our teachers who devise new strategies each year to help students at all levels. Student achievement at all levels is of primary importance and we can continue to capitalize on our success in these tests through teacher leadership, providing current resources, and planning.

7) Where can voters get information about you and your campaign?

Home Phone: 519-836-3946
e-mail: joetersigni6@gmail.com