2014 Trustee Surveys – UGDSB Ward 1 & 5

Mark Bailey

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

I’m finishing my second term as a trustee, and have been elected Chair of the Board for the past two years running. My father was a school teacher, and I have two boys in the public system. I understand education as an insider, but am motivated to help challenge and change the system as an outsider. I’m also currently a Vice-President with the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association, Past President of the Old University Neighbourhood Residents’ Association, and an information technology small business owner.

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

Equity is a big one. How can we ensure access to quality programming across all schools in our board? How do we facilitate enhancing student engagement and learning through use of mobile devices when a significant percentage of our student population cannot afford to own one? I will continue to advocate and lobby for greater equity in our board, so that every child regardless of socio-economic status, or racial background, has an equal opportunity to succeed. For me this is the heart of public education.

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

Although school boards have lost many of their former powers through the loss of local taxation and the centralization of decision making at the Ministry of Education, trustees still carry out many important responsibilities. We must continue to advocate what we believe to be our students’ best interests by building parent/public pressure, and continue to be a bridge between our constituents and what can be at times a confusing and bureaucratic system so that our parents and tax payers receive the best value for their tax investment in public education.

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?

Labour will be a big issue this year, as teachers come back to the bargaining table still stung by the last round of negotiations and the government prioritizing deficit reduction and long term debt management. Negotiations will be difficult, but we must keep our focus on a respectful bargaining environment despite the financial challenges. Our board has a great relationship with its teachers and this shows in the special programs and extra-curriculars that are offered. Regardless of differences at the negotiations table, and there will be many, our local negotiations must remember and reflect that relationship. As an Ontario Public School Boards’ Association Vice-President I will also be directly involved in provincial negotiations, should I be re-elected, as I was in the last round of bargaining.

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

A better educated community helps everyone in Guelph, not just parents. Better educated students and lower high school drop-out rates result in healthier, more vibrant communities, and improve a region’s economic outlook. This is why education is an important concern for everyone.

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

My top priority will continue to involve exploring strategies to further engage student learning in the classroom. Research has demonstrated that at around grade 6 or 7, a significant percentage of students become disengaged from classroom learning and begin to engage heavily in activities such as social networking and video game play. Given the difficulty in competing with such activities, how can we employ the technologies that students are using in their day-to-day lives to help re-engage them in classroom learning? The UGDSB is making significant strides in this area and I would like to continue my involvement to ensure that the technology that our students are using in their everyday lives plays a direct role in their classroom learning as well.

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

http://www.markbailey.ca/

Juanita Burnett

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

I am a life-long learner. I care about education at all levels, and I care about young people. My degree in sociology has given me a broad base of knowledge, and the desire to use my education for the good of our community.

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

The most pressing issue for Guelph/Wellington schools will be labour issues – working out fair agreements between our teachers and the province. Other issues are school openings, closings, and distribution – incorporating French programs (and/or immersion) with community schools. How to deal with violence and bullying is still an issue as well – how to insure all students are able to learn, and to do so safely and respectfully.

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

Carefully. I admit I will find it difficult to work within parameters in some cases, and will lean towards the demands of students and schools. Part of the challenge will be learning all I can about what parameters are in place, why, and how they can be changed if needed.

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 work fairly, honestly, and respectfully with teachers. I have been through two rounds of bargaining for my union local, and will be bringing that experience with me.

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

Our city’s children are an important part of our community. Their education and well-being affect the people of Guelph short-term and long-term. We want a well-educated population for a stronger professional and economic base, and for the good of our communities.

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

I think that Guelph schools do quite well as far as offering a wide variety of programs (French, technology, food, music, etc.) for students at most levels. Making the community more aware of what all our schools provide would give students more of an opportunity to demonstrate their abilities. We can also work harder to make them available more evenly, so more students have better access to whatever programs interest them.

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

My website is http://www.ElectJuanitaBurnett.wordpress.com

Ralph Edwards

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

My extensive in business, my 34 plus years as a teacher, my background experience in negotiations and my previous ten years as a trustee all qualify me for this position.

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

In order to have the best learning situation for students we need to have labour peace.

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

The school board must ensure that the money received from the province is allotted fairly, equitably and with proper regard for the needs of the individual student.

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?

As an experienced negotiator with an expertise in problem solving, I would be very capable of helping the board and the teachers find a compromise solution.

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

It is important for everyone to ensure that children have a quality education and that the education tax money is spent properly. Children are our future.

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

The Upper Grand District Board is a leader in French Immersion education. We need to ensure that the FI programme continues to be run efficiently and that the best FI teachers continue to be hired.

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

My website is http://www.ralphedwards.ca

Martha MacNeil

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

I have many years of varied experience working in the education system as a volunteer and in leadership roles. I have been the co-chair of the school council at my children’s school for the last 3 years and have been the chair of the Parent Involvement Committee (a Board-level committee that is Ministry-mandated) for the past 2 years. In addition, I am a member of several Board-level committees that have a wide range of foci. A few examples are: the Safe, Equitable, Inclusive Schools Steering Committee, the Mental Health Steering Committee, the Strategic Plan Working Group, and the Learning Choices Committee. In my role on these committees and others, I bring the parent voice to the table and work to ensure that this point of view is not forgotten in the creation of policies, procedures, and programs.

Being a member of these committees and leading the Parent Involvement Committee has given me the unique opportunity to work closely with trustees, Board staff, and senior admin and to understand how the system works. As a result, I have been an “outsider on the inside” and I feel confident in my ability to step into the role of trustee and get to work immediately on the important issues. I bring experience, with a fresh perspective.

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

As I am not yet a trustee, it is impossible to know with certainty what the most pressing issue is for Guelph/Wellington schools, but in my opinion, based on my experience on various Board committees, the issues of poverty and equity are definitely very important ones.

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

This is always a very difficult task for trustees. I think the best approach is to strive towards open and honest communication right from the beginning. I believe that if all parties understood the needs and parameters, there would be less frustration on both sides and it would be easier to find a good balance.

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?

Again, since I am not a trustee yet, I cannot comment on the procedures that the Board has in place regarding labour issues, but I can say with conviction, as I mentioned above, that I am dedicated to the importance of communication. I will use that dedication to do my part to help ensure that relations between teachers and the Province are good and can be used in a productive manner to create outstanding learning environments for our students and outstanding working environments for our teachers and staff.

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

The public school system is the foundation of our society and of democracy. Without it, the entire premise that we base our lives on would crumble. The education of our youth is important to everyone because they are our future and they are the ones who will be ensuring the continued success of us as a people.

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

Our board is a vibrant, energetic one with numerous examples of success. Whenever I have represented our board at conferences or meetings, I have always been proud to hear the accolades that people from other boards and the Ministry have for our students, staff, schools, and the Board itself. This makes it difficult to choose just one area to focus on but some places where I feel we are really stepping out in front of the crowd are: 1. Our approach to technology and its uses within schools and beyond, 2. Our recognition of the importance of equity in all aspects of education and our constant striving to improve on how we provide that equity, and 3. Our belief that relationships are the key to success and how we work to develop relationships at all levels, whether it is student-teacher, parent-teacher, family-school, colleague-colleague, or even amongst schools themselves.

In order to capitalize on these, we need to have a forward-thinking Board of Trustees who share a vision of the future of the Upper Grand District School Board and who work together harmoniously to support and encourage the work of the talented staff and students of the Board.

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

Website: http://www.marthamacneil.ca
Email: votemarthamacneil@gmail.ca
Twitter: https://twitter.com/MacNeil4Trustee
Phone: 519-830-2139

Other Candidates:

Dan Baker

Malcolm Bell