2014 Trustee Surveys – UGDSB Wards 2,3 and 4

Aaron Blair

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

According to the Elections Ontario the Trustee role can be summarized into the following:

Work with the Province to implement change.
Work with constituents to ensure local needs are met.
Ensure appropriate use of allocated funds.
Lead by setting policy direction and implementing Provincial mandates.

http://elections.ontarioschooltrustees.org/en/about-trustees/what-trustees-do.html

When thinking of these responsibilities a Trustee should be able to:

Understand how to manage large budgets, understand returns on investment and total cost of ownership of proposed changes. If this is not being considered then decisions will have negative outcomes.
Be able to advocate local needs and partner with Ministries to implement change that aligns with local requirements.
Work with various stakeholders through regular communications. Neighborhood group and school council meetings should be regularly attended. Having visibility at community events as well as providing information via newsletter, blog, or other mediums. These should be at the core of the role.
Have long range planning where there is a spirit of entrepreneurism to attract and keep families committed to public education by offering a variety of programs and services that excite and inspire students.

How does my education and experience align to the Trustee role?

Education:

University of Toronto Graduate
MBA Candidate
A certified project management professional
A certified professional in healthcare information and management systems
Canadian Securities Course Completion and Certificate
Conduct and Practices Course Complete and Certificate

Skills acquired: research, long term planning, project management, investing and accounting.

Experience:

Fifteen years of experience managing large capital and operational budgets in both the public and private sector
Ten years experience in the public sector advocating local needs with Ontario Ministries and Municipalities, defining policy and working with various stakeholder groups.
Fifteen years of experience delivering enterprise strategy and change.
Fifteen years of experience effectively communicating progress and updates to various stakeholders.
Ten years experience building sustainable communications and working relationships with Ministry and community partners.

Skills acquired: strategy, communication, planning, advocacy, budget/people/Ministry management skills.

Volunteer:

As Policy Chair at the Guelph Public Library worked with a team to revamp and revise all
Guelph Public Library policies.
Active fundraiser at Victory Public School’s annual dessert party
Created, managed, programmed and marketed DNA Film Festival that led to film distributions for independent artists.

Skills acquired: policy creation and maintenance, public engagement and entrepreneurial skills.

Personal:

My last point can’t be bulleted or summarized. As a parent with young children in the public school system I am invested. Decisions by the Province and board affect me and my family. I can have the empathy that comes from knowing the pressures and challenges of raising a child in today’s society. If the decision doesn’t make sense for my family then I would not support adversely affecting someone else’s. To me that’s my largest benefit to constituents. My skills will help me provide leadership and service, but my family and children is what will give me the passion to do the job in a conscientious and considerate manner for all families.

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

Enrollment numbers are down across Ontario, budget numbers are escalating and sources of revenue are declining. The negative shift in enrollment illustrates a lack of public engagement in our education system. This has caused families to look elsewhere to educate their children, where they can find programs and services that are more aligned with their values. Families that leave the board take their tax dollars with them. Ultimately this places stress on the school system to do more with less which is typically not a sustainable model.

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

Local advocacy is important to me. Often Federal and Provincial bodies determine goals they would like to have carried out at the local levels. The challenge is that these bodies are typically centralized and don’t have the geographical presence or resources to understand all local needs. This is where I believe politicians at municipal levels play a key role. An elected official at the municipal level should advocate for local needs by having a strong leadership voice, one that can negotiate and manage upwardly. This does not need to be a negative. Advocacy can be a positive thing. Advocacy is about partnering and working with all levels of government to implement positive change.

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 believe that we need to look at education as a partnership. Parents, teachers and administration need to partner to deliver education. We need to remove the ‘us’ vs. ‘them’ mentality and think of what we need to achieve together. When our relationships become fragmented and divisive the quality of education decreases. This isn’t because of poor teachers, parenting or administration leadership. It is a normal product of disengaged stakeholders and a dysfunctional system. By keeping language positive and solution based I think we can achieve this goal. By working together as partners we can improve working conditions and relationships amongst stakeholders.
We all have a role and responsibility to create a positive education environment that will maximize the potential of our children.

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

Whether you are raising a family, have raised a family in Guelph, or are not yet in that phase of life, as a community member, parent, grandparent or taxpayer the school board election has a significant impact to our communities.

As a taxpayer there is a component of your taxes that go to the board regardless of whether or not you have a child in school. The operating budget of the Upper Grand District School Board is near $400 million, which is larger than the entire city of Guelph. This is a significant accountability.

In addition, schools are the anchor to a healthy neighborhood. They bring continued investment to communities where young families move to raise children. They provide community spaces for people to congregate and they bring the vibrancy of continued growth and renewal that makes neighborhoods unique and special places where people want to live. When schools aren’t treated as a community member, and not valued as such, they can deteriorate to the point of becoming unsalvageable. School closures can be catastrophic to a community. Abandoned schools create dead space, a cancer where urban or community decay can begin.

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

Guelph has great schools and students. Performance is typically above the Ontario average. This year’s EQAO numbers may not have been as promising as they have been in the past, but looking at the history of Guelph’s performance there is no reason to think that this trend will continue. The really promising part of being a high performing school district is that it opens the door for innovation and leadership. Guelph should look to harness the talent of its schools, teachers and students to pilot new and exciting programs that could be adopted Province wide.

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

http://aaronblairguelph.wordpress.com/
blairaaron@hotmail.com
https://twitter.com/Aaron_Blair
https://www.facebook.com/aaronblairguelph

Linda Busuttil

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

During these past eight years in my public service role as Trustee, I have gained an understanding of the complex operations of the School Board. But a deep understanding of the education system is just one aspect of the role, engaging and listening to parents and the community, communicating and creative problem solving are some of the skills I continuously demonstrate in my current work as a School Board Trustee.

I have lived in Guelph for almost 35 years and have been active with a number of initiatives to improve the quality of life for children, youth and families. I believe that my community involvement has provided me with the ability to build connections, partnerships and that these experiences contribute to an inclusive perspective and balanced decision-making.

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

Despite what you see here in the City of Guelph, new schools opening, our overall school board enrolment is declining. This means fewer students and fewer grants to fund education in Guelph, Wellington and Dufferin.

In addition to these reductions due to declining enrolment, the Ontario public sector has been given a heads up to expect budget reductions to assist with the provincial deficit.

School Boards are ready to do our part.

While keeping the needs of children first and foremost, the challenge during these next four years will be to ensure Equity across our system while maintaining the quality of the education programs and supports the UGDSB currently offers.

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

From my experience as a Trustee I can assert that the best interests of children, not one school or a single program, rather a system-wide focus on children is deeply ingrained in the culture of the School Board and decision making. You can see it in the Budget process, for example the Ministry provides a specific amount of funding for Special Education but we spend more on our most vulnerable children. Children and Classroom spending are always a Budget priority focus.

The Ministry of Education is the only source of revenue for school boards so non-compliance comes with a big, no funding for you, stick. If the Government of Ontario sets Legislation then we have to comply that is the law. Regulations also need to be complied with, but Regulations can be changed. Through the associations of provincial schools boards such as the Ontario Public School Board Association, and many of the staff Associations and Bargaining Unions, the Council of Directors of Education, there is ongoing direct feedback and communication to the province in an effort to influence and make the “parameters” work better for children and communities.

As above these organizations are also are engaged when the Governments, both Federal and Provincially circulate consultation documents, they all prepare position papers and delegation presentations. If there are impacts on education there are many systems in place to raise awareness and our responses to the other levels of government.

But your question is really quite to the point of the issue, how can we as Trustees and as a School Board balance the demands of our local students and schools given the reality of our significant decrease in flexibility in decision-making, increased accountability and an overarching inability to raise our own funding? I personally keep abreast of what is happening in education and what is coming down from the government, I read and listen to people, and speak to concerns of impact at both our local school board level and as an Ontario Public School Board Director. I actively request that our Board send letters raising awareness and advocate on issues, at the onset of consultation and during implementation. As a Trustee I continuously work to ensure that the best interests of children are at the forefront, that is what you have elected me to do.

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 School Boards in Ontario need to ensure that there is full funding for any past commitments and new provincial initiatives going forward. As the government is at the table as a provincial bargaining partner, any new ideas the government comes up with has to have funding attached to it, rather than leaving it to local school boards to find the funding from currently allocated budgets. This will go a long way to maintaining good relationships with the schools boards and our provincial bargaining agents.

As in question #3 above, the power, funding and legislative authority rests with the province. Through our provincial School Board Associations we are part of the provincial bargaining process, this is the place to raise concerns and negotiate, there is very little left that will be locally negotiated.

This being said the UGDSB has worked hard to create a positive, respectful and strong labour relationship with the teachers and all of our bargaining agents. This has been accomplished through our employee recognition programs, by creating opportunities for professional development, a workplace that is healthy and inclusive, and a continuous collective focus on the best interest of children. As a Trustee I would continue to support these organizational systems.

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

Education is not just about kids in schools, there is a direct line between education and a democratic society and our economic possibilities as a community.

Let me start with the Economics. Yes, you should care about education because it leads to better jobs, higher incomes and a vibrant local economy. Research also shows that individuals who are better educated live longer, have healthier lives and that their children are more likely to thrive. All of these are visible economic benefits of education.

School Boards are the oldest form of local democracy. The tangible Economic benefits of education are much easier to point out and value, but for me Education is not a commodity rather it’s a public good that benefits everyone. I believe that you should become engaged and care about Public Education as the Trustees and School Boards carry forward the values that will determine priorities and influence the values of students who will one day fix the social, economic and environmental problems of our communities.

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

When I think of schools I think of a micro-community, a mix of families, school admin, staff, teachers and the neighbourhood all working together. In keeping with that vision.

I think that every school has initiatives that are specific and responsive to the interests and needs of that community, it is truly wonderful to see the uniqueness in our schools.

While the School Board, and let’s not forget the province, articulate a value framework for Education, individual schools are left to determine what that looks like in their communities. For example a priority is Environmental Education and Action, one school may focus on waste or energy reduction, another on food literacy and community gardens.

Our role as Trustees and the school board is to ensure that there are opportunities for schools, parents, teachers, administrators and students to share ideas and successes and to recognize these efforts. This is done through Parent Involvement Conferences, Professional Learning Circles and PD Days, at the annual Learning Fair, and the annual Local Hero Awards, to list just a few.

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

Voters may

visit my website http://www.lindabusuttil.info
explore links on my website to surveys that I have completed to date
email me with questions lbusuttil@sympatico.ca
call me 519 837 9592
follow me on Twitter, admittedly I am not great with this, #LBusuttil
Facebook, as above, not that great with this, http://www.facebook.com/LLBusuttil

Rob McLean

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

I offer all of the focus, passion, and understanding that one could expect from a person who has children in the UGDSB right now. I have years of business experience with strategic planning, budget planning & management, and human resources management, supported by an MBA degree. Like any business, the School Board must plan carefully to achieve its goals through a balanced, collaborative approach, working creatively with limited resources. That’s the kind of environment that I thrive in.

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

Continuous improvement is the greatest strategic goal for all schools, and the UGDSB must never stop growing and striving for greatness. There are always new issues that arise, but the key issue that ties everything together is to do the best-possible work on behalf of all students in the region.

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

That’s a great question, and there is no simple answer. At the end of the day, the Province provides our resources, but there is room to advocate the Government in support of regional needs, which is something that I will focus on. The demands of students and schools will be balanced against the needs of the entire community.
Resources are always finite, so it takes a balanced, informed approach to make the most of them, which is something I can offer.

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?

There always seems to be some members of the public and media who disparage teachers and administrators. This does nothing good for the system – teachers and administrators are our “front line” team, and are the greatest resource to meet and surpass student-learning goals. I will always fight for the local team, I will champion their thousands of “good news” stories, and I will always prioritize their best interests – because the front-line team’s best interests serve the community’s best interests, and local needs will always take priority over Provincial demands.

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

The annual budget of the UGDSB is greater than the annual budget for Guelph City Hall.

If a municipal election is about ensuring services are being provided with vision and care, then don’t you want to ensure your community’s education is properly supported?

You need an advocate who is a careful, informed steward of that investment. Well-educated youth build strong communities. A strong education system yields a stronger local economy, and provides proven social benefits. Community education is the best long-term investment that any citizen can make in their home community – and it is in your best interest to ensure that you have a strong team ensuring that investment is providing strong returns.

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

The expansion of the Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM) program is fantastic opportunity that facilitates transitions to careers or post-secondary education. I believe that career-related learning environments are essential, and I think this program should continue to expand.

The B.Y.O.D. and Computer Refresh program in 2013 was a huge boost to engaging students with technology and enhanced learning tools. As we continue to measure the benefits of engaging this “New Literacy”, we should work carefully to expand on the successes that we are seeing.

I think the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma is an extremely valuable program that provides a much broader worldview to students, and provides increased global opportunities for students, and for the staff that are IB trained. I hope that we will see the successes that have already been provided by this program around the world as the IB is implemented at GCVI, and if so, I hope to see this program expanded across the UGDSB.

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

My website is http://www.robmcleanguelph.ca, I am on Twitter @RobMcLeanGuelph, and my cell phone number is 519-994-0002.

Susan Moziar

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

As a long-standing trustee, I have a wealth of experience and history with the board. I was one of a group of parents who was involved in establishing the French Immersion program in the board in 1974.

I am well acquainted with child development as I have three grandchildren (12, 10 and 10), two of whom attend a school in the UGDSB. I also provided care for them in the early years before they were school age.

I initiated the document “An Educator’s Resource Guide: Mental Illness in School-Aged Children”. This document has been used in the Upper Grand District School Board to educate teachers and administrators about mental illness within the school population.

In 2000, Guelph-Wellington Barrier-Free Committee awarded me with an “Access Recognition Award” for the “Outstanding Contribution of an Educator” for my work in the mental health field.

I am a life-long learner and I can work as a member of a team. I am still passionate about education and have the drive and dedication to continue to make a contribution at the board table. I believe that I am someone who is experienced, honest, has integrity and fair.

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

Actually, the Upper Grand District School Board covers Guelph, Wellington and Dufferin. The most pressing issue would be funding and declining enrolment. If the enrollment drops, the board receives less funding. In addition, there is the concern that there will already be a reduction in grants because the Provincial Government has to eliminate its debt.

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

The Provincial Government (Ministry of Education) holds the ‘purse strings’. Boards rely on funding in the form of grants to run its programs and pay its staff. Trustees have to make sure that there is a balanced budget. If there are things that the Ministry of Education mandates, then there has to be compliance otherwise the board would be penalized and lose grants.

An example might be the number of students in Full Day Kindergarten class. It is 26: 1 teacher + 1 Early Childhood Educator (ECE). The Board cannot exceed that number without being penalized. The same would hold true for the class size in the Junior Grades. 90% of classes have to conform to the average class size set out by the Ministry of Education or else there would be repercussions.

Another example: there is a cap of 34 high school credits for students to graduate from high school. If a student wishes to obtain more credits, the Board would not receive as much funding for that student and would have to find the funding from some other area to make up the difference.

Special Education is an area that requires a great deal of support in terms of funding and resources. Parents often feel that not enough is being done but should be aware that money is taken from other areas to support Special Education.

Another example: students at an overcrowded school may have to move to another one rather than adding portables or an addition on the existing school. This decision would be made because the board is required to maximize its classroom space and can’t build additions or add portables if there are empty spaces in another school in the same jurisdiction.

These are probably the most unpopular decisions that Trustees make. This is an issue especially in Guelph because of the implementation of Full Day Kindergarten, growth on the East Side of Guelph and the increasing popularity of French Immersion (now 30% Full Day Kindergarten enrolment in Guelph).

Careful consideration has to be given as to whether it is possible to add extra portables or additions to schools. Local building regulations sometimes restrict adding more portables and funding is only provided for certain classroom additions based on Provincial approval. The board has to show that it has enough students to justify building a new school before there is funding available to build one.

So balancing demands can be challenging. Our decisions should always be what is best for the student but restraints that the Province puts on boards does not always allow for that. The Province often seems to be more concerned about $$ than about program and students.

I try to make decisions which are fair, that we can afford, and that consider not only the local community but also the impact on the larger community.

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?

Bill 122, School Boards Collective Bargaining Act, 2014 received Royal Assent in April 2014. While Boards will have little impact at the Provincial level of this two tiered bargaining process, there may be more involvement locally.

This is a new process for school boards. I believe for bargaining to be successful, there has to be trust, respect and listening to both sides. I think our board has a successful record of having very few strikes or lockouts (if any), since I have been a Trustee over the last 23 years. I will work to ensure that this continues.

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

Voters are taxpayers and we all benefit as a society, whether we have children or not, when students receive a good education. Today, we live in a global community and the health of our economy depends on a skilled workforce. That only comes with proper education and training. However, education is really more than just jobs. We would hope that students should graduate from high school with a curiosity about life, be self-confident, able to adapt to change, think critically, contribute to society, think of others and be lifelong learners. As William Butler Yeats wrote: “Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.”

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

The French Immersion Program was started in Wellington County in 1974. This year, the program is 40 years old. The Upper Grand District School Board received recognition and a plaque. Many parents recognize the importance of second language acquisition. The percentage of children enrolled in Full Day Kindergarten in French Immersion in Guelph is now 30%. We can capitalize on that by attracting even more students to enrol in the program. I was one of the original parents in 1974 that lobbied to establish F.I.

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

Phone: 519-837-3742
Email: smoziar@susanmoziar.ca
Website: http://www.susanmoziar.ca
Twitter: @SusanMoziar
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/susan4trustee

Carrie Proudfoot

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

I believe that a new perspective is needed in our school system, and I plan to support a strong community-based approach to inclusive, equitable, safe and accessible learning for all. I believe that embracing the diversity of our communities can help strengthen and improve the school system.

I have been a member of the Special Education Advisory Committee (SEAC) for the Upper Grand District School Board for the past three years. I also served on the Safe, Equitable & Inclusive Schools Steering Committee 2013-2014.

As former president of the Wellington Chapter of Autism Ontario, I spent years translating the needs of members of the Autism community to lobby for more social programming. I will represent the diversity in our families, children and community with respect and understanding. I will represent inclusive, equitable, safe, and accessible learning for all. I will ensure that our diverse community and individual needs are part of planning and development of our educational platform.

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

Communication, planning and an inclusive attitude, breaking down barriers to acceptance and understanding for all. Only then can we move forward together meeting the demands on the educational system.

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

This is much like walking a tightrope. We must be fiscally responsible but at the same time we must meet the ever changing demands/needs of our students. I believe it can be done by consulting all involved parties and reaching a mutually beneficial solution. Only thru cooperating and understanding the needs/goals of all involved will we accomplish anything.

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?

Communication is the key to any relationship. As a trustee I will look to improve the level and understanding of all communication between all involved parties in our education system.

Any relationship can only improve if there is strong level of trust on all sides. In my role as trustee I will promote trust in everything that is done.

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

People should care about school board elections because they are part of your right to vote, and part of the democratic process. This is your voice into the education and the well- being of your community. It is a cliché that children are our future. But it is all so true. All children deserve the right to an education, and with the help of the community, they can be provided with a strong platform of learning. Your children, your children’s children, your friend’s and neighbour’s children require a great education. We need to elect trustees who will represent everyone in our school boards, both public and separate, to ensure quality education and a strong vibrant community.

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

The communication between teachers/schools and parents, in regards to student’s needs, has increased significantly. This enables the student to learn in a more supportive/productive environment. The teachers and parents both know what the other is doing to help the student resulting in a win/win situation.

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

Email – clproudfoot@rogers.com
Web – http://www.carrieproudfoot.com
Twitter – @trustcarrie
Facebook – Carrie Proudfoot