Phil Andrews once ran the Guelph Mercury, and now he wants to help run the Wellington Catholic District School Board. Andrews is one of six people looking to fill four spots, so does he make his case?
1) In 100 words or less, what’s your main reason to run for school trustee?
I am passionate about the future of the Catholic school system. As a parent of students who have been educated in the Wellington Catholic board, as someone who obtained an education degree and as someone with a significant interest in supporting special education, I also regarded this as a terrific opportunity to seek to positively influence the board and to provide it with a unique trustee perspective.
I have recently made a career change which afford me my first opportunity to participate in this political process and I’m very honoured and excited to have the opportunity.
2) What is the role of school board trustee as you understand it?
School trustees are elected to provide local, transparent, accessible, and publicly accountable governance-oversight and other leadership to the school boards they are elected to.
3) How do you think the relationship currently stands between the Ontario government and your school board?
The Wellington Catholic board – and all Ontario public school boards – are in a feeling-out state with regard to the Ontario government.
Like many stakeholders in the education sector, the board is seeking to understand what education-related commitments by the government will mean for it and its school communities in areas such as sexual education curriculum, indigenous education, supporting rural schools and restricting the use of personal mobile devices by students in classrooms.
The board is also seeking to understand how Ontario government policy chances, such as ending the Cap and Trade programming will impact funding opportunities and challenges it has been contemplating.
4) The mental health of young people is a growing priority; how will you help insure that schools get the resources they need to address this important issue?
Enhancing the mental health of students and of others in the local education system and the supports to achieve that outcome are very important to me.
In part, through supporting people in my life with chronic and acute mental health needs, I have an appreciation for the importance of making greater gains in this area.
Among my interests in this area would be building on teacher-training opportunities, drawing on lessons and insight of local families who manage mental health challenges of young people in their households.
5) Guelph will continue to grow in the next 20 years, where and when should the priority be for new school construction?
Guelph is growing. However, the pattern of that growth is rapidly evolving. Certainly, expansion in the south end of the city in the next 20 years will likely put pressure on school boards to provide new educational capacity in this area. The board needs also to monitor how densification coming to the downtown and other areas may require new capital investments to respond to pending changes in student population patterns.
6) While mayor and council candidates talk about city infrastructure, let’s talk about the infrastructure of our schools. How do our school buildings fare? Are they accessible enough? Are there enough resources to address repairs? Et cetera.
Wellington Catholic as a board has worked to provide adequate infrastructure with its inventory of schools. It has also been determined to ensure its school buildings are accessible.
Resources are finite. Managing the state of the board’s buildings is a priority. The board has many priorities.
7) What can the school board do to give teachers the resources to improve how students learn in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) courses?
The board could invite students and parents to offer feedback of an exit-interview sort regarding experiences with STEM-area assignments, curriculum, teachers, and teaching. This data might inform teacher-training opportunities and other potential opportunities to improve student learning.
8) What’s an example of something that Guelph schools are doing well versus schools in other board jurisdictions?
The establishment of IB programming in a primary school setting is a quite remarkable achievement.
This innovation is attracting consider interest from other boards.
9) FRENCH IMMERSION: If you’re running in the Upper Grand District School Board, how do you think the board has handled the pressure of demand for French Immersion? If you’re running in the Wellington Catholic District School Board, should the board be looking at developing its own French Immersion programs to help relieve the pressure?
The Wellington Catholic Board should continue to examine the possible development of a French immersion program.
10) There’s a political question about dissolving the Catholic and separate school board system and creating one school board, what’s your opinion on the issue?
I am a proud graduate of the Ontario separate school system. I am incredibly grateful to have had my children educated in the Wellington Catholic system. I also appreciate the historical context that gave rise to a publicly-funded Catholic school system.
I oppose dissolving the Catholic school board system.
11) Is there an issue concerning education or public schools you feel needs more attention? What is it, and why?
The issue of ‘fake news’ should receive attention in school.
It’s imperative that our schools and their ‘family partners’ work towards providing learners with an enhanced ability to think critically about media information they may receive so they can determine and support authentic sources of journalism and note ones that should be considered unreliable.
12) For someone that doesn’t have kids in school, why should they care about who’s running for school board?
From a strictly financial point of view, trustees provide governance related to a huge investment of public funds. The annual budget of the Wellington Catholic board is about $100 million.
13) Where can people learn more about you, or your campaign, and how can they get in touch with you?
I am on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/phil-andrews-b5057321/
I am on Twitter at @PhilAndrews519
I can be reached by email at PhilipAndrews519@gmail.com
I can be reached by phone at 519-822-6907