Susan Moziar has been a trustee for the Upper Grand District School Board since 1991, and if she wins in 2018 she will have been a trustee for over 30 years.
1) In 100 words or less, what’s your main reason to run for school trustee?
I still have the passion, the experience, and commitment to continue to serve the students of the Upper Grand District School Board as I have done since 1991. The education of our children is very important to me and I want to develop them to their full potential. To be a trustee, you should have a passion. My passions are Mental Health and French Immersion. My extensive experience and history of the board is an asset to the board’s decision making. I know my community, having lived in Guelph in this home for 35 years.
2) What is the role of school board trustee as you understand it?
The role of the Trustee is unique in that Trustees are accountable to the local community who elected them and to the Province. A Trustee’s responsibility is for Student Achievement, Well-being and Equity. Among their responsibilities are complying with Ministry directives, upholding the Education Act, developing Policy, ensuring that there is a balanced Budget, approving the Board Improvement Plan and providing a safe physical space and learning environment. Trustees are involved with Accommodation and Boundary Reviews. The Director of Education also reports to the Board of Trustees who hold her accountable. Trustees must represent their community by bring their needs and concerns to the board table, but they must also make decisions based on what would be best for all the students in the board. Trustees are community leaders. Sometimes they must respond to concerns and communicate with parents or community. They are the first point of contact and while they cannot make decisions by themselves or direct staff, they can suggest solutions and make appropriate contacts for inquirers.
3) How do you think the relationship currently stands between the Ontario government and your school board?
It is yet to be determined what the relationship will be.
So far, the Ontario government has already clawed back funds that the previous government had promised. They have created needless uncertainty as to which Health and Physical Education curriculum should be taught. However, we must remain optimistic and work with this new government.
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?
I have been a mental health advocate for many years and have always promoted resources for our students. Sometimes the school system cannot address the complex needs that some students present with and outside referrals must be made. Having lost a child to suicide, I know only too well the struggles that students and families when someone in the family has a mental illness. Fortunately, the UGDSB has very strong mental health supports. The mental health lead continually works with the schools and develops programs for helping students deal with anxiety and depression. My website has links showing what I have done to address this important issue of mental health. I will help by putting in place whatever resources we can to help students.
5) Guelph will continue to grow in the next 20 years, where and when should the priority be for new school construction?
The number one priority is to build the new high school to be built at the corner of Arkell and Victoria Road. We have approval and are in the preliminary stages of planning. Other places for new school construction would be the south end in the Clair-Maltby secondary plan.
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.
The UGDSB is very fortunate to have an excellent Operations Manager. His responsibilities include school construction, renovations and energy conservation. It has been a challenge to make old buildings accessible but if it can be done, he will try to make it happen. The latest is an elevator at GCVI.
The state of school repairs was continually mentioned during the last provincial election. The reason is because some boards spent renewal money in areas other than repairs. This is not the case with the UGDSB. Our schools are in great shape and we could probably always do with more money for school improvements just as one would in maintaining a home. This board has a comprehensive Renewal Plan.
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?
First, the teachers themselves must have an interest in STEM. Many elementary teachers are more arts and language based. Some students are more language and music based while others more science and engineering based. It is just the way their brain is wired. That is not to say that you cannot learn things you do not have a natural aptitude for, but you tend to gravitate to those subjects that interest you the most. Mentoring may be one way that students could be encouraged and inspired to take STEM courses. Creating specialty programs taught by teachers with a strong STEM background could help to ‘light that fire’. More girls are overcoming their reticence to learning about STEM. They can do this with the right encouragement, making it fun and learning experientially.
8) What’s an example of something that Guelph schools are doing well versus schools in other board jurisdictions?
The I.B. Program that was initiated a few years ago. This past year, the average score was 36.35 compared to 20.6 world wide. One student graduated with a score of 45, 6 students with scores of 40 or higher, 3 others at 39 points. In all, 51 students received their I.B. Diplomas. That is something to be extremely proud of. The French Immersion, started in 1974, is also something that is doing well. There is also strong Mental Health programming in the UGDSB.
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?
French Immersion in UGDSB is the victim of its own success. It has become so popular that every child who wants to register cannot be physically accommodated. Some schools just cannot have more portables added to their site because of physical constraints. The other problem has been that it is very difficult to hire not only qualified French teachers but also E.A.’s who speak French. I was not in favour of CAPPING the F.I. program but, under the circumstances, the board really had no other option. In the first year that Registration was conducted, a Wait List of 76 students was established but come the Fall, the list had dwindled to just a few students. There has been no intention of creating another Wait List currently for students who could not secure one of the available spots. I hope that in the future we can provide other sites so that more children can have access to a French Immersion education. The UGDSB, since the first registration year, has had more success in hiring by attending job fairs and other recruitment efforts.
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?
This is a difficult question, but times change and there are people who have settled here from many different countries and religions. It seems unfair to offer a separate school system based on religion when there are so many other groups who would like the same opportunity. It’s time to revisit the Constitution and consider doing what has happened in Quebec and Newfoundland. A school system based on our two official languages would probably be more appropriate.
11) Is there an issue concerning education or public schools you feel needs more attention? What is it, and why?
There are many things that need more attention. However, one of the things that has happened over the years is that the music program in many elementary schools has become almost non-existent. It is dependant on whether there is a staff member who has musical training. Yet music has so many benefits for student development such as developing language and reasoning, pattern recognition, fine tuned auditory skills and music builds imagination and intellectual curiosity to name but a few attributes. Having a music program could possibly promote success in STEM especially in Math.
12) For someone that doesn’t have kids in school, why should they care about who’s running for school board?
The UGDSB is a large organization with a budget of 400 million. Everybody’s taxes contribute to supporting public education because, as a society, we all benefit from a well-educated work force. In addition, the UGDSB provides jobs.
13) Where can people learn more about you, or your campaign, and how can they get in touch with you?