Sebastian Dal Bo is one of four incumbents hoping to return to the Wellington Catholic District School Board for four more years.
1) In 100 words or less, what’s your main reason to run for school trustee?
I am seeking re-election because I have a passion for Catholic education and for our children’s future. As a former teacher and principal in our Board I feel strongly about giving back to the system from which I have benefited so much. Being retired I know that I have the time, energy and background to do this. I am asking for your support to continue to promote student achievement, engagement, and well-being and to ensure effective stewardship of our Board’s resources.
2) What is the role of school board trustee as you understand it?
Good and proper governance. Trustees are to maintain a focus on student achievement and well-being through input into policies, programming and resource allocation. Additionally as Catholic trustees we share servant leadership with our partners; the students, parents, staff and clergy.
3) How do you think the relationship currently stands between the Ontario government and your school board?
Our relationship has been very strong in the past. We are well respected provincially as several of our staff have been seconded to Ministry positions. As well the government has funded pilot programs with our Board that have later been implemented elsewhere. With our new provincial government it is too early to tell but I feel that we may be in for testy times and possible cuts in education.
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?
The well-being of our students has and will always be of primary concern. Today students face many issues which were not as prevalent years ago: bullying, anxiety, social media, and acceptance. As a Board we survey our staff, students and parents regarding school climate. We then are able to key in on issues and allocate proper resources to specific needs. During budget allocation I will strongly promote mental health resources. As well, our staff has and will continue to ask for increased funding from the province for this growing concern.
5) Guelph will continue to grow in the next 20 years, where and when should the priority be for new school construction?
It is not as simple as placing a new school in a growing area. Government funding looks at the number of pupil places available within the entire Board before they allocate funding for a new school. This may result in boundary changes to accommodate growth. Our Accommodation Review process determines what needs to be done. Guelph’s south end is definitely a growth area that may be eligible for new school construction
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.
We are very proud of our facilities in Wellington Catholic. They are well maintained and rank high on the Ministry Facility Index. In regards to accessibility they meet all the requirements set forth by the province. Where needed we have added elevators in certain schools to meet the needs of special students.
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?
Our Board prioritizes needs when allocating budgets to individual schools. STEM resources must be updated to keep up with changes in technology. We have a renewal cycle for all technology equipment in our schools. Resources must also be followed by funding for proper staff in-servicing to ensure successful implementation.
8) What’s an example of something that Guelph schools are doing well versus schools in other board jurisdictions?
Our schools have a history of being at or above the provincial average when it comes to EQAO testing. We also have innovative programs such as the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme. We were only the second Board to offer this programme. We are also very proud of our commitment to social justice issues and our annual support of the United Way Campaign, Relay for Life, Terry Fox Run, Special Olympics and student missions to under developed countries to help build schools and other facilities.
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?
I have asked and will continue to ask for the feasibility of French Immersion for our Board. I feel that it is an excellent program and judging by its growth throughout the province it is one that many parents want.
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 strongly oppose it. The minimal long term savings are far outweighed by the chaos and disruption that will ensue. Catholic education in the province is protected by the British North America Act. Rather than relying on the constitutional rights argument I offer that Catholic schools have greatly contributed to the fabric of our province throughout the years. We have educated responsible citizens that give back to their communities by promoting peace, justice, environmental care and the sacredness of human life.
11) Is there an issue concerning education or public schools you feel needs more attention? What is it, and why?
The ministry formula for funding in Special Education and Transportation needs to be updated and revised. We have experienced underfunding in special education which has led to insufficient support for the classroom teachers to meet the needs of their students. In transportation fuel costs and wages have gone up but the Ministry has not adequately funded the individual boards for these increases.
12) For someone that doesn’t have kids in school, why should they care about who’s running for school board?
My motto is “Our students … Our Future”. We all benefit from a well-educated society. This is the voter’s opportunity to elect someone to oversee the education of this vital asset…our children.
13) Where can people learn more about you, or your campaign, and how can they get in touch with you?
Phone – 519 767 2800
E-mail – firstname.lastname@example.org