CANDIDATE QUESTIONNAIRE – Sebastian Dal Bo for Wellington Catholic District School Board Trustee

“As a former teacher and principal I feel strongly about giving back to the system from which I have benefited so much from. Being retired, I know that I have the background, time and energy to do this. I am asking your support to continue to promote student achievement, engagement and well-being and to ensure effective stewardship our Board’s resources.”

Why are you running to become a trustee?

I am seeking re-election because I have concerns for our children’s future and for Catholic education. As a former teacher and principal I feel strongly about giving back to the system from which I have benefited so much from. Being retired, I know that I have the background, time and energy to do this. I am asking your support to continue to promote student achievement, engagement and well-being and to ensure effective stewardship our Board’s resources.

What is the role of school board trustee as you understand it?

Catholic school trustees share servant leadership with their partners—parents, clergy, teachers and staff. Trustees are responsible for policy direction and renewal. These policies are critical to achieving the board’s mission and values which promote the welfare, well-being and dignity of all in the educational community. As well trustees help to set annual budgets within the constraints of government grants. This input and oversight for the expenditure of program funds is key to student achievement and well-being. Finally trustees should provide accountable reporting to the community that they serve.

Tell us a bit about your background and experience, and how that will inform the way you work as a trustee?

As a Guelph resident for over 65 years, I have had the privilege of experiencing our local Catholic school system as a student (graduate of Bishop Macdonell), as a parent of two graduates, and as a teacher and principal for 34 years. I feel that this background enables me to better understand the needs of students, the perspective of parents and the concerns of teachers.

My role as teacher and principal has helped me to be an effective communicator, problem solver, team builder and player which are essential to being a good trustee.
As a trustee for the last 12 years I have attended numerous conferences and professional development programs that keeps me abreast of trends, research and issues in education.

What do you think was the most consequential decision made by the board during the 2018-2022 term?

The most consequential decision was the hiring of a new Director of Education–Michael Glazier. As Director he was responsible for the day to day management of the board to its staff as well as the implementation of the board’s policies. His leadership successfully guided the board through the difficult and stressful time caused by the pandemic.

Obviously, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on schools, students, staff and educators, but it’s not over. How will you help to ensure that schools throughout the board can weather any potential future phases of the pandemic?

I would ensure that the board follows the advice of our Medical Officer of Health during any potential future phases. As well I would ensure that staff and schools have all the preventative means such as proper ventilation, air filtration and cleaning supplies. Finally I would make sure that our parents and students know what they should do if new phases occur.

The Government of Ontario has announced direction to address education gaps caused by students’ experiences throughout the pandemic, how will you ensure that no student falls through any of those gaps?

In their Plan To Catch Up the government announced $175 million for enhanced tutoring support programs and an additional $93 million for Special Education. I would monitor the use of the board’s portion of these funds to ensure that students receive the proper supports to close the gaps caused by the pandemic.

The mental health of students was an issue before the pandemic, and the pandemic has generated even more desperate need in many cases. What can be done to get more resources and assistance for students of all ages?

The government has added an additional $90 million for mental health initiatives and supports. This is a much needed step in the right direction. The last two years have really increased the anxiety and stress levels for children and families. We need an information campaign to make families aware of the resources that are available to them. We need pro active inservicing to make educators aware of the signs and symptoms which can help identify students that need help. As well we need more resources in schools such as Tools for Life which we currently use in our elementary schools to give our students the coping strategies that they need.

What are the infrastructure needs of the board, whether that’s repairs on current school buildings or the construction of new ones? What should the priorities be?

In the Ministry Facility Index our schools were highly rated. I want to ensure that sufficient resources are allocated for maintenance and repairs so that we can maintain this level of excellence. A priority for me would be to see that our schools become greener by adding solar panels where possible and energy efficient heating and cooling systems when current ones need replacing.

School safety is a top of mind for students, parents and educators alike, so keeping in mind the mixed feelings around policing provoked by the Black Lives Matter protests in 2020, what are the best ways to make our schools a welcoming, inclusive and safe environment?

Our schools and police services work in partnership to promote positive student behaviour. They develop, promote and maintain violence prevention programs. Our high schools have officers on site regularly. This has helped to develop positive relationships with both staff and students. At the elementary level we have established Safe Arrival policies to ensure the safety of our students. As well officers throughout the year make school presentations on safety, the internet, and drug awareness.

Our school staffs make our schools welcoming to all.

Many school boards have been evaluating education materials, including those available through the school libraries, through lenses of inclusivity and appropriateness. Do you support these efforts? Why or why not?

I support all efforts for diversity, equity, inclusivity and appropriateness. We cannot erase our past but we must contextualize it properly as we evaluate educational materials .Our goal should be to develop critically engaged, well informed critical thinkers.

Philosophy corner! What is the point of schools? Is the goal to give every student the same baseline of knowledge, or are we supposed to be training young people for the jobs of tomorrow? Can we balance giving students both a well-rounded education and job training, and how?

Every child matters. The goal of schools is to provide equity of access to learning opportunities for all. Schools should strive to achieve the fullest possible development of each student so that they can become contributing members in our society. Currently there is a good balance between a well rounded education and job training. Our Guidance teachers and programs help to guide students to their areas of interest and abilities. As well programs like OYAP (Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program) help to develop skills, knowledge and work related experiences for their future endeavours.

Teachers and education workers will be starting negotiations with the Ministry of Education for a new contract. What’s your advice to the Minister of Education, and what’s your advice to the representatives from the teachers’ unions?

I would remind both sides to keep student welfare at the forefront of the decision making process. As well keep keep lines of communication open and be open to discussion on key issues.

Finish this sentence: I would be very disappointed if we got the end of this election without debating…?

I would be very disappointed if we haven’t debated educational funding. Enrolments have increased and school funding has not. As well inflationary pressures have severely affected school budgets.

Where can people learn more about you, and your campaign?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s