Sale of Schools
Schools that have lower enrollment should be put to good use for our community. Through offering Adult Education, Seniors Education, and creating neighbourhood hubs we can keep these properties from being permanently lost. We are only growing as a city and will need them as enrollment increases over the years. Whether they are purchased by the city or the province, we must ensure that we don’t lose these valuable spaces forever. These sales undermine property values and erode deep community networks that have been established around schools. Selling our schools to private developers is short-sighted and hurts communities.
We have two York-Centre schools currently on the chopping-block: Wilmington PS and Charles H. Best PS are up for review in September. As your trustee I will fight to make sure that these schools stay intact as part of our community, while ensuring that use of space at the TDSB is efficient and productive.
Research shows that smaller class sizes are a crucial element of healthy and effective learning. Lower student-teacher ratios are a primary reason that parents choose private schooling for their children. Large class sizes are unmanageable for teachers and leave children with far less of the attention and care that they require to thrive. Especially for our younger children, classes of approximately 30 kids pose a safety risk to our smallest and most vulnerable students. Public school students deserve the same amount of attention and care as all children. This begins with reasonable class sizes, as overwhelmingly supported by current studies.
My son Micah’s first experience in kindergarten this year was very difficult for him. His class was large and his teacher was spread too thin. I’ve seen with my own eyes how much overcrowded classes hurt our children. As a mother and educator, I’m committed to fighting for classes that are capped at a lower number than what is currently mandated. Our kids deserve better.
The TDSB has an obligation to offer solutions to all problems that arise for students, but parent’s voices often go unheard when reaching out to resolve issues. Whether a parent’s concern is regarding special needs, bullying, health and safety, or anything else, we need a clear system in place so that issues can be resolved quickly and effectively. The new concept of Learning Centres, to be rolled out in September, has potential to provide better recourse for parents working to advocate for their kids. These new spaces must be carefully administered and adjusted to meet the needs of various communities. Additional to Learning Centres, the TDSB needs a more effective communications strategy to keep parents informed regarding new and current programs and changes.
Having experienced these communication barriers first hand, I know how important it is that we have a more accessible TDSB. I’ve heard from countless other parents about the frustration experienced when students’ needs are met with unanswered emails and months, sometimes years, of red tape. As a communications strategist, and as your trustee for York-Centre, I will hold monthly Ward meetings, attend Parent Council meetings, and respond to every concern with continued interaction until the problem is solved. Communication is about more than meetings: I will also diligently keep up with email, newsletters, social media, and phone calls. Parents need a representative at the board who understands their concerns, and as a mother and an advocate, I will listen, and I will stand up for you.
Accountability and Efficiency
For many years, the TDSB has been plagued with disorganization, irresponsible spending, and gross inefficiency. There are a lot of fresh faces currently working to bring about positive change at the board, and it’s the beginning of a new chapter. As with every level of government, there are tough decisions to be made. First and foremost, we need transparency surrounding spending. Ineffective cooperation has been identified by the Hall Report as a key component of board dysfunction. Now is the time to usher in openness and a real commitment to working with others at the TDSB. True accountability means seeing the bigger picture and working together for the sake of our kids.
As part of monthly Ward meetings, I will outline current budget issues at the TDSB and keep the community informed about spending, as well as offer community consultations on major financial issues and expenditures. With the support and knowledge of many trustees and City Councillors, as well as the political acumen of my family, I have the insight to navigate these issues with the same commitment to community that my grandmother was true to for her whole life.