CREATING OUR CHILDREN'S FUTURE - TOGETHER WE MAKE THE DIFFERENCE
I am running to be your next Belleville/Thurlow trustee
with the Hastings Prince Edward District School Board.
Education is at a cross-roads, provincially & within our own
school district. Our school board needs fresh leadership with a commitment to accountability, transparency, public engagement & community partnership collaboration.
With two vacant Belleville/Thurlow trustee seats, constituents
now have the opportunity to make an impact on much needed
changes at the board table.
I will listen, I will respect, I will advocate. I will be your voice for your
issues and your concerns which will be central to board discussions and
its decision making process.
I will work on your behalf and together with trustees, board management to improve accountability, transparency and public engagement
in our school system.
I would very much appreciate your support by voting for me Michael Rush, as one of your HPEDSB School Trustee on October 22, 2018.
TOGETHER WE CAN MAKE THE DIFFERENCE!
What do you believe are the most important issues facing our
education system today?
The following are a few well known
and important issues in our provincial system:
Education in Ontario
1. Ontario’s Per Pupil Funding Doesn’t Come Close
to Meeting Expectations
Ontario ranks dead last in per pupil funding among the 18 Northeastern and Great Lakes states and provinces—our key economic competitors.
2. Resources for Our Students with Special
Needs are Severely Lacking
School Boards are losing out on millions in special education funding as the funding model prioritizes statistics, not the actual need of the student.
3. Class Sizes in Grades 4-8 and Kindergarten
The funding formula allows for huge class sizes (30 and above), shortchanging our youngest students.
4. Full Day Kindergarten Costs Aren’t Covered
School Boards are facing shortfalls in funding for the FDK program.
5. Program Funding for Our Most Vulnerable Students
Has Never Been Enough
The Learning Opportunities Grant, which funds programs for students who have a higher risk of academic difficulty, is insufficient. Like the ESL grant, there’s no accountability for how this money is spent by boards.
6. Elementary Students Don’t Get as Much Support as
Ontario continues to spend $612 less on elementary students than secondary.
7. Basic School Programs and Services are Treated like a Funding “Frill”
The funding formula doesn’t allow every school to have a librarian and fully functioning library. And Music, Art, Physical Education, and Guidance have never been properly funded.
8. Health and Safety Issues Aren’t Getting the Immediate
Attention they Need
Workplace violence, air quality, noise level, and mould are top health and safety concerns. Insufficient staffing levels and a $15+ billion provincial repair backlog in our aging schools mean these issues remain unaddressed.
9. Student transportation
There are no standards limiting the amount of time a student can expect to spend on a bus getting to school. The consequence is that thousands of students in rural and northern areas spend unacceptably long periods commuting to and from school.
Again, there is a reason for the absence of a standard. If the government were to set a standard, it would have to fund to meet that standard.
10. Declining enrolment
A funding formula driven primarily by student counts places extreme pressure on districts experiencing declining enrolment. Under the formula, the decline in function associated with an enrolment decline is immediate, whereas adjustments in programming to respond to a decline will inevitably take much longer even if they are possible.
The government recognized that problem in principle through the introduction of a Declining Enrolment Adjustment (DEA) into the funding formula and through the creation of a special grant for in-school administration that recognizes the reality that school-level administration is not adjustable to individual student head counts. That, however, falls far short of addressing the impact of changes in enrolment on education finance at the board or school level. In its current form, the DEA provides partial assistance (roughly 35 per cent of the impact of enrolment on funding) for one year and only 25 per cent of that partial assistance in a second year.
This level of support is completely unrealistic. Because boards only know their enrolment within the school year, they have essentially no ability to adjust to changes in enrolment in the first year. While some functions can be adjusted to reflect enrolment changes in the second year, other expenditures that are linked to enrolment in the formula can only be adjusted, if at all, over a longer term.
What do you believe are the critical issues facing our school district and education system?
The following are some broad and specific HPEDSB issues, that when actioned by school board of management, would improve the quality and overall effectiveness of our district school system.
1. School Board Communications, Accountability, Transparency and Public Engagement
2. Stakeholder Management with Labour Groups and Education Peers
3. Establishing Working Partnerships with Municipal and County governments
4. Better Allocation of Funding for improved Outcomes for all Students
5. Call to action recommendations stemming from the auditor general report – April 2017
The following are the call to action recommendations that HPEDSB must prioritized and completed over the next two years.
Recommendation # 1
To reduce the rising direct and indirect costs associated with sick days, we recommend that school boards develop and implement effective attendance support programs that can include timely and accurate absence reporting, tracking and data analysis, and early identification of ill- ness or injury to allow for early intervention for the safe return to work.
Recommendation # 2
To better ensure staff requiring additional training and/or assistance to be more effective in their job receive it
Recommendation # 3
To ensure teachers are receiving evidence-based professional development that focuses on student achievement, we recommend that school boards:
Have all schools complete the school improvement plans based on their student achievement results and achievement gaps; review and analyze all school improvement report-backs to reconcile the actual training to the school improvement plans; and monitor student achievement in the areas where professional development was provided to measure effectiveness of the training and report these results publicly.
Recommendation # 4
In order to support student achievement and effective stewardship of resources, we recommend that school boards:
Where needed, allocate additional teacher and other supporting resources to schools with lower student achievement; and monitor the impact and effectiveness of the additional resources on student achievement and make adjustments where desired results are not achieved.
Recommendation # 5
To ensure funding for specific education priorities are used for their intended purposes, we recommend that school boards focus the use of the funding on evidence-based areas where the at-risk students and English-language learners are performing below provincial standards.
Recommendation # 6
To ensure all special-needs assessments are completed in a timely and equitable manner, we recommend that school boards:
Establish reasonable timelines for completing psychological, and speech and language assessments; have access to all assessments wait lists at the board level and use this information to reassign assessments to specialists who have smaller workloads; implement a plan to clear backlogs; and track use of external assessments to better gauge demand.
Recommendation # 7
To ensure that special-education students are provided with support that best meets their needs, we recommend that school boards:
Implement objective measures to allocate staffing resources to special-education students based on their needs; and hire and train staff to ensure they are best equipped to provide support for the types of student exceptionalities to which they are assigned.
Recommendation # 8
To better ensure that the special-educational support services meet the needs of special- needs students, we recommend that school boards establish and publicly report on key academic and non-academic performance indicators to track student improvement for each type of exceptionality.
Recommendation # 9
To provide effective oversight of operations, we recommend that school boards:
Set measurable targets for each of their strategic goals regarding student achievement, student well-being, and stewardship of resources; regularly measure progress on the goals against targets and report them publicly; implement recommendations on audits conducted by the regional internal audit teams in a timely manner; and where possible, co-ordinate to have their regional internal audit teams examine issues common among the boards in the region to identify best practices, which should then be shared with boards province-wide.
Recommendation # 10
To help reduce costs for goods and services, we recommend that school boards collaborate on future group purchasing arrangements, either through the Ontario Education Collaborative Marketplace or by linking into cost-saving contracts already in place in larger boards, such as the Toronto Catholic District School Board.
Recommendation # 11
In order to provide the Ministry with accurate information on spending, we recommend that school boards:
Implement Ministry expense coding into all financial information systems; and report actual spending instead of estimated spending for restricted portions of special purpose grants.
Where I stand on the issue of the repeal of the 2015 Health and Physical Education curriculum?
I reject and will never support any notion of repealing the 2015 Health and Physical Education curriculum. The repealing of the 2015 Health and Physical Education curriculum, is an action that is harmful to all students. The action of this government shows that it is out of touch with the realities of todays’ society. Education should not be a bargaining tool, for political gain. This approach to education advances the further eroding our public education system, and as trustee I will never allow that to happen.
Making the workplace safer for employees and students?
What initiatives, if any, should implement to prevent bullying,
violence and harassment in the workplace?
Currently, HPEDSB has an administrative procedure (#378) in place called “STUDENT DISCIPLINE, BULLYING AND CONFLICT PREVENTION AND INTERVENTION”. The purpose outlined is to promote a safe learning
and working environment in all schools of the district and to assist
students in recognizing the behaviours required for good
citizenship and well-being.
The next procedure review date is February 2222. - This needs to be sooner.
In June 2017, the Ministry of Labour and the Ministry of Education committed to work with the stakeholders in the education sector, through the Provincial Working Group Health and Safety, to make workplace violence prevention a priority. The goal is to collaborate in shifting the culture in Ontario’s provincially publicly funded school boards to further enhance safe working and learning environments.
The document can be access via my website with the following link:
http://mr4hpedsb.website/hpedsb-quick-access - The document is called “The Guide To: Workplace Violence in School Boards”.
As trustee, I will a champion actions that will make our learning and workplace environment safer. I will work with board members and the director of education to establish a progressive long-term working group with our stakeholders and subject matter experts to come up with operational initiatives that can be taken within our district school board. We must be proactive and continue to monitor, evaluate and adjust our initiatives and policies to ensure maximum effectiveness.
The need for a full review and implementation of an educational funding formula which will meet the needs of our schools?
Yes. As Trustee, I am committed to working with all stakeholders, labour groups and subject matter experts.
Any full review and implementation of an educational funding formula will need to come as a consultation directive from the Ministry of Education. I believe that it is prudent to create a long-term working group with all board stakeholders to review our current and future educational funding requirements. I would see the working group being responsible for developing evidence-based recommendations that would reflect the realities of funding requirements for our school district.
These recommendations could be regularly sent off to the Ministry of Education and would be central in a formal submission to the ministry, when and if the Ministry of Education issues a consultation directive to school boards for a full review and implementation of an improved educational funding formula.
Priorities for funding in classrooms
and direct student support staff in schools?
In broad terms, I would like to see funding for tools and resources for our educators – example: updated curriculum, training, technology and supplies. Funding priorities should also be directed for special student programs and safe and well-being management.
Priorities for funding in classrooms, needs to involve all stakeholders. As, trustee I will support advancing funding for classrooms and the support of front-line staff in our schools.
Supporting the democratic right to freely negotiated collective agreements? What is your position on locking out
employees during a labour dispute?
Yes, Absolutely, I support the democratic right to freely negotiated collective agreements. I do not support locking out employees during a labour dispute, as I view this as a weapon in the hands of management to force employees to agree to employer demands.
As trustee, I will work with board members, management and labour groups to ensure that any labour dispute is handled responsibility.
How to ensure there is open and transparent dialogue with the labour movement, including timely notice on emerging issues?
HPEDSB has five distinct labour groups and are the backbone
of our district school system.
I believe that communications, accountability, transparency and engagement are key to successful labour relations.
I know, like we all know, that the next term (2018-2222) is going to be filled with unprecedented challenges. We are all going to have
to work better together.
As trustee, I will work with board members, management and labour representatives to review what is working and what is not working in our labour relations. I know that we are bound by various government legislative acts, but, I believe that with good will and proper dialogue the necessary improvements can be achieved that will provide better confidence and better trust amongst the labour groups.
As trustee, I would welcome regular scheduled or ad-hoc meetings with the various labour groups to discuss any issue, keeping in mind that it was not in violation of any government legislative acts.
Position on the contracting-out and privatization of public services currently being performed by unionized employees, including public-private partnerships?
I am mindful that HPEDSB operates in a union environment. My parents worked at the Hastings County School board and proudly belonged to CUPE 1022 until they retired in 1994/95. I am a supporter of unions and glad to know that HPEDSB employs over 700 CUPE 1022 members in elementary and secondary schools within our school district as workers in maintenance, custodians, secretaries, administration staff, IT workers, educational assistants and early childhood educators.
I am aware that transportation is provided independently through Tri-Board, as an out-sourced service. In principle, where a service can be provided effectively as a unionized position, I would not support contracting out.
As for public-private partnerships, these are basically a long-term contracts between a private party and a government entity, for providing a public asset or service, in which the private party bears significant risk and management responsibility, and remuneration is linked to performance". This sounds wonderful and proponents of the P3 approach point out that a major advantage of such agreements is that they transfer risk from taxpayers to the private sector. This may be true if the value of the project is worth billions of dollars.
As Trustee, I would not support the idea of public-private partnerships for our school system.
Steps to be taken to ensure that pay equity and employment equity policies are in place for the school board?
The “Fair Workplaces, Better Job Act, 2017” is now in place and includes a range of significant changes to employment and labour laws in Ontario, creating substantial compliance obligations for all Ontario employers, including school boards.
As this act came into effect on January 1, 2018, I would hope that board members, management and labour representatives would have met to review the impact of this new legislation, and any updates to polices being made and communicated. January 1, 2019 will also see additional changes come into effect.
As Trustee, I will always advocate for robust labour relation. Regarding issues such as pay equity and employment equity we as stakeholders must work together to ensure that existing or emerging labour issues are discussed and handled in a mutually agreeable way. Being complacent is not an option.
Managing change with Ministry of Education directives.
As trustee, it will be students first!
As trustee, I will work with all education stakeholders to ensure that we are united in what is best for our students, educators and support staff. Our school district is unique in that we have two members of the provincial legislature that are in government. We must ensure that we have open lines of communications with our members of the provincial legislature so that our concerns can be heard and voiced at the government cabinet table.