Major motions & initiatives I have put forward since first elected in December, 2010:

  • WITNESSING OUR FAITH – St Pope John Paul II Day. April, 2011 Board – passed unanimously. The TCDSB and its schools, recognize the first Monday following Divine Mercy Sunday (the second Sunday of Easter) as St Pope John Paul II day.
  • WORKING WITH LOCAL CATHOLIC PARTNERS – Salt & Light Catholic Network: A partnership between the Catholic network and the TCDSB was formed in 2011 after a meeting I organized with the then Director, Chair and the CEO of S&L. Bringing their resources into our schools and sharing those with our students was a personal priority – and I’m thrilled that it began so quickly..
  • STEWARDSHIP OF RESOURCES – Investigate Solar Panels on TCDSB Roofs. June, 2011 Board, motion passed unanimously. The TCDSB to investigate the possibility of placing solar panels on TCDSB roofs.  Since the motion was approved – FIT applications to the Ontario Power Authority for 174 TCDSB schools and administrative buildings have been submitted.
  • SUPPORTING STUDENT ENGAGEMENT – 5-month Transition Period for Student Trustee-Elect.  September, 2011, Board, passed unanimously.  The election of Student Trustee be moved to the February CSLIT meeting, providing a 5-month ‘transition’ period before the Trustee-elect officially takes office on August 1st giving them time to better prepare for, and carry out, their duties.
  • STRENGTHENING PUBLIC ACCOUNTABILITY- Investigate Independent Ombudsman Role:  November, 2011, Board, passed unanimously. Motion for the Governance Committee, with the support of staff and external subject matter experts, as needed, to investigate and report on options and recommendations for the creation of an independent Ombudsman role.   This would would allow for the impartial investigation of complaints to determine whether we as a public institution acted fairly and reasonably providing a further mechanism to ensure our system is responsive to the needs of students and accountable to the public.  Creation of an Ombudsman which would have the power to independently investigate parent, student or staff issues, make recommendations, and help identify systemic issues, lost on a 6 – 6 vote at the June, 2012 Board meeting.   For more on the role and the vote, please see the May and June, 2012, Board agenda and minutes
  • SCHOOLS AS COMMUNITY HUBS – Local Partnerships: December, 2011, Board (motion composed with Trustee Jakovcic), passed.  Staff are to undertake a preliminary development review of our underutilized school sites to assess development potential keeping in mind  financial, municipal, site and other constraints.
  • IMPROVING LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS – OUR LADY OF PERPETUAL HELP Boundary Review:  March, 2012 Board, passed.  Having engaged the OLPH community in a Boundary Review Committee process, I moved a motion providing a boundary for the school which responded to the desires of the vast majority of parents as evidenced by submitted letters, an on-line survey and input provided by parents during the committee meetings themselves.
  • PROVIDING STUDENTS WITH EQUAL ACCESS to PROGRAMMING:  April, 2012 Board, passed:  In alignment with the approved 2012 – 2015 Multi-Year Plan, the TCDSB will strive for students to have access to the programming they need or desire (where there are sufficient numbers) within their local Catholic school.  Staff to report back to Trustees on the current state of programming access across the Board, comparative analysis with other comparative Boards, and a proposal for action to close existing programming gaps at both the elementary and secondary levels.
  • WORKING WITH OUR PARTNERS IN EDUCATION – City of Toronto / School Boards Working Committee:  Corporate Affairs Committee, May, 2012, passed.  I put forward a Trustee Matter regarding Councillor Josh Matlow’s motion on Working together – Establishing a City of Toronto – Toronto School Boards Working Group.  Since that motion was passed the committee has been created and meets regularly.
  • ENHANCING THE EDUCATIONAL ACHIEVEMENTS OF PORTUGUESE & SPANISH-SPEAKING STUDENTS:   I am very proud to have worked with (then) Associate Director, Angela Gauthier, to create the Community Advisory committee Partners In Motion which included over 40 community partners from both the Portuguese and Spanish communities. Given the committee’s success, it will be used as a framework to support other high needs student communities. To read the full report, please go to the 5 June, 2012 Student Achievement agenda
  • SUPPORTING OUR STUDENTS LEARNING NEEDS – Investigating Year-Round Learning:  April, 2013, Student Achievement Committee, passed.  Staff are to come back with a report laying out options for how we could move forward with year-round learning at the TCDSB, including recommendations for potential pilot sites.
  • WITNESSING OUR FAITH – Combating Ageism: April, 2013, Student Achievement Committee.  The Ontario Human Rights Commission, in their 2001 report, Time for Action:  advancing human rights for older Ontarians, recommended that “school boards develop  programs and activities that will encourage a better understanding and a more positiveperception of older persons. Intergenerational programming that provides close communication, sharing of feelings and ideas, and cooperative activity in meaningful tasksbetween students and older persons is an integral part of such education.”  The passed motion asked staff to:
    • develop programming for roll-out in elementary and secondary students to combat ageism, and create opportunities for inter-generational learning environments that bring our students together with older persons in meaningful ways.
    • report back to the Board of Trustees by October, 2013, on program development and timelines for roll-out.
    • develop metrics to measure the success of the program in encouraging a better understanding and a more positive perception of older persons.
    • report back on metric results by October, 2014, and on an annual basis thereafter.  Report on metrics for Programming to Cambat Ageism to be added as an item on the strategic rolling calendar of reports.
  • RESPECTING LOCAL COMMUNITIES – Our Lady of Lourdes & St Paul Boundary Reviews – At Corporate Services Committee staff brought forward a report recommending certain schools be prioritized for boundary reviews.   It did not include Our Lady of Lourdes (OLOL), though the current boundary excludes St James town.  Trustees supported my plea and OLOL and St Paul are now on the overall Board priority list – the process began in the 2012-2013 school year.  This should allow both OLOL and St Paul to have their local communities within their school boundaries – St James town and Regent Park, respectively.

 

  • ADVOCATING FOR OUR CITY’S DOWNTOWN COMMUNITIES – Expansion of French Immersion in 2014.  I have been advocating for the expansion of specialty programming to our downtown schools at every opportunity around the Board table, and am thrilled that the decision was made by trustees at the April, 2013, Student Achievement & Well Being Committee meeting to expand the Early French Immersion Program to two schools, including St Francis of Assisi in Little Italy (Clinton & College).   NOTE: Given the lack of local interest, this allocation was moved by staff to Holy Rosary and approved by trustees and it was successfully rolled-out in September, 2015. This is the first TCDSB school in the Ward (which includes the ridings of St Paul’s, Toronto Centre and Trinity-Spadina) with early French immersion.
  • TCDSB Partnership with Toronto Humane Society – Responsible Pet Ownership.  This partnership between the TCDSB and the Toronto Humane Society (THS) is the first of its kind for the THS.  A pilot project for grades 4 & 5 students was created and rolled-out to teach them the importance of responsible pet ownership.  I was able to sit-in on the presentation given at St Luke school – students were very interested and engaged, and asked a lot of great questions!  Of course, the highlight for students was getting to meet Crosty, a blind dog currently at the shelter.
  • Living Our Faith & Closing the Learning Opportunity Gap – Creation of the Catholic Social Justice Committee.  Trustees approved my motion to create a Catholic Social Justice Committee in March, 2013.  The Committee held its first meeting on 16 October, 2013 – its mandate is to advise the Board on Policies, Programs and Services which close the learning opportunity gaps for school communities.  The committee includes a trustee representative (currently myself), student representative, teachers, principals, clergy, senior staff, and key Catholic partners who support our students and families.  The committee provides an ongoing mechanism to tackle the critical issue of ensuring that all of our students have access to diverse learning opportunities which allow them to discover their God-given talents, develop their whole person, and live life to the full.
  • Closing the Special Education Funding Gap: At the October, 2013, meeting of the Board, trustees approved my motion that “staff and the Chair each meet with the Ministry to discuss our current annual budgetary gap in special education and identify the action that will be taken to close this gap.” We spend about $20 million a more annually on special education than is funded by the Ministry – programming and resources which are critical and supporting the learning environment for all our students.
  • Supporting our Ward 9 Community of Schools and Families: At the 12 November, 2013, meeting of the Corporate Affairs & Strategic Planning Committee, staff provided a report outlining city-wide demographics and projected school enrollment by trustee ward. Included in that report was our ‘Catholic Service Factor’ – the percentage of Catholic ratepayers who enrol their children in the TCDSB. The lowest Catholic Service factor was in our downtown ward at 69%. As a result, trustees approved my motion for staff to “determine what can be done to enhance the attraction to our schools by local Catholics, and to include the research and assistance of the Archdiocese.”
  • Supporting our Special Needs Students: Following a board-wide review, staff made the decision to re-allocate some Educational Assistants (EA). This matter came to the Board of Trustees as a result of parents being notified of coming changes at the school level and informing their trustees of their concerns. Board asked staff to re-examine their decision given the feedback we had received. I contacted each principal in our ward and asked whether their EA allocation required re-examination. As a result, 6 schools in ward 9 were among 22 schools across the board which were re-examined.  Staff has agreed that going forward any re-allocations will be made in the spring, so that students are not impacted at the start of the school year.
  • Meeting with the Minister of Education: In my first meeting with Minister Sandals as Chair of the Board, our discussion focused on the need for partnership solutions to meet student needs where there are critical and chronic funding gaps (e.g. Special Education – we spend $20 million more than budgeted), the coming collective bargaining, and the lack of regular communication channels between the Ministry and Chairs which limits opportunities for advocacy. Since that meeting action has been taken on the final item with the first of what is expected to be regular teleconferences with Chairs across the province.
  • After 4 years of advocating for enhanced programming for our ward to level the student learning opportunities with other parts of the city, the following has been rolled out – and work continues!:
    o Full-time Congregated Gifted program for grades 6 to 8 at St. Francis of Assisi School.
    o French Immersion for JK/SK (ELP) – expanding by 1 grade every year – at Holy Rosary School.
  • I was elected by my fellow trustees to the City of Toronto – School Boards Committee for 2015: A critical team for our community of schools as the City’s current ‘Comprehensive to the Core’ initiative covers the geographic area of our ward and will likely make recommendations on our shared public spaces.
  • Improving the enrollment process for over-subscribed schools: Bringing the feedback of parents in our ward, trustees approved my motion at the April, 2015 board meeting for staff to come back with a report to look at pros and cons and provide a jurisdictional comparison of using a lottery rather than a time/stamp enrollment process for enrollment.
  • Student Voice for Student Safety: At the September, 2015, Student Achievement trustees approved my motion to add student input when it comes to finding solutions to issues impacting the safety and well being of our students. All future Safe Schools surveys will now include:
    • Questions which ask students to rank / provide feedback on suggested solutions for areas of concerns.
    • Input from students on recommended solutions to make their schools great learning environments for all.
    • Input from our Student Trustees (on behalf of CSLIT / e-CSLIT – student leadership teams for elementary and high school) and the Safe School Teams regarding perceived issues in our schools and proposed solutions.
  • Educating our students on Pope Francis’s Laudato Si: School boards have a clear role to play in Pope Francis’s urgent appeal for education, conversation and ‘profound internal conversion’ when it comes to ‘Caring for our Common Home’. Trustees approved my September, 2015, motion for staff to develop programming for students across our board to study, and reflect on, Pope’s Francis’s critical Encyclical letter which focuses on our interconnected relationships with God, each other and our planet.
  • Understanding Why Parents Chose TCDSB Schools: We do not currently ask parents / guardians why they selected a TCDSB school for their child (e.g. close to home, programming, EQAO results, transportation, facilities, school size, single gender). Understanding why students enter and leave our schools provides input to meet local needs and make informed decisions when it comes to planning. Trustees supported my September, 2015, motion for staff to create an entrance/exit survey.
  • TTC Tickets for Secondary Students in Need: At the November, 2015, Board, I made an urgent public enquiry, after calls from several parents letting me know that their child had not received TTC tickets – though there was an urgent economic need. Staff confirmed at board that about 80% of our high schools have more students in need of TTC tickets than we are able to provide them. We are waiting on staff to let us know what we can do to help our students – in partnership with the TTC, City and province.
  • Advocating to Reduce the Voting Age to 16 for Trustee Elections: Trustees defeated my motion (with a vote of 6 to 5) at the November, 2015, Board to write the province and advocate to reduce the voting age to 16 years of age for Ontario trustee elections. I submitted the motion as a response to the consistent low turnout of voters aged 18 to 30 – voting for trustee seemed a good place to start. At 18, many leave their home to attend college, university or search for work. Lowering the voting age allows students to vote before leaving their home. Studies show that those who get into the habit of voting earlier, are more likely to do so throughout their life. Parent voter turnout also grows as it increases the whole family’s interest in voting. This is not a new solution to the problem of voter engagement. Countries such as Austria, Brazil and Scotland have already lowered the voting age to 16. The Europe Union has encouraged all its member states to lower the voting age. New Brunswick, Massachusetts, New York and New Mexico are all currently looking at Bills to lower the voting age to 16.

 

  • Making TCDSB a “Net Zero” Energy School Board:  March, 2016, Corporate Affairs meeting, trustees approved my motion to make TCDSB a ‘net zero’ energy school board – with the aim of producing the same amount of energy that we consume.  We have reached out to the Ministry of Education, as well as both the provincial and federal Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change to help us meet this objective which supports our goals of both environmental and financial sustainability.
  • Motion Seeking Board-Wide & Local Technology Partnership Opportunities:  At the September, 2016, Student Achievement meeting trustees approved my motion for staff to come back with a report by November which outlined both local school, and board-wide technology partnership opportunities. The aim is to increase the opportunity for students in every classroom to gain access to the latest technology in support of learning.  The reality is that the board does not have the resources to provide access to tablets or 3D printers, robotics or coding, to every student.   But, we can expand our partnerships to work collaboratively in an effort to level the playing field of student opportunities – a clear Catholic social justice goal of a Catholic public school board.

Useful TCDSB links