PUBLIC EDUCATION MATTERS

With information from the City of Toronto Elections Website

On August 14, 2018, Bill 5 – the Better Local Government Act, 2018, was passed by the Government of Ontario. The Act, which amends the Municipal Elections Act, 1996 and the City of Toronto Act, 2006, reduced the number of Toronto wards from 47 to 25, and extended the nomination period for councillor and school board trustee nominations. The new 25 ward boundaries were set to align with the current federal and provincial electoral ridings, with minor adjustment to stay within geographic boundaries of Toronto.

As a result, the TDSB was required to realign its ward boundaries with the City’s ward boundaries and met on August 9 to select an option  that attempts to balance the number of schools in each ward and aligns with the federal/provincial boundaries in the City of Toronto. View the List of Candidates Under 25 Ward Model.

Given serious questions and concerns about the lack of public consultation and the City Clerk’s capacity to implement the changes in time for the election, Trustees also passed a motion to support the City of Toronto’s consideration of legal action and reconfirmed this action at the Board meeting on August 29 .

On September 10, the Superior Court of Justice set aside the provisions in Bill 5, the Better Local Government Act, 2018 that change the number of wards to 25.

As a result, the City Clerk has commenced preparations to administer the October 22 election under the 47-ward model. Nominations for candidates under the 47-ward model were closed on July 27 and certified. View the List of Certified Candidates Under 47 Ward Model.

On September 12, the Ontario government introduced Bill 31 – Efficient Local Government Act, 2018 – again to reduce the number of wards from 47 to 25 – and it passed first reading in the Legislature. However, until the Bill receives Royal Assent, the City Clerk will continue to proceed with preparations to administer the upcoming election under the 47-ward model which is the current legislation in place.

The government also is appealing the Superior Court decision and on September 18 will ask for a judge to set aside the ruling to go back to 47 wards while the appeal is proceeding.

In response to “what now?” — I will either be running in Ward 11 in the 47 Ward Model or Ward 8 in the 25 Ward Model. At this point, we wait… and continue to voice opposition to the government’s actions. It truly is unprecedented.

No matter which Ward I run in, with your support, I can build on my proven track record as your trustee at the Toronto District School Board – working with students, parents and community members to consult, represent, advocate for, and deliver on your priorities.

I will continue to work to help us realize our community’s goals – thriving, effective public schools that create safe and supportive learning environments, celebrate diversity, have high expectations for all, and give each and every child the ability to reach their full potential.

Priorities

Student achievement
We owe it to our students to support their academic success as well as their mental health, have high expectations, provide learning supports and nurture their self-esteem, social responsibility and civic engagement. An emphasis on safe, caring and healthy schools and the implementation of the Multi-Year Strategic Plan will support student success.

Parent and community engagement
It is essential that we establish conditions for effective school councils and create other opportunities, inviting parents/guardians and the community to discuss issues, provide advice and contribute to decisions facing students, schools and the board. Through dialogue we can enrich and strengthen our school programs.

Strengthening human resources
It is the people in our schools who make the difference; all it takes is one caring adult to turn a student’s life around. More adults in our buildings are needed at all levels – vice-principals, teachers, education workers.

Effective policy
A systematic review of all policies is important to ensure that they are relevant, and to support the development of new policies through consultation that gathers public input regarding options to help inform decision-making. Good policy is nonpartisan.

Improving allocation of resources
Different levels of funding are required to produce equitable outcomes; differentiated funding is key to removing barriers for some students. We must review the budget with this lens in order to provide effective programs for all students.

Successful planning for school space and infrastructure improvements
Innovative approaches are needed to provide additional school spaces, repair and replace aging school infrastructure, improve school buildings and grounds, increase needed childcare and expand the community use of schools. In order to do this we need to bring the province, city and other partners together and continue to support the board’s strategy to address intensification and growth and a provincial urban strategy that includes access to Education Development Charges (EDCs).

 

Media Release – TDSB Ward 11 Trustee Shelley Laskin Files re-election papers for newly reconfigured Ward 8

August 20, 2018, Toronto, Ontario – Shelley Laskin, Toronto District School Board Trustee for Ward 11, who originally had filed her nomination papers at City Hall for re-election in Ward 11, confirmed today that she is transferring to the new TDSB Ward 8.

This change is a result of the Government of Ontario’s decision to reduce Toronto City Council from 47 to 25 councillors and realign the City of Toronto’s ward electoral boundaries to reflect provincial electoral ridings. By law, the TDSB is required to align its ward electoral boundaries with the City’s and fit the 22 TDSB wards into the new 25 City wards. Laskin says she looks forward to the opportunity to serve all the schools in the newly configured Ward 8 which includes Eglinton-Lawrence and Toronto-St Paul’s.

Laskin served as a trustee from 1997-2003, and then returned to the board in 2010. In fact, during that first term and configuration of the TDSB Wards, she represented a number of schools that are in the Eglinton-Lawrence riding. In the following terms she represented all but one of the schools in new Toronto-St Paul’s riding, Some of the initiatives she championed during her early years included new ground-breaking policies for eco-schools and equity, entrenching parental involvement, forging the private-public partnership to build the new North Toronto Collegiate, and expanding funding for nutrition, literacy, math and community partnerships. Shelley has been instrumental in getting a number of facility improvements and program enhancements in local schools and continues to champion meaningful parental involvement and supportive system relationships to advance student mental health and well-being as well as academic success. Laskin sees this extensive hands-on experience as crucial for the city’s schools.

“The issues we face as a school board are not simple and experience matters in understanding the complexity at the board level and particularly, how board decisions affect the students, their families and communities.” That is why she communicates weekly through an e-mail newsletter to ensure transparency and accountability to members of her community so that they can be informed of the challenges and success of the board’s agenda and how they can be involved. She understands good policy is non-partisan and was instrumental in ensuring the board established a Governance and Policy Standing Committee where she seconded an Open Data Policy, the first of its kind for a school board. She has been a vocal advocate and supporter of the board’s strategy to address intensification and growth, and for a provincial urban strategy that includes access to Education Development Charges (EDCs) for the TDSB. And she does this not only at the TDSB, but through the Ontario Public School Boards Association where Shelley serves as Vice-President on the Executive. “Growth should pay for growth” is part of her mantra.

Additionally, over the years Laskin has consistently demonstrated commitment to her community. She has been active in community groups such as her local resident and ratepayer association and her synagogue. Currently, in her fifteenth year in the Ontario Public Service (OPS) as a Senior Advisor, Laskin supports the governance role of provincial agencies; previously she worked in the Pan Am Games Secretariat, as a Senior Policy Advisor and led corporate priorities in inclusion, accessibility and diversity. Her first role was in the Business Improvement Office. She feels her background in the OPS and understanding of government enhances her role as a trustee on the TDSB.

When asked about how she manages time for these commitments, Laskin stated that being engaged is what she loves. “I do these things because they are my passion, because from a young age I was taught the importance of directing your efforts towards the good of your community. I love having the opportunity to speak with people and work to craft solutions to the challenges we are all facing in the public education system. That’s what I’ve done as a trustee, and that’s what I want to continue to do.”

The election takes place on Monday, October 22, 2018. The new boundaries come into effect when the elected school trustees take office in December 2018. Please note the changes in election boundaries do not affect where students attend school or access school programs.

Shelley Laskin – Experience that can be measured.

Contact – shelley@shelleylaskin.ca

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