PUBLIC EDUCATION MATTERS

Toronto District School Board Ward 8 - Eglinton-Lawrence and Toronto-St Paul's

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.

 

Toronto District School Board Ward 8 – Unofficial Results

(City wards 8, 12)

 

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).

How the actions of the provincial government to date have affected students

Ramifications of Cancellation of Cap & Trade – In April 2017, as part of Ontario’s Climate Change Action Plan, the Ministry of Education launched the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GGRF) and during the grant announcements in the Spring, announced that this program would continue for the 2018-19 school year with another $100 million made available to school boards for expenses incurred between April 1, 2018 and March 31, 2019. The full amount  the TDSB was to receive was $25M. The additional grant as well as increasing funding for school repairs over the last few years has allowed the TDSB to move beyond just fixing emergency issues in our schools and begin chipping away at the large repair backlog. The TDSB faces a $4.05 billion repair backlog as a result of years of inadequate funding. Without consistent funding in the years ahead, the TDSB’s school repairs backlog could grow to an estimated $5.0 billion by 2021.

On July 3rd, the new Government of Ontario announced they would wind-down all programs funded out of cap and trade carbon tax revenues. In the TDSB, the majority of the projects funded through the GGRF were window replacements, lighting retrofits, hot water tank replacements, air handling unit replacements, etc. Some were completed and/or already in progress and TDSB staff will need to review the projects to determine which of them are critical and a higher priority than other work to move forward using existing School Condition Improvement (SCI) funding or Renewal funding. For the 2018-19, SCI funding allocation for TDSB is $227.1M and Renewal funding allocation is estimated to be approximately $47M.

As noted in my priority statements, it is imperative that the province commit to providing predictable and sustainable funding for school repairs so that the TDSB can continue implementing their long-term plan for renewal, lower the repair backlog and modernize schools. And I continue to support the TDSB legal challenge regarding access to Education Development Charges (EDCs). The importance of adequately funding school facilities cannot be overstated.

FNMI Curriculum – In addition to cancelling Cap and Trade, the new provincial government also put a hold on “discretionary funding” which resulted in bureaucrats in the Ministry of Education cancelling curriculum writing sessions over the summer – these included First Nations, Métis and Inuit (FNMI) curriculum. As the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association (OPSBA) stated on behalf of all 31 public boards, “We are disappointed by the cancellation of Indigenous Education curriculum writing sessions. We have long been advocates of recognizing the culture, contributions, history and perspectives of the First Nations, Métis and Inuit with relation to Canada. The importance of embedding Indigenous history and inclusion in all aspects of education cannot be overstated. We will seek to understand why and what the Ministry has planned but we remain committed to change for our Indigenous community”.

As a Trustee, I continue to be committed to implementing the Truth and Reconciliation recommendations with regards to education. Unlike most school boards, the TDSB has an Aboriginal Education Centre (AEC), which creates resources and provides support to TDSB schools.

It’s 2018 not 1998 – Another decision from the province affecting the health and safety of our students was their decision to “repeal” the 2015 sexual health component of the Health and Physical Education curriculum for elementary schools and ask teachers to teach from the 2010 documents.  I was vocal from the outset that in spite of that edict, it is the role of trustees in the Education Act to promote student achievement and well-being… to promote a positive school climate… to promote the prevention of bullying and deliver effective and appropriate educational programs. I have pinned that message on my twitter account @shelleylaskin.

As so many have noted, this polarizing decision is not made in the best interests of students – elements such as same-sex families, gender, consent, sexting and online safety are now essential components of a health and physical education in 2018. I was proud that the TDSB was the first board to issue a statement to ensure that each and every student, such as LGBTQ students, feels included and reflected in our schools and classrooms… this means that learning about real-world topics relevant to today’s students will continue in the classroom and teachers will be supported to do this. Further, the TDSB, through the Director, has launched a guide to help parents and guardians better understand the Ministry of Education’s 2010 re-issued Health and Physical Education Curriculum (HPEC) that you can find on their website.

 

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

– 30 –