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Louis Riel: Ward 1

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WARD 1 (2 to be elected):

Gary Gervais

1. Are you an incumbent trustee? Have you served or run at other political levels? Are you running for a political party, and if so, which one?

a) Yes.

b) Yes, I ran for the federal Green Party in 2006.

c) No, but I maintain my green values and ideology.

2. Do you have children enrolled in or graduated from this division? Are/were any of your children home-schooled, or enrolled in an independent school?

a) No.

b) Not applicable.

3. List five issues which you believe your division’s school board will have to deal with in the next year, and state your position on these issues.

We will deal with hundreds of issues over the coming year. I will approach the issues, as I do all issues, with an open mind and consideration for the best interests of all stakeholders.

4. List your top five capital priorities for your division and which you would favour your board submitting to the province for funding, in descending order of priority.

Same as those outlined in the school division priorities.

5. What percentage increase in annual salary would be appropriate for teachers in your division? Would you reduce, maintain or increase the number of teachers in your division?

a) Given, the role of the school board in employee negotiations, I don’t think it is appropriate for an individual trustee to state target percentage for teacher salary increases. Effective school boards should bargain in good faith with the Manitoba Teachers’ Society to achieve contracts that best meet the needs of all stakeholders.

b) This is largely a function of enrolment numbers. The LRSD school board has set class size numbers.

6. Should the province lift its moratorium on school closings? Is or are there a school or schools in the division which should be reviewed for closure because of low enrolment? Which one(s)?

a) Yes.

b) The needs of the children in the entire division must be considered in determining the best way forward with school closures. Therefore, any decisions require an evaluation of the entire division, not just individual schools.

7. Would you accept the province’s tax incentive grant and agree to freeze property taxes, even if it meant cutting jobs, services or programs?

The Louis Riel School Board has accepted the TIG in previous years. Should the province offer a similar incentive, it will be evaluated and debated in the 2011-12 budget process.

8. Would you increase property taxes? If so, what percentage increase is acceptable and for what specific reason(s)?

a) If it is in the best interest of the students and the community.

b) As little as is necessary.

9. Do you believe in the so-called no-fail, social promotion policy? Should "failed" students repeat a school year? Should students be docked marks for late assignments?

a) Yes, the social promotion policy is based on sound educational research.

b) This really must be a case-by-case decision with parents, teachers, and administrators.

c) The decision with respect to docking marks should be made in the best interests of individual student learning needs.

10. Do you believe in standardized tests? For what subjects and grades? What proportion of the final mark should they should be worth?

Standardized tests have some, but very limited, usefulness. I experienced a very standardized education system while teaching in Japan. Teaching to standardized tests creates significant problems and fails to meet the needs of many students. If we believe in meeting the learning goals and needs of individual students, then we should be very careful with the emphasis placed on standardized testing.

 

Louise Johnston

1. Are you an incumbent trustee? Have you served or run at other political levels? Are you running for a political party, and if so, which one?

I am an incumbent trustee – Louise Johnston. I have served my community Louis Riel School Division Ward 1 as School Trustee for 20 years. I have no political attachments.

 2. Do you have children enrolled in or graduated from this division? Are/were any of your children home-schooled, or enrolled in an independent school?

Both my children have attended and graduated from schools in this division.

I have lived my entire life in Louis Riel School Division. I am a proud graduate from this division.

3. List five issues which you believe your division’s school board will have to deal with in the next year, and state your position on these issues.

  1. Ensuring our children get the best education possible – preserving the quality of education and enhancing opportunities for all.
  2. Declining enrolment
  3. Public Accountability
  4. Funding and pressures on taxpayers – reducing spending and minimizing the impact on classrooms
  5. Implementing long term cost controls

4. List your top five capital priorities for your division and which you would favour your board submitting to the province for funding, in descending order of priority.

Currently in LRSD we have a capital priorities plan which I have supported:

  1. New school in Sage Creek
  2. Several Access upgrades in older schools are required to allow for complete inclusion of all students
  3. Construction of a Performing Arts Facility at Jeanne-Sauvé
  4. Construction of change room facilities at Nordale School and Ecole Howden
  5. Science lab upgrades at Windsor Park, Dakota and Glenlawn Collegiates

5. What percentage increase in annual salary would be appropriate for teachers in your division? Would you reduce, maintain or increase the number of teachers in your division?

Like everyone else, teachers are feeling the wide-ranging effects of a declining global economy. Teachers should expect and receive an increase appropriate within this economy and in line with increases to the Cost of Living.

6. Should the province lift its moratorium on school closings? Is or are there a school or schools in the division which should be reviewed for closure because of low enrolment? Which one(s)?

Yes the moratorium on school closing should be lifted to allow school communities to work together to create the best opportunities for students. Prior to the moratorium LRSD had put 4 schools under review, Community committees were in place and a significant amount of work had been done by these committees. I would like to continue to work through this consultative process to help develop strong community schools that serve students well.

7. Would you accept the province’s tax incentive grant and agree to freeze property taxes, even if it meant cutting jobs, services or programs?

I believe strongly in a consultative and open budget process, one that reviews existing programs to ensure they serve students well, public consultation, looking forward at both challenges and opportunities, being realistic of today’s economy, the ability of taxpayers and working with government. The reality is education is funded by us the taxpayers, whether it’s under property taxes or taxed by government and promoted as the province’s tax incentive….it’s all money collected through some form of taxation.

We must strive to transparent, be accountable and work together.

8. Would you increase property taxes? If so, what percentage increase is acceptable and for what specific reason(s)?

This is not a simple yes or no question. It is far more complex. As School Trustees, our mandate is to ensure that we provide the best possible education. At the same time, we need to reduce the burden of higher taxes on the property owner. I support an education funding reform that is less dependant on the property owner.

9. Do you believe in the so-called no-fail, social promotion policy? Should "failed" students repeat a school year? Should students be docked marks for late assignments?

We are all responsible to work towards successfully graduating students. Home and School must always work together with the student in the center of all discussions. In LRSD today we do not have a "no-fail" policy and I will continue to support this. This is very much based on what is best for the individual student at the time.

I support teaching our children to be responsible. Our teachers must have the support and tools to ensure that our children have the tools to be successful.

10. Do you believe in standardized tests? For what subjects and grades? What proportion of the final mark should they should be worth?

I believe in appropriate assessments, proper reporting on progress/challenges, ensuring that both the student and parent have a clear understanding of how the child is performing.

I don’t feel that giving a standardized test in a specific year works. I support ongoing assessments and reporting.

 

Bob Wilson

1. Are you an incumbent trustee? Have you served or run at other political levels? Are you running for a political party, and if so, which one?

I have never been a school trustee, but have served on Winnipeg City Council and at the Manitoba Legislature. I am an independent candidate.

2. Do you have children enrolled in or graduated from this division? Are/were any of your children home-schooled, or enrolled in an independent school?

I have 5 children. Two are still enrolled in public school. All went through the public system, as I did.

3. List five issues which you believe your division’s school board will have to deal with in the next year, and state your position on these issues.

  1. Aging communities have less school-aged residents while newer areas are bursting and lagging in the development of their local schools.
  2. Why not rent the excess space for daycares to which parents could drive their preschoolers enroute to work and build adequate facilities in the newer communities? Older children could attend the same school as the preschooler(s) in a family.
  3. Older areas would be able to keep their local schools and they'd be economical. Then, newer ones would be built where the families are living now.
  4. When a community is planned, it's no big stretch to assume they will need schools. If higher density components are built first, schools could be put in place and the years of delays would be lessened. Class sizes should be around 25 students. Elementary schools might initially serve a larger area when newly-built. My experience building consensus would help determine priorities, once all the facts are known.
  5. In Louis Riel, communities like Island Lakes and Sage Creek are currently on the waiting list for adequate local facilities.Daycares and funding for new schools are provincial responsibilities. It would be helpful if the expenses for some of these dilemmas would be borne by the province, rather than off-loading them onto the local districts.

My position will be debated with the new school board to arrive at a collective policy. Bob Wilson supports these issues.

4. List your top five capital priorities for your division and which you would favour your board submitting to the province for funding, in descending order of priority.

  1. The Sage Creek and Island Lakes community schools are the top priorities for capital expenditures.
  2. Older areas need upgrades to grounds and play areas and all need sports and computer equipment.
  3. Greater specialization at the senior school level (arts, science, technical, sports) is the way to maximize the investment of scarce funds.
  4. Developing pre-school facilities in older, smaller enrollment locations will be money well spent, with energy efficiency and environmentally friendly components built into the retrofits.

5. What percentage increase in annual salary would be appropriate for teachers in your division? Would you reduce, maintain or increase the number of teachers in your division?

I would hold new collective agreements to a 3% increase followed by cost-of-living adjustments for the remaining three or four years of a contract. Because the population is increasing, it is highly unlikely there will be a reduction in the number of teachers.

6. Should the province lift its moratorium on school closings? Is or are there a school or schools in the division which should be reviewed for closure because of low enrolment? Which one(s)?

My research indicates the province is not apt to remove the moratorium before the 2011 election. A local school is a community-builder. In this age, that is a big benefit! If the aim of the government is to foist the extra costs of such a policy onto the local property owners, it is a further justification for having the province bear a greater share of education costs..

7. Would you accept the province’s tax incentive grant and agree to freeze property taxes, even if it meant cutting jobs, services or programs?

As a newly-elected trustee, I would be debating this with the province, demanding a fair shake from them. Where would this freeze be applied? Wages? Heating bills? French immersion? Enrichment programs like art or music or phys.ed., special ed.? I would urge voters to quiz their MLA and find out what they're thinking. If this special grant doesn't cover the expenses, as a new trustee, I'd have to agree to a small tax increase to cover our costs.

8. Would you increase property taxes? If so, what percentage increase is acceptable and for what specific reason(s)?

I would be inclined to hold the line on taxes and try to source funds elsewhere. I think we can find some.

9. Do you believe in the so-called no-fail, social promotion policy? Should "failed" students repeat a school year? Should students be docked marks for late assignments?

Students who lag behind may need special assistance in a subject. I'd suggest a student repeating wouldn't be a bad thing. Each child is different and could do well as an older pupil in a class rather than one of the youngest. Different friends might be a positive thing. In the real world, on-time matters. We are developing citizens who can function in the larger world around us. We'll be competing globally and must maintain high standards.

10. Do you believe in standardized tests? For what subjects and grades? What proportion of the final mark should they should be worth?

Yes. Our education pros can withstand the comparison this engenders. If the ratio is 75% standardized and 25% not so, it would provide some flexibility.

The standard aspect doesn't necessarily have to be one big exam.

Did not respond:

Chris Wilson

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