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Louis Riel: Ward 3

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WARD 3 (3 to be elected)

Alem Asghedom

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 not an incumbent trustee, I have not served at other political levels and I am not running for a political party.

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 four children. Three of my children attended H.S.Paul School and Dakota Collegiate Institute. My oldest graduated from the University of Manitoba and the second oldest is in her second year at the University of Manitoba. The youngest is attending an independent school.

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.

I am aware of issues that concern the schools, parents and students and the following are some of the issues that need to be addressed.

  1. Implementing programs such as physical education
  2. Healthy lunch programs to counteract child obesity.
  3. Renting out underutilized schools in older areas in favour of building or adding to new schools in outer lying suburbs closer to where children are living so they can walk to school. I believe are healthier alternative than so much bussing.
  4. Advocate for using social media like facebook in class. This will harness their natural interest for greater learning opportunities. This will put the learning needs of our children first.

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. Investing in new school buildings or major renovations. New developments could stand a major addition of permanent classrooms rather than make do with mobile ones.
  2. Technology advancement
  3. Sport facilities (schemes)
  4. Safety schemes
  5. Gardening

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?

Louis Riel has already a contract with teachers and is very much in line with other school divisions. I support the current agreement.

I would maintain the number but shift teachers as numbers shift in schools.

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 closing moratorium eventually leads to situations where schools become so small that they are not economic to run or maintain.

Closings need to be looked at individually and sensitively

Archwood School, Dr. D.W. Penner School, Ecole Henri-Bergeron and Marion School were reviewed for closure.

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?

No.

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

I do not know what the books look like at the moment. I would look forward how the finance is and look for effective way to address it.

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?

No- fail doesn't work. A middle course of addressing the students learning issues is needed. In the long run this produces better results. Some marks need to be docked for some late assignments in the upper grades. This can be done when students need to learn to plan their time. This should not be policy, but used as a teaching tool. I would defer to the pedagogical expertise of teachers and allow them to dock or not dock marks according to their discretion (with parental consultation) over the individual circumstances of each situation.

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

Yes I do for such core subjects as math and language arts. Primary 1-3, middle 4-6, junior 7-8, and high 9-12)

 

Sandy Nemeth

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 running in the school board elections for the first time, in Ward 3 of the Louis Riel School Division. I am not a member of any political party, nor have I ever been.

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?

Our 2 children are in grades 7 and 10, in public schools in this Division; neither of them ever home schooled or enrolled in an independent school. 

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.

The issues I feel our Board will be dealing with include, but are certainly not limited to:

  1. revisiting school closures
  2. safe schools
  3. taxes
  4. multi-age classrooms
  5. classroom size

I invite you to visit my website (sandynemeth.blogspot.com) where I have stated my position on the first two, and the latter in the coming days and weeks.

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.

I support the request already submitted by the Board for a new school in Sage Creek. I am also supportive of a parent driven request by College Jeanne-Sauvé for construction of a facility for performing arts, which presumably could be used by other schools. In addition, I support upgrades and additions related to science and technology, and really anything that enhances and broadens student learning, being mindful of the fact that infrastructure repairs and replacements must be planned for and anticipated.

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?

This is a very difficult question to answer and one that requires so many variables be taken into consideration, as I am sure anyone reading this appreciates. The collective bargaining process has to be respected and trusted. I am not prepared to commit to actual numbers related to salaries or staffing levels.

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)?

See response to question 3.

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?

See below.

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

I will answer these two questions (7 and 8) together:

As a taxpayer, I would very much like to see property taxes remain unchanged from last year. However, I am mindful of the fact that freezing taxes will impact the budget, and I don’t want programs and services compromised. This is a sensitive area, and any changes must occur after a thorough and transparent examination of the budget, and with as much community input as possible. Many people I have talked to, and I include myself in this category, are open to tax increases if there are very specific uses for the money stated in advance, that have student success as the goal. I know that there are many ways to remain fiscally responsible and responsive to our community, and staff reductions, the TIG, and searching for more efficient ways of conducting the business of the school board all play a role.

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?

In some cases it may be in a student’s best interest to be exposed to the material of a particular grade or subject for a second time. However, this is a decision that can only be made by a parent, or parents, in consultation with, and with the support of, the classroom teacher, school administration and the student services team. Regarding docking marks for late assignments, the short answer is yes, I feel this practice is fair. However, I think determining the reason for a late submission is very important, and may impact how this is handled.

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

I am in favour of standardized testing it if it is used as one of several ways to assess whether or not students are learning and performing at grade level, and with clear and realistic uses for the resulting information stated in advance.

 

Dave Richardson

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. I have neither served at other political levels nor run for a political party. 

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?

Two of my children have graduated from Glenlawn Collegiate. My oldest son graduated from St. Boniface Diocesan Collegiate.

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.

Five issues are:

  1. Declining population of students. This is a serious issue which is being slowly addressed by:
  2. Focus on the needs of our growing urban Aboriginal population;
  3. Initiate transitional action plans to successfully address the needs of newcomers to the city
  4. If the decline in our student population is not reversed, then emptying schools will put many programs at risk as classroom become much smaller. Finally,
  5. ALL learners’ needs must be met in our schools; from special needs programs to enrichment for students with accelerated learning abilities.

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.

Five capital priorities in descending order:

e. Various system replacements (boilers/heating upgrades) over the next five years to: Dakota Collegiate, St. George School, J.H. Bruns Collegiate, Glenwood School and Ecole Varennes.
d. Roof replacement at Glenlawn Collegiate, Darwin School, Louis Riel Arts and Technology Centre, Samuel Burland School, Windsor Park Collegiate. The Board usually receives funding for one roof per year.
c. Renovations to existing facilities such as science lab upgrades at Glenlawn, Dakota, and Windsor Park Collegiates.
b. Construction of a Performing Arts Facility at College Jeanne Sauve and change room Facilities at Nordale School and Ecole Howden. Finally,
a. The first priority is a new school at Sage Creek.

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?

In terms of a percentage increase that would be appropriate for the teachers, I support a fair and reasonable contract but it is difficult to offer a percentage because the contract increase is dependent upon the school board’s ability to pay.

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)?

In terms of lifting the provincial moratorium on school closures, I feel that complete collaboration with the school in question: the staff, parents, administration and the Board should work together to determine what is best for the students. If the moratorium is lifted, all stakeholders in a school slated for closure have to agree to do so.

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 school board should retain budget autonomy. The TIG has assisted in the past but does present uncertainty with educational funding each year due to many "unknowns" as the provincial funding formula changes each year.

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

Provincial funding for education is extremely complex and the province relies heavily upon transfer payments for its own budget. The question can boil down to: do we cut or do we not cut. If there is a cut in funding to the division, this shortfall has to be made up in order to sustain the high quality of academic, technical/vocational, French Immersion and EAL, special needs and enrichment programming in our division.

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?

To retain or not to retain: that is the question. I don’t know what the answer is, but I think it lies somewhere outside of either traditional retention or social retention. Educators are creative by nature. Perhaps the chronically failing students could have time built into their schedules to meet with a resource teacher one-on-one through-out the week to attend replacement courses. Another thought is to provide an extended program for failed students in a reduced class size and ask the strongest teachers to lead. The remediation and individualized attention that these students receive would be extremely effective resulting in "failed" students moving to the next grade on their own merit. Schools should reflect consequences as in the real world. We all know the consequences if our own productivity was questionable and late. Students have to be accountable for their actions. Poor academic habits mean consequences. Our schools graduate students that can think AND work.

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 are diagnostic in nature; a "snapshot" at that particular time. As a teacher, I analyze what the students did or did not achieve on a standardized exam and adjust my teaching accordingly to ensure a potential for higher success in their learning. I feel standardized assessment in grade 8 math and English skills will entitle students to remedial help before it is too late.

 

Wayne Ruff

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?

Yes, I am an incumbent. I ran for the Louis Riel School Division (LRSD) in a bi-election in 2003 (Christine Melnyk- Trustee elected to the new amalgamated board of LRSD decided to run provincially). I ran because the amalgamated Board was dysfunctional and I believed that my previous educational leadership would provide stability and a re-focusing of the Board on the real issue of providing the best education for every child in LRSD.

I, also, was concerned that a trustee who had committed to a four year term- made a selfish political decision to resign. The bi-election cost the taxpayer $50,000 plus to elect a new trustee.

I completed my term and ran again in 2006 and was re-elected for my first official four year term and I have completed that obligation as of October 27/2010.

I am not running for any political party and have not held any political positions at any other level. Over the last forty years – I have assisted quality candidates in their campaigns and they have represented the Liberal Party federally, the Conservative Party and the NDP party provincially, and in City Politics ran the Kaufmann for Mayor Campaign. I work for committed individuals who bring skills and a community focus to their involvement in politics.

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 two adult children, both of whom attended public schools from kindergarten to grade 12. They attended in the Fort Garry School Division, which is now Pembina Trails School Division. My grand-children are presently attending in that division and their parents are committed to public education.

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. Balancing the need to provide quality education programming for all students (with recognition of the individual gifts of every child) with the need to increase the Provincial funding contributions to public education. The Province has been more than generous in the last few years but there needs to be a recognition that more of the tax load for public education must be provided on a Provincial level. This does not negate the need to focus on a balance between provincial control of education and the local autonomy and decision making that school boards provide.
  2. How can School Boards work with community groups- especially those with a focus on Early Years Education (Day Care Providers, those who want Family Centres) so that school buildings continue to meet their basic role of providing quality education to all who wish to access it but also to recognize that the capital investment in these buildings means that a school population decline needs to bring about a community discussion on how that school building can be used for community based programming as well as for public education of K- 12 students.
  3. School Closures – The Louis Riel School Division was proactive in its dialogue with the school communities that were facing serious declining enrolment. Monthly dialogue with community committees occurred with recommendations from these committees for possible actions to address the declining enrolment. No decisions were made by the Board as this was pre-empted by the Province announcing that no schools in the Province would be closed. This was unfortunate as various collaborative actions came from these committees that not only recommended school consolidations but also were pro-active in their recommendations on community use of these buildings. These discussions with communities and with those who hold the ultimate power (the province) as to how changing community demographics and needs can be met must occur. These discussions need to occur in a context that respects the mandate for local public schools to provide k-12 education for the children in the LRSD communities.
  4. A continued focus on academic literacy and numeracy for all students with data to demonstrate that the resources that the School Board and public are providing are having the results that we are investing in and expecting. This is important for all students but particularly important for our First Nations Students and for the International Students who have arrived from all of the countries of the world.
  5. A continued discussion on how our high schools can continue to meet the changing needs o f its student population. (innovation and new ways of meeting the academic, technology, vocational , athletic and art, music and drama needs of a student population that continues to be diverse)

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.

The capital priorities established by our board has its focus on a new school for the growing population of the Sage Creek community. I support this priority.

As well, our demographics has three of our English High Schools having large populations for the next five or six years. Creative timetabling can assist with this population increase but we need to ensure that the Public Finance Board continues to upgrade these schools (labs etc) to ensure that the overcrowding does not co-exist with deterioration of these facilities.

As well A HIGH PRIORITY FOR ME is an addition to College Jeanne Sauve with a first class theatre and music/drama theatre. Our English high schools have these facilities and LRSD has the largest French Immersion population in Manitoba and theses students should not be short changed in this area just because they have chosen Immersion in the public system.

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?

Qualtiy teaching is at the base of quality public education. In order to attract the best- they need to be compensated accordingly. Many of the problems in the American public schools are directly related to the fact that they pay their teachers poorly. LRSD teachers received increases that brought them in line with several urban school divisions who had provided their teachers with not only a 3% increase but also with an additional lump sum payment. Our 2009/2010 settlement placed our teachers on equivalent pay scales and in fact set a below 3% increase for the next fiscal year. The Board must respect its fiduciary responsibilities but also must maintain a commitment to hire the best teachers possible and this sometimes means maintaining an equitable pay scale.

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)?

The Moratorium on School Closures needs to be lifted.

The Moratorium was a Provincial knee jerk reaction which applied one solution to an issue of demographic change that both urban and rural school divisions were experiencing. The Moratorium was politically motivated and had little to do with the educational issue of changing demographics and changing community needs. School Divisions, like LRSD, held extensive public discussions with community input and recommendations. These were put on hold when the Moratorium was announced without any consultation with School Divisions or communities.

Yes, the dialogue in North St. Boniface needs to continue and the recommendations that came from Archwood, Marion and Henri Bergeron need further discussion. As well, there is a need to look at how these schools can be used more effectively by all stakeholders in this community. More discussion, with specific recommendations was pending- and these were HALTED by the moratorium.

Leadership must come from the Province and there needs to be willingness for Manitoba Education to be involved in some potential solutions-particularly in communities like North St. Boniface. Ultimately, these discussions may lead to consolidation of these three schools and a different usage of these facilities.

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 Tax Incentive Grant has been a financial offering for Boards to do another review of their budgets and to decide whether tax increases or program cuts with resulting teacher or staff losses might result. It has allowed Boards to carry on a dialogue with their communities on priority programming and whether there are areas away from the classroom teacher or from support for special programs that can be reviewed. Our Board has been doing a continuous evaluation of existing programs to determine their effectiveness and whether they should continue in their present form. The debate on increased taxes, tax incentives to maintain a specific level of tax or no tax increase and the resulting actions have been positive. I personally have supported accepting the tax incentive grant for the last two year period. I do not believe that our programming has suffered as a result of our decision to hold the line on tax increases. However, after saying that we are getting to the point when in order to protect existing valued programs, we will have to increase taxes unless we receive greater provincial support.

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

The importance of having continued local autonomy over some portion of the public education budget is crucial as local programming to meet local needs must continue. The province has provided increased financial support and the Tax Incentive Grant has assisted School Boards in the decision making process. However, after saying that, our public system has maintained quality when comparing it to our neighbour to the South because our citizenry see schools and public support for them an essential component of our democracy. Public Schools provide the opportunities for all students to learn and to grow regardless of their economic status. It takes a "village to raise a child" and all must be prepared to support the system through whatever taxations system is identified. (More monies from Provincial general revenue or if that is not there then increasing school taxes to support local needs).

Our Board has kept the ability to pay balanced with the need to ensure that classrooms are adequately staffed and that quality programming continues. (Staff reductions must remain as the last resort and the resources at the classroom level must be the centre of all budget discussions)

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 "no fail policy]" does not exist in LRSD. There is no School Divisional Policy that states that student must move forward with their peer group and cannot be held back. However, saying that there is an active focus on ensuring that as many students as possible remain with their peer group and that if they have specific learning needs that those be programmed for in the setting that is age/peer appropriate. My experience has been that when retention is supported for the right reasons, and that is decided upon after lengthy consultation between school , teachers, administration and parents and that suitable programming is in place-retention can be a positive experience-BUT only when there is agreement by all partners that the retention is in the "best interest of the child".

On the issue of students being docked marks for late assignment- I believe that students must be taught responsibility but that there are many ways that a creative, caring, teacher can get a student to accept his/her responsibility for completion of work or for regular attendance and punctuality.

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 testing that provides information to the classroom teacher, student and to the parent on the progress in literacy and numeracy of their child. Provincial tests do not provide this diagnostic information and in many cases are used to unfairly evaluate the school and its teachers without taking socio-economic or other factors into consideration.

The "NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND" movement of the US Bush government is a prime example of testing for testing sake and that teachers begin teaching to the test and actual learning becomes secondary. Comparison of test results being published in newspapers provides little information to the reader of the circumstances that the school and the child have faced. Standards tests lack validity and I have been advocating valid diagnostic testing combined with the professional evaluation of the classroom teacher to provide us with the data as to whether our students are learning and whether their numeracy and literacy skill are developing.

Did not respond:

Robert Page

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