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River East Transcona: Ward 4

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WARD 4 (2 to be elected)

Wayne Ritcher

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?

No. No. No, strictly Independent.

 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?

Yes. No.

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. Collective Agreements - As per Board consensus and direction
  2. Establishing a Strategic Plan for the Division. - In favour
  3. Budget & Funding - As per Board consensus and direction
  4. Would like to introduce a policy and program to increase our pass/drop-out and graduation ratios - In favour

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. Feasibility of an additional High School for the division.
  2. Continued upgrading of Technology throughout the division. I realize this is not strictly a capital funding issue, however the importance to the students achievement levels may require some creative presentations.
  3. Upgrading of current recreational and gym facilities.

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) Board decision. Would prefer no higher than 2% or inflation rate. b) Maintain.

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) Yes, key word is reviewed c) Unable to answer without the review

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, too many strings attached. Province could remove the grant at any time.

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

a) Would like to say no. Would require a majority of board members to freeze the property tax. Has been done in the past. b) Unable to answer until the Budget process is examined and what priorities and previous obligations are currently part of the 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?

a) No. b) As a last resort. I would prefer establishing a remedial program that would attempt to upgrade their skills and knowledge prior to that course of action. Similar to our SHARP program. Senior High At Risk Program, but on a larger scale throughout the division. Of necessity, this would require timely and accurate assessment of the students during the school year, not at the end. c)  Yes, we are attempting to foster a climate of achievement by work ethic. What I call the "relentless pursuit of excellence". If it is worth doing, it is worth doing well, and on time.

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

a) Yes. The first step to fixing a problem is to recognize there is a problem. Standardized tests are one of many tools to identify problems and allow us to provide solutions. Hard to fix a watch while working in the dark. b) Core subjects to begin with, reading, writing, English (literature), math, and science. As to which grades would be impacted, that would require some expert analysis and opinion. c) Could be as much as 30 %. Again, I would like to see some reports and analysis on this subject.

Responded after deadline:

Jeff Cieszecki

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?

This is my first time running for school trustee. I have not served or run at any other political level nor am I running for a political party.

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

My son is enrolled in the English-Ukrainian bilingual program in Ward 4 of the River East Transcona School Division. He has not been home-schooled nor ever enrolled in an independent school. I am a strong believer in the public school system.

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. Student Support Services: The River East Transcona School Division must address the growing needs of its students who require supports to be successful in school. As the provinces largest school division, River East Transcona ranks 20 out of 38 school districts in Manitoba when it comes to spending on student support services relative to total enrolment. In order to meet student needs and comply with the provinces Appropriate Educational Programming Act (Bill 13), sufficient supports must be in place to meet this demand.
  2. Declining Enrolment:  Like many school divisions, the River East Transcona School Division has seen its enrolment decline over the years. A conscious effort of educational policy and financial responsibility to rate payers should be balanced in order to improve programming for the over 16, 000 existing students in the division.
  3. Greater Transparency on School Board Budget Process: The Province of Manitoba requires that each school board hold public consultations on the preparation of its yearly budget. During these consultations, there should be greater transparency of revenue and expenditures for proposed budgets. The River East Transcona School Division should use the existing provincial FRAME (Financial Reporting and Accounting in Manitoba Education) reporting system that is submitted to the province at the end of March each year. This consultation process should begin in the fall of each year, providing the public an opportunity to speak on financial issues so public opinion can be taken into account when setting the final budget.
  4.  Fully Funded Educational System: Trustees from all divisions need to begin lobbying the Manitoba Government to move to a fully funded provincial education system. This would result in the removal of the special levy tax that local homeowners are responsible for. Manitoba is the last province in Canada that relies on special levy taxation.
  5. Teacher Contract: At this point, teachers in River East Transcona School Division have been without a contract since the end of the last school year. The school board and the River East Transcona Teachers’ Association need to work toward a conclusion to this.

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.

With 42 schools in the River East Transcona School Division, a priority list would need to be established. Priority would be given to infrastructure such as roof replacement and heating upgrades to maintain basic structure and operation of our schools. Next, classroom facilities would address items like outdated science labs at Miles Macdonell Collegiate or the concrete gym floors in schools like Springfield Heights School.

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?

As with any contract negotiations, salary increases are discussed at the negotiations table, not in a public forum. In the case of the number of teachers in the classroom, it is imperative that we continue to improve program delivery to our students and that the division’s staffing reflect that goal.

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 ones?

The province should lift its moratorium on school closings to allow school divisions the ability to provide the best use of resources for program delivery. If the province is concerned with school closures, the Manitoba Government should look at the existing economy of scales of school divisions already in place. The average enrolment across Canada is 12, 700 students per division, compared to the Manitoba average of 4,500. Any thought to a school closure because of low enrolment would require an in-depth review of student needs and a dialogue between the schools teaching staff, the school board, and the community to evaluate the impact of a possible closure.

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

The Tax Incentive Grant (TIG) unfortunately is a short term fix by the province to hold property taxes. A diligent board must develop a financial plan (3 to 5 years) that would take into account the long term budget implications of accepting a TIG in any given year, and the impact it would have on any future property tax levels and ability of the division to earn equalization payments from the province.

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

The mill rate for the local special tax levy should reflect a number of concerns. They include the local community’s ability to pay and school division programming needs. Included in the mix is the ability to access equalization payments from the province for program and service offerings based on the divisions’ tax effort.

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 should be required to meet the minimum standards in order to move on in their schooling. Increasing numbers of students are moving through present educational system with decreasing literacy and numeracy skills. Supports need to be in place to ensure consistent standards are met. Student behaviour that lead to independent functioning adults should be addressed so young people learn to take responsibility for their actions (example late assignments) since they will one day become contributing members of society.

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

Standardized testing should be used as a gauge of student understanding primarily in the areas of literacy and numeracy. However, the use of standardized tests should not be a burden to classroom teachers, taking up valuable instructional time in the administration and evaluation of the tests so it does not impact program delivery.

Did not respond:

Roland Headley

Eva Prysizney

History

Updated on Wednesday, October 20, 2010 at 12:18 PM CDT: Added answers from Jeff Cieszecki, who responded after the deadline.

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