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Winnipeg School Division: Ward 1

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WARD 1 (3 to be elected)

Joyce Bateman

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 am honoured to have served my community in this capacity since 2001.

I have never served or run for public office at other political levels.

I am not running for a political party. I am, however, with the "Party of Common Sense".

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 children. One graduated last year, after completing all 12 grades in the Winnipeg School Division. He received a wonderful education from exceptional teachers. My other child is in Grade 7 in the Winnipeg School Division having had the previous 6 grades in the Winnipeg School Division. She is delighted with her teachers and is looking forward to the next six years of learning in the Winnipeg School Division.

Neither of my children were homeschooled nor did they take any of their grades from independent schools.

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. Graduation Rates: We have to determine how we can support the children in our care who are struggling to graduate. Current processes have to be reviewed and improved for populations of students with less success than others. We are partnering with such groups as Pathways for Education to enhance success rates and we always work in partnership with the many service agencies of the Provincial government as they support various at-risk students and their families.
    One subset to this is ensuring our students are fed so they can concentrate on their studies. A child cannot succeed if they do not have food in their stomach. These students are a critical part of the future of our community and their success will be success for all of us. We need to help these children become net contributors to society.
  2. Supporting the needs of immigrant children: We have a provincial government successfully utilizing immigration as an economic driver for the Province. That is wonderful for our economy. Many of the immigrant families reside in the Winnipeg School Division and we have a responsibility to ensure that their children are given the tools they need to ensure they will be net contributors to our society. Of the immigrant population we serve, some of the students have never lived anywhere other than in a war-camp. This necessitates some incremental investments in their transition.
  3. Supporting the needs of specials needs children: We have a good level of service for our special needs students. It is clear that education budgets are under pressure and we need to find a way, in partnership with our teachers, parents and the many service agencies of the Provincial government involved with special needs children, to maintain the level of service.
  4. Ensuring adequate Succession Planning for the Division: We have a responsibility to ensure that we are adequately planning for the succession needs of the division. Lack of such planning could result in costly future errors.
  5. Provincial Bargaining:The Manitoba Teacher’s Society is on the record supporting province wide provincial bargaining. We currently have 37 School Divisions in the Province conducting their own negotiations. All settlements result in roughly similar results province-wide given the possibility of arbitration. Manitoba taxpayers would be well served with just one negotiation process and this would happen if all school divisions listen to the Manitoba Teacher’s Society. This is an opportunity for significant administrative cost saving in every school division province-wide.

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 Board of the Winnipeg School Division voted on and supported a Five Year capital budget listing our priorities. It is posted on the website of the Winnipeg School Division and has been presented to the Public Schools Finance Board. It is the result of a detailed process by our administration taking into account many of the service needs of our student population and serious reflection by the Board. I supported it at the time of the vote and I still support it.

The current list supported by the Board of Trustees is

  1. Kelvin School- Gymnasium and Multi Purpose Room
  2. Queenston School- Gymnasium Addition
  3. Lord Nelson School- Gymnasium Addition
  4. LaVerendrye School- Gymnasium Addition
  5. Brock-Corydon School- Gymnasium/Resource/Staff room/Classroom Addition.

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 our School Division there is a collective bargaining process to determine the salary of our teachers and other employees. We have over 5,000 employees and it is always my hope and intent that the settlements achieved are fair and reasonable for all parties, employee and employer.

The number of teachers working in our division is not arbitrary but rather is a function of the number of students we serve.

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 closings was decided by the Minister of Education. School Divisions must comply with such edicts from the Minister of Education.

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?

In the Winnipeg School Division, we have accepted the tax incentive grant two times since it’s introduction. In both instances we have maintained all existing jobs, services and programs.

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

Over the past 4 year modest tax increases have occurred. They are as follows:

  • 2007 – 2.2%
  • 2008 – 0.2%
  • 2009 – 1.5%
  • 2010 – 0.0%

These modest increases were made to deliver education to the students in our care.

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?

There is no such thing as a no-fail policy in the Winnipeg School Division.

Failed students do repeat the program they failed if they wish to earn the credit. We run summer school programming every year for this very reason.

Whether students should be docked for late assignments is left to the professional judgment of the teacher in consultation with their team leader and/or principal and is not a board governance issue.

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

The Province of Manitoba mandates province wide "standard" exams

These "standard exams" are mandated in Grade 8 and Grade 12 for English and Math.

The information the Winnipeg School Division has gathered from parents in the Division indicates that parents are generally more receptive to assessments done by the students’ own teacher. I refer you to our Winnipeg School Division website for this data on parents’ perspectives.

The proportion of the final mark the province wide "standard" exam is worth is mandated by the Provincial government.

 

Kevin Freedman

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 and have never served in elected office. I have chosen to not seek a political party to run for as I feel it would sacrifice my independence.

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 do not yet have children.

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. Whether or not to raise school taxes - I am adamantly against raising property taxes and feel the school division should consider lowering them in light of the recent City Assessment which will certainly boost the division’s coffers.
  2. Integration and policies aimed at newcomer students – The Winnipeg School Division is extremely diverse and is only going to become more diverse in the future. The Board must govern with this in mind and create policies that are reflective of students that may celebrate different holidays than the traditional student may or have different customs. As someone who spent two years living in a Muslim country I can understand what it is like to be different and can contribute to building effective policy to help these students, many of whom are significantly more likely to get involved in gangs or have trouble in school, stay in school and be successful.
  3. Taxing powers of the Board – Candidates and members of the public have argued that the Board should be stripped of its power to raise property taxes in order to pay for education. I am adamantly against this. I hope the members of the community have as much faith in School Trustees as they would be about other elected representatives. That said, consultations with the public must take place before such a decision would ever be made.
  4. Amalgamation of School Divisions – I can see some benefits of this but it is difficult to have policies across the board of a city such as ours. The cost savings would certainly be there as redundancies between divisions would be eliminated but our students would all lose out on the specialized education they receive in their respective areas.
  5. Business tax sharing – The Winnipeg School Division receives a disproportionate amount of business education tax due to the boundaries of the school divisions. I would be in favour of investigating some measure of tax equalization.

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. My top priorities for capital projects would be dictated by the divisions structural engineers. Essential repairs and upgrades required to keep our buildings structurally sound and to ensure their long future housing our students is absolutely essential.
  2. The expansion of gymnasiums and sporting fields around the division where required. Physical Education must be a priority of the division as not only does it ensure healthier students but also more attentive and content students. One of the major reasons I chose to run in this election was due to the unfortunate way the Gordon Bell field was handled. It seemed very obvious that no trustees on the Board at the time had the foresight to recognize the potential of this field when the previous building was being demolished and how late of an effort it was to secure this space. Our trustees need to actively seek out opportunities such as this one as well as potential challenges and not just sit on the sidelines.
  3. Environmental retrofitting would be among my top capital priorities to ensure lower energy costs for our schools, to ensure a lower use of resources such as water in our schools and create a more comfortable and healthy setting for our students. This could include low-flow toilets, better insulation, new heating systems etc.

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 cost of living increase is essential for staff in any company or organization, however during a period of economic uncertainty and where inflation has been minimal, any salary increase must reflect the realities of the time. Since 2008 the annual inflation rate according to the Bank of Canada has been approximately 0.5% though the previous two year saw inflation rates of more than 2%. I feel strongly that public servants paid through tax dollars such as teachers should expect salary increases reflective of this. Given this, an annual increase of no more than 1.8% (an approximation of annual inflation since 2005) in the next negotiations is a reasonable accommodation for teachers and for tax payers.

I would love to see an increase in the number of teachers in the division but this may not be the most financially prudent direction to go. It may be, for example, more economical (and more beneficial to our students) to increase the number of Educational Assistants to help accommodate the low percentage of high-needs children in the division. I would however be adamantly opposed to reducing the number of teachers.

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

I am very satisfied with the current moratorium on school closings and the reasonable caveat that schools could be closed "only in exceptional circumstances" (CBC News http://www.cbc.ca/canada/manitoba/story/2008/04/29/school-closures.html). The demographics of the city and the Winnipeg School Division are constantly changing and while it may seem prudent to close a school due to marginally low enrolment now, this may lead to a gap in an area 10 or 15 years down the road. There are many other creative and innovative ways to approach an issue such as this and while closing a school may be the best option, this is a rare case indeed.

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 am against cutting essential jobs, services and programs though I am confident that some programs and positions in the division may be redundant or ineffectual. I do not think that improving the effectiveness and efficiency of the school division should only be necessitated by a tax freeze but must be an ongoing process with an ultimate goal of providing the highest quality of education possible with a reasonable price tag for the tax payers. I would accept the province’s tax incentive grants and agree to freeze property taxes but only if it meant any cuts would be extremely minimal.

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

I would not increase property taxes. With the house value reassessment this year it would have been prudent for the school divisions to strongly consider looked at cutting taxes in relation to assessed value. I understand there are frequently extenuating circumstances but at a time of higher unemployment and financial uncertainties for many families, increasing taxes must be avoided.

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?

Policies like this have been enacted in Ontario and most recently in Saskatoon. There are certainly positives and negatives to these policies and I think that they must be looked at in a particular context. If a child has "failed" a grade academically then it is very likely that they will not be ready for the next grade. By putting this student in the next grade it may cause problems for both the student who must catch up to the academic level of her or his peers, as well as for the incoming teacher who may have to focus and inordinate amount of time with this student. On the other hand, there are students who "fail" academically that would see no benefit in repeating a grade or for whom repeating a grade may makes things worse for the child or even encourage them to drop out.

I do not agree with a strict no-fail, social promotion policy but I also do not believe in mandating a student to repeat a grade as a punishment instead only if it would benefit that particular child. As for late assignments, after a certain age I completely agree that students should be docked marks when an assignment is late, this is how the real world works and coddling senior high school students too much may harm them in the future. We cannot in our schools contradict lessons that students are being taught through extracurricular activities such as sports or the arts, which this policy would most certainly do in the higher age groups. However, at an earlier age it may be more beneficial to reward students who submit assignments on time in some way other than punishing those who do not.

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

I do believe in standardized tests but only with regards to how schools more generally are performing with relation to the mandated curriculum and for research purposes. Students come in all shapes, sizes and mindsets and we must do more to encourage students where they excel both within a certain subject and more broadly. There are though, certain subjects and ages in particular that it is important to see students’ marks relative to the divisional or provincial norm. An understanding of mathematics at the early high school levels is essential to understand and calculate pay checks, taxes and a variety of other activities in everyday life. This is the only time and subject I would be adamant about some kind of standardized test occurring however there can also be benefit in standardized tests in language arts, social studies and even computer studies as computer use has rapidly become an essential skill.

By making standardized tests worth too much we take away a substantial amount of independence from our teachers which is a hindrance to the specialized learning our students thrive on. Standardized tests should account for no more than 25% of the final mark but since they do test important aspects of the curriculum they are still beneficial and should be worth no less than 10%.

Rita Hildahl

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. Yes

ii. No

iii. No

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. Yes

ii. Briefly 

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 Board of Trustees set the following priorities for 2010 -2013, which I strongly endorsed:

  1. To strengthen instructional and assessment strategies for all students using all available resources including the integration of technology.
  2. To improve academic and behaviour support services for students with special needs (in accordance with the Standards for Student Services).
  3. To strengthen and enhance Education for Sustainable Development initiatives that address environmental, social and economic issues worldwide.
  4. To further improve school attendance and graduation rates through the exploration of additional programs and strategies.

A fifth I would like to add: To work with the Department of Education to develop full-time optional nursery and kindergarten programs.]

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 Board of Trustees 5 -Year Capital Plan to the Public Schools Finance Board has been submitted. Gymnasiums have been requested for Kelvin, Queenston, Lord Nelson, LaVerendrye and Brock Corydon schools in that order.

I would like to have seen Queenston at the top of the list. However, the majority prevailed.

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?

Collective bargaining issue.

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)?

No.

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?

Since the amount varies each year, the WSD Board needs to study how the province’s tax incentive grant will impact its budget before it makes a decision.

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

I value the need to improve our education system while controlling property taxes. We need to make effective use of our existing resources. We need to evaluate our programs to ensure they’re delivering what they’re supposed to be delivering. If they are not, then there needs to be change.

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?

i. Yes

ii. No

iii. Extenuating circumstances need to be considered.

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

i. Yes.

ii. At the end of middle school in Grade 8 and the end of high school in Grade 12.

iii. Between 20 – 35%.

 

Jackie Sneesby

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 ran once before about 30 years ago for city council, and I do not and did not run for a political party as I belleve party politics should stay out of childrens' education.

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 of my children were educated and graduated in the Public school division and were not home schooled. My elder son went to a parochial for short time in order to take French courses as non were available in the public school system where we lived.

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 of the issues we will be addressing this year are:

  1. The budget which is always a challenge - we try to hold the line as much as possible as well as ensuring that there are enough resources to fullfill our responsibilities to childrens' education.
  2. I mproving school attendance and graduation rates - You cannot learn if you do not attend school regularly or come tired . We need to explore strategies and programs to achieve this goal.
  3. Strengthen instructional and assessment stragies for all students - using available resources including techology -
  4. Continue to strengthen the education on sustainable development which addresses environmental, social and economic issues. This is part of a five year plan which is constantly being upgraded and improved upon and this will continue.
  5. Helping special needs childre to achieve their potential - Provide academic and behaviour support services for students with special needs - to help them achieve all they can.

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.

Our top five capital program is part of a 5 year plan which we submit to the provincial government for approval and funding. Right now Kelvin School gymn is number 1, Queenston School gymn is number 2, Lord Nelson gymn is 3, Brock Corydon's addition of a gymn, resource room, staff room and classroom is number 4 and Laverendry gymn is number 5. We have submitted this and are waiting for an ok to proceed. It is now out of our hands for the time being until the Public Schools Finance Board at the Provincial Government is in control and will advise us when they are ready for us to proceed.

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 a sitting chair I think it is not appropriate for me to comment on teaches wages as we are in negotiations with the teachers for their next contract .

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)?

Answer not provided.

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?

When we receive the TIG we have to crunch the numbers and look at whether it is to the advantage of students' learning and programs. We decide based on whether it is good or not for the students.

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

I would increase property taxes if we needed it to offer the programs we need for students. I think it is better to be slow and steady, no big increases because it causes too much pressure on the taxpayers any time but especially in tough economic times like we have seen recently. Unfortunately everything continues to go up in our world just like it does in our personal expenses.

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?

Standardize testing sometimes clarifies how students are doing but it is not the only tool to use. and sometimes does not tell the whole story of a student's ability. We have standardized testing in primary grades as well as grades 9 and 12. I think it should be worth 25% to 35% of the marks. 

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

Answer not provided.

Johnny Salangad

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, I am not an incumbent trustee. I have neither served or run at other political levels; This is my first campaign for school trustee.

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 do not have any children enrolled or graduated from the Winnipeg School 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.

The Winnipeg School Division has listed these priorities:

  1. Enhance instruction and assessment strategies for all students
  2. Improve academic and behaviour support services for special-need students
  3. Continue support of Education for Sustainable Development which focus on environmental, socail and economic issues globally and
  4. Explore iniatives to further improve school attendance.
  5. Another ongoing issue may be the continued ciriculam of Aborinal studies and programs for non-English speaking students. I support the priorties of the Winnipeg School Division.

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.

No comment at this time.

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?

Stating a percentage incresase would be pre-emptive without more due dilegence. Teachers play a critical role in the quality and devlopment of our youth so we have to evaluate the demands that are placed upon them. Only after careful review and commitee discussion can the of quantity of teacher positions be stated.

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)?

No comment at this time.

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 comment at this time.

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

No comment at this time.

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?

I personally do not believe in the no-fail, socail promotion policy. What is important is that our students are procient in the skills required for their level of schooling before preceding to the next level. This is ideal to ensure the cirriculm level for a course is appropriate for the students and allows the teacher to instruct their students with more efficiency.

Penalties for late assignments depends on the context of why an assignment is late while being fair with other students who have turned in their work 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?

There are debatable merits in standardized testing. The level of merit and how the test scores are used in the evaulation of our students and school system is contensious at best. A collaboration of aruguments must be explored before stating which grades, subjects and proportion of worth, is declared.

Did not respond:

Brenda Poersch

History

Updated on Monday, October 18, 2010 at 4:12 PM CDT: Adds Johnny Salangad's responses (received after deadline).

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