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Winnipeg School Division: Ward 2

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WARD 2 (3 to be elected)

 

Kristine Barr

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 in Ward 2 of the Winnipeg School Division. I have served in this capacity for 3 terms, or 12 years, since 1998. I believe that my re-election will ensure continuity and experienced leadership with the Board of Trustees. My board experience includes:

  • Currently the Chair of the Finance & Personnel Committee, which is responsible for preparing an annual budget of $329 million to meet the needs of the division’s 33,000 students.
  • Chair of the Board (2006-2008)
  • Vice-Chair of the board (2004-2006)
  • Chair of the Policy/Program Committee (2003-2004)
  • Chair of the Public Relations Committee (2001-2003)
  • Board representative to the Manitoba Association of School Trustees (1999-2001)
  • I have served on the Building & Transportation, Inner City Advisory, Central Advisory, Children’s Heritage Fund, Pension, Student Advisory and Winnipeg Teachers Association/Winnipeg School Division Joint Committees.
  • Participated in contract negotiations with teachers and other employee groups.

I am a member of the New Democratic Party, but 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 two step-children, aged 10 and 12, that attend schools in 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.

  1. pressure to reduce reliance on property taxes – we can never be certain about how much funding we will receive from the Province until the funding announcement comes out in January regarding the education funding that they will provide for the following year. I continue to advocate for more provincial funding to reduce reliance on property taxation.
  2. integrating community voices into our decision making – I support more utilization of our advisory committees and finding innovative ways to involve the community. I believed that youth needed to have a voice and put forward a recommendation that resulted in the establishment of the Student Advisory Committee, which brings together youth from all high schools in the division so that they can express their views to the board of trustees. Another area where I believe we need more community input is in the area of special needs. Our community should be working in partnershp with us to improve services for students with special needs.
  3. Succession planning – many of our educational leaders are retiring, and we need to provide leadership development opportunities to encourage more of our staff to become principals and administrators.
  4. Sustainable development – I am very concerned about the environment and want to reduce our carbon footprint wherever possible. I have supported the division’s five-year sustainable development plan and am proud of the many initiatives our schools have undertaken, including recycling projects,using paper with higher recycled content in our photocopiers, bio-diesel fuel in school busses and using environmentally friendly cleaning products. I also support using alternative energy sources when possible, like wind turbines and solar panels, which are currently being used in some of our schools, but which I believe should be incorporated into many more.
  5. School safety – schools need to be safe learning environments for all. I have supported anti-bullying programs and spearheaded human rights training initiatives in the school division that has made schools safer for students and a healthier workplace for teachers and support staff. I believe we should be working with the city to expand school resource officers so that they are available in all division schools.

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 division’s five year capital plan, as submitted to the Province of Manitoba, and belive that the priorities should remain as is. Currently, Kelvin and Queenston have gym projects at the top of the list of priorities which I believe should be dealt with this year.

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 believe that salary increases should be negotiated fairly, and that 2-3% is a reasonable salary increase for teachers. Small, incremental increases allow us to provide regular increases to salaries and to maintain the number of teachers in our division. Teacher salaries make up a large proportion of our annual budget, and if increases are any higher than this, and we don’t want high increases in property taxes, then the numbers of teachers would have to be reduced.

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)?

There are currently no schools in the Winnipeg School Division which should be 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?

As the Chair of the Finance Committee of the Winnipeg School Division, I have advocated for and accepted the province’s tax incentive grant when it made economic sense to do so. For example, we accepted it in 2008 and 2010, but we refused it in 2009 as it would have meant cutting necessary programs and staff, which was unacceptable to myself and a majority of trustees in the Winnipeg School Division.

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

I have always supported, and will continue to vote for small, incremental tax increases to maintain programs and services. A high quality education requires adequate funding, and if funding from the Province of Manitoba falls short, we need to turn to our property tax payers to fill the gap. It is difficult to state a particular percentage increase, as this is variable depending on many factors, including provincial funding, cost of living increases, and negotiated collective agreements.

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?

The Winnipeg School Division does not have a no-fail, social promotion policy. However, we do have assessment policy, which I support, that states the following:

In those cases in which a student has not acquired the minimum expectations/outcomes to proceed to the next grade level, the student will continue with the program at that grade level for part or all of the next school year.

The program for students who are continuing in the early/middle years grades shall be adapted to provide for remedial services in the development of basic skills and for new experiences and opportunities to assist in the development of concepts.

Under normal circumstances, such continuation will not normally exceed two (2) additional years in total at the grade K - 6 level and will not continue for students at the Grade 7-8 level longer than the school year in which they attain their sixteenth birthday.

I believe that students should be learning with their same-aged peer group, whenever possible. Our policy encourages the school to work collaboratively with the parents, family and student if they have not met all learning outcomes for a particular grade level, and to develop a remedial plan to achieve the appropriate learning outcome. In some cases, students will remain in the same grade, and in others, they will enter the next grade level. An individual plan is approved for each student.

If a student has special needs, they may have an individualized education plan where they work on a specialized program in the same classroom as other students who are doing grade appropriate work.

Once a student reaches Senior 1 (or grade 9) they must pass each individual class. This means that some high school students who, for example have "failed" a particular class will be repeating that class from Senior 2, while at the same time earning credits towards Senior 3.

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 that standards tests can be helpful in determining whether or not we have succeeded in teaching students the curriculum. However, these can be problematic if overused, and teachers can then end up teaching to the test, as opposed to providing a quality education to students.

In the Winnipeg School Division, we participate in the provincial grade 12 standards tests for English, Math and French. These are worth 25% of a students final mark, and I believe this is an appropriate proportion because even if a student does poorly on this examination, they still have the opportunity to get a passing grade.

I support an outcome-based test at the end of grade 8. This test can assess students to determine how ready they are to succeed in high school. I do not support standardized tests at lower levels, like those that used to be in place at grade 3 and grade 6, as these can be very stressful for younger students and did not support learning outcomes. In my opinion, other assessment tools, like the Comprehensive Assessment Program (nursery to grade 6), and mid-year tests in grade7 math and grade 8 language arts are more appropriate. These provide us with baseline data about each student that is helpful for school and program planning.

 

Cathy Collins

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 to all of the above.

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?

No and 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.

The teachers’ contracts come up for renewal so collective bargaining could be an issue in light of our current economy, which is somewhat stalled. Tax revenues are always an issue. Issues may relate to things in your questions: the no-fail policy, standardized testing etc. I expect that the community will bring forward other 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. To my knowledge, the priorities in Winnipeg School division in order are:
  2. the gym for Kelvin School
  3. the gym for Queenston School
  4. the roof of Laura Secord School
  5. elevators and lift devices for schools
  6. items under bid on the Winnipeg School Division website (Daniel MacIntyre and St. John’s High School) and the remaining bio-diesel buses.

Other issues may arise because there are so many schools.

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 revenues are limited, teacher wages, term teachers versus fully hired teachers and teacher numbers require need consideration in relationship to maintenance of services, and the priorization of students’ needs.

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)?

I am aware of flagging enrollment in some schools, such as Lord Roberts and some inner city schools, but school closures need a larger consideration in relationship to the impact on programs and the needs of the immediate community. The Province is working in programs like Neighbourhoods Alive to stabilize communities and schools are a critical resource in community survival The issue of school closures needs to be looked at not just in terms of buildings but in terms of educational programming and neighbourhood well-being.

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 know that Winnipeg School Division has accepted this grant in exchange for freezing taxes. There is no yes or no answer to this. I would consider the impacts on programs and children before making a decision on this.

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

I need to take a hard look at the services and children’s needs before making a decision.

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?

The no-fail, social promotion policy means than 14-years olds who need help with reading are not placed in classes with younger children who are learning to read. There is a need for programs for students who require remedial help. Not all parents can afford this.

I believe that the Province is looking at the policy of docking marks for late assignments.

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 pros and cons for standardized testing. Standardized tests are summative tests. What we need are teachers who can teach to the highest level and learning in all schools. We want students who have learned how to learn. Provinces who have implemented standardized have reduced it. In general, it only counts for about 20 percent of grades and it is used in subjects such as arithmetic, reading and comprehension. However, this brings forward the question about standardized marking and grading. This is a much larger issue than this forum allows for.

 

Myra Laramee 

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 or run at other political levels. I am endorsed by the NDP as a school trustee candidate in Ward 2 of the Winnipeg School Division.

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?

My children and grandchildren are enrolled and have graduated from the Winnipeg School Division. None of my children were home schooled or attended a private 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 key priorities that I believe the school division needs to work on include:

  1. Inclusive Education – all of our children must feel safe in our classrooms and schools. I am committed to promoting inclusive education for Aboriginal people, newcomers, special needs students and gifted and talented students by advocating for programs and resources to address the learning needs of these students.
  2. Life-Long Learning – education of our children happens best when family, school and community work together. I will encourage schools to support life-long learning by working together to develop programs for pre-schoolers, families, adults and seniors.
  3. Improve High School Graduation Rates – schools cannot provide a quality education for our children on their own. I will work with community partners to improve high school graduation rates through a range of initiatives including after school tutoring programs, mentoring programs, off-campus programs, summer programs and scholarship incentive programs.
  4. Education for Sustainable Development – must be on the minds and in the hearts of educators, parents and students now and certainly in the future – Mother Earth depends on us. Our survival will be based on deepening our understanding and knowledge of human rights, peace, democracy, environmental protection, climate change, health and well-being.
  5. Resource Development – we need to work in partnership with the other levels of government, private sector and philanthropic sectors to secure the required resources to meet the needs of our students, families and communities.

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 key capital priorities for the school division include:

  1. An ongoing program needs to be in place to ensure our schools are universally accessible.
  2. Our schools need energy retrofits to ensure our buildings are energy efficient – in the longer term this will save the division money and protects our environment.
  3. We need to do some problem solving about how hot our older schools are in the warmer months – we need to examine various cooling system strategies – our children have challenges learning under these type of environmental conditions.
  4. We need to ensure there are spaces developed for important community support programs in our schools such as childcare centres, Headstart programs and parent child centres.
  5. An ongoing investment program in technology capital equipment and space.

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?

The process for determining teacher salary increases needs to be determined through the collective bargaining process. The number of teachers in the school division should be determined by enrolment and prioritized through local school based planning.

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)?

Schools are an important public institution. If enrolment is declining in a school, alternative programs such as adult learning centres, programs for seniors, and partnerships with community serving organizations should be developed to complement the public school programs.

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?

An authentic community consultation process would be required to fully examine the impact of various options – the guiding principle of the final decision needs to be based on how we can best serve the interests of children and youth.

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

The school division has done well recently in keeping taxes affordable. I want to continue that.

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?

Failure is a matter of perception – all children have strengths and gifts. We need to ask the question does the child fail in the system or is the system failing for the child. Assessment is the key to a child’s success not a child’s failure. Relevant and appropriate child centred assessment processes need to be in place to benchmark children according to their needs and issues in order that we work towards ensuring that every child is successful.

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 is just one component of a whole range of data collection that happens in the assessment process. Classroom based assessment, running records, portfolio development, student led conferences, self assessment all should have equal consideration in attaining a holistic perspective on a child’s ability.

 

Bradley McKay

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.

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. Budget: based on needs of the school and the number of students enrolled.
  2. Human resources: open communication.
  3. Labour Relations: open communication with all staff.
  4. Public Relations: open communication with the community, parents/caregivers, and volunteers.
  5. Policies and Procedures: clearly stated policies and procedures that everyone can understand.

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. Academics/non-academic funding
  2. Amount of students in the schools: taking overcrowded schools to schools with not enough students equal them out expand the Catchment areas, even if it means transporting the students.
  3. Risk Management (health and safety for all)
  4. Programing/Budgets
  5. Policies/Labour relations

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?

• 2.5 %-3% per year

• Need more teachers and aids some classes that are over stuffed and not enough time spent with kids who need the help, eg:1 teacher to 27-35 students.

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

• Same answer as (4.2)

• I don’t think they should close any schools based on enrolment but on structural integrity.

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)?

Yes to Raising property taxes to 1%, if money was forwarded to programing within all schools.

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

• Yes

• Yes based on the frequency of late assignments.

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

• No

Pros: claims to make things equal for all students, and give them more opportunities.

Cons: It doesn't make things equal. (Capriciousness: tending to make sudden unexpected changes). It doesn't teach. Doesn't take into account of Cultural differences. Each child's time will vary with the teacher testing them, takes a lot of time especially when the teacher has 28-38 students to test!

It doesn't give students more opportunities, because funding is taken away from schools. It for the most part leaves them without support. Random sampling: measuring the system and accountability to the schools not just the individual student.

• Math, language, reading. Grades 7-12

• 12% to 15% of the grade.

 

Rolf Salfert

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 for a position on the Winnipeg School Board for the very first time.

Exactly 30 years ago, I ran for a city council seat in the old Sargent Park Ward. That was when city council comprised of 29 councillors.

I am not running for any 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?

Both of my children attended and graduated from schools in the Winnipeg School Division.

I am also a product of the WSD since I attended John M. King, General Wolfe and Daniel McIntyre 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. Support Education for Sustainable Development initiatives that address global environmental, social and economic issues.
  2. Improve school attendance and graduation rates
  3. Enhance instructional and assessment strategies including the integration of technology.
  4. Improve academic and behaviour support among special needs students.
  5. Continue with Native Awareness content.
  6. Introduce Asian Awareness material across the curriculum.
  7. Examine future school division amalgamations. Why can't the city have one single school division like some other Canadian cities? We have 15 councillors and one mayor for one city. Perhaps we could manage with 15 school trustess for the whole city with one chief superintendent. Certainly food for thought!

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.

To me a capital improvement plan identifies capital projects and equipment purchases the school division wishes to make during a period of about five to ten years. Once elected, I would be very receptive to hearing what other board members would consider as important capital projects. My only contribution to this list, at this time, would be to re-visit the issue of the need for a new high school in the NW corner of the division to ease the very crowded Sisler High 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?

What percentage increase in annual salary would be appropriate for teachers? That's very hard to comment on now. Salaries are determined by negotiations between the school board and the Winnipeg Teachers' Association. What are the other divisions paying their teachers? What is the public sector receiving as wage increases? What is the current rate of inflation? What are the costs of other teacher benefits? We don't want to lose the best teachers to other school divisions. We have to prepare ourselves to pay teachers fairly and adequately for their professional services.

As for reducing, maintaining or increasing the number of teachers within the division, it all depends on how many students are attending school within the division. If the teacher numbers have to be reduced because of declining enrollment, that can easily be done by not replacing some retiring 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)?

The province should lift its moratorium on school closings. Having said that, each situation needs to be reviewed on an individual basis. What are the projections for attendance in upcoming years? Do we keep schools open at any cost? Perhaps some schools need to be closed, but only as a last resort after all other means to keep them open have been exhausted. Ultimately you have to make sound financial decisions and not simply political decisions.

Presently I'm not privy to information regarding any WSD schools that would be closed due to low enrollment.

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?

This scenario is like being caught between a rock and a hard place! If you don't accept the grant, you'll likely have to raise school taxes. By freezing school taxes, you receive the grant which may not be enough to covers costs of staff and programs, etc. In the end, I would accept the grant but this is definitely not a 'WIN-WIN' situation.

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

I would not favour the increase of school taxes. In fact, I would favour lobbying the provincial government to fund more educational costs.

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?

It might be in the best interest for some students to repeat a school year, but this must happen only when the school and parents agree to such an arrangement. Each student's situation must be evaluated on an individual basis. Students should be promoted, with the exception of extreme cases, from N-Grade 5. Middle year students (Grade 6-8) could be kept back for a few months if warranted, before being moved ahead. High school students will only have to repeat courses they did not successfully complete.

It would seem fair if older students lost some marks for late assignments. There are deadlines in the real world. If we are preparing students for the real world. we must teach our students about the importance of deadlines. There is nothing wrong with taking off late marks for late assignments, especially for major projects that were assigned weeks/months earlier.

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

I don't favour standardized tests. Over the years, I quickly came to the understanding that no two children learn in the same way. How can we expect all students to learn material at the same pace and then write the same standardized test? A standardized test is only one form of assessment. We shouldn't put too much weight on such tests. It might not always be a fair assessment to the student's actual academic abilities.

 

Did not respond:

Kenny Moran

Anthony Ramos

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