TVDSB has seen continual growth over the past three years. For the upcoming school year, the board is projecting an additional 3,400 students, an increase of over 2% (source). This growth is expected to continue through 2022. Growth in some of our schools as well as declining enrollment in others, are substantial issues the board will need to address.
I'm always available to discuss any issues impacting our students. Concerned parents have already raised the issues of: Academic Performance, High School Graduation Rates, Special Education, Changing Learning Environments, Student Mental Health and Well-being, Engagement, and Student Transportation.
As your Trustee, I am committed to working with parents, educators, trustees, the community, and our administration to find solutions. I have outlined these concerns below and on individual pages under platform.
Our Provincial assessment standings are posted on the EQAO website. In our board, 44% of all Grade 6 students were at or above the Provincial Standard (2016-2017). Lately, much attention has been given to the issue of math scores and revisions needed in the math curriculum. I've heard from many concerned parents, we have more work to do.
In the 2017, Rethink Secondary Learning reported that the TVDSB four-year graduation rate was 66.9% and the five-year rate was 78.3% (Ontario Ministry of Education, 2016). Continuing the work on building a positive school culture is important as well as much of the work contained in the Rethink report.
As your trustee, I would work with parents, community members, educators and my colleagues to support better outcomes in these two critical areas. The revised math curriculum will involve a consultation and I will encourage participation from our community and support these efforts.
Growth and Decline:
TVDSB has seen continual growth over the past three years. For the upcoming school year, the board is projecting an additional 3,400 students, an increase of over 2% (source). This growth is expected to continue through 2022. TVDSB has noted that schools in residential growth areas can yield higher enrollments than older neighbourhoods. In Wards 2-6, there are a number of schools that are seeing growth due to new construction. www.fixourschools.ca has suggested that we need to consider Education Development Charges as a way to address growth needs within our schools. I’d like to see TVDSB as an external stakeholder involved in the DC rate setting for the City of London (even if educational development charges are out of reach Provincially mandated and unlikely to change). There is also a need to better coordinate services and board planning with the City.
While some schools are seeing growth, other area schools are declining. This will likely be an issue that newly elected trustees will need to address. I’m committed to finding efficiencies but not to the detriment of our students and staff.
I've worked on a school expansion and participated in an Attendance Area review, I know how challenging it can be to navigate these policy heavy community-wide discussions. I'd like to see greater transparency and better supports for the community related to these processes.
Innovation and Technology:
TVDSB is committed to shifting towards a culture of innovation. To support their work and align this work with what is being done in the broader community, I'd like to see:
- The board consider the idea of an innovation council comprised of some of our area innovation leaders.
- Further support for coding, virtual reality, digital creative learning and robotics.
- Greater mentoring partnerships and alignment with the digital creative sector which is strongly represented in our local economy.
- More conferences, workshops, extra-curricular activities geared towards innovation.
As your trustee, this is something I believe will help prepare our students for the future.
"Increasingly in the twenty-first century, what you know is far less important than what you can do with what you know. The interest in and ability to create new knowledge to solve new problems is the single most important skill that all students must master today.”
- Tony Wagner, Creating Innovators
Special Education and the Changing Learning Environment:
The Ford government has promised an additional $38 million in funding for all children with autism. This is above and beyond the funding already in the previous government’s plan. I plan to hold our government to account on this commitment. Our school board is underfunded in this area and we need to continue to work with our provincial government to improve outcomes for all students.
The changing learning environment is also something the board will need to contend with. The Ford government is planning to make changes to inquiry- based learning and the way math is taught. They’ve also committed to restoring the previous sexual education curriculum, while creating a new one. I remain deeply concerned with the changes to the Health and Physical Education curriculum for Grades 1-8. These changes will require strong local input and parent engagement.
Our school communities are better, and our students thrive when parents and guardians are actively involved in their child’s education. This is an important issue for many parents. I am committed to advocating for improvements. We can do this with simple and effective communication strategies. As an involved volunteer, I have advocated for better tools for our parent community. We need to ensure that information is accessible to parents. As your Trustee, I am committed to ongoing dialogue with parents and community members.
Busing and Safe Routes to Schools:
Southwestern Ontario Student Transportation (STS) is responsible for planning and coordinating our school bus services. Elementary students must reside more than 1.6 km from their school and secondary students must reside more than 3.2 km from their school. It is important that all students have a safe way to travel to and from school.
Mental Health and Student Well- Being:
Creating a safe, equitable and inclusive school environment must remain a priority. TVDSB has made a commitment through their strategic plan to focus on mental health and well-being. As an educator, I see the connection between student success and mental wellness. The Mental Health and Wellness committee which includes Trustees is a good initiative by our board. It is a priority to ensure that supports are available.
We must continue our work through the safe schools initiative to address violence in our schools. Violence prevention as part of the curriculum and consistent approaches to addressing violence, so that our students, staff and community feel safe.