The first few weeks of school have been hectic, stressful, and frustrating for parents/guardians, students, and staff at the TDSB. As you may know, over the summer staff and trustees worked hard to come up with solid plans that ensured a safe and organized return to school. Doug Ford and his Provincial Government have caused these delays and shortfalls. I share your frustration and will continue to advocate for every family across our ward.
Over the last few weeks, many of you have reached out to express your concerns and frustration with the back-to-school plans. I share your concerns and frustration.
As Trustees we have been meeting weekly since June to plan for what back to school will look like. In partnership with Staff and Toronto Public Health, we have consistently pushed back on the Provincial Government's plans and advocated for the health and safety of all of our students and staff.
Unfortunately, our original plan to welcome every student and staff back in-person with reduced class sizes to accommodate physical distancing as recommended by Toronto Public Health was not approved by the Provincial Government.
Premier Doug Ford and Minister Stephen Leece have not been equal partners in this unprecedented time, they have provided no additional funding and have blocked all of our attempts to reduce class sizes in all of our schools. We are doing the best we can with the financial constraints we are under.
Toronto has been shocked by Premier Doug Ford’s move to slash Toronto City Council from 47 to 25 councillors in the middle of a municipal election, without any notice or consultation. Even now, Bill-5 is working its way to a third reading at the Ontario Legislature and could be law within days.
Our downtown neighbourhoods have been intensifying at unprecedented rates, without the investments needed to serve a growing population and address the crises before us. Now Doug Ford is mandating that Torontonians have less representation and less access to our School Board Trustees and City Councillors. Toronto deserves better and now is the time to meet and discuss what happens next.
I'd like to begin by thanking you very much for giving me the opportunity to serve as your public school Trustee and represent you at the Toronto District School Board. It has been a tremendous honour and privilege and I'm proud of what we've been able to accomplish together.
With only 22 days left until election day, we need to speak up and ensure our MPP candidates pledge to prioritize affordable childcare, adequate funding to fix our schools and an overhaul of the funding formula to give our students what they need to succeed. Together we can build better schools!
Based on feedback from parents and the community, I am excited to share with you that this summer, in collaboration with Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam and the City of Toronto, we are moving forward with replacing the fencing surrounding Church Street Public School. This finishing touch will create a safer, more vibrant public space for the school and surrounding community.
I wanted to provide you with a quick budget update.
At our last board meeting, Trustee's approved a budget plan for the 2018-19 school year that required no reduction in staff to balance the budget. The operating budget of about $3.3 billion will continue to support the TDSB’s commitment to equity, and the achievement and well-being of all students.
We had a lot of important items on last week's agenda. Here are the key decisions that were made by the board at our meeting last week. You can view the full summary of decisions and minutes of past meetings here.
I would first like to state that my stance on this issue has not changed since we first passed the motion back in March of 2017. As all of you can recall, a motion in the name of equity, certainty and anti-oppression was presented, and a vote was originally cast by this board that would effectively disallow all students from travelling to the United States to compete in any previously-scheduled competitions.