Why I’m Running For Trustee

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If you’ve raised, or are raising, a family in Guelph you have probably been part of one or several boundary or accommodation reviews. Having been through this process for the first time recently, it made me realize that it’s time for a change. Many parents from different parts of Guelph have shared similar concerns either with me, through delegations, or via board feedback websites: there are too many. Families are continually impacted and children are treated as numbers to be moved around without the thought of the implications to how continual disruption affects their growth and development as students and people.

The problem is twofold: the planning does not appear to be long term and the process is flawed.

During my experience with the boundary review for Victory Public School it appeared clear that children were being moved into a school that was projected to be overcrowded once again in 3 short years. This illustrated to me, and many actively involved parents, that the planning was short sighted. Why move children and impact family logistics only to have the families move again in 3 short years? It did not make sense.

Having talked to Paisley, John McCrae and F.A. Hamilton parents, their families had to endure multiple moves, sometimes as many as four before a child entered grade 7 and 8! The impact to families cannot be emphasized enough, the challenge of transporting children to different parts of the city, or worse having two children in different schools as a result of these decisions as well as the impact that families face having to mentally prepare children for continual change cannot be underscored enough. The historical frequency of these occurrences indicates a systemic issue that needs to be resolved. Is this the educational environment we want for our children? Do we feel our children will thrive under constant change and uncertainty or stability and consistency? The feedback from families has been clear: we want stability and consistency for our children.

This brings me to the next reason why I’m running for Trustee. The process is flawed. It’s been two years since Victory parents went through a boundary review. What I do know is that we felt the planning process was a negative experience. Getting access to information, creating the content and materials to delegate, and getting Trustee support was an uphill battle. Parent consultation was, for lack of a better term, a charade. It can’t happen again.

That’s why I’m running. To make sure that in the future, if something like this happens again, it’s different. That a Trustee is proactive, getting in front of parents and the community. Give people an opportunity to provide input before the board gets too far along the planning path. Also to give the community access to data and a voice on the board, most parents spent numerous hours collecting data and compiling information. As an elected official I think that should be the Trustee responsibility. Trustees should be doing the work for their constituency, not download it on them.

Finally, if an issue needs to be brought forth Trustees should be able to champion it. The delegation process was, in essence, fruitless. To get a Trustee to endorse any of our community’s suggestions was an exercise in futility. I think the Trustees should enable access to the board process and that if their constituency is passionate about an issue, reflect and support their passion. This obviously doesn’t mean that every vote will achieve its desired outcome, but the feeling should be that the parents and community were supported by their elected official, not stymied.

Anyway, in a nutshell that’s why I’m running and hope that you will vote for me and the change that I will bring to the role for our families, neighbors and communities.

Best regards,

Aaron Blair

2 thoughts on “Why I’m Running For Trustee

  1. Jennifer

    Aaron it sounds like you have one issue that is your single reason for running for a position as a school board trustee. Are there other issues that you feel merit consideration or concern?
    Jennifer

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Jennifer,

      Thank you for your comment. Sadly, it was an issue that triggered my desire to run. But the one issue was multifaceted and highlighted some areas that need change. This is where I think I can help and want to get involved.

      The school trustee is responsible to oversee the operations of the UGDSB. This is not insignificant. The UGDSB has an operating budget of $400 million dollars. That is significantly more than the city of Guelph. As such I feel it is important that your vote goes towards a candidate with experience managing large budgets. I have had experience managing multi-million dollar budgets in both the public and private sector. I think having this experience gives me an opportunity on the board to ask quality questions about investment and operating decisions that I think could add value.

      Additionally the role is important as it is liaise with the Ministry of Education and our region. The Ministry of Education is understandably centralized so it often lacks understanding of local needs. Therefore it is important that your vote goes towards a candidate that has a history of building relationships with Ministries and can advocate for local needs. I have this experience working in the Healthcare sector both building positive relationships with Ministries as well as successfully having local needs addressed for hospitals I work at.

      Finally the role is important as it is the school board’s face to the public. Whether you have a child in school or not a portion of your tax dollars goes to fund education. It is important that our communities receive the service and access to information they deserve. As you are aware from my desire to run As a parent and citizen I have felt alienated by the current process and inability to gain access to information. I am not alone. Many parents feel the same and have taken their children out of the public school system. With every family that leaves the public school board they take their tax dollars, enthusiasm and energy that goes into creating a positive school culture. In the long term this will create strain on the operating budget to do more with less which could continue to see service erode and families leave the public school system. At the end of the day we want to engage communities to get excited about committing to our public school system. I hope that I can aide that through working closely with communities, attending school council meetings, neighborhood group meetings, retirement communities to keep people in touch and engaged.

      Really to summarize if I’m elected me as your trustee I pledge to:

      – Improve Service to families and citizens to gain better involvement and engagement

      – Build Relationships with the Ministry and Advocate Local Needs

      – Create transparency and access to the board for families and citizens.

      – Be fiscally accountable to taxpayers and bring experience to the board managing large budgets

      – Create stability for students to achieve better performance

      – Support community schools to promote health and wellness in our neighborhoods.

      Thank you for your comment and I hope I’ve given you some reasons for you to support me on Oct. 27th.

      Like

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