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.