Boards of Education Candidates

By John Swartz

Today SUNonline/Orillia is publishing information about each of the candidates running for trustee positions of the four boards serving this city.

The elections for the Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board seat and the French Separate School Board seat only have one candidate in each and are therefore acclaimed.

Election Day is October 24. All candidates were asked to forward a brief bio about their connection to Orillia, and paragraphs outlining two of their platform issues. The candidates for the French Public School Board, Saveria Caruso and Eric Lapointe, did not respond. For the Simcoe County District School board, Meghan Dunlop did not respond.

In addition they were asked to answer two questions and all were subjected to a word count limit. This leaves only one candidate to acquaint you with, Jodi M. Lloyd, who is running for re-election to the Simcoe County District School Board.

Jodi M. Lloyd

Jodi M. Lloyd: I am married with 3 children who are all proud graduates of the Simcoe County District School Board. I am a graduate of the University of Western Ontario and have my chartered insurance professional designation. I am employed as a large loss insurance adjuster working remotely. I am completing my fourth term as trustee representing the City of Orillia, Ramara and Severn Townships and am the current chair of the board. I currently reside in the City of Orillia and have previously lived in both Ramara and Severn Townships. I have a long history of community engagement and volunteering.  I currently sit on the board of the Orillia and Area Community Foundation as well as their grants committee.  I am the current treasurer of the Orillia Lakers Basketball Club and am on the board of the Ontario Public School Board Association.  I am seeking your support for the next four-year term as trustee.

Issue Number 1

The pandemic has been very hard on our students. They have suffered through school closures, online learning, social isolation and reduced physical activity. This has affected their learning and well being. We must support our students to overcome these challenges over the long term. We have seen the positive results of small group instruction through our tutoring programs and summer learning programs, and well being supports. We must continue with these programs, along with graduation coaches and enhanced individual supports for students. This will require the continuation of funding from the Ministry some of which is set to expire in December 2022. Trustees are vital to ensuring the continuation of these programs through strong advocacy on behalf of our board through local MPP’s and with the Minister directly. As your trustee I am comfortable engaging with our education partners and advocating on a broad scale for the needs of our students.

Issue Number 2

Growth is an ongoing challenge to manage. We are over-capacity in both elementary and secondary schools. Our capital needs are exceeding our ability to secure funding from the ministry to build new schools quickly. We currently have more than a $20 million deficit in educational development funds which are used to purchase new school sites due to a Ministry freeze. We have a $2 million deficit in our transportation funding for 2022/23. If not addressed, these challenges will negatively affect every students and our ability to deliver quality educational programming throughout the county as we will have no option but to reduce services. We must work with the ministry to address these challenges as a growth board, to come up with both short term and long-term strategies to resolve capital needs, EDC fund shortfalls and transportation funding gaps to better manage growth effectively.

SUNonline/Orillia Question Number 1

Each candidate was asked to respond to the following: Extremists have been causing havoc with American school boards, demanding control over what books are used in class and in school libraries – and curriculum. Many extremist political views have been migrating north. How resistant are you to appeasing fringe demands?

Jodi M. Lloyd: As chair of the board during the last two years I have dealt with many divergent opinions on issues such as masking, vaccination, equity, school closures etc. As a trustee one must consider the opinions of all but make decisions that are in the best interest of the majority while respecting the opinions of those who may be different to yours. I am a critical thinker who makes well informed decisions who is not easily pressured. I do not make reactive decisions. We live in very challenging times and moving forward it will not be easy to manage extremist views and opinions, but we must remain committed to the work we do as boards for the benefit of all students. We must always consider the view of the silent majority, rather than the vocal minority and as trustee you must have the fortitude to withstand the pressure.

SUNonline/Orillia Question Number 2

How are you going to deal with the continuing attacks on education by the Ontario government?

Jodi M. Lloyd: I have always believed that we need to make fiscally responsible decisions that benefit our students, acknowledging provincially, needs exceed the financial resources available. We must all be held fiscally accountable for public funds and resources entrusted to us and we need to remember that we all serve the same taxpayer. As trustee I have supported the responsible allocation of our resources and the balancing of our budget. Local boards must work with the ministry in partnership to deliver quality educational programming for students and work collaboratively to resolve our differences as we have during the challenges of the pandemic.  Respect, dignity and professionalism are paramount to the success of any organization or government. We need to attract bright, dynamic minds to education to ensure we have the personnel resources needed to support our students. Mutual respect and collaboration rather than division will create a strong public education system.

(Photos Supplied)


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