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2014 TVDSB Candidate Survey - Jake Skinner

On September 14th, I emailed the London candidates for Thames Valley District School Board (TVDSB) Trustee.  As outlined in a previous blog post, this was done to provide more exposure to this important position and to give Londoners an opportunity to get more insight into the candidates.

Jake Skinner - Candidate Wards 7,8,9,10,13
First off, I would like to express my appreciation for raising these important questions.   The position of School Board Trustee is often overlooked at election time although Trustees control a great deal of spending power in our community - in fact, the Thames Valley District School Board (TVDSB) budget ($485 million) is more than half that of the City of London's ($776 million).  I will try to keep my answers brief for the convenience of your readership but provide enough detail so they can understand why they should vote for me as the best qualified candidate for School Trustee in Wards 7, 8, 9, 10, and 13. 

Why do you want to be a school board trustee?
I am running for School Trustee because I love public service.  I served as a Public Official previously filling a four year term as a Regional Planning Commissioner.  As a public servant, I enjoyed interacting with the public, finding answers to their concerns, and making decisions on behalf of the community - I would like to do so again; albeit in a different role.  Because I care about our community (I have six children so I am well vested there) I want to see our school system reach its potential.  To do so, we must work to ensure our children gain the skills they need to succeed in the 21st Century, including: creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, civic engagement, and the effective use of technologies.  I have the skills to help make this happen.

What do you consider to be the most important role of a school board trustee?
The most important role of a school trustee is to focus on student achievement and well-being and to represent the views of his or her constituents.  A School Trustee is also tasked with ensuring the effective stewardship of board resources, delivering effective and appropriate education programs to its pupils, implementing provincial guidelines according to law, and facilitating collaboration between constituents, concerned parents, students, TVDSB staff (teachers, principles, superintendents, etc.), and other interested groups to make this so.

What do you believe to be the most important issue for the TVDSB to address over the next four years?
The most important issue facing the TVDSB is school performance.  If you visit my website you can see some statistics about school performance in London over the past five years.  Provincial test scores show that London has not improved and when ranked with neighbouring municipalities does not perform as well as expected.  For this reason, I think it is time for us to lengthen our stride when it comes to school performance. 

Here is what I will do to improve our school performance:
1.  Promote strong and effective Principal leadership.   Principals can do this by being firm and purposeful, being collaborative as leaders, exhibiting instructional leadership, monitoring staff performance frequently, and maintaining and recruiting talented staff. 
2.  Promote a pervasive focus on instruction and learning.  This means keeping academics the priority and maximizing learning time.
3.  Promote a safe and positive school climate and culture.  This means creating a shared vision, an orderly and supportive environment, and emphasizing positive reinforcement to build a positive pupil culture.
4.  Create high (and appropriate) expectations for all.  This goes for both staff and students.
5.  Use student achievement data to monitor progress at all levels.  This will be used at the student, classroom, and school levels.
6.  Build effective teaching.  This means maximizing class time, providing a broad, balanced, relevant and stimulating curriculum, and setting high standards for teaching.
7.  Involve parents in productive and appropriate ways.  Parents, teachers, and students form a partnership, not an adversarial relationship.
8.  And above all, I think it is important to dismiss doubt and adopt the unwavering belief that pupils can achieve high standards given sufficient time and high quality support; that teachers can teach to high standards, with the right example, conditions, and help; that our expectations for achievement should be high and that early intervention can rescue students who may not be reaching their potential; and that past failures can be replaced by future success as we learn and grow together.

What skills and experience do you have that qualify you to be a school board trustee?
1. PhD Candidate in Local Government at Western
2. MA American Cultural Studies
3. BA Political Science
4. Former Regional Planning Commissioner
5. Former Home Builder (10 years)
6. Teacher
7. Husband and Father of six

How can voters get in touch with you for more information?
Cell/Text: 226-700-7095
Twitter: @JakeSkinnerPhDc