Ontario school board trustee candidates Cameron Bonesso and Robert Kolosowski are running in this year’s municipal election with the hope of improving the quality of education.

The province’s education system is currently facing several challenges, including staff shortages and students who are behind following two years of pandemic disruptions.

True North spoke with Bonesso and Kolosowski to discuss their visions – and to get their thoughts on activists wanting to make masks mandatory again as well as dress code policies for educators amid a controversy involving an Oakville transgender teacher wearing massive prosthetic breasts in class.

Cameron Bonesso

Bonesso, who heads a political consultancy firm, is running for the Ottawa Catholic School Board (OCSB) in Zone 10. 

His platform includes advocating for an increase to mental health funding, improving special education, lobbying the government for smaller class sizes and ensuring education equality.

“My top priority is… an increased funding focus for mental health programs not only for students, but staff as well,” Bonesso told True North.

He added that children returning to the classroom in a safe environment, both mentally and physically, is very important.

On masks, Bonesso said he does not think it is the role of trustees to politicize public health. He added that he personally does not wear a mask and believes students and parents should be free to make their own decisions when it comes to masking. 

As for dress codes for educators, Bonesso told True North that “teachers definitely need to have professional standards and those standards should definitely be applied universally across the board.”

He added that he believes the OCSB’s current professional standards regarding dress codes are adequate.

Robert Kolosowski

Kolosowski, who has a background in business management and economics, is running for the York Region District School Board (YRDSB) in the zone covering Richmond Hill Wards 1, 2 and 4.

In his platform, Kolosowski talks about teaching students mental health strategies as well as having a greater emphasis on the teaching of personal finance, computer skills and critical thinking. Additionally, he wants to see teachers hired based on merit and qualifications rather than seniority.

Kolosowski also wants to see the board’s ban on police officer liaisons reversed, and opposes calls to end the playing of O Canada in classrooms. Furthermore, he is against political agendas being imposed on students.

“I believe our schools need to be a place where students learn to think critically and are able to discuss various perspectives on issues,” Kolosowski told True North. “Schools should not impose political views on students or teachers.” 

“I will focus on what unites us, not on what divides us. I will have zero tolerance (for) racism, identity politics and discrimination, and I will reject the divisive calls to remove O Canada from schools.”

When asked about those wanting to reimpose mask mandates, Kolosowski said, “the public health science is clear: Covid-19 is not going to disappear, no matter how many times we close or restrict schools.”

As for dress codes, Kolosowski says that both teaching staff and students should be subject to one – adding that children deserve positive role models as well as classroom environments that are free of sexual harassment and public nudity.

Ontario’s students have been hit badly by the pandemic, with a Leger poll taken last year seeing that one in five Ontario parents felt their children fell behind during the public health crisis while lacking faith that their school had a plan for them to catch up.

In response to the delays in learning caused in part by long school closures, the Ford government put forward a “plan to catch up” which includes tutoring support and mental health funding.

Ontario school board elections will take place on Oct. 24, in conjunction with municipal elections. Voters are eligible to vote for trustees running for the board they choose to divert the school portions of their property taxes to.

More information about voting for school board trustees can be found here.

Author

We’re asking readers, like you, to make a contribution in support of True North’s fact-based, independent journalism.

Unlike the mainstream media, True North isn’t getting a government bailout. Instead, we depend on the generosity of Canadians like you.

How can a media outlet be trusted to remain neutral and fair if they’re beneficiaries of a government handout? We don’t think they can.

This is why independent media in Canada is more important than ever. If you’re able, please make a tax-deductible donation to True North today. Thank you so much.