Rob grew up in Ottawa, as a kid going first to Parkwood Hills PS and then, with the family’s move to  Zone 5 College, going to Agincourt PS. Today, Rob works in Bells Corners in Information Technology, at the other end of the Zone. Rob and his wife Pat’s family of three former OCDSB students are all young adults now, out of the system, and with their lives ahead of them.

Though in IT, Rob has a masters in Philosophy, and his strengths generally are in system and argument analysis. This allows him to identify underlying assumptions or core truths in what people say, to help identify issues clearly, and to help build consensus around ideas in order to move things forward.

Rob followed his kids through the system: as president of their daycare, as board member of their community association-run after-4 program, and a school council chair for their elementary school. However his focus always has been on finding ways reasonably to improve services and outcomes for all children and youth, and to help create conditions fostering the equitable development of happy and critically-thinking citizens and robust communities.

Rob also worked with the Ottawa Carleton Assembly of School Councils (OCASC), an independent umbrella group representing the interests of all OCDSB parent school councils, as alt rep to special education costing, rep to budget committee and community consultation policy development, and as OCASC exec member and then Chair.

Subsequently as a two-time OCDSB Trustee 2006-2014, Rob occupied most leadership positions at the Board: as board chair, budget chair, HR chair, strat planning chair, rep to the provincial school boards association (OPSBA), rep to the Ottawa busing authority (OSTA), as Trustee appointee to the Equity and Special Education community advisory committees, and in other capacities. He has also been an active member of Director and Supervisory Officer selection, suspension and expulsion, and other ad hoc committees.

As a Trustee, Rob was active on many fronts. He envisioned what would become the Special Education Policy Ad Hoc Committee (SEPAHC), charged with reviewing the state of special education at the OCDSB. This special committee met over 20 times throughout a year, consulted with staff and community, and Rob was lead author on its report. Its recommendations all were endorsed by the Board, and focused on fairness of treatment, stability of service, and servicing needs. Rob also successfully championed tracking socio-economically marginalized students against outcome and annually publicly reporting the strength of this linkage as a driver for accountability and change. Rob made sure that communities understood what policy and budgetary decisions were upcoming and effectively reflected community concerns at the table. He also worked directly with school communities around accommodations and other issues. Over the years, Rob has been effective in improving Board policies and budget provisions in a number of areas.

Rob has also contributed as a board member of the Social Planning Council of Ottawa (SPCO), focusing principally on empowering communities by giving them data tools, and via its programming also directly improving equity and outcomes for challenged youth and for immigrant families, with job programs, community kitchens, and in other areas.

Today Rob is asking you for the chance again to continue to contribute to the OCDSB now as your Zone 5 Trustee. Zone 5 has been through the mill on school amalgamation and accommodations decisions recently, and its time to regroup, dialogue, and champion Zone 5 school needs and have its schools shine their brightest.

The Board has been making real progress on several fronts, and that has to be congratulated.

However, in spite of some tracking of marginalized student outcomes, equity improvement at the Board has been slow. And, in spite of the attention paid to improving public consultation, community empowerment and consultation satisfaction remains inadequate, and policy consensus prior to undertaking consultations remains weak. Budgets remain largely unexamined, not clearly targeting strategic priorities, and remain subject to rushed last-minute amendment. We need to ensure that previous Provincial focus on equity remains supported, that new thinking gets injected into accommodations planning, that the huge challenges facing daycares in the schools are dealt with sensibly, and that special education services are effective. The OCDSB needs to be vigilant Provincially also, and may need to assert and advocate for local Ottawa student and community needs more then previously in the face of possible Provincial budget cuts or changes, Provincial policy changes.

Its an exciting time, filled with real opportunity for genuine OCDSB advancement, and we need to get it right. Let’s do this together!