O’Donnell says current trustees lack facilities knowledge
By Richard Leitner, News Staff
Eamon O’Donnell says he plans to put his experience as a licensed air conditioning technician, sheet metal worker and gas technician to good use if he’s elected as Ward 6’s public school trustee this fall.
The Sherwood High School grad said he became concerned about trustees’ lack of facilities knowledge while following the closure study that led them to vote to shutter Hill Park, Barton and Mountain, and build a new south Mountain high school.
Staff initially recommended closing his alma mater, estimating it needed $30 million in repairs, a number he publicly challenged at the time as “grossly inflated.”
O’Donnell, 47, said his understanding of what it takes to maintain buildings will be useful because trustees face many more difficult closure decisions in the coming years as they try to cut some 5,000 surplus elementary seats.
“I’ve had a lot of experience in the building of schools, in the renovation of schools, along with other commercial and industrial projects,” he said, citing a recent report on school repairs as another example of how trustees lack the whole picture.
“There was total dollars work done but no actual dollar values put on this work (individually). I think our board staff should be a little more forward with providing information to the trustees with regards to numbers put into a facility repairs.
“As a trustee, I would ask a lot more questions with regard to how the money’s being spent.”
O’Donnell is the second candidate to register in Ward 6, presently represented by Laura Peddle, who has repeatedly said she won’t run again. He joins upper Stoney Creek resident Alan Miles, who signed up in January for the Oct. 27 election.
Both are making their first run at elected office.
In a previous interview, Miles said he’s running in Ward 6 because “that’s where my heart is,” having grown up there and helped coach the water polo team at Barton for several years.
The youth worker said he will focus on ensuring decisions are transparent and parents’ concerns are considered.
“Over the years I haven’t been satisfied with what I’ve seen,” Miles said. “One of the main reasons I’m running is that I want to be transparent with the parents and voters. I would actually care what they think and represent them and respect their views.”
O’Donnell, who lives in Ward 6 and has a daughter in kindergarten at Highview, said his priorities if elected include ensuring schools match the needs for 21st century learning and working with fellow trustees to build consensus on decisions.
“During the high school ARCs there seemed to be a lot of block voting,” he said. “I’d like to work together so that the trustees seem to be more on board and seeing more eye-to-eye on issues.”