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Ancaster retiree sets sights on Dundas school trustee seat

Maton criticizes closures, praises Catholic system’s approach on values

By Richard Leitner, News Staff

For the second election in a row, an Ancaster resident is seeking to represent Dundas on the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board.

Bob Maton, who became the first candidate to register in Ward 13 for the fall vote on Jan. 24, said he is running because he believes the board and incumbent Jessica Brennan “have lost touch with the people of Dundas.”

He will have to re-register for the Oct. 27 election because trustees this week voted to merge Ward 13 with Ward 14, which encompasses Greensville and much of rural Falamborough.

“They’re closing two of the best high schools in Ontario and building a mega-school outside of town, which I think is really problematic,” Maton said. “I think we need to stop this process of building mega-schools.”

Told by a reporter that the board is in fact closing Parkside and renovating Highland, which is being renamed Dundas Valley Secondary School, Maton said the plan will bring “a total change in culture and the approach to education.”

“I wouldn’t have done that. I would have maintained Parkside as a separate school,” he said. “As it stands, it looks like it may be a fait accompli, so it may be that they’re not going to be able to change that.”

This is Maton’s third run for office. The 64-year-old retired social worker carried the banner for the Family Coalition Party in Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Westdale in the 2011 provincial election, finishing fifth behind Liberal MPP Ted McMeekin.

He also vied to become public school trustee for Ancaster and Ward 11 in 2006, placing a distant second to Shirley Glauser in a three-way race.

Asked why he’s running in Ward 13, Maton said he’s much more familiar with Dundas because his kids attended school there, starting at St. James and graduating from either Parkside or Highland.

More generally, he said he wants the board to become more innovative, including by considering single-gender classes, offering more specialty programs in the arts and construction, and welcoming “a lot more corporate sponsorship of programs.”

Maton also criticizes the board’s “politically confrontational” equity policy for being preferential toward “certain groups of kids” based on provincially mandated issues like race, disability, gender and sexual orientation.

He said that’s led to a loss of students to the Catholic system because the latter does a better job of teaching values and combating bullying, which doesn’t just target kids because of those factors.

“Even though they stay within the law, they stay within the legislation, I think their approach is much more comprehensive,” Maton said of the Catholic board, also praising it for having a bigger picture of where it is going.

“The Catholic system has a vision which is quite impressive, and a mission, and I think that I would like to help develop that in the public school board as well.”

Brennan, who has represented Dundas since 2003, said in early January she will take “the next few months” to decide if she’ll run in the Oct. 27 vote.

In 2010, she easily survived a challenge by Ancaster resident Klaas Detmar, taking more than 80 per cent of ballots cast.

Currently the board’s chair, she breezed to victory by a similar margin in 2006 and captured 57 per cent of the vote in a three-way race in 2003.

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