Jodi Lloyd is seeking a fifth term as the local Simcoe County District School Board trustee in the upcoming municipal election.
Lloyd, 58, faces a lone challenger, social worker Meghan Dunlop, in her bid to represent Orillia, Ramara and Severn once again after the Oct. 24 election.
On top of serving as trustee over the past 16 years, Lloyd has worked as an insurance adjuster throughout Simcoe County for more than 30 years.
She also serves on the board of directors with the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association, a public education advocacy organization serving 1.3 million students.
The Western University graduate has lived in Orillia since shortly after finishing her studies and has been extensively involved with the community since, both in her travels as an insurance adjuster and as a volunteer.
“I know the entirety of the county very well because I’ve always been on the road,” Lloyd told OrilliaMatters. “I like to volunteer and help wherever I can within the community, usually with things geared towards enhancing the lives of children.”
Her volunteer work includes serving on Orillia Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital advisory committees, on the Community Foundation of Orillia and Area board, and as treasurer for the Orillia Lakers basketball club.
Lloyd, the current chair of the board of trustees, says she brings the dedication and experience required to see the board through its current challenges.
“I’m well aware of the effects of the pandemic on our schools and on our children, and moving forward I think we have an enormous amount of work to do,” she said.
“I have the experience and the dedication to see what needs to be done and to facilitate it happening for students. The pandemic has been hard on kids and hard on their families. I’m not finished with that, and I’m very committed to seeing it through for the benefit of kids.”
The pandemic showed Lloyd the school board can adapt and change quickly, she said.
“Simcoe County District School Board will have close to 57,000 students this year,” she said. “We have a staff of 7,000 people, and sometimes, with organizations like that, change is slow or difficult to implement. Moving forward, I think we learned that we can change; we can adapt, and we can look at things with a new perspective and a new lens.”
One accomplishment Lloyd is proud of is helping the school board become one of the few that did not have to close schools due to staff shortages through the 2021-22 school year.
“I’m very proud of the work that we did during the pandemic,” she said. “We used teacher candidates, we … used central principals and central staff from our education centre, deployed them into schools on a daily basis where we knew there were going to be staff shortages. It was very important to parents and to the students that we keep schools open, and we were committed to that.”
Lloyd said the school board also launched an elementary music program across the entirety of the board last term, without specific funding from the province.
Over the next term, she hopes to see the completion of a new elementary school in west Orillia, following the announcement of $9 million in provincial funding in December 2021.
Looking to the future, Lloyd highlighted a number of issues the board faces, including addressing the lingering effects of the pandemic on children, and securing additional funding to maintain services and build new schools as Simcoe County experiences rapid growth.
She projects the county will need 30 new schools over the next 10 years.
Part of surmounting these challenges is strong advocacy, Lloyd said, who wants to be “that strong voice, that articulate voice that gets messages forward.”
“I have done 16 interviews on CBC … since the pandemic began on educational issues to bring them to the forefront,” she said. “I have written numerous letters to the ministry, to local MPPs, and those are important because they’re shared provincially.
“Moving forward, we need experienced trustees who understand the role.”