School Board Chair Andrea Grebenc wants to be a member of the provincial legislature

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

May 29th, 2021



She won handily in 2014 against three other candidates for a seat as a trustee with the Halton District School Board.  She used the first two years to get a feel for the job she eventually became exceptionally good at.  Her colleagues thought enough of her ability to make her chair of the Board during her first term.

Grebenc frown

Listening carefully

In her second term she was acclaimed and served as the Chair of the Board every year.

In her first term she made the difficult decision to vote for the closing of two of the seven Burlington high schools one of which was in her ward.  It was also the high school from which she graduated.

As the Trustee for 10 elementary schools and two high schools she busied herself with getting to know the schools, the student population and the problems.  Grebenc has an open,  engaging personality that says how can I help without using the words.

She is a problem solver who grew into an advocate with the strength of character to challenge the province and the way it was handling what Grebenc saw as serious flaws in the way education was being both delivered and funded.  School board trustees often seem to be a little timid, more into the fluffier parts of being an elected official. Timid is not a word that  gets used to describe Andrea Grebenc.

Trustees Grebencand Gray BEST

Andrea Grebenc on the right at a major public meeting with fellow trustee Jeanne Gray.

A life long Burlington resident, the child of parents who immigrated to Canada and chose Burlington as home. Grebenc was once in the Burlington Teen Tour Band and worked as a Sound of Music volunteer – both touch points for young people experiencing the city.

School started at St. Mark’s Catholic elementary school after which she went on to Lester B Pearson high school and then attended Wilfred Laurier University earning an Honours Bachelor Science degree.

The mother of three children she formed her own company offering communications and IT services.

As a trustee she took a year to get the understanding she needed to be effective.

When the province began to consult with the public on increasing class sizes and imposing mandatory e-learning courses Grebenc worked with her fellow trustees and spearheaded, the Halton Education Action team of HDSB Trustees to find out what Halton parents, guardians, and community members thought of these changes. The trustees organized, formed and ran in-person regional focus groups, surveyed the community, analyzed the data, and wrote a comprehensive report that was used as evidence against the changes.

The Halton community consultation proved to be a more robust consultation than that of the Ministry.  The Halton  submissions, almost 7,000 in-person and surveyed, amounted to more than the Ministry received from the rest of the province combined.

The trustees are currently advocating for evidence-based collaborative decision-making surrounding the issue of permanently expanding online and remote learning.

Grebenc - expressive hands

Andrea Grebenc: speaks directly and is usually on point. She seldom ducks a question.

She is forthright about her opinions on how Provincial decisions and directives affect students and Ontario’s education system.

As a trustee she has made the province her constituency and has  focused on improving education through her work as a school board trustee.

The Grebenc profile became one that was recognized beyond the Region.

In July of 2020 it was “Whereas” after “Whereas”  in the motion Grebenc put before her trustees.  They were followed by the resolution:

“Be it resolved that the Chair ask the Minister of Education for clarification about who the decision maker is for the September school year start up.”

Grebenc had the support of her trustees.  In comments made after the motion was tabled Grebenc said that “there are in excess of 36,000 elementary students within the Halton Board – where are those children going to be cared for should they have to distant learn ?”

“What will we get – quickly formed day care centre’s that are not regulated, not inspected with other children coming from who knows where ?  The bubbles that most families created to ensure their kids were safe would not be feasible.”

Grebenc had made her mark.

Miller in a huddle with Grebenc

Andrea Grebenc has a strong working relationship with the Director of Education Stuart Miller.

Grebenc tends to be a listener and problem solver; drama and grandstanding are tools she leaves behind.

The capacity to get things done spills over into her community work.  One of her most recent projects was forming “Masks for COVID -Burlington”. In April 2020, she recruited and organized 80+ people throughout Burlington into a living, caring and productive mask-making machine. Andrea organized material procurers, cutters, sewers, and distributors, making daily rounds to transport materials and masks to Long Term Care and Retirement Homes early in the pandemic when PPE was scarce.

The original mandate was 2,000 masks, but due to the dedication of the volunteers, 3,000 masks were completed and distributed and the group was able to expand their mandate to include some local food banks.

Andrea currently sits on the Mayor’s COVID task force and provides status updates on behalf of the Halton District School Board.

Grebenc is one of two women seeking the nomination to be the Liberal candidate in the provincial election set for June of 2022.  Given the current political climate in the province there are a number of reasons to believe the Premier will call a snap election if his support firms up once inoculation levels reach the 60 or 70% levels and new infection reports are consistently below 1000.




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