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"Each individual should allow reason to guide his conduct, or like an animal, he will need to be led by a leash."
Diogenes of Sinope

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Thousand Flowers tapestry (15th Century) - Beaune, France (detail)

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

No sympathy for Toronto school boards

In today's National Post: Toronto trustees set to defy deadline to balance budgets

The Toronto public and Catholic school boards are apparently going to ignore an Aug. 31 deadline to balance their budgets. The public board has an $84 million deficit, while the Catholic board's runs to $34.5 million. Trustees have expressed frustration with the Ontario government's funding formula. Public trustee Irene Atkinson said "We were elected to represent our communities, their needs and their aspirations and we are being opposed by an antiquated funding model which inhibits our doing exactly that." Among other things, Toronto public schools may have to terminate school breakfast and lunch programs and close 77 of 80 indoor swimming pools.

Let's set aside for now the issue of school trustees choosing to ignore the law. Let's talk instead of the "needs and aspirations" of parents who send their kids to schools out here in the wilderness of Eastern Ontario, or anywhere in rural Ontario for that matter. School breakfast and lunch programs? We have schools that don't have cafeterias or gymnasiums for crying out loud! INDOOR SWIMMING POOLS? Students out here go to school in ancient crumbling buildings dating to the Korean War. Many of our schools have upwards of half their students being taught in "temporary" portable classrooms that are now so old that they have to be renovated themselves, and are leaky, mold-infested structures that the UN wouldn't tolerate in third world countries. The nearest city to where I live, population 35 000, doesn't have one public indoor swimming pool in the entire community, let alone in any of its schools.

For decades, Toronto schools mined a rich vein of local property taxes to fund extravagant schools complete with pools and concert halls while the rest of the province's schools begged for money. Now that school funding has been removed from the local property tax base, Toronto is feeling the pinch for a change. I'm not saying that every school board should now sink to the lowest common denominator, but the Toronto school board's woes are not getting much sympathy outside the 905 area code.


The Heward Report said...

One of the biggest problems in the TDSB it hat the trustees seem to have life time job security. Same people, same problems. Some trustees seem to believe they have tenure. Even new members seem to be hand picked for their political stance rather than for their administrative abilities.

I propose that trustees be limited to

2 consecutive terms
a lifetime limit of 3 non-consecutive terms
restrictions be placed on lobbying efforts of individuals there-after (trustees should not be rehired by the board as school administrators, nor as teachers)
Vacant seats should be filled by appointment of the Minister of Education, and not won by acclamation. Appointments would be for one term, and they in turn would have to be elected to retain their seat on the board. I realize cronyism (like the Senate) will happen, but new governments can have new cronies.

Will the teachers’ unions, TDSB and the trustees accept this gladly? Of course not. But, I think it would help solve the decades old problem of entrenched ideologues controlling the agenda. New problems may arise but the annual budget impasse would cease.

Anonymous said...

Ontario does not need Trustees at all, they could all be sent packing - redundant.

They do not add anything worthwhile to education in this province - so why are we holding on to this anachronism from the old days?

Simply as a place to employ otherwise un-employable NDP'ers? It's not the taxpayer's fault that they have no useful skills, so let's get rid of these 'Trustees'.

SouthernTory said...

They won't deliver a balanced budget. They did that to the last Conservative Gov't. They were required to by law but didn't. the result was that Premier Ernie Eves
sent in a beancounter named Paul Christie to get to the bottom of the mess. But that didn't stop the School Board from dragging Christie's name + the Gov't. through the mud. They even ran commercials during the election campaign. So now, a different Premier and Government. They must prefer NDP. I hope people come to the realization that it's the School Board that's behind all this. They are to fat, to powerful,
and know they can get away with almost anything. They are an intimidating bunch. They must be brought down a peg, or two.

Anonymous said...

it is really fun how the tdsb has all these schools that are empty and my children attend school with the french PUBLIC school board in toronto and they are housed in an industrial unit public is public school and the tdsb does not own the schools the tax payers do so why are they holding on to properties they do not need and we the tax payers have to pay for them

Anonymous said...

trustees are useless look at the city of toronto web site and you will see that trustees from the french boards which have very large areas use about 6000.00 per year expenses and the tdsb trustees that have all their schools in a few square miles use in the range of 35000.00 to 55000.00 with 22 of them now we know why the property taxes keep going up in toronto

Anonymous said...

tdsb has been renting school properties to private industry for years and we the tax payer is still paying for these properties 5 acres in toronto is over 10.000,000.00 in realestate value why are they not lessing these properties to other school boards that need them or even better since they are only property managers not owners the tax payer in the owner we paid for these schools with our tax money the surplus schools should be transfered to the boards that need them

Anonymous said...

tdsb claims that they spend millions every year for computer programs but the programs have been the same for 3 years so where is the money going where is the accountibility when a budget is presented where are the receipts why is it they can just put a number and not have to justify where the money is being spent the liberals at federal level had to explain where the money went why not the tdsb