Boot camps set up for trustee candidates

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  • November 23, 2009
{mosimage}TORONTO - The countdown for next year’s province-wide Catholic trustee elections begins with two upcoming trustee training workshops in Toronto.

Toronto Catholic District School Board trustee Rob Davis plans to run a free “trustee boot camp” on Nov. 21 at the Catholic Education Centre. St. Augustine’s Seminary’s Institute of Theology will conduct trustee workshops starting in January.

The three-hour session by Davis will teach those interested in running in the next election about the “ins and outs” of being a Catholic school trustee, Davis said.

The need for the boot camp, he said, is two-fold: the Toronto Catholic board is currently dealing with a financial deficit and it’s also facing a “democratic deficit” since the board has been under provincial supervision for 17 months. Provincially appointed supervisor Richard Alway makes all decisions.

Ontario’s education minister decided to take over the board after it failed to balance its budget and amid a trustee spending scandal.

Davis said he recently sent a notice to various groups including different ethnic community newspapers and Catholic parent councils to ensure a diverse range of candidates who are representative of the community.

Individuals who decide to run will also benefit, he added, because participants will become “future watchdogs” who will “keep trustees accountable in the community.”

Among topics to be covered are how the school board works, the election process and a typical day for a trustee.

Davis said there were 16 people signed up for the 20 open spots within a day of sending out flyers.

Meanwhile, Sheila Connolly, director of St. Augustine’s Seminary Institute of Theology, said their pilot program is not connected to the situation at the Toronto Catholic board. It is open to Catholic ratepayers who are thinking of running in any Ontario school board.

These courses fit into the institute’s work because it already offers programs in the formation of lay people, in addition to seminary courses for clergy, she said. The sessions will inform people of the mission and history of the Catholic school system, including legal and historical issues related to Catholic education, Connolly said. They will also examine the provincial funding formula, as well as the roles and responsibilities and skills required of a Catholic trustee.

In a letter to parishioners, Toronto Archbishop Thomas Collins called upon the Catholic community to become knowledgeable about the issues facing their Catholic schools and to know the candidates running for trustee.

“We as a faith community must take responsibility for the quality of Catholic school governance, for we elect the trustees,” Collins said.

The St. Augustine’s workshops will be held on six consecutive Saturdays, from Jan. 9 to Feb. 13, at the seminary. There is a $100 fee. For information, call (416) 261-7207 ext. 221 or visit www.archtoronto.org .

Information about the trustee boot camp can be obtained from www.trusteebootcamp.com or e-mail rob.davis@tcdsb.org .

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