Toronto Catholic board supervision team resigns

  • August 25, 2009
{mosimage}TORONTO - After a challenging and controversial tenure, the provincially appointed supervision team for the Toronto Catholic District School Board has resigned.

In an Aug. 21 letter to Ontario Education Minister Kathleen Wynne, the team led by Norbert Hartmann said it had accomplished part of its mandate in restoring the financial health and public confidence in the board. Last year, the board was in the middle of a trustee spending scandal and came under provincial supervision after it failed to balance its budget.

Richard Alway, president of the University of Toronto's Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies and chairman of the C.D. Howe Memorial Foundation, will replace the supervision team.

“Our mandate essentially was to get the board back on track and to begin the restoration of public confidence,” Hartmann told The Catholic Register.

He referred to the team's accomplishments in introducing a new board expense policy and a balanced budget plan “which produces a surplus over the next two years.” He added the team also completed an administrative review and hired a new senior leadership team.

“The conditions for financial stability are in place and the revised by-laws governing the financial affairs of the board ensure future fiscal responsibility. We are proud of these achievements,” the letter said.

Hartmann said the main challenge during his 14-month term was in “creating the kinds of public involvement that people expected us to have.”

“That's a very difficult thing for supervision to get those kinds of mechanisms. I think we went a long way in doing it but there's more that needs to be done in terms of the involvement of all of the constituencies that have a stake in the process,” he said.

Hartmann denied there was any pressure from the ministry to resign. But after 14 months on the job, he said it was time for a “new model” in the next stage of the supervision process.

The resignation comes amid a public tug-of-war between two board trustees and the supervision team. John Del Grande and Rob Davis had been attempting to hold a public meeting between parents and trustees — who have no decision-making powers since the supervision team took over — but failed to do so after Hartmann pulled the plug on a planned Aug. 24 meeting at the Catholic Education Centre.

Murielle Boudreau, chair of the Greater Toronto Catholic Parent Network, said the group is pleased that the ministry has listened to its concerns about the supervision team.

“It's an honourable thing that he resigned,” she said.

Boudreau had written to Wynne citing conflict-of-interest concerns about Hartmann whose wife and daughter are board teachers.

Meanwhile, former chair Catherine LeBlanc-Miller told The Register the new appointment represents a “new step towards trustees being more publicly accessible and the parents feeling that their trustees are part of the dialogue.”

Del Grande said the ministry's appointment of Angela Kennedy as board chair also indicates a new change in the relationship between the supervision team and trustees.

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