Toronto Catholic school trustees to remain under supervision

By 
  • June 3, 2009
{mosimage}TORONTO - The Toronto Catholic District School Board will remain under provincial supervision for another year but interim steps could be taken to allow trustees to sit at the board table, said board supervisor Norbert Hartman.

The Catholic trustees will not regain decision-making authority until after the next municipal elections in November 2010, Hartmann told  The Register. He said provincial laws specify that publicly funded boards can only escape supervision when their budgets are balanced.

Meantime, following an apology from the trustees last month, Hartmann said his supervisory team may invite the 12 trustees back to the table at board meetings in an advisory capacity. But he didn’t specify when that would happen.

Hartmann removed the trustees’ advisory role after public infighting in January, at which time trustees were instructed to sit in the public gallery.  The Ontario government had taken control of the board last June following a trustees’ spending scandal.

A meeting between the supervisory team and trustees is planned within the next two weeks to determine the next steps, Hartmann said. This could also mean the appointment of trustee Angela Kennedy as chair, although Hartmann said the team hasn’t made a decision yet about when that would occur.

Last year’s board chair, Catherine LeBlanc-Miller, said she was not surprised by the extension of provincial government supervision until next year. But LeBlanc-Miller said trustees still have a role to play.

“As trustees, we need to do whatever we can to bring voices of parents and their concerns to the supervision team,” she said.

Hartmann said the board is moving forward by working to balancing its budget.

In a May 22 report, Hartmann presented an overview of a multi-year budget plan which would reduce the board’s 10-million accumulated deficit this school year and create future surpluses beginning in 2010-2011. The report is called “Realign, Refocus and Revinest: Ensuring a Sustainable Future for the Toronto Catholic District School Board.”

The supervision team has asked the board’s director of education to launch a “strategic renewal process” which would examine the board’s effectiveness in improving student achievement.

It also suggested a multi-year review of all board programs and services which would focus on supporting the most vulnerable students.

“While balancing the operating budget and eliminating the accumulated deficit are important goals for the supervision process, the creation of conditions for a stable future, focused on student achievement, is far more critical,” Hartmann wrote.

The board plans to hear from parents and community members about their views on the three-year budget proposal at a June 27 public meeting at the Catholic Education Centre.

The proposed budget estimates total expenditures at $910,524,613 and board revenues at $918,340,000 this year. It also forecasts a surplus of $3.3 million after three years.

For a copy of the report and budget proposal, please visit: www.tcdsb.org

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