Ontario takes control of Toronto Catholic school board

  • June 4, 2008

{mosimage}TORONTO - The province has taken over Toronto's Catholic school board. Ontario Education Minister Kathleen Wynne appointed Norbert Hartmann supervisor responsible for the day-to-day operations and finances of the troubled board Wednesday morning, June 4.

"I have no confidence in their (the trustee's) ability to continue to manage the board's affairs," said Wynne in a statement to the media.

The move came immediately after an investigation team reported to Wynne that, despite the board's claims to the contrary, it will run a deficit of between $5 million and $12 million in 2008-2009. The provincial investigators also found that Toronto's Catholic trustees failed to implement all the recommendations of a scathing May 7 report on trustee expenses and they routinely make last-minute decisions and ignore expert staff advice without regard to the long-term implications.

The takeover had been expected for weeks. Trustees themselves told The Catholic Register they expected to lose control of the board.

In the week leading up to the takeover, Toronto's trustees were chastised by Toronto Archbishop Thomas Collins, who told them in an open letter that their leadership "does not reveal the spirit of selfless devotion to the common good which is fundamental to Catholic education."

Toronto's Catholic trustees also drew the ire of a neighbouring board. The Peterborough Victoria Northumberland and Clarington Catholic District School Board wrote to the Ontario Catholic School Trustees' Association claiming Toronto's board had damaged the reputations of Catholic trustees across the province and recommended the present board step down to make way for new elections.

In a last-ditch bid to stave off supervision, board chair Catherine Leblanc-Miller wrote to Wynne claiming the board had balanced its budget and reformed expense account policies in a series of emergency meetings over the previous week.

"I have seen my colleagues come together in a remarkable way to address the isues," wrote Leblanc-Miller.

The Toronto Catholic District School Board oversees 92,000 students, making it the largest Catholic school board in the province. Ontario's Catholic schools are publicly funded and have responsibility for 600,000 students.

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