Halton board split along old/new divide

  • April 30, 2007
It’s not politics as usual at the Halton Catholic District School Board. A divided board in the region to Toronto’s west has voted non-confidence in the chair and vice chair voted in just four months ago.
{mosimage}Board chair Al Bailey and vice chair Alice Anne LeMay respectfully declined the request of five trustees that they resign.

“Why should I resign?” asked Bailey.

LeMay said she wasn’t quite sure what the five trustees, three of them serving first terms on the board, are upset about.

Oakville trustee Anthony Danko told The Catholic Register his April 10 motion asking the chair and vice chair to resign was “symbolic.” He described it as “just something to let them know that we don’t like what he (Bailey) has been saying to the media about us.”

Danko complains that the old guard on the board has no vision for its current four-year term and has been reluctant to meet to discuss future directions. It took two months of negotiation to agree on a five-hour “visioning session” now scheduled for May 8. Outside consultants have been contracted to lead the trustees to articulate goals and objectives.

LeMay doesn’t believe vision should be at issue on a board of education.

“Unless you have the vision of the children as your foremost thought, and not what you want, because it’s not about one individual trustee, or five trustees, or four trustees. It’s about one corporate board speaking on behalf of children, and we’ve lost sight of that,” said the 27-year board veteran.

The May 8 meeting should clear the air, said Bailey. He also dismisses the idea a board of trustees should be setting a political agenda.

“We have to follow what the Ministry (of Education) says. There should be no way that trustees have their own agendas,” he said.

The 10-year board veteran believes new members have failed to come to grips with their role and with board bylaws and procedures. He accuses them of passing motions that contradict earlier motions or established board bylaws and procedures, and failing to take the advice of the board’s lawyer.

“We may be a Catholic organization. We may be trustees. But we also operate a $226-million corporation funded by taxpayer dollars. You just don’t do that flying by the seat of your pants, deciding you want to make your own rules,” said Bailey.

LeMay accuses the newer trustees of being petulant and obstructionist, failing to approve minutes and making last-minute changes to meeting agendas.

“The infighting concerns me because it’s not the Christian way to go,” she said. “The failure to listen to each other with the kids as the main focus concerns me a lot. It’s not about the nine people sitting around the board table. We’re just kind of the crossing guards you might say.”

Danko believes the board has been too passive and unwilling to consider new ideas.

“We want to set some goals and objectives,” he said. “I don’t think that’s unusual.”

Bailey and LeMay are elected chair and vice chair through the board’s November meetings, at which time the board may elect a new chair and vice chair to take over in December.

Please support The Catholic Register

Unlike many media companies, The Catholic Register has never charged readers for access to the news and information on our website. We want to keep our award-winning journalism as widely available as possible. But we need your help.

For more than 125 years, The Register has been a trusted source of faith-based journalism. By making even a small donation you help ensure our future as an important voice in the Catholic Church. If you support the mission of Catholic journalism, please donate today. Thank you.