TORONTO - Things must be just fine in Mississauga’s [Dufferin-Peel] Catholic District School Board, or nobody cares. Yet, it has revenues of about $ 970 million. In 2018, not just one, but two Trustees have been acclaimed. Citizens in their Wards don’t have to vote – they apparently had no need to “boo”.
As much as we support and congratulate Trustees Iannicca and Pascucci, a seemingly total absence of interest in the school Board elections by the local public somehow cannot be healthy.
In York Region – both Catholic District (annual budget of approximately $ 600 million) and “Public” School Boards (budget of $ 1.446 billion) – some Wards are engaged in energizing, democratic “booing”.
The allocation of public funds for the instruction and education of our children (future citizens) is a serious issue. It requires methodical, forward-looking planning and collaborative strategies with various institutional agencies.
Most of all, it demands attentive ears to the Ministry and to parents, if funds are to continue to flow. There are never enough for curriculum development, technological improvements or for physical infrastructure.
Trustees are the last line of defense and first in the vanguard of advocating for more and better. Especially when, as in this last mandate, the Administrative Staff in both Boards veered off course.
In York Region’s “Public” School Board, the poisoned environment and dysfunction were so pervasive that the Ministry intervened to prompt the resignation of one Trustee and that of the Director.
How Trustees Aversa and De Bartolo “survived the axe” is an embarrassing mystery that only the public can correct.
Incredible as it may be, they are seeking re-election. Charline Grant, who had the courage of her convictions to draw attention to the rot and to push the Ministry to action, offers an alternative. Vote for her.
The co-terminous Catholic School Board is also in need of a serious examination of conscience and purpose.
In a growth environment, it is losing children to French language Boards, to Private Schools – local and out-of-city (St. Michael’s and De La Salle send buses daily to pick them up) – as well as to the Toronto Catholic District School Board, where grandparents provide convenient pre and after school supervision. The Administration has been proposing school closures and programme shut-downs. One imagines for the sake of efficiencies. How that helps to recover the losses in enrollment is another story.
In the last two years, they have been engaged in attempts to eliminate the International Languages Extended Day Programme – Italian in particular - offered in 21 elementary schools. Their dedication in pursuit of this plan boarders on zealotry.
Fortunately, some saner heads – Trustees Dino Giuliani, Maria Marchese, Domenic Mazzotta and Theresa McNicol – were able to prevail. They should be re-elected.
Three others are, happily (based on their performance), not re-offering. The others should look in the mirror and give their heads a shake.
These are two School Boards where some small-town thinking and the biases that go along with its insecurities need to be set aside and different approaches ushered in. The names we suggest may indeed provide the leadership required.