Gazette Letter: Why I am running for Pearson school board chair

June 6, 2014

Re: “Will anti-school-board school board candidate work to eliminate the board?” ( Online Letters, May 30)

Mary Fabian is “curious” and “confused” regarding my intentions behind my quest to be the next chairman of the Lester B. Pearson School Board, considering I have been critical of boards for many years.

My actions do appear to be paradoxical. Nonetheless, I am committed to the public education system. Irrespective of my views, the Quebec government has determined that school boards will stay for four more years; consequently, I felt compelled to run to bring meaningful change.

Since they were inaugurated, it is difficult to pinpoint any board action that has provided any significant support for our schools.

English school enrollment depressingly slides, yet on a matter such as challenging the unconstitutional law (Bill 104), which deprived certain students of the right to attend English schools, the boards spent years thumb twiddling.

With respect to the curriculum, the boards are mere rubber stamps for the government bureaucrats.

Though enrollment dwindles, bureaucracy thrives. I have first-hand experience of the board’s stonewalling when asked questions on financial issues, particularly, on matters dealing with head-office staffing. Taxpayer money, too, is often squandered on foreign trips and conferences that provide little or no value to the schools.

I am running for chairman not as a mission of self-aggrandizement but to improve the service given to the schools in the board.

Given the perilous state of the province’s economy, my platform would propose to cut the bureaucratic FAT: Freeze hiring at the head office; Attrition (reducing staff where possible through retirements/resignations), and Transferring (board personnel to fill vacancies that may occur).

With grandchildren in the system and my 35 years experience in the classroom, I have first-hand knowledge of the impact of decisions made by the board. Consequently, I intend to reinforce the principles behind Bill 88. Passed in 2008, the law called for the modernization of school board democracy.

It shrinks the power of school boards and makes the administrative bodies more accessible and more accountable to parents. Indeed, the bill encourages more parental involvement and governing board power in their dealings with the school board.

Chris Eustace