School board elections

The Suburban   letter to the Editor   –  May 28, 2014

City Councillor Marvin Rotrand is certainly on the right track , raising awareness on some significant issues , in his May 21 letter to The Suburban, concerning the Nov. 2 : ” School board elections.”

( As a candidate running for chairman of the Pearson board, ) allow me to elaborate on his point that ” voters and taxpayers need a fundamental debate on education and who should pay for it. ”

Part of this debate must include these facts : we are living in an increasingly globalized world ; there is a failure in democracy at the school board level, due to low voter turnout , and the fragile legitimacy of some of its leaders contributes to a lot of tax dollars not being wisely spent.

Anyway, recently , the mayors of Montreal and Quebec City called on the provincial government for ” more decision-making powers, ” in which, one of those powers would include greater city involvement in our public school system.

They see school boards and cities operate in a parallel manner, and that is not the most efficient way of doing things. As custodians of school buildings, the mayors say there would be clear advantages.

They rightfully claim there would be better coordination, for example, regarding the sharing of sports facilities, and the closing or the building of new schools. Municipalities already manage public works , public safety , urban development, recreation department . They have a human resources department , computer specialists , a payroll system , and manage local collective agreements . They may well also manage some education services.

Consider the unnecessary duplication of services regarding property and school taxes. About three months ago, Montreal Island homeowners received their municipal tax bills ; soon we will be receiving our ever-increasing school tax bills, which are tied in to property evaluations.

This duplication of services is an anachronistic way of doing things. School boards should get out of the tax business .

Consider : Twenty per cent of the Montreal Island school tax bill is for school board expenses. That’s about $85. 5 million.

In Nov. 2017, there will be a twinning of municipal and school board elections. It seems reasonable that school taxes should be handled by Quebec’s municipalities, which would be overseen by the government.

Defining the curriculum and collective bargaining would remain centralized at the provincial level . Jobs would not be lost ; keep the acronym FAT in mind : Freeze, Attrition and Transfer.

Not long ago, Treasury Board President Martin Coiteux said : ” . ..we must consult taxpayers in a social dialogue… to get the best for the money of Quebecers.” Fed up Quebec taxpayers should participate in this “social dialogue,” by getting out to vote for school board candidates who agree with the thinking of a city councillor, mayors and the president of the Treasury Board.

Add to that, former ministers of education Michelle Courchesne, in 2008 , and Line Beauchamp, in 2011, who both said : “The status quo is unacceptable. ”