Your Local Journal – (“We must think of tax payer”) – April 17,2014

Dear Editor:

Since last week’s win in the Quebec election of Liberal leader Philippe Couillard , there has been an article , a press release (both April 8), and an opinion piece pertaining to the Quebec English School Boards Association (QESBA). The three write-ups, in essence, ask the new government for more money.
Let me tie in those three accounts with student success.

At the last Lester B. Pearson School Board Council Meeting , a synopsis of a School Tax Management Committee Report was made available. One issue of the report concerned : ” Education in underprivileged areas.”

It seems that poverty levels have worsened everywhere on the Island of Montreal.

On April 7, Chairperson of Pearson Suanne Stein Day , who is also a director of the QESBA, and another commissioner returned from New Orleans, Louisiana, where they attended the National School Board Association Conference. Cost for that trip would be a few thousand dollars.

Also, education tax dollars has been set aside for 15 LBPSB commissioners to attend another conference , on May 22, in the most posh hotel in Quebec City. Minimum cost would be $15,000.

According to page 31 of the LBPSB 2012-2013 Annual Report, expenditures for these events, which fall under the guise of ” Professional Development (PD) ” have increased : 2012 – about $98,000 ; in 2013 – about $129,000. Meanwhile we lost 450-550 students to other schools.

For the past 15 years , I have witnessed the Pearson board allocate tens of thousands of dollars for these conventions, yet I have never heard of one useful idea from these events that would help students or teachers. Not one.

In contrast to the $10,000’s squandered to have a good time , teachers are allocated only $240 (PD) a year , which, of course , is geared toward student success.

The press release concluded : “We are waiting for the new premier‑elect to show leadership in public education,” and the April 15 piece: “Mr. Premier, the ball is in your court.”

No, the ball is really in the court of the fed-up taxpayers, who will be receiving their school tax bill in a few weeks.

Coincidentally, at the same time a report is expected from a ‘comité d’experts ‘ mandated by the Parti Québécois to analyse all matters of finance, governance, and administration of school boards. Hopefully, one recommendation is more decision-making power for governing boards.

It will be those governing boards who will realize that the QESBA has outlived its costly usefulness – about $ 225,000.

Then follow the leadership example of Diane Lamarche-Venne, chairperson of the neighbouring Commission scolaire Marguerite Bourgeoys, who said : ” We must think of the taxpayer.” Then ditched their provincial association.

The majority Couillard government supports the elected school board system ; however, this November, school board elections will take place.

We have voted in a new provincial government, and, we , the taxpayer, must vote in fresh new bright commissioners.

The status quo characterised by arrogance, negligence and extravagance, must end.