Your Local Journal – Dear Editor: May 22, 2014 (“Outrage”)


After submitting my questions and comments in writing, I attended the May 8 meeting of the School Tax Committee, known also by its French acronym, CGTSIM (cgtsim.qc.ca).I wanted to ascertain how much our school taxes would be hiked this year, and repeat a recommendation: School boards should get out of the tax-collecting business.

Anyway, as we will find out soon, school taxes are going up 2.5 per cent, which a fair portion of these taxes go toward board-level administrative expenses.

With that thought in mind, I also wanted to find out from exactly which tax ‘envelope’ did the following expense come from but  I found out nothing as boards are autonomous.

According to the “Commissioner Expense Reports,” about six weeks ago, LBPSB chairperson Suanne Stein Day, a member of the CGTSIM, spent  $2537.90, to attend a school board weekend session, in New Orleans, Louisiana. She was accompanied by the chairperson of the Executive Committee, who also used precious school tax dollars, $2545.95, to attend the event at a country whose education standards are a lot lower than ours.

No report was given at either the subsequent Pearson Executive Committee or Regular Council meetings as to any benefits for our students that were gained from this trip.

That said, last weekend, the President of the Quebec Treasury Board Martin Coiteux rightfully blasted school boards for their lavish spending at their convention at the Chateau Montebello. From May 22- 24, the English boards are off to the Chateau Frontenac, in Quebec City, to basically have a good time, at their conference, in a luxurious setting,  at taxpayers’ expense. (Months ago , Lester B had allocated 15 spots.)

How refreshing it was to read Mr. Coiteux’s comments, in which he “expressed outrage,” and said these things are “unacceptable.”  He expects school boards “to work in the same direction as the entire public sector,” and must put “their shoulder to the wheel,” and  “conduct these activities at a lower cost in a manner more acceptable to Quebecers.”

Indeed. Why not plan for more modest ceremonies during these global belt-tightening times?  Why not use a school to cut down on costs?

For example: The school where I used to work has an auditorium that was suitable for former premier, Robert Bourassa, to give a speech. The school grounds are fitting to hold St. Jean Baptiste festivities; Celine Dion sang there once, before she became a star.

The building has air-conditioning, emergency electric generators, and was deemed by the Canadian Armed forces, in January 1998, to be most decent to house 3000 people in the event the Ice Storm continued.

Trudeau airport is about 25 minutes away and nearby is a golf course where Tiger Woods played a few years ago.

The ‘Leadership Defined’ conference, in Montebello,  wraps up with a Grand Ballroom dinner dance with the invitation: “Celebrate our greatness as leaders!”

To conclude: Bravo newly-elected West Island MNA Martin Coiteux for calling it for what it is, thinking of the overburdened  taxpayer,  and sending a clear message:  Be frugal.

That’s leadership compared to school commissioners, who under the guise of professional development, waste a lot of money, showing off an inflated sense of self-importance.