Les Fédérations des commissions scolaires

Les Fédérations des directions d’établissement d’enseignement

Les Syndicats

Sharing and Caring at the QESBA Annual Get Together…….. Of Course On Our Tax Dollars.

la-grande-bouffe-andrea-ferreol-and-philippe-noire

EMSB chairman celebrating huge pay increase at the Québec Hilton BUT on your School Tax dollars not hers.

On December 17th, 2014, the EMSB council of commissioners quietly allocated its chairperson, Mrs. Angela Mancini, a huge pay hike. According to an article by Joel Ceausu, “Dollars and sense” which subsequently  appeared in the Suburban, Mrs. Mancini received a 59% increase in salary.  Only commissioners  Agostino Cannavino, Julien Feldman and Joseph Lalla dissented.

 According to the minutes of the December 17th, 2014 meeting, the total budget at the EMSB for commissioner salaries is $202,397. Mrs. Mancini’s base salary is currently $38,000, a massive increase from what she earned previously.  Add to this, her membership to six governance committees (membership largely based on group affiliation) where members earn “extra” cash, and her vehicle and “other” expenses, which are unknown. 

Additionally, commissioners Lattanzio and Lo Bianco receive an  approximate stipend of  $15,000-$20,000 dollars for their membership to the Comité de gestion de la taxe scolaire de l’île Montréal along with the extra cash they earn for  memberships to the governance committees.  In the case of Mrs LoBianco, all these memberships are added to  her base salary of $25,000 for being vice-chairperson at the EMSB.

ACDSA explanatory note: The QESBA and it’s affiliated school boards, including the EMSB,  is currently using your hard earned tax dollars for a May 22, 23 and 24th convention at the luxurious Québec Hilton. Ironically your children will be coming home with their school supplies list for next year. Now let us see, how many boxes of crayolas, notebooks etc could be bought on what is being spent on this convention?   

QESBA does NOT represent the Anglophone Population in School Board Election Controversy.

Contrary to what the QESBA may falsely claim, they do not speak on behalf of all Anglophones. They were never elected to represent the Anglophone population but instead have self-appointed themselves to protect their self- interests.

Some observations:

  • Only about 16% of the eligible Anglophone school board voters participated in the last election despite knowing that school board elections may be cancelled due to poor turnout.
  • The QESBA nor their associated school boards or associated governing board never consulted the school tax payers before taking their political position.
  • School taxes are meant to be used in providing educational services for students not towards politicking or legal challenges undertaken by the QESBA.
  •  The Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN) is a self-interest group, never elected by the Anglophone community.

As such, their defense of protecting school board elections on linguistic basis is not only intellectually dishonest but is not representative of the population they claim to represent.

C’est faux de dire que l’existence des CS anglophones est un droit constitutionnel.

Qui sont ces anglophones du Québec que M. Burke dit représenter?  Je peux vous assurer que la grande majorité n’ont jamais entendu parlé de M. Burke, que la grande majorité ne votent pas aux élections scolaires et comme nos concitoyens francophones, on se demande pourquoi diable avoir des commissions scolaires?

Nous avons passé dix ans devant les Tribunaux contre la Commission scolaire English Montréal (CSEM)  – notre objectif était seulement de faire respecter La loi sur l’instruction publique. De son côté, la CSEM s’est offerte les plus grands et prestigieux cabinets d’avocats (aux frais des contribuables naturellement) contre nous, un petit groupe de parents d’un secteur défavorisé de Montréal. On vendait des palettes de chocolat pour payer notre avocat pour éventuellement se représenter nous-mêmes faute d’argent. De son côté, la CSEM ne manquait jamais d’argent – c’est facile quand c’est l’argent des autres, n’est-ce pas?

Aujourd’hui les CS anglophones  vont faire ce qu’elles font si bien, soit contester ad nauseam l’inévitable en se servant de l’argent des contribuables. Vous savez ces individus qui semble-t-il nous représentent, sont essentiellement des gens qui ont un emploi à temps partiel et qui veulent le garder coûte que coûte. Par exemple, la présidente de la CSEM s’est dernièrement offerte une augmentation de 59% — soit 60,000$ par année pour un job à mi-temps — de plus, être commissaire facilite grandement la tâche pour faire engager des amis et de la parenté…donc, c’est évident que ces anglophones qui se disent nous représenter vont tout faire pour protéger leurs acquis. Espérons  que le grand ménage va continuer car le statu quo n’est vraiment plus acceptable.

En passant,  les Anglos ont le droit de recevoir une éducation en anglais, mais c’est faux de dire que l’existence des CS anglophones est un droit constitutionnel.

Abolishing of School Board Elections is All about Respecting the Population and Nothing To Do With Minority Rights as QESBA and QFHSA Claim.

   The elimination of school board elections as proposed by Education Minister Blais has nothing to do with eliminating or ignoring English minority rights in Québec but has everything to do with respecting the wishes of the electorate. Anglophone, Francophone and Allophones clearly indicated during the 2014 school board elections and previous elections that they have no faith in the current school board system of educational governance.
   For those whose memory are short, the turnout for the English sector was a measly 16.8% of eligible voters and probably most of them were made of individuals closely associated with the school boards themselves.
It is therefore questionable and almost repulsive to see the various English school board associations from cupcake committees to school board councils hide behind the minority language card. It is anything but.
   After years of low anemic voter turnout for school board elections and after the Québec English School Board Association (QESBA) mounting of a never before seen intensive media blitz in which the focus was on the abolishing of English school boards and minority rights, a mere 16.8% of the eligible Anglophone voters came out to vote. In addition, many council seats were uncontested and some school boards could not even get a chairman to run.
   From this, any reasonable individual can conclude that the population has spoken. They have denounced school boards and if indeed the English minority rights issue is an important element, as the QESBA tries to claim, then the 16.8% turnout should have put a lid on this outdated bureaucratic means of governance.
   The question then becomes why these small groups of school board officials and their followers are so unwilling to listen to the voice of the population? We be arrogant to assume we know the full answer but we can say with accuracy that the loudest voices belong to those who benefit tremendously from the current system. One only has to look at the QESBA personnel and add up their collective salaries. Furthermore amongst them a chairmanship position for the New Frontier School Board.
   The population clearly spoke during the last school board election. It is now time for those elected officials to respect the voices of the population and fall in line with the education minister.
To turn the abolishing of elections for school boards into a minority language issue disrespects the voices of the population, is fraught with conflict of interest issues and lack of institutional honesty.
   BTW Since when can an organization like the QESBA use taxpayers school taxes to fund a political/ pseudo legal, challenge to the governments proposed action without directly consulting the taxpayers.
  School tax dollars should go into the schools directly for the benefits of the students and not be used on the QESBA personal wishes. If the QESBA needs money to mount their opposition, we suggest they start fundraising by selling cupcakes.

Le collège électoral, nominations partisanes et les droits constitutionnels anglophones

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On s’y attendait, avant même que le ministre de l’Éducation du Québec annonce ses intentions quant à ce qui pourrait remplacer les élections scolaires, un président d’une commission scolaire anglophone, M.Burke, annonce des actions à venir afin de contrer les changements possibles. En effet, selon un article du Journal de Montreal, M.Burke de la Commission scolaire centrale du Québec prévient que l’abolition des élections scolaires est perçue par la communauté anglophone comme une attaque à leurs droits constitutionnels. Plus précisément, il réfère à la gestion des écoles par le biais de commissaires scolaires élus. Le président de cette commission scolaire de 4500 élèves s’oppose à la formule du collège électoral craignant que cela conduise à des nominations partisanes.

Chaque fois que l’on invoque des mesures visant à pallier le déficit démocratique affectant la politique scolaire, des élus s’opposent aux changements. Du côté anglophone, la stratégie consiste à relier les changements à une attaque à des droits linguistiques. Dans ce contexte, on pourrait croire  qu’il existe un engouement de la population anglophone envers la politique scolaire. Or, malgré cet amalgame malsain entre droits linguistiques et élections scolaires, seuls 15% des électeurs anglophones se sont présentés aux urnes lors des dernières élections scolaires…D’ailleurs plusieurs anglophones plaident pour une nouveau modèle de gestion scolaire, ce dans le respect des droits linguistiques: une décentralisation des pouvoirs politiques vers les écoles.

De surcroît, l’argument de M.Burke à propos du collège électoral soulève un questionnement:  la politique n’est-elle pas elle-même de nature partisane?

De toute façon, lorsqu’on y réfléchit, il  semble qu’ il existe déjà un collège électoral fantôme, informel et partisan: celui qui est composé de 15% des électeurs anglophones qui se présentent aux élections. Donc peu importe l’approche électorale, statu quo ou collège, on dénote un problème de fond,  les opposants peuvent soulever l’existence d’un déficit démocratique.

Les parents de la CSEM mettent en ligne leur sondage

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La saga du sondage élaboré par le comité central de parents de la Commission scolaire English-Montréal se poursuit. Suite au délai imposé par la commission scolaire, les responsables du comité de parents ont tout simplement mis en ligne leur sondage (https://www.facebook.com/EMSBParents). De plus, le comité de parents a reçu l’appui  des journalistes de Global  qui ont reproduit le sondage. Il est également possible de répondre aux questions  en ligne sur le site de Global . Grâce aux efforts concertés des parents et des journalistes, il est maintenant possible pour les parents de participer au sondage. Espérons que leur sondage aura un franc succès.

Selon toute vraisemblance, un constat s’impose dans toute cette histoire:  la commission scolaire se considère partenaire avec les associations des directeurs, des enseignants; elle  ne se soucie guère des parents. Pourtant, à l’école publique, les parents ont des droits. Ils ont un mot à dire sur l’éducation de leurs enfants. Depuis que les écoles sont laïques, la démocratie scolaire est le moyen par lequel les parents peuvent s’exprimer.  Malgré la législation et ce virage souhaité vers une démocratisation du système en faveur d’une participation parentale accrue, c’est connu plusieurs rapports le soulignent, certaines commissions scolaires n’ont pas pris le virage démocratique.

Du côté anglophone, c’est un désastre. Selon mes observations, les parents n’ont pas grand chose à dire, ils n’ont jamais vécu la réforme. Les pouvoirs sont toujours centralisés vers la commission scolaire. Les parents sont fortement encadrés. Les commissions scolaires tolèrent la présence d’un organisme indépendant qui occupe, du moins en partie, la place réservée aux parents. Les parents ne sont pas formés adéquatement.

Tenant compte du contexte démocratique déficitaire dans lequel ces parents agissent,  leur démarche vaut la peine d’être soulignée. Qui sait, peut-être que le vent vient de tourner et que les parents anglophones prendront enfin toute la place qui leur revient?

“QESBA makes a mistake” – EX Sir Wilfrid Laurier School Board Commissioner

Using public funds to hire a constitutional lawyer to fight the inevitable changes coming to school board governance is a mistake.

English school boards hire constitutional lawyer to fight plan to eliminate elections

The fact of the matter is that the public has lost its confidence in school boards. Merited or not (there are varied opinions), facts remain facts. And our provincial politicians are keenly aware of the public’s loss of confidence here.

As a former school board commissioner myself, I *know* that there is a lot of good work done there. And I also know that there is room for improvement. This is why I work as an advisor to my MNA on education. Because complaints are very easy to make; solutions, on the other hand, are not always so easy.

QESBA seems to be fighting the fight without offering up solutions. The unfair taxation rates off-island in Quebec, for one. What has QESBA succeeded with here? Duplication in the collection of taxes? Mergers of boards? Decentralization of more services? Cutting of bloated bureaucracies, both school board level and at MELS?

There is a lot to be done here. And paying a constitutional lawyer to fight this fight should not be one of them.

Truly,

Steve Mitchell

School Boards Don’t Involve Parents’ Universal Input But Only The Inner School Board Cliques

Celine Cooper writes in a Montreal Gazette article  that she “didn’t get very far” in her quest for answers from the English Montreal School Board (EMSB) as to why it was not being cooperative with the Central Parents’ Committee (CPC), who merely wished to distribute a parent opinion survey.

Neither did I at the Central Parents’ Committee of the Lester B. Pearson School Board (LBPSB), on May 7, when I asked verbally, and, in writing, to also create a parent survey for the Pearson community. Apparently, it’s not in its mandate.

Nevertheless, Cooper asks a pertinent question: “Why is it that Quebecers don’t seem to feel connected to or invested in their public school boards?”

Answer: Most people have come to the realization that school boards are irrelevant in today’s high-tech world. Parents are too busy trying to make a living. They care about their children’s schools, and want to focus on the teachers and students.

Considering the Education Department has decided to scrap school board elections, the results of a survey of the wants and needs of parents of the EMSB and LBPSB would be an invaluable resource for the government to use, to better serve the English community.

Chris Eustace, Pierrefonds

EMSB Commissioners Speak Out Against EMSB Fiefdom Mentality.

The Gazette’s coverage of the conflict between English Montreal School Board chair Angela Mancini and the board’s Central Parents Committee (CPC) reasonably reflects the events surrounding its effort to survey parents.

The situation is a perfect reflection of why EMSB parents have long demanded a greater say in school board decision-making. Historically, the board’s independent parents’ committee has been sidelined by the council of commissioners. The education minister had hoped to address this power imbalance by sharply reducing the number of commissioners elected in the community and by boosting the number of non-voting council seats reserved for parents elected by CPC, the only direct representative for the board’s tens of thousands of parents.

For many years, parent frustration has simmered on a range of issues, particularly in the elementary schools frequented by Montreal’s young families, from building repairs to support for special-needs children. Second-language instruction is also a hot topic as the board has lost thousands of eligible students to French-sector schools — along with the millions of dollars in subsidies provided by the government for each student. Unsurprisingly, these items are among the topics being surveyed by CPC chairman Pietro Mercuri, his four elected parent commissioners and other members of its committee executive.

Given Education Minister Francois Blais’s plan to abolish future elections, it’s not difficult to understand how resulting tensions have allowed a petty dispute over a parent survey to once more boil over into a broader struggle for influence — only six months after last fall’s elections.

It may well be in the best interest of the anglo community’s school boards for constitutional provisions to be interpreted in a way that allows them to retain their century-old electoral system. Convincing the minister that it would also be in the best interest of parents and students is another matter entirely.

Agostino Cannavino, EMSB Commissioner, Ward 6 (St. Michel, Villeray, Plateau-Mont-Royal, Ville Marie East); Julien Feldman, EMSB Commissioner, Ward 3 (Westmount, Sud Ouest, Ville Marie West)