Les Fédérations des commissions scolaires

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School Board Changes Badly Needed

In response to an April 2nd, 2014 “The Suburban” article  and “Letter to the Editor”

  Compliments on your April 2, West Island edition of The Suburban , which included the comprehensive article by journalist Robert Frank : ” LBPSB reverses position on emergency meas ures,” and a letter to the Editor titled : ” Getting  the  facts  right.”

  Both pieces came a long way in exposing problems that have existed at the Lester B. Pearson School Board because of its long-held , narrow view of democracy.

  First: Even though the article mentions the disarray of commissioners concerning a policy on “emergency measures,” it is the general disrespect of the taxpaying public by the board, that stands out.

  This was evidenced at the last Pearson Council meeting when Chairperson Suanne Stein Day called the security guard because a taxpayer exceeded the new rule of ” three minutes allocated to speakers,” at the Public Question Period.

  Second: The letter from former teacher-union head , Jim Wilson, in rebuttal to claims made in a letter on March 26, by the former chairman of the LBPSB,  Marcus  Tabachnick,  was  spot on. Teachers were disrespected; their concerns regarding the proper tools, such as updated books, were dismissed. There is a culture of self-entitlement at Pearson ; self-aggrandizement and school board secrecy is the norm. The silencing of the public must come to an end. The neglect of community and parents’  concerns must stop.

  A change is needed. It is imperative that this November that change should happen.

Chris Eustace

Fondations : des questions quant à l’octroi de contrats publics et les donateurs

Par: Michele Poupore

Le 7 avril, Ariane Lacoursière a écrit un article à propos des contrats accordés à l’Hôpital Santa Cabrini aux donateurs de la fondation de l’établissement. Selon, la journaliste, pendant une période fixe, plus de la moitiè des contrats donnés de gré à gré par l’hôpital ont été accordés à des entreprises qui sont également donateurs. Encore, […]\

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Misleading Statements By LBPSB Chairman Are As Disturbing As They Are Alarming.

There is no doubt that Mrs. Suanne Stein-Day is an ardent Liberal supporter in her private life having indicated so on numerous occasions.  However, it is disturbing to see that in her role as the LBPSB chairman, funded by taxpayers of all political stripes, she makes a public statements in support of her party. I have always understood it to be true, that a school board is to remain neutral, in terms of elections and party politics.

Furthermore, it is disturbing to read that Mrs. Stein-Day uses her position, as LBPSB chairman, to disseminate misleading information.

In the West Island section Of the Montreal Gazette, “Stein Day said the Liberals were the only party to pledge support to the education sector during the campaign and hopes this pledge will translated into concrete actions.” Source:  West Island section Of the Montreal Gazette, April 8th, 2014

This is absolutely, not true.  The CAQ for one, made it very clear that there be restructuring in the educational sector. What Mrs. Stein-Day probably didn’t  want to hear is that the CAQ plan was to diminish the bureaucracy at the school board level by turning them into service centers and the recouped funds being re-directed into the schools themselves for student us.

In other words, instead of school boards continuing to send individual or groups of commissioners and administrators on conferences like her trip to New Orleans, the money would be allocated to the classrooms needs.  Instead of spending  money on these type of ventures during lean economic times, these funds would be directly applied to the needs of the students.

Instead of flight costs, the money could be spent on books  for students. Instead of lodging costs, it could help to offset the purchase of much needed  physical education equipment. Instead of convention costs, dining costs etc etc, the money could be used to underwrite the ever rising student fees.

In terms of :

“ Stein Day said the board suffered under the previous government’s arbitrary micro-management of how budget cuts should be applied.” Source:  West Island section Of the Montreal Gazette, April 8th, 2014

It is  important to note that prior to the PQ coming to reign, eighteen months ago, the English school boards including the LBPSB, were highly critical of this same Liberal party, for major  cuts it was making to the administrative / bureaucratic fat at the school board’s  head office.

Mrs. Stein-Day appears to be happy with the Liberal party win, for she hopes it will ensure another four years of school board administrative funding ensuring the continuation of travel opportunities that go with it.

In the meantime, parents of students, continue to be bearing the brunt of dealing with educational cuts by seeing their school taxes rise, seeing the school fees continue their steady march and seeing a decline in student resources in the classroom..

Our kids deserve more, so much more.

Luc Horne

LBPSB Chairperson Suanne Stein-Day, Once Again, Uses Heavy Hand To Dodge A Question From The Public.

LBPSB reverses position on emergency measures.

By Robert Frank The Suburban

In a dramatic turnaround, Lester B. Pearson School Board (LBPSB) voted Monday to move forward with a plan to replace its outdated, 12-year-old emergency measures policy.

  Last month, its executive committee voted to shelve the plan, after LBPSB chair Suanne Stein Day

objected that it would place too great a burden on the school governing boards that would have to review it.

She stated that it would have to wait until after school board elections, slated for Nov. 2, which would effectively have postponed the new plan for another year.

  According to education watchdog Chris Eustace, elected school commissioners voiced their dissent at

LBPSB’s subsequent executive committee meeting last week.

“They were not happy about the delay, and one of the parent commissioners who sits on a governing board stated that revising the emergency measures plan is a priority and that there

would be no problem undertaking the effort to review it,” Eustace told The Suburban.

Commissioner Ruben Fazio asked that the item be added to the agenda of LBPSB’s March 31 council meeting, where his fellow commissioners subsequently voted unanimously to circulate the new policy immediately.

Conf lict of interest allegations

 

   The meeting’s question period also proved tempestuous, after former educator Luc Horne asked Stein Day to state how long Eustace would be banned from asking questions during LBPSB public meetings.

  Stein Day called for security personnel to remove Horne, after he exceeded the three minutes that she allocated for his question.

  She declined to say how long the Eustace ban would last, stating that the matter was in the hands of LBPSB’s lawyers who, according to Eustace, remain unresponsive six weeks after receiving his attorney’s  query.  Eustace was previously silenced by Stein Day’s predecessor,  Marcus  Tabachnick.

  Another parent, Cindy Mac Donald, protested that LBPSB dissolved the gov- erning board at her school soon after it raised questions about perks that school staff  was  receiving,  possibility  from  suppliers.

  She said that teachers boycotted the governing board after the parents on the elected body asked about “gifts, yoga les- sons, [equipment for] teachers’ lounges and monthly coffee and donuts from an outside organization.”  “When parents started asking questions, the teachers rebelled because it would have changed the way that things were done,” Mac Donald complained.  

“How can you justify [dissolving the governing board] to avoid questions about how money is spent, who the donors are and how service contracts are awarded? How can you reconcile such heavy hand- edness without any discussion?”

  “It was required by the Education Act,” Stein Day replied. “You have to have 50 per cent of parents and 50 per cent of the governing board in order to have
quorum.”

“We   will   investigate   this conflict of interest ,” Stein Day promised.

Source: The Suburban April 2, 2014

Démocratie dans une commission scolaire: l’imposition d’un baîllon et droit de parole restreint à trois minutes

Les payeurs de taxes dans une commission scolaire de l’Ouest de l’île disposent de trois minutes pour s’exprimer au cours de la période des questions du public. Lorsqu’un citoyen dépasse ce laps de temps, il est invité à sortir, escorté par un gardien de sécurité.   Coupable d’avoir dépassé  trois minutes…ce peu importe la pertinence de…

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Source: Politique scolaire Québécoise La démocratie, en milieu scolaire       Par: Michèle Poupore

 

LBPSB Ex Chairman, Marcus Tabachnick’s Boasts Are Trumped By Teachers’ Accomplishments In Classrooms.

Getting the facts right

  Marcus Tabachnick wanted to set the record straight [Letters, Suburban March 26th], but he has not. He did write things about me that are simply not true.

He described my original letter as ‘illinformed’.I quoted his infamous public declaration that he was ‘ashamed and embarrassed’ by teachers. I noted his failure to defend the English school system against Liberal supported /enacted legislation Bills 103&104, because by doing so would have undermined his bid for a provincial Liberal nomination; that is on the public record.Despite his self congratulatory reply, he avoided any refutation of my remarks..

  His description of my letter as “mean spirited” is interesting when compared to his insults of teachers. He also got his facts wrong. He accused me of encouraging staffs to boycott extra-curricular activities; although the period to which he refers, I was NOT the union president. It begs credulity when he suggests that his time as a commissioner is comparable to a teaching career of over thirty years. Lacking any qualifications and experience in education; his ‘expertise’ is derived from sitting on innumerable committees, far the realities of a classroom.

  He rolls off a list of accomplishments that the board achieved. Only in the closeted atmosphere of his committee meetings would most of these accomplishments be perceived as help for schools. However, several require further analysis. His is wrong in his claim that it was the ‘council and administration [that] were able to provide the highest quality education placing the board in the top 5 in Quebec.’ Mr. Tabachnick imagines an education system that has nothing to do with teachers in the classroom but everything to do with bureaucracy adroitly handled by him and other administrators.

  Mr. Tabachnick loves to boast of the board‘s special needs programme. As a union president I heard a litany of complaints about its implementation. The union was obliged to file hundreds of grievances citing the board’s failure to respect the contract on maximum class size which they had signed. The board was obliged to make an enormous out- of- court settlement, in which, over three hundred teachers received compensation, some amounts exceeding $10,000.   To set the record straight, we must first have the facts right.

Jim Wilson

Former President, Pearson Teachers

Union

Editotial Note: Mr Tabachnick’s letter to the editor may be found at Tabachnick Letter to Editor

Pour des commissions scolaires transparentes

Par: Michele Poupore

Pierre Craig, président de la Fédération professionnelle des journalistes du Québec, demandait hier aux candidats à l’élection d’avril 2014 de s’engager à former un gouvernement transparent. Expliquant l’importance du travail des journalistes quant à la défense des intérêts des citoyens et de la démocratie,  il dénonce les lacunes de la présente Loi d’accès à l’information.…

Lire la suite:      http://michelepoupore.wordpress.com/2014/03/25/pour-des-commissions-scolaires-transparentes/

School Boards Must Become More Transparent. As Do Other Government Institutions.

Opinion: Do Quebec’s leaders have the courage to govern well-informed citizens? 

Journalist federation president seeks commitment to transparency

 By Pierre Craig, The Gazette March 24, 2014

The Quebec Professional Federation of Journalists urges the candidates in the April 7 election to commit to establishing a transparent government.

Access to information

For the past two years, businessmen, engineers and senior officials have shamelessly stood before the Charbonneau Commission, admitting they have stolen from the citizens while disregarding the most basic of ethics.

Who inspired the Charbonneau Commission? It was journalists, your journalists. Their hard-hitting investigations shook the government of Quebec and all of society to the point that Premier Jean Charest, when backed into a corner, had no other choice but to create the commission.

And to do this, do you think your journalists relied on Quebec’s access to information law? No. This law is nothing but a tool box that offers ways to block access to the information for which citizens have paid with their tax dollars.

Article 9 of the law states that “Every person has a right of access, on request, to the documents held by a public body.” This is not true! The 170 articles that follow contain close to 50 exceptions that prevent citizens, and journalists, from having access to these documents.

That is why the Ministry of Transport refused to provide a journalist with the list of committee members who select engineering firms, while this same list was being given out to engineering firms who requested it.

It’s also why a journalist, who wanted to look into why the Caisse de dépôt et placement lost $40 billion of citizens’ money, had to get information vital to his investigation from the Ontario Securities Commission. The Quebec equivalent, the Autorité des marchés financiers du Québec, had refused access to the exact same information.

Are Pauline Marois, Philippe Couillard, François Legault and Françoise David ready to make a commitment to overhaul Quebec’s law on access to information? Do they have the political courage to govern well-informed citizens?

Governmental transparency

Lack of transparency is found at the highest levels. Marois herself has refused to respond to questions from journalists. Sadly, this was clearly evident on the first day of her campaign.

Charest’s government was no better — government communications were centralized to the extreme by means of the Secrétariat aux communications gouvernementales. The result: within government departments and public agencies, the unwritten rule was to protect the image of the department and of the premier. The sacred principle of public interest was abolished.

Will Marois, Couillard, Legault and David make a commitment to stand up and say that the culture of secrecy that presently governs us must give way to a transparent state? They must tell us which principle must take precedence: The interests of the people of Quebec or those of their parties?

Municipal democracy

Every year, the people of Quebec pay $19 billion to their municipalities. In too many municipalities, mayors act like little kings. Several of them prohibit the recording of any council sessions, which are, after all, public. Others provide journalists with incomplete budget documents, which prevents them from informing the public.

Will Marois, Couillard, Legault and David allow this situation to persist? Will they continue to allow citizens in Quebec municipalities to be kept in the dark about what is done with their money, their hopes and their dreams?

Do they agree to change the law in order to allow citizens and journalists to know what is going on in their own cities?

If they remain silent, they will allow darkness to take over our democracy. If they do not act, they will fail the people of Quebec.

Source: Montreal Gazette March 24, 2014

Open Letter To Lester B. Pearson School Board Commissioners re: Code of Ethics and ex. Chairman

At the recent Quebec political leaders’ debate , I believe there was a discussion, of sorts, regarding   former employees of public institutions lobbying  their former employers .  I understood Mr. Couillard to say that he considered  there should be a two year time frame, between leaving a government job before  doing business with the same public institution. 

The first letter to the editor below describes the situation wherein  the former chairman of the Lester B. Pearson School Board , who resigned part way through his mandate, and was employed by the company, Ameresco .  That same company then shortly afterwards started to lobby the board, via Mr. Tabachnick,  and it subsequently signed a $5.4 million contract  with the same school board.  UPAC has been informed of the situation.   Coming up another email with PDFs, which tells the story and  raises some serious concerns. 

A company ,  Johnson Controls , which had been praised and honoured for its previous work with the board with contracts worth millions of dollars,  bid for another million dollar contract , but along with the eleven other bidders,  suddenly withdrew from the process,  which left Ameresco  with the sole bid.  As stated, Ameresco’s representative  was the former chairperson, Marcus Tabachnick.    

It is noteworthy that  the Quebec Education Act  stipulates that boards create  a  by-law for the  Code of Ethics for Commissioners, which defines what is acceptable behaviour following the resignation of a commissioner . The LBPSB has repeatedly refused to provide  a time frame. 

(The following is an excerpt from a question to the board from    a concerned taxpayer)

It is my belief that municipal councillors under Quebec law must  wait for a period of two years after their departure  during which they are not allowed to have any business dealings with the municipality. Does not the same regulation   apply   to school boards ? 

Moreover, even if Mr. Tabachnick’s  new employment is within the legal guidelines, one assumes that not only must there be no actual conflict of interest or impropriety but there also should  be no  appearance of any conflict of interest or impropriety .  If the school board is putting out tenders and may be they are  dealing with their former chairman, can it be done without it being prejudicial  to others who may be bidding? 

Question: Will the LBPSB pass a by-law, as stipulated by Article 175.1 (4) of the Quebec Education Act indicating commissioners be prohibited from entering into business with the board for a period of two years after leaving the board.  A sample : 

 Duties and obligations of commissioners after leaving office 

All the obligations provided for in the present by-law regarding conflicts of interest continue for the duration of two (2) after the end of the commissioners mandate  except the obligation of confidentiality regarding information pertaining to the reputation and the private livesof others or confidential information as defined under the present code or the Act Respecting Access to Documents Held by Public Bodies and the Protection of Personal Information, in which case the obligations apply indefinitely. “

 

Chris Eustace ,  Pierrefonds

* Letter to ‘ Your Local Journal ‘ Editor     –    March 20, 2014

Dear Editor,

Article 175.l  (4) of the Quebec Education Act stipulates, “The coun­cil of commissioners must, by by-law…specify the duties and obligations of commissioners even after they leave office:’

For about two years, I have been trying with letters, and verbally at the Public Question Period at the Pearson Council and Executive meetings, to include a clause in its Code of Ethics for Commissioners that would state that a commissioner can only do business with the board after at least one year has elapsed.

Alas, my requests have been ig­nored.

To understand my concern in this matter, we must  look at an excerpt from a recent area  media report in which former Lester B. Pearson School Board head responded to questions concerning his new job over his new job:’  (June 6, 2011).

“During last week’s LBPSB school board meeting, a question was raised by a member of the public about Tabachnick’s (then) new job with Ameresco Canada Inc. and whether it was above board:’

Former chairman of the board, Marcus Tabachnick, who resigned on April l , 2011, lobbied the board, the Quebec English School Boards Association, and at the 2012 Canadian School Boards Association Congress, gave a presentation titled: “A Leadership role for school boards” in which, he adver­tised the product he was selling.

A few months ago, the Pearson board signed a $5.4 million contract with the aforementioned company.

School board elections are  slated for November 2, and there will be com­issioners who will be out of work, so to speak, due to a provision in Bill 88, which calls for fewer commissioners.

Commissioners need clear  rules that dictate what they can and cannot do after leaving office.

It is the law.

About Conflict Of Interests In Education.

Dear Editor,

Article 175.l  (4) of the Quebec Education Act stipulates, “The coun­ cil of commissioners must, by by-law

specify the duties and obligations of commissioners even after they leave office:’

For about two years, I have been trying with letters, and verbally at the Public Question Period at the Pearson Council and Executive meetings, to in­ clude a clause in its Code of Ethics for Commissioners that would state that a commissioner can only do business with the board after at least one year has elapsed.

Alas, my requests have been ig­nored.

To understand my concern in this matter, we must  look at an excerpt from a recent area  media report in which former Lester B. Pearson School Board head responded to questions concerning his new job over his new job:’ (June 6, 2011).

 “During last week’s LBPSB school board meeting, a question was raised by a member of the public about Tabachnick’s (then) new job with Ameresco Canada Inc. and whether it was above board:’

Former chairman of the board, Marcus Tabachnick, who resigned on April l , 20 11, lobbied the board, the Quebec English School Boards Association, and at the 20 12 Canadian School Boards Association Congress, gave a presentat ion titled: “A Leadership role for school boards” in which, he adver­ tised the product he was selling.

A few months ago, the Pearson board signed a $5.4 million contract with the aforementioned company.

School board elections are  slated for November 2, and there will be com­missioners who will be out of work, so to speak, due to a provision in Bill 88, which calls for fewer commissioners.

Commissioners need clear  rules that dictate what they can and cannot do after leaving office.

It is the law.

Chris Eustace Pierrefonds

Source: Your Local Journal  March 21, 2014