Monthly Archives: December 2014

Toronto Community Housing Corp. – a model for the TDSB?

The Toronto Community Housing Corp. (TCHC) has a $2.6-billion, 10-year plan to repair hundreds of aging buildings that have fallen into a state of disrepair. This plan relies on all three levels of government. To date, only the City of Toronto has committed its $860-million share; neither the province nor the feds have contributed a cent.

Greg Spearns, President and CEO of TCHC, says, “The logic is compelling. What we are asking for is a one-time investment of $50,000 a unit to fix our homes and that compares with a cost of $250,000 to $300,000 per unit if we have to shut them down and rebuild. It makes smart economic sense as well as being extremely socially responsible.”

Stop – does this sound familiar?

The TDSB has a $3.5 Billion backlog of repairs on its 600 buildings. Only at the moment, there is no plan to address this issue fully so TDSB is schools are falling into a further state of repair. We should be watching this TCHC example closely to see if there if anything can be learned that could apply to the TDSB. One thing is certain, to address the magnitude of repairs at the TDSB is going to require multiple levels of government working together.

Are Trustees needed?

  • The position of TDSB Trustee is a part-time role
  • TDSB Trustees earn approximately $26,000/year
  • These individuals are charged with governing a $3 Billion operation known as the TDSB
  • The Province holds power over the money and most of the major school board decisions.

Given the facts above, nobody should be surprised that things aren’t going so well at the largest school board in Canada and that the question of whether we need Trustees has been in the media of late.

The Star: Dump our Trustees and dissolve our school boards

Globe & Mail: Abolish the school boards

Ottawa Citizen: How to fix the school system

We look forward to hearing what Margaret Wilson recommends upon completing her external audit of the TDSB and whether a new form of governance might be in the cards.

First meeting of the new TDSB Trustees

Fix Our Schools called upon the Province to step in and help the TDSB and, surprisingly, they did – for a month anyways.

We also asked Premier Wynne to attend the first meeting of the new board. Not surprisingly, Premier Wynne was a no-show. However, as far as 3-hour meetings go, the December 1st TDSB meeting was well-run, respectful and the new Trustees handily got through the business of electing a Chair, Vice-Chair and striking the many committees that were on the agenda.

Meanwhile, Margaret Wilson has started her external audit of the TDSB. Fix Our Schools has sent letters to the Province, the TDSB, and Margaret Wilson, urging all to stay focused on the safety, success and well being of TDSB students throughout this audit.

Our letters to the the Province and Ms. Wilson also request emergency funding to the TDSB to replace all roofs that have leaked in the last 18 months as well as all other repairs documented as urgent. We see this as an immediate step that the Province needs to take to address the appalling state of TDSB schools and one that cannot happen soon enough! If you would like to email the Province as well, simply click here , fill in your information at the bottom and cc: your MPP.

Will our new mayor give public education the attention it needs?

On his first official day as Toronto’s Mayor, John Tory met with Premier Kathleen Wynne to discuss priorities and how the two levels of government can work together towards the best possible decisions for constituents. Wynne said the two have committed to meeting regularly.

The agenda included transit, housing and investment opportunities.  While public education is arguably as important to Toronto’s future success as transit, it is notably absent from this morning’s meeting agenda.

With 246,000 students attending almost 600 schools, the TDSB is a $3 Billion bureaucracy that requires attention not only from the TDSB Trustees who govern the board but also from our new Mayor and City Council.  Last week, the TDSB finally got the attention of the Province with Liz Sandals announcing that outside expert Margaret Wilson will be conducting a review of the TDSB.  What is required next is for the TDSB to get the attention of the City too.

John Tory and the TDSB arguably have similar visions – a vibrant city filled with educated, healthy citizens.  So let’s hope that our new Mayor will also forge new relations with our local school board. With regular meetings between our City Council and the TDSB, we could see a stronger Toronto.