Tag Archives: Governance

When will TDSB Governance Panel issue recommendations?

Fix Our Schools sent the following letter to the TDSB Governance Panel on Monday, July 13:

Dear TDSB Governance Panel,

We continue to be concerned that the TDSB Governance Panel did not consider how provincial funding and provincial policies impact the governance of the TDSB. Upon reading the scathing review of Donna Quan’s leadership by Margaret Wilson, among others, in Friday’s Globe & Mail, we are also concerned that the TDSB Governance consultations did not examine the important role that leadership plays in TDSB’s governance. Instead, the TDSB Governance consultations focused primarily on the role of TDSB Trustees and the size of the TDSB.

Given these concerns, we are anxious to hear your panel’s recommendations. Could you kindly let us know the date when you plan to issue those recommendations to Minister Sandals?

The Fix Our Schools campaign represents a large and growing number of parents in Toronto who want to see safe, well-maintained public schools. Of course, these same parents are also interested in good governance. However, every one of Ontario’s 72 public school boards has a capital repair backlog for a total of $14.7-billion, which suggests that something in the overall governance of public education in this province is simply not working and that additional funding sources must be found.

We trust that any recommendations made by the TDSB Governance Panel will:

• get to the heart of the issues at the TDSB

• respect the fact that this new board of Trustees has had scant time to actually govern

• keep the best interests of TDSB students and families in mind

Kind regards,

Krista Wylie – On Behalf of Fix Our Schools

Fix Our Schools will keep subscribers posted on what we hear back from the TDSB Governance Panel about their recommendations.

Trustees don’t do it for the money

In a letter to Barbara Hall and the TDSB Governance Panel, Michael Barrett – President of the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association expresses concern about the consultations conducted by this panel and raises many excellent points:

  • Good governance can only be successful if roles and responsibilities are clearly understood, which extends beyond the board of trustees and their chair and must include the director of education and senior team members.
  • A school board is an organic, interactive entity and each time that dynamic changes through the election of even one new trustee, a new board is formed, bringing with it a new dynamic that influences the trustee team. (note: in Fall 2014, eleven new TDSB Trustees were elected out of 22 so this new board represents a very new dynamic!)
  • Trustees are the crucial link between the school board and their local community. Trustees are of the community; they generally live in their communities, know their community and advocate for their community. There is local control that ensures a centralized bureaucracy does not lose sight of varied and diverse communities.
  • Trustees serve as advocates, as ombudsmen, as originators of ideas, as guideposts and hold both the government and staff accountable. Advocacy for a mental health strategy, a coordinated ministry approach to education and services, for equity within aboriginal education and funding, fairness in special education funding, inclusiveness and technology in the classroom are a few of the ways that trustees make a difference.
  • Trustees do not do this for the money. (NOTE: The role of Trustee is paid as a part-time position and a TDSB Trustee earns about $26,000/year) The honorarium has been frozen since 2006. Elected trustees are devoted to public education and want to make changes to improve the system for all children.
  • Trustees contribute long hours attending committee and board meetings, reading and reviewing board/ministry correspondence and interacting with their constituents in a variety of ways (email, face to face, telephone and public meetings).
  • Trustees are interpreters and messengers for government initiatives. They provide and allow for local perspectives. They help families navigate complex rules to get children the support they need from their schools. They initiate innovative and effective programs that improve student achievement and well-being.
  • A school trustee is a member of a team – the board of trustees. Only the board of trustees has the authority to make decisions or to take action. A chair of the board of trustees is chosen by the board of trustees as someone they are proud to have as a leader who represents them. Although the chair assumes a leadership role, it is important that he or she adheres to the board’s directions and not act unilaterally.
  • The director of education must display excellence as an educational leader, to be politically sophisticated, to be aware of and active in legislative developments, to have an extensive knowledge of relevant provincial laws, to be an exemplary educator, and to personify effective communication.
  • The elected trustee board’s most influential governance relationship is the relationship they have with the director of education. A trusting, respectful and cooperative relationship between the board of trustees and the director of education and a mutual understanding of their distinct roles lead to effective policy implementation.
  • Trustees and school boards are doing amazing and wonderful things all across the province.

Please don’t split up the TDSB!

In the municipal election of Fall 2014, Toronto voters sent a clear message to the TDSB by voting in eleven new Trustee. Exactly half of the 22 members of the board of Canada’s largest school board are new to holding this important yet part-time position. This new board of Trustees is taking steps to improve governance, even without waiting for the findings of Barbara Hall’s TDSB Governance Panel. For instance, they are creating an independent Office of Integrity Commissioner at the TDSB. By all accounts, they are also developing effective working relationships with TDSB Staff.

So, please Barbara Hall, as outlined in the letter sent by Fix Our Schools on May 26, 2015 to you and your fellow panel members, don’t split up the TDSB into smaller boards now.


Art Eggleton admits funding key issue in repairing Toronto community housing

Former Toronto mayor and current Senator, Art Eggleton, was appointed by Toronto Mayor John Tory to lead a six-person task force to investigate issues facing Toronto Community Housing Corporation (TCHC). When Senator Eggleton was interviewed on May 11 by Matt Galloway on Metro Morning, he candidly admitted that finding funding solutions was the key issue in making the $2.5-billion of repairs that must happen in the coming decade in TCHC housing units.

It is hard not to draw a comparison between the disrepair plaguing Toronto Community Housing that found in Toronto public schools. The TDSB alone faces a $3.3-billion repair backlog that is estimated will grow to $4.36-billion by 2017, given the current level of provincial funding.

However, the similarities end when we compare Art Eggleton’s TCHC Task Force with that of Barbara Hall, who is leading the latest TDSB task force – this one charged with investigating TDSB governance. Unlike Art Eggleton, the TDSB Governance Panel will not acknowledge that funding is a key issue for the TDSB and ignores the role the Province plays in the overall governance model for public education in this province. Maybe 246,000 students and their families would have been better served by Senator Art Eggleton’s approach? Only time will tell I suppose, as we track the state of disrepair in Toronto Community Housing along with that of Toronto’s public schools.

Minister Sandals & Barbara Hall both respond on April 22

Fix Our Schools received  this letter from Liz Sandals in response to our letter of April_13.

We received an email from Barbara Hall, Chair of the TDSB Governance Panel, on the same date as the letter from Liz Sandals, which read:


Thanks for your message, and for participating in the consultations on the TDSB. Our mandate was set by Minister Sandals, and it is to consult with the public and make recommendations to the Minister with respect to possible structural and governance changes within the Toronto District School Board (TDSB). We will also explore the impact potential governance structures may have on operational decision-making at the TDSB for the Minister’s consideration.

Provincial funding for education is not in scope for the panel’s work. As you know, Margaret Wilson recently wrote a report to the Minister in which she expressed serious concerns about the culture of the board. In her report, Margaret Wilson identified that the TDSB, as a whole, has not worked effectively together to act in the interests of all students of the board. Effective, transparent, and accountable governance is essential to the success and well-being of students, and our panel is focused on making recommendations to the Minister that she will consider to help the TDSB move forward.

 We are consulting with the TDSB community – with parents, students, staff, trustees and other community members – to hear the best ideas and advice on how decision-making at the TDSB can be improved.


Barbara Hall

Barbara Hall’s email was in response to our email of April 14, 2015:

Hello Barbara, Richard, Briony, Vicki, Patrick, Shirley, and Jennifer –

After attending last night’s consultation, I am writing on behalf of the Fix Our Schools campaign to urge you to please include the topics of funding and the Provincial government’s role in governance in the remainder of the TDSB Governance Advisory Panel consultations. It has come to our attention today that this panel has the authority to expand the discussion to include these important topics.

The definition of governance given at the first consultation was: PROCESS FOR MAKING AND IMPLEMENTING DECISIONS. Nobody can argue that it is much easier to make and implement good decisions when a group has sufficient resources. Whereas if that same group faces continued scarcity, making and implementing good decisions becomes increasingly more difficult. The majority of participants last night expressed that having a real conversation about governance without including funding and the Province’s role as the sole funder of public education with power over policy decisions was nearly impossible and seemed disingenuous and blame-based, rather than solution-oriented.

So again, the concern is that the work of this Panel will not benefit 246,000 TDSB students and their families because it won’t address the issues that actually matter to parents such as:

– unacceptable state of schools, as reflected in the $3.3-billion repair backlog

– cuts to special education

– potential school closures

– overcrowding at 146 TDSB schools, which operate at 100% utilization or more

With a professional PR firm fully engaged, this consultation will easily cost taxpayers in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. If these consultations seemed solution-oriented and included a real focus on seeing the Province work with the TDSB to find solutions to the massive issues facing the TDSB, they would be a good use of money. Who knows? Maybe the panel would even hear feedback that citizens of Toronto would be willing to pay a local education tax to improve public schools! However, this panel, as it currently stands, is poised to be simply a distraction from addressing real issues.

Yesterday, with the understanding that the Provincial government had authority over the scope of discussion for these consultations, we sent the attached letter. However, with our new understanding that the people on this panel can choose to expand the conversation, we are also writing you. I have cc’d all included on yesterday’s letter so they are aware that, with this new understanding, Fix Our Schools is also writing directly to the TDSB Governance Panel about expanding the topics included in consultations. Our letter to the Province still, of course, stands with the four requests outlined below.

Recognizing that the next public consultation is imminent, we look forward to hearing back from you soon confirming your authority over the scope of the discussion and on how you intend to integrate the feedback from last night’s session and move forward.

Kind regards,

Krista Wylie – On Behalf of Fix Our Schools