Tag Archives: TDSB Governance Panel

TDSB Governance Report Issued (finally!)

Submitted on August 19,2015 to the Minister of Education, the TDSB Governance Advisory Panel’s report was finally released on December 4, 2015. The report offers many reasonable recommendations to improve role clarity, accountability and leadership on both the Trustee and Staff side of the TDSB, which the panel believes are root causes of TDSB governance issues.

The panel acknowledges the “potential chaos” that could ensue should the Ministry decide to split up the TDSB and therefore, recommends a one-year opportunity to make improvements before seriously pursuing breaking up Canada’s largest school board.

Taken from the report, here is a complete list of all recommendations:

6. Recommendations

Many concerns and problems at the TDSB are related to size, but not size exclusively. There are several issues that need to be addressed, regardless of the size of the board. At the same time, the panel is very aware of the potential chaos of actually dividing the board. Therefore, our recommendations provide the board with a one-year opportunity to work with the supervisor to implement the various initiatives that we think are needed to allow for more effective and transparent governance. If those changes are satisfactorily made, the board will remain as one board.

We know that our recommendations specific to those needed changes cannot be fully implemented in one year, but we believe that motivated, positive senior staff and trustees working collaboratively with a supportive supervisor can achieve enough to signal meaningful change is underway.

If that is not the case, and early signs of positive change are not evident, then, in spite of the disruption and additional cost that might occur, we believe that the board must be divided into two or more smaller boards.

We have, therefore, made recommendations on a two-stage response that we believe is required to address the significant challenges facing the TDSB. We have also made recommendations on supporting the capacity of trustees to fulfil their role effectively, on ways to improve accountability and transparency, and restructuring the organization of the board to improve connection and engagement with students, parents, staff and the community. Finally, we offer recommendations on the electoral process for trustees and student trustees.

Recommendation Regarding Board Supervision

Recommendation 1: That the Minister of Education immediately take steps to appoint a supervisor to work collaboratively with the board of trustees, the director of education and senior staff to implement the recommendations of this report.

Recommendations Regarding the Board of Trustees

Recommendation 2: That the board of trustees clarify and clearly communicate throughout the board and the community the roles and responsibilities of trustees and of the board of trustees in accordance with legislation and good governance practices.

Recommendation 3: That trustees be required to participate in ongoing professional development throughout their term of office and that in the future all trustees be required to participate in comprehensive governance orientation immediately after taking office.

Recommendation 4: That the board of trustees and the ministry review trustee professional development supports to ensure there are appropriate supports for trustees, including student trustees, to fulfil their role.

Recommendation 5: That the board of trustees engage in regular board self-assessments and measure its performance in relation to the goals set out in a redeveloped and realistic board multi-year strategic plan. As a transition measure, the board self-assessment should be conducted with the assistance of a third party.

Recommendation 6: That trustees serve a maximum of three consecutive terms of office.

Recommendation 7: That the board of trustees develop appropriate criteria for the skills and experience required of an effective chair, including but not limited to governance experience and training, conflict-management and consensus-building skills, and demonstrated experience working on city-wide and/or board-wide issues.

Recommendation 8: That an annual assessment of the chair is undertaken by the board of trustees to measure the chair’s performance in relation to his or her duties and responsibilities as set out in legislation and board policy and in accordance with good governance practices.

Recommendation 9: That the board of trustees expeditiously establish a mandate and structure for the two or more Education Centres, with particular attention to clarity about the roles and responsibilities of the trustees, executive superintendents, and school superintendents in these centres, as outlined in the panel’s report. (Appendix C shows a model of this structure with three Education Centres, for illustrative purposes.)

Recommendations Regarding Accountability and Transparency

Recommendation 10: That the board of trustees establish and adequately staff offices for an integrity officer and ombudsman, reporting to the board of trustees. Further, that the board adequately staff its Human Rights Office, and that the human rights officer report directly to the director of education. The board should establish and communicate across the organization and within the community clear roles, responsibilities and accountabilities for each office, and provide that all three officers annually report their activities publicly through the board of trustees.

Recommendation 11: That the role of the secretary of the board be separated from the role of the director of education, and that the board hire a person with the requisite governance skills and experience to be the secretary of the board, and who will report to the board of trustees.

Recommendation 12: That there be greater transparency in how members of the senior administrative team are selected throughout the organization, including appropriate job descriptions and consistent processes for responding to job postings, as well as clearly communicated policies that include principles and strategies for performance evaluation at all levels of the organization.

Recommendations Regarding the Position of Director of Education

Recommendation 13: That the board of trustees work to expeditiously review and clarify the roles and responsibilities of the director of education, board secretary and associate directors to reflect the recommendations in this report.

Recommendation 14: That the qualifications for the director of education be broadened to permit candidates who have equivalent academic qualifications from other jurisdictions to be eligible for the position, and that qualifications also include experience in areas of business management, finance and governance.

Recommendations Regarding Parent and Community Outreach

Recommendation 15: That the board restructure its administrative organization to create two or more local Education Centres staffed by not less than one school superintendent for every 20 schools. The Education Centres will conduct all business relating to the supervision of the smaller clusters of schools assigned to each school superintendent. (Appendix C shows a model of this structure with three Education Centres, for illustrative purposes.)

Recommendation 16: That the board expand its use of community outreach workers to assist families to navigate the school system and other community supports for their children. The outreach workers will be hired by the school board and be employees of the board.

Recommendations Regarding Student Trustees and Student Leadership

Recommendation 17: That student trustees have a binding vote on matters before the board, with the exception of those matters that are discussed in closed meetings of the board in accordance with the Education Act.

Recommendation 18: That the board consult with student trustees, on behalf of the student body, and receive their recommendations on student trustee election eligibility; improved representative student trustee election process; student trustee representation by geographic areas; student trustee term restructuring; and SuperCouncil representation and communication with Grades 7–12. The board must give consideration to the recommendations and respond in a timely manner.

Recommendations Regarding Governance Restructuring

Recommendation 19: That following a full year’s operation, the supervisor undertake an assessment of the progress made by the board of trustees and board administration and make a recommendation to the Minister as to whether the board of trustees and board administration have met the following key performance indicators; if not, the ministry is to proceed to stage two of the recommendations of the TDSB Governance Advisory Panel.

  • Trustee Role Clarification: The board of trustees has clarified and communicated their roles and responsibilities as governors, and has established a plan for their ongoing training and professional development.
  • Clarification of Roles and Responsibilities: In the first three months of the work of the supervisor and the director, the roles and responsibilities of the following senior staff positions have been reviewed and clarified: director of education, board secretary and associate directors.
  • Accountability and Transparency: In addition to the integrity commissioner position the TDSB has recently established, create and staff the Office of the Ombudsman, and adequately staff the Human Rights Office.
  • Administrative Reorganization: The mandate and structure of Education Centres has been established, with particular attention to clarity on the roles and responsibilities of executive superintendents and school superintendents. The Education Centres are staffed by an expanded cohort of school superintendents.
  • Strengthened Management and Governance: The director has reported to the board of trustees and the supervisor on any outstanding recommendations from previous board audits and reviews that have not yet been fully implemented, and the action and resources required to give full effect: 2012 PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) report; Ernst & Young LLP 2013 report; and the 2015 Wilson Report.
  • Strategic Planning: The board of trustees has reviewed its multi-year plan to support student achievement and well-being, and identified key priorities for annual focus and review, with criteria and timelines for measuring progress.
  • Director Performance Appraisal: The board of trustees has established a clear and transparent process for an annual performance appraisal of the director of education, based on the goals set out in the director’s Annual Plan.
  • Board Self-Assessment: The board of trustees has an approved policy in place requiring regular self-assessments as to how it functions and how board members engage in ongoing professional development to enhance their individual and collective capacity to govern effectively.
  • Board Policy, By-laws and Procedures: Board policies, by-laws and related procedures have been reviewed to ensure that operational or political ownership of system responsibilities to support student achievement are clearly delineated. The review process should involve broad system and community consultation and two-way communication regarding changes to existing practice.
  • Board Meetings: An assessment of agendas of board and committee meetings indicates that the board of trustees is focused on governance issues.
  • Student Trustee Engagement: The board has consulted with student trustees and has provided a timely response to their recommendations specific to student trustee election eligibility; improved representative student trustee election process; student trustee representation by geographic areas; student trustee term restructuring; and SuperCouncil representation and communication with Grades 7–12.

Recommendation 20: If stage two is to be implemented, the ministry would take the following action:

  • undertake the legislative and regulatory work required to establish two or more independent smaller school boards with a mandatory shared services corporation as outlined in the panel’s report. (Appendix D shows a model of this structure with two boards, for illustrative purposes.)
  • determine a timeline for creating the new school boards that takes into consideration the timing of the 2018 municipal and school board elections.



Fix Our Schools subscriber’s submission to TDSB Governance Panel

One of our Fix Our Schools subscribers sent us the letter she wrote to Barbara Hall’s TDSB Governance Panel. Her letter raises excellent concerns and we’d like to share with you:

“Large” should not be confused with “challenging” or “problematic”. When an institution has good organizational structure, governance, and resources – the size of the institution is irrelevant.  I would strongly urge the Ministry NOT to break up the TDSB into smaller boards.  (Rumour in education circles suggests that the Ministry is seeking to divide the TDSB into four separate boards with an umbrella organization at the helm). There are several serious problems with this concept:

1. The Toronto City-School Boards Advisory committee is seeking to work with the TDSB in finding viable solutions to retain under-enrolled schools as community hubs, green space,  or some form of public use. This is extremely important as city density intensifies.  Breaking up the TDSB will only serve to make this collaboration complex, costly, and inefficient.

2. The TDSB renewal backlog of $3.3-billion and the total renewal backlog across all Ontario public schools of $14.7-billion indicates that current capital funding for public schools from the Province is insufficient. In order to address the backlog of repairs in public schools – it is inevitable that the provincial funding formula must change and other sources of funding must be found. There is no alternative but to access education development charges and also property taxes. Given the vast differences in new development and taxation opportunities across the city of Toronto, one school board ensures uniform access to these revenue sources.

3. The TDSB is making progress in implementing constructive improvements to its operating procedures. To dismantle the board at this time would be a massive setback on all levels. First – it would be a huge expenditure – at a time when the provincial government, the city, and the TDSB are struggling with serious deficits. The staff at TDSB (particularly Planning and Facilities) has spent enormous time and energy on research reports dealing with critical, time-sensitive issues including school closures and repair backlogs. Decentralizing this research and distributing it to new, inexperienced staff undermines the timeliness and ultimately, the relevance of this research.

The TDSB can work. It needs a solid governance model that Trustees can look to for guidance. It needs a sound organizational structure – so that staff can work efficiently with the ability to execute. And most importantly, it needs proper funding.

And finally, with respect to school closures: It is far more likely that trustees, parents, and communities will support school closures when there is an opportunity to transform “under enrolled” schools into important community spaces. The current dysfunctional system is a major contributor to bad decision-making, procrastination, and frustration for all stakeholders. There is an opportunity to create win-win options for communities under the mandate of the City-School Boards Advisory Committee – and Premier Wynne needs to support this initiative. It is in everyone’s best interest.  Thank you.