Monday, June 12, 2017

The government isn’t yet flagging radical action like the 1999 firing of the entire board by Lyle Oberg, then the PC education minister. The consequences, if any, will depend on what the investigation uncovers.

If Mr. Eggen is investigating the CBE maybe also investigate the value for money we get from ALL the school boards. I don't feel we get value.
If we need to have politician training school at the school board level then let us limit our costs to a superboard with trustees from all over Alberta.
As it is we get no value for the money spent on these trustees.

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I would say that more than the Calgary School Board needs investigation-the entire pointless school board system needs review and trimming.
We're paying too much for the trustees who do nothing useful other than prepare themselves on our payroll for other public offices that are more lucrative and powerful.
I don't feel my education dollars should subsidize politician school do you?
So why are we stuck with so many school boards, so many pointless exercises in school board politics for the public dollars that could go towards education of our kids? I'll tell you why.
It's the Alberta way of fake democracy.
We're getting representation from these school board trustees that don't do anything but natter about topics no one is interested in.
Mr. Eggen should abolish the current waste of money in the set up we have and have one superboard for education.
Even that might be pointless.

This is karma on a grand scale. No public body deserves it more, writes columnist Don Braid.

The NDP government doesn’t seem to have any malice toward the Calgary Board of Education. Mystification is the main reaction. It’s shared by a...

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Julie Ali The school boards are a waste of time and money. If we must have trustees training for future political jobs as councillor, MLA and MP let us at least limit the training pool to a superboard of trustees.

Braid: Calgary Board of Education deserves its provincial investigation

Don Braid, Calgary HeraldDON BRAID, CALGARY HERALD

More from Don Braid, Calgary Herald

Published on: June 12, 2017 | Last Updated: June 12, 2017 5:54 PM MDT

Calgary Board of Education offices building.

Calgary Board of Education offices building. GAVIN YOUNG / POSTMEDIA


The NDP government doesn’t seem to have any malice toward the Calgary Board of Education. Mystification is the main reaction. It’s shared by a great many Calgarians.

The province will send a team into the board offices in August to investigate finances. The probe might continue right through the October election for new trustees, depending on what’s uncovered when the experts peel back this bloated onion.

The decision to investigate was approved right after the board waved a red flag at Education Minister David Eggen.

“If the minister is concerned with any aspect of our plan, then he needs to make that clear to us, and if he plans on changing any part of our plan, then he needs to provide funding in order to make those changes,” said CBE vice-chair Trina Hurdman.

She was talking about Eggen’s criticism of $700 busing fees for students attending alternative programs.

The statement was, any way you read it, both a challenge and an order to Eggen.

CBE Board of Trustees Chair Joy Bowen-Eyre (C) and vice chair Trina Hurdman (L) speak at a press conference in Calgary on Thursday June 8, 2017 and address the CBEÕs plan for transportation service for the 2017-18 school year. Jim Wells/Postmedia JIM WELLS / POSTMEDIA

The New Democrats were furious. They wonder about a number of things, quite apart from the board’s habitual arrogance and undemocratic nature.

The CBE is the only board in the province that has a big problem with budgets. There are modest issues in some areas — deficits of $1 million to $3 million — but only the CBE has a whacking shortfall of $38 million. And, yet, it’s receiving $54 million more this year alone.

And why is it that the Calgary Catholic School Division, half the size of the public board, needs only $2 million to ease school fees, while the CBE gobbles up $18 million — and then demands more?

The government is understandably mystified; also, deeply annoyed.

So the accountants will arrive for what is now billed by both sides, with frozen smiles, as a friendly collaboration.

One thing is already clear: The CBE is in no position to make demands. The trustees can’t even complain about a provincial attack on an elected body, since they serve no useful democratic function.

The CBE that boasts of  “transparency” once held public consultations after officials had already imposed changes to bus routes.

Trustees are elected every four years to represent city wards, but they rarely voice an opinion independent of a board decision. If fact, they’re forbidden to do that.

Former CBE trustee Sheila Taylor is the new executive director of Parks Foundation Calgary.LYLE ASPINALL / LYLE ASPINALL/CALGARY SUN/QMI AGENCY

When former trustee and chair Sheila Taylor tried to speak out early in her tenure, she was chastised by officials, and even told she was in legal conflict of interest for voting on school fees.

Because she was a parent. On a school board.

This board once threatened to cut teaching positions while holding lavish dinners for officials. In 2014, a “leadership” gathering at Willow Park Golf and Country Club cost more than $2,000.

The board spent $573 on coffee, drinks and muffins for a four-hour meeting to discuss . . . the budget.

The government isn’t yet flagging radical action like the 1999 firing of the entire board by Lyle Oberg, then the PC education minister. The consequences, if any, will depend on what the investigation uncovers.

Meanwhile, let us close with a parable about the perils of arrogance in public life.

There once was a young education reporter with Metro, Jeremy Nolais, who wrote about a secret vote to delay release of a financial report.

The next day, he got a surprising phone call from six trustees — the whole crew, except for the board chair.

They proceeded to ream him out, when they weren’t arguing with each other.


They demanded to know his sources. Joy Bowen-Eyre, now the board chair, said Nolais’ job was to be “like the eighth trustee” — that is, a loyal representative of the board.

Nolais recorded the whole extended conversation. Metro published the audio and a written transcript.

The board members apologized, but not before their true feelings about “transparency” had been vividly revealed.

The NDP won the election a year later. Nolais left Metro to become Eggen’s communications adviser.

Before long, he rose to become the minister’s chief of staff. Not yet 30, he was dealing with policy and implementation.

When the phone rings in the CBE board office today, it’s quite likely to be Jeremy Nolais saying, “having a good day, are we? Let’s take a look at those books.”

This is karma on a grand scale. No public body deserves it more.

Don Braid’s column appears regularly in the Herald

Twiter: @DonBraid

Julie Ali · 
The school trustees serve no useful purpose and the school board system simply serves as a free way to gain public identification and preparatory training for higher level political positions. If the school trustees must be retained for the sake of bureaucracy then a single education superboard would be sufficient. Salaries of school superintendents need to also decline so that more front line staff can be hired, Money saved could go to services and supports for children with disabilities.

The entire education system needs overhauling including the massive waste of money on the top echelon at universities.

Nine people were paid more than $500,000 in 2015, including a vice dean, chair, vice president and several professors. Verna Yiu received $601,771 in compensation while Samarasekera received $546,236 in “compensation” and $37,938 in “other.”
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Greg Caso-G · 
Yes, let's make positions in education even more desireable by reducing salaries, and while we're at it, we should also increase workload and take away any perks and benefits as well..... That way, we can be sure to get the best and brightest in to teach our future citizens and workforce!
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Julie Ali · 
Greg Caso-G Did you read my post? I said let us decrease the salaries of the top echelon who do nothing productive in my opinion. We want good teachers and teacher's aides.We want more bright front line staff.
I don't believe the superintendents and other executive staff should be getting the salaries they are earning; I believe this money should go to the teachers.
Also I believe we have too many superintendents doing what exactly? This is the unacceptable set up that needs questioning by citizens:

Minutes of a Palliser Regional Schools board meeting in June 2014 show trustees decided to pay superintendent Kevin Gietz and some of his head office associates thousands of dollars more each year even though the board was forecasting it would run a $1.5-million deficit and facing pointed questions from parents about administration spending.
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