Scarborough could have more power over local education

Governance Review Committee Chair Howard Goodman (right) and Peter Young (left) try to explain the issues to trustees on April 7.

Scarborough could soon be kickin’ it old school. Literally.

The Toronto school board is considering changes that could potentially give Scarborough more control over its local educational affairs, a throwback to the old Scarborough Board of Education.

Nadia Bello has been the trustee for Scarborough East for eighteen months. She knows change is inevitable, but doesn’t like the way the province is dealing with the board.

“I think that there are things that we can be doing better and I think the Governance Review Committee is doing a great job of figuring out how we can improve,” said Bello.

“What I don’t like is this whole idea of ‘you’ve got to do something or else we’ll do it for you’.”

Education Minister Kathleen Wynne told the board they need to improve student success, increase public confidence, and find some financial stability.

Currently, the board is looking at a potential $50 million shortfall for next year’s budget.

Wynne recently told the school board they need to make significant changes to their governance and that they need to have a workable plan in place to do so as early as May.

The board has appointed a Governance Review Committee with a mandate to discuss the best way to make positive changes to the board.

The committee is currently considering three options.

  • Move towards a two-tiered model that would resemble the current system. There
    would be a central board comprised of all trustees and three to six regional
  • An executive committee model that would give a select few trustees power over
    big issues like funding and capital management, while leaving other decisions to
    the general assembly of trustees.
  • Keep the current model and try to improve the performance of the board through
    other means.

“People need to recognize that we are the fifth largest school board in North America, the largest school board in Canada, and in Ontario we are bigger than most universities,” Bello said. “It should be no surprise to anybody that this will be complicated.”

At this point it is unclear exactly how the models would work, but Bello said that figuring out these options is necessary and in the meantime, the public needs to be patient.

The Governance Committee is scheduled to meet on May 1 to further discuss which
system is a good fit for Toronto.