Monthly Archives: March 2008

Council, caucus and “rubber stamps”.

We had our public Council Meting last night. Unfortunately, I had to leave early, around 21h30 – I was almost surprised that I lasted that long, having had a minor surgical procedure yesterday morning.

Students from Laurier Senior were on hand for a short presentation on their success at the most recent robotics competition. Seeing students so engaged in what they are doing and presenting their project in this somewhat daunting forum was very impressive. We hear a lot about the problems in the public system and I am certainly one who has his concerns, but we should also take the time to see the good things we have – this was a group of successful young adults that our school has played its role in developing. Well done!

Now, as with other public council meetings, there looks like there is a lot of rubber stamping going on. As I have said before, there is actually a lot of debate that goes into these resolutions, but it happens most of all in standing committees, and in this case, a special caucus meeting. Regardless, I was a little perturbed last night with what looked, in public, like a one-sided debate on our school board’s position on bill 104 and the QESBA’s financial support of it.

DISCLAIMER: I am about to write about my own personal reasons as to why I voted to support our resolution to not support the QESBA’s role in this legal case. I do not speak on behalf of the school board; I speak on behalf of one sole commissioner, ME.

Last night’s meeting saw the words “appalled” and “ashamed” used in reference to the resolution we passed stating our position.

When this was discussed at the special caucus meeting a week or two ago, I hadn’t yet formed my opinion. That open, frank and fairly raucous meeting helped me come to my conclusions. That caucus meeting took a few hours of debate and, I think, produced the right decision.

I didn’t want to get into the same debate last night. We did it already, and we had come to a conclusion that I supported. But now, at our public meeting, it looked like I was just one of the sheep who bleated quietly in the corner and went along with the vote – simply untrue.

I believe that every student in this province should have the right to go to the (MELS recognized) school of their family’s choice. Period and without exception.

I also believe that our role as a school board is not one of financial supporter for such a legal case. I believe that our school board can be more effective using its political influence and I am happy that our school board cannot be lumped together with those addressed in most of the French media as using our school-bound tax dollars to fight our provincial tax dollars.

I believe that we can lend moral support, effective political support and I am proud of my decision to support the resolution we passed in last night’s council meeting.

I think we did the right thing, and it’s unfortunate that in our public meeting it looked like there was no real debate except for a couple of commissioners stating their positions of being “appalled” and “ashamed”.

It makes me think, once again, that *all* of our meetings should be open, and that where something is to be discussed that cannot be open, we go in camera for just those things.

Truly,

Steve

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Personal comments on an article in today’s Gazette

When I first saw the ad that our school board was going to run, I thought “Wow! This looks great!”

“Moi? J’apprends in English.” it reads. To me, that sounds like home. Like Quebec. The reality of what we see and hear on the streets.

The fact is, that is how an awful lot of Quebeckers sound. In fact, even while in Puerto Plata (Dominican Republic) a couple of weeks ago, I was walking through the beach-bar and heard *exactly* the same talk – half English, half French. I figured these guys were from Quebec and sat down with them for a bit – all of us Montreal Canadiens fans, half English, half French and ALL Québecois and proud of it.

Mme. Malavoy is disconnected with the new Quebec reality. This is not gibberish; this is not disrespectful. The fact of the matter is, “Nous sommes capable de nous exprimer très bien in one or the other language, or even in a mixture of both languages.”

Most speak French. Many speak English. Many again speak French and English. We’re all Québecois.

The Quebec cullture is *not* what the PQ decides to tell us it is.

The Quebec culture is what it is. A whole lot of French, some English and a whole lot of others in there that all together make our Quebec one of the greatest places in the world to live.

Truly,

Steve

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Communications and Public Relations!

Communications and Public Relations! A busy meeting. Though there are things that I can find redundant, overall, I can’t but wonder how things could be accomplished if there was no school board.

I’m a card carrying Adéquiste – but I think we need some more thought on the ADQ position on school boards. The idea of child-centered budgeting and so on is good – but, like it or not, you still need people to put real thought and real administration into the day-to-day running of a school.

Our principals are overdone already – I don’t see how we could possibly add more to their plates. I wonder if any of the powers-that-be in our ADQ have ever been involved at the school board level?

Truly,

Steve
– certainly got off topic of the CPRC meeting. Guess it’s from reading one of our local French papers, and a story on François Desrochers.

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Info Tech, caucus and material resources

March 10th-13th, 2008

Back from March break and so many things are going on!

This week we had the IT committee on Monday, a caucus meeting on Tuesday and Material Resources on Wednesday. A meeting at RHS today and an attempted visit to one of our schools too – we really need that Google Map of our schools… 🙂

The IT committee is a very positive committee. The frustration for me in some of this is the overlap – really, IT exists to provide and maintain the infrastructure, but not at all to set the tone for how technology is used in the classroom.

Having said that, some of it *has* to come from IT – at least, the “marketing” to the teachers and admin of what we can accomplish with what we have.

At the end of the IT meeting, the Directors of IT and ESD had already spoken about having a combined IT/Educational Services meeting next month. There is no lack of effort on this one, and that’s good to see.

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Material Resources had its regular items, but after last weekends snow, this was the big issue. Do you know how much it costs to remove snow from the roofs of all our schools? A fortune! But, I was really happy to see that in relation to the safety and security of the schools, the words “money cannot be an issue” were promoted and accepted time and time again.

Of note as well is the fact that this board is taking a proactive approach in terms of preventative maintenance – expensive in the short term, but probably anoverall savings in the long term and without a doubt, the right choice to make.

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I continue to worry – even as I write this mostly positive note – that our public image presents too rosy a picture. Problems? Discussed in private. And obviously in many cases it should be – but at the same time, problems, mistakes, failures – this is where education comes from. Everybody makes mistakes and some decisions have been and will be incorrect in the inevitable hindsight.

This type of debate happens in closed standing committee meetings. I think more of it should at least be reported on in council meetings, instead of having a litany of “We had a great meeting!” public reports. The debate and questions are there; it’s just that nobody else sees or hears it.

Truly,

Steve

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