A commissioner in another Montreal area school board wrote to me a few months ago now, and we’ve been having a very interesting chat via email.
One question he brought up was the question of standing committee meetings, and/or caucus meetings, and if they should be held in a public forum or not.
Henry Aubin wrote in The Montreal Gazette a while back:
“The EMSB also has frequent caucus meetings. Unlike their counterparts at other levels of government, these caucuses are not for individual parties – all 23 commissioners can attend. These sessions are important: Issues are discussed but not voted upon. Note that Laval’s Sir Wilfrid Laurier School Board lets in the public to its caucus meetings.
“To be sure, the EMSB allows two representatives of parents to attend its caucus meetings. But so phobic is it of sunshine that it makes them sign agreements to keep proceedings confidential.”
Interesting to read. Unfortunately, the reference to our board is incorrect – at least in our current forum. But oddly, I cannot disagree with Mr. Aubin more.
We just had another caucus meeting. And in it, things were discussed that simply would *not* have been discussed had it not been for the private forum. Some real work was done that night that will have a real and positive effect on how well our school board runs.
Now, I know next-to-nothing about the EMSB and its issues, but what I *can* tell you is that as a new commissioner, I have found our SWLSB caucus meetings to be extremely beneficial to the school board. Now, for standing committees? I am somewhat of the opinion that these be public – and have said so many times now. Some agree; some don’t. I actually think that we will get there sooner rather than later.