Letter to the editor 3, September 1, 2016

Dear Editor,

On August 29, the Lester B. Pearson School Board Council of Commissioners adopted its '2016-2017 Budget' of about $288 million.

Even though there were two Public Question Periods, not one question was asked by anyone, and questions I submitted in writing a week earlier were ignored.

Contrary to Article 168 of the Education Act, the LBPSB still will not allow me to participate, by either asking questions or making comments, at Question Period time

This ban is now three months shy of three years, and the Aug. 29 meeting was the fifth consecutive year I was not permitted to ask questions on the annual budget.

There is, however, some good news.

Last June, Education Minister Sébastien Proulx proposed legislation which amends the Education Act - draft Bill 105, a most-welcome overhaul of our public school system.

Briefly, it curbs the power of school boards by granting greater decision-making power at the school-level.

Academic achievement is the focus of Bill 105; for emphasis, it is stated 45 times in the 17-page amendment.

The bill is forward-looking and includes a promising pedagogically-sound initiative.

Moreover, the bill gives the Education Minister more power to direct school boards regarding matters dealing with administration organization, operation - and budget.

It is in this spirit the government will be bypassing school boards and allocating $195 million directly to schools to be used by those closest to the student: parents, teachers, principals and support personnel.

In its report to Council, representatives of the Quebec English School Boards Association (QESBA) , made it clear, the Association is not happy with the school-board reform bill. The QESBA will fight it at the upcoming hearings. Of course, this will cost taxpayers a lot of money.

Meanwhile, the federation of (French) school principals want Bill 105 passed as soon as possible. So does the Fédération des comités de parents du Québec.

Lastly, my written questions basically dealt with the value of the QESBA, and the expenses associated with this $1 million tax-funded organization.

The Association claims it is, "the voice of English public education in Quebec."

It is not the only voice.

Chris Eustace